If you remember from mid-November, I shared Sole Hope and invited everyone to my house for a shoe cutting party. Well, this past weekend was the big day!
For a quick refresher, Sole Hope provides handmade shoes to children in Uganda to help prevent foot-borne diseases. Our job was to cut the material for the shoes based on templates they give in a kit. They send the assembled materials to Uganda and pay local shoemakers a fair wage to make the shoes.
I thought our party ended up being a smashing hit and I’m so glad several people have expressed interest in holding parties of their own. I wanted to share how ours went and give some tips to new hosts.
Let’s get to it!
Preparing for the Party
Beforehand, I had the impression that we could just show up with some jeans and scissors and cut some shoes, but there’s actually several things you need to gather and do before the party.
Here’s what you’ll need with some extra tips and detail the kit booklet didn’t cover.
- Jeans – Take jean donations from those not able to attend and have attendees bring some as well. Each average pair of jeans gets about 4-5 pairs of shoes from it. You really don’t need as many jeans as you think. We had a TON of leftover jean material.
- Fabric scissors – I can’t stress enough that these need to be quality scissors. Jeans are not easy to cut. Find a local seamstress and see if you can borrow some for the night. I’m lucky that my mom has a drapery business and had a workroom full of massive scissors. I’d say for our size party we needed 5-6 pairs.
- Pinking shears – These are those zig-zag scissors. I called Walmart and asked them if they had any and the lady said, “You want some PINK SHOES??” Needless to say, she came back online a few minutes later and said they didn’t sell them. I found them at the same store the next day. These are NOT cheap. Borrow what you can. We got away with only 2 pairs.
- Safety pins – You need large safety pins but you don’t need too many. You’ll need one safety pin per pair of shoes. From what I could tell, we made about 1-2 pair of shoes per hour per person.
- Large ziploc bags – You’ll need 1 bag for every 5 pairs of shoes.
- Empty plastic jugs – Ask a large family or two to save their milk jugs for a week or two. You’ll need them to cut a half moon out for the heel. Depending on how the plastic is prepared, you could get 4-5 pairs of shoes per jug.
- Quilter’s cotton – So as many of us learned for the first time, quilter’s cotton is basically just 100% cotton. The quilter’s cotton is cheaper because it’s plain. The cotton is used for the inside liner of the shoes. You can use jean material instead but we really, really enjoyed having pretty patterned cotton to work with and really, it’s not very expensive. Pro tip: buy light colors so you can see your pen marks from the template tracing.
- Sharpies – You’ll need 5-7 Sharpie markers to trace templates on both the plastic and the jean material.
- Pens – You’ll need 2-3 pens to trace onto the cotton.
- Tables/chairs – If you’re hosting it at your church, you might be able to skip this one, but I had to borrow a few tables so we could be at my house.
- Cardboard or plastic folders – You’ll get a paper template in your kit but you’ll need to make several more sets of the templates to be used at each station from either cardboard or plastic folders. I personally preferred the plastic folder templates.
Prepare the materials
If you have early jean donations, prepare your jeans to be used as material. Cut off the top of the jeans so only the legs are left. Then, cut down the pant leg at the seam. You should have a nice, rectangular-ish piece of jean material.
The kids loved destroying the jeans for us.
Prepare your plastic jugs. Cut around the top of the jug and outside along the handle. Then, cut close to the bottom so you’re left with the four sides. Then, cut down each corner so you should have 4 panels of plastic ready to be used.
Set up stations
There are lots of ways you could organize your party, but I found it easiest to separate the stations by material.
Station 1 had all the jean material. People there were responsible for tracing the template onto the jeans and cutting it out.
This station will need the jean material, fabric scissors, sharpies and templates.
We found that the jeans were the slowest moving station so it was better to have more people there than the others. We had 5-6 people working on jeans.
Station 2 was the quilter’s cotton.
The quilter’s cotton station seemed to require the most attention to detail and attract folks that were most comfortable around fabrics and pinking shears.
Fold the fabric over and you can cut two layers at once! Since you could cut twice as much at once and was thinner fabric, this station usually produced faster and only needed 2-3 people.
Station 3 was our plastic station. On one night, part of this station’s job was to prepare the jugs as described above but after that, this station simply traced and cut out the half moon shape for the heel patch. This station seemed to attract the men and kids. The template required here is simple and the plastic is easy to cut through.
Station 4 was the quality control and final assembly station.
For both parties, I handled this myself from my kitchen counter. My job was to make sure the material was cut as requested and then assemble a pair of shoes together with a safety pin.
Once you have 5 pairs of shoes, you put them in a bag and label them with the shoe size. You’ll need the safety pins, bags and sharpies at this station.
Finally, I’ll just say, as you can see, this doesn’t have to be super fancy. My house isn’t huge and I didn’t spend a lot of time decorating. You just need tabletops for people to be able to trace and cut. With kitchen counters, dining room tables and even the floor, almost anyone can make it work!
Finally! It was time to party! And surprise–we actually held two parties back-to-back!
Since our small group meets at our house on Thursdays, we decided to hold a cutting party during our regular small group meeting time the day before.
It was a great time to get my feet wet hosting and working out the kinks as well as introduce more people to Sole Hope and produce more shoes to send!
With everything set up, all that is needed once people arrive is a quick explanation of the stations and everyone seemed to have a natural fit of where they wanted to work.
Our small group completed 16 pairs and a few partials that I finished after the party that totaled 20. For Friday’s party, we completed 30. We had so much leftover material that I had my own little party and cut another 10 pairs while I watched Gone with the Wind (for the first time!) Saturday night.
So, I’m very happy to say we’re sending off 60 pairs of shoes!! Woo Hoo!!!
Our small group totally forgot to do a group picture, but that’s the crowd from Friday night. Both groups are fantastic people I call family and friends! I’m a lucky gal!
If you spy the Sole Hope banner at the top of our group picture, I used some of the jean material and the sharpies to make it right before Friday night’s party. The photos are from the kit booklet. We just took the staples out of the booklet and then hung the separated pages right on the banner. So easy and fun!
Our parties absolutely could not have happened without the donations and help of so many people! They might kill me, but I really want to call out some people that made this possible:
- Lara Beth provided bags and jeans and brought them to my house.
- Jennifer mailed a box from Virginia and sent jeans, sharpies, bags, pins and a donation. It showed up just one itty bitty hour from the start of the first party. What timing!
- My mom let us borrow her work scissors.
- Phillip and Anita donated plastic jugs and got them to our church.
- Holly donated plastic jugs and brought them to our church.
- Jenny gathered all the plastic jugs at the church and brought them to the party.
- Ken and JoAnn lent us their tables and scissors and donated fabric.
- Heather brought us white chalk we used to mark on the darker fabric.
- Dani bought quilter’s cotton.
- Deb is sending a donation FROM CANADA with spare American dollars she had.
- Dave prayed over our time and all the shoes.
- Becky and Barb brought pinking shears and lots and lots of jeans.
- Many of the participants brought bags, jeans, cotton fabric, and scissors and gave donations. It was coming in so fast I didn’t get it all written down.
- Scott for running all my errands–he even went to the fabric store for me-and helping with all the set-up.
- Everyone that attended and worked SO HARD!
As you can see, this was a group effort. To all of you that helped prepare and then those that attended, on behalf of myself, Sole Hope and the families in Uganda, THANK YOU!! I love thinking of those women sewing those shoes and then those toddlers walking around in the shoes! 60 of them!! That’s a lot of toddlers!
You absolutely can be a part! If you want to host your own party of any size, the first step is to buy a kit over at SoleHope.com. Please let me know of any other questions you might have!
Ultimately, I pray that these shoes would be a tool not just to bring physical healing, but be an opportunity to teach many about the love of Christ. When Dave in our small group prayed over the shoes, he was reminded of the verse that says how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel. I pray that the feet of these little toddlers are covered with shoes so that one day that verse may be said of them—beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel! Their feet will be covered so they can know and then they can go. May it be so!