Sunday, January 24, 2010


Yesterday, I started off on my first kasut manek project. For those who do not know, the making of kasut manek, or nonya-style beaded shoes, has been enjoying somewhat of a revival here in Singaporer.  Like the embroidered sarong kebaya, kasut manek are instantly identifiable with the peranakan community.These beautifully hand-made shoes are the result of many hours of patient, painstaking work.  In the past, young nonyas would be judged on the quality of their beadwork in the marriage mart.  Today, many people try their hand at it because they want the satisfaction of making and owning a pair of patterned, beaded shoes.

Like myself, for example.  My friend kindly started me off with the loan of a frame and a lesson, Beading 101.  The first lesson I learnt was how to start sewing the beads on, as she started me off with a practice row. Then things got serious.  We selected a pattern - a single large flower, identified the beads and then tried to find a suitable shoe template.  Here, problems arose.  Carefully estimating how big the pattern would be on the shoe, she told me that the open-toed shoe I was planning on was too narrow to support the pattern.  We had to try again,  and this time I selected a simple repetitive pattern - a "Cloud Forest" which would stretch across the shoe.  She then carefully traced the outline of the shoe template onto the canvas on the top of the beading frame, and started off on the first row for me.  Then, she felt that the thread we were using was a little too thick for the needle, unpicked the beads she had just sewn on, and started again, observing sagely that if she was having problems, it was likely that I too would have difficulties with the needle.

Reflecting on her efforts, I realised that the truly important lesson was the importance of planning - she had really taken the time and effort to visualise the end product, and also to make sure that the technical aspects of the beading process were carefully attended to.  With her clarity on the desired end state, and meticulous checking of implementation details, she prevented my kasut manek project from being doomed to failure before I had even started.


  1. Hi there,

    I would also like to make a pair of kasut manek but I can't find the pattern anywhere. Can I prevail upon you for it? I would appreciate it great! Thanks a million in advance :)

  2. Hi,
    Can buy at Little Shophouse Bussorah Street.

  3. hi i m from malaysia , did u know where can buy pattern and bean in malaysia .

  4. Sorry, I'm not familiar. But if you know anyone in Malacca you could ask them to help.

  5. There's a lady, Ms Khoo Lay Imm, email her at

    She's in Penang. Perhaps she can help.

    You can google her to find out more of what she does.


  6. Hi,

    I just posted the above comment by anonymous.

    For some reason, the website doesn't appear.

    Anyway, just google Khoo Lay Imm and you can find out more.


  7. Hi Caren,
    Thanks for your comment/advice! I googled Khoo Lay Imm and found this interesting news article:

    Hope that everyone will find it useful!

  8. hello, i am from malaysia. i am interested to learn how to make kasut manek, do you by any chance know where could i find this course?

  9. Khoo Lay Im can be contacted at

    she recently won an award at Hari Kebangsaan Kraf 2011.



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