Get more mileage out of your shoes by resoling and reheeling them -- with a little practice, you'll do as well as a shoemaker.
Tools: utility knife, rasp or file, pliers, hammer, screwdriver, vise.
Materials: composition half-soles and heels, flexible shoe-repair contact cement, panel nails.
Time: about 1/2 hour.
Buy composition half-soles and heels from a shoemaker or at a variety store. New half-soles and heels are available in different sizes; make sure you buy soles or heels roughly the right size for the shoes to be repaired. The old soles on the shoes should be in fair shape, with no large holes or torn sides.
First, clean the soles of the shoes; remove mud, grease, and other debris. If you use water, let the soles dry thoroughly before repairing the shoes.
When the shoes are thoroughly dry, prepare the soles. If the old soles have pulled away from the insoles, cut off the old soles near the heels with a razor knife. The new half-soles will butt against the cut surface. With a file or a rasp, scuff the leather, rubber, or composition soles on the shoes. This provides a little tooth on the sole, ensuring a better bond.
Some shoe soles are self-adhering. If the new half-soles are not self-adhering, coat the old soles and half-soles with flexible shoe-repair contact cement. Let the adhesive set as directed by the manufacturer until it has a dry-looking shine. Then carefully press each new half-sole onto the old sole, making full contact. Be sure to position the half-soles correctly; they can't be moved once adhesive contact has been made.
Put on the shoes and walk around in them for several minutes. This clamps the new half-soles to the old soles.
When the new soles are tightly cemented to the old ones, trim off any overlapping composition material around the soles with a utility knife. Follow the edge of the old soles to guide the knife. Then smooth the cut edges with a file or a rasp, being careful not to scuff the leather of the uppers.
To install new heels on the shoes, pry off the old heels with the tip of a screwdriver. Pull out any protruding nails with pliers. Apply flexible shoe-repair contact cement to the new heels and to the heel surface on the shoes; let it dry as directed and then carefully press the new heel into place. Secure the new heel with 3 to 5 panel nails. Put the heels of the shoes over a closed metal-working vise and drive in the nails with a hammer; space the nails around the perimeter of the heel, about 3/8 inch in. The vise will bend the nails if the nails stick up through the soles of the shoes. Trim and smooth the heels with a utility knife and a rasp or file.
There's no need to discard your old shoes or old clothing. And there's no need to pay for expensive alterations. Just follow the mending tips in this article to give your wardrobe a longer, and better-fitting, life.