Friday, 5 February 2016

New shoes and NY Courses

Monkey 2.svg

Where January went we have know idea, but suddenly February is upon us. We are looking forward to plenty of fireworks and Chinese New Year's parties here in London on the 8th, to welcome in the Year of the Monkey. 

This is a special one, as it is Year of the Fire Monkey! Let's hope that the coming months bring us all plenty of the Monkey's creativity, enthusiasm, energy, dexterity, stamina, wit, intelligence and curiosity and not too much impatience, impetuousness and naughtiness!

The Big Apple beckons for May
With the January intensive finished and our students off on their various shoe-related journeys, we're now taking bookings for our Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes Courses in New York... 

NY 2015: Shoemaker and lecturer, Marika Verploegh Chasse gives a pattern master class

NY 2015: From last to pattern in five days
NY 2015: Shoemaker and tutor Jesse Moore with proud, tired but very happy students

and the Intensive Hand Sewn Shoe Making Course...

NY 2015: The intensive course gets under way at Brooklyn Bespoke
NY 2015: Time to finish, pull the lasts, fit and to polish
before proudly taking their finished shoes home

NY 2015: Giving their shoes the finishing touches

Our shoe making courses are distinct because they offer the rare opportunity to be trained by experienced, working shoemakers in a busy, shoemaking business; so you can get a feel for the day to day life of being a shoemaker and be surrounded by the tools, leathers and work in progress that it entails.

Both courses take place in the spring at the wonderful work space of friends and fellow shoemakers Jesse and Marika at Brooklyn Bespoke in Williamsburg.

Brooklyn Bespoke in the heart of Williamsburg
We're delighted to say that we won't be the only Brits visiting them in the Big Apple this Spring. Fellow Cockpit alumni and leather expert, Kathryn Pogson, will also be running one of her specialist Designer Courses at Brooklyn Bespoke. She is holding a special Masterclass in Glove Making in April - possibly an even more rarified craft than hand sewn shoemaking! 
Perhaps because of my shoemaker's hands, I love the idea of a soft pair of gloves!

She also runs courses here in London on moulding leather and hand stitching small accessories, so if you fancy making something for your hands or with your hands then click take a look here for dates and more information.

Now last month we promised that there would be many, many more pictures of our men's bespoke shoes, so here are the latest pair to be delivered - a delicious pair of claret red Derbys. 

Neat three-hole lacing and matching waxed laces

Black/burgundy edges and blacked sole

Slightly deepened toe box and clean, classic toe shape

That's all for this week...more new shoes and news next week. We hope to see some of you in New York and in the mean time, happy shoemaking.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Well Worn Shoes Return

Once again unto the breach, dear shoe friends. Once again we plunge into the wonderful world of bespoke shoes.

This week we were reacquainted with some old friends which we hadn't seen for ten years

A customer who we had not seen for six years got back in touch saying he needed some new shoes and we were delighted.

He also asked if we could look at his old shoes as they needed some work. He was right!

These are what he brought in.

You will see that they do indeed need some care and restoration.

They also act as a lesson in how to look after your shoes and why it is a good idea to have them serviced regularly. Shoes take a battering from normal daily use and really need some regular help to keep them in good condition.

First up are the heels. We put a top piece on which has a rubber section. This has two functions - one to make the top piece more durable, the rubber lasts longer than the leather on hard pavements. And two, once the rubber has worn, it is time for a new top piece, which we are happy to put on ourselves.

The next thing to look at are the soles. We use Bakers oak bark tanned cow hide which we think is the best soling material around. It is flexible, breathable and very durable, but it is not indestructable. So every now and then (between 5 and 10 years on average), we must do a resole, which is a major repair - if you are interested in how we do it, then follow this link.

So, as soon as these stitches start to fail, you should bring them back for repair

This sole is nearly worn through.

Next is the upper which is arguably the least robust part of the shoe and needs regular maintenance.

We use the best quality box calf from France and Poland and it is very durable, but it does need nourishment. So four times a year (more or less) it needs shoe cream to replenish the oils to keep it supple.

And, depending on how often you wear them, it needs polish to keep a waterproof surface. We recommend a beeswax based polish, not one with silicone - most of the commomnly available polishes contain silicone and it damages the leather long term.

This next pair has been repaired in a heel bar and they have cut the sole in the waist and then stitched on a new sole on the fore part. This is not the way we would do it ourselves because you get that line in the waist which can let in water. Our method makes the join invisible (under the heel) and is more weatherproof.

And finally, the stitching on the band has come apart. This was a hand stitched detail and has happened from the stresses and strains produced by walking. It goes to show how much pressure shoes are put under just from normal use. This will be easy to fix.

So the question is, how will the repairs go? We hope that we can give both pairs a good service and will show you the results in due course.

Until nest week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Intensive Shoemaking Course January 16 - The Results!

So the students finished the course last Saturday and they ended up with some fine shoes.

The results - very nice!

They were a relatively quick group so they had plenty of time to do good finishing and the results were very good.

They glassed the soles and sanded them

Then they chose their final finish - inked or natural


Once the lasts were pulled...

On the last jack

...there were some tweaks on the fit - half socks, full socks, double socks or no socks at all.

Sock or no sock?

No sock

As you can see, the shoes were great. A big congratulations to all of them - well done guys!

Admiring the finished shoes

Proud shoemaker

Bloomsbury style

Now, who's next?

We are taking bookings for our next intensive shoemaking courses in Brooklyn in May and August and October in London

And why not combine one them with our pattern making courses? If you sign up for both, we offer you a £250 discount on the joint price. If you go to our courses pages, you can download the relevant booking form

Places are limited, so don't delay.

If you have any questions, please email us  -

Until next week, happy shoemaking

Friday, 15 January 2016

Intensive Shoe Making Course - Week 2

Our first intensive shoe making course of 2016 is coming to an end. The two weeks have flown by and it's Friday already, but the guys are on track, rasped, glassed, sanded and ready to dye, wax, pull and polish tomorrow! 

With the deaths of two great Brits this week - David Bowie and Alan Rickman - we've been feeling a little blue, so it's been good to have had such great company, to have been so busy and to have had BBC 6 Music's Bowie tribute to listen to!

But back to the shoe making. 

Last Saturday saw the guys finish welting, put in the leather shanks and fill the fore part with cork. Then the welts were trimmed, the soles were attached, threads made and, by the end of the day, soles were on and stitching was under way. 

Making threads and attaching bristles
By Monday, the first shoes were finished and the second was under way, with both shoes stitched by lunch time on Tuesday. 

Wednesday saw split lifts being marked, prepared, glued and nailed on.

Preparing the split lift
Shaping the split lift
Nailing it on
Trimming the split lift to shape

The lifts were cut out, glassed, pasted in place, trimmed and peened to form the heel edge
Cutting out the heel lifts
Shaping the heels
Peening the heels
Heel lifts on and prepared
By Thursday, top pieces were being glued on, nailed and shaped...

Cutting the heel breast
And now, with just 24 hours to go, they've done a great job and are nearly there. 

Keep a look out next week when we'll post their finished shoes, until then happy shoemaking!

Friday, 8 January 2016

January 2016 Hand Sewn Shoemaking Course Week 1

Welcome back, dear shoe people, and hello 2016! We hope you had a lovely festive period - we certainly did

The Carreducker Shoemaking School is live! As promised, we are straight back into it with our first intensive shoemaking course of the year. We've been joined by four guys keen to learn - Nish, Ved, Johannes and McBride. I think it's fair to say they've already developed a deep respect for the handsewn shoemaker after their first week of toil...and are keen to explore the mechanised alternatives! 

Day 1 saw them sharpening their knives on the strop; skiving toe puffs and stiffeners; and blocking insoles

The joys of skiving

McBride learning to love his knife

Ved skiving a toe puff
Day 2 was filled with preparing insoles, specifically the holdfast/feather

Johannes shaping the inside waist of the insole

Making holes in the holdfast with the awl
Day 3 moved swiftly onto lasting the uppers and preparing the welts

Hand lasting

More hand lasting

Biceps at the ready as McBride lasts his toes
Day 4 saw them making threads and welting by hand which everyone tackled joyfully

Making threads

A welting demonstration

Hand welting

Hand welting
Attaching bristles with tar

Day 5 was also filled with welting and we should have both shoes finished by the end of the day

We have also been busy preparing our order at the factory for the Winkers - we have ordered lasts, fabrics and have all the graded patterns ready to get going. Exciting times for Carreducker.

Until next time, happy shoemaking!