Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 21 June 2019

Summer Courses with Carreducker

Welcome back good shoe folk and here's a beautiful landscape to celebrate  midsummer! Well not quite, it being England and four seasons in one day!

As usual we've a busy summer of besp0ke shoemaking ahead of us and of summer courses, classes and workshops.

HANDSEWN SHOE MAKING - 12 days - £2100 

8 - 20 July

Be quick, our summer handsewn course kicks off on 8 July! We'll guide you through making a pair of handsewn shoes from leather pack, last and uppers to finished shoes. Book before Monday and receive a £50 discount. 

Join leather craftswoman Frankey Pinnock to learn the skilled craft of saddle stitch as you make a leather key fob or card case.


29 July - 2 August

I think pattern making is one of the most important parts of shoe design so we're delighted to have Fiona Campbell back again this summer to teach our five-day pattern cutting course. 

We've had to juggle dates a little, so the course now runs from the end of July into August. We're delighted to offer it at £649. We need a minimum of 4 students to run it, so why not give your design capabilities a boost?!

Join glove designer and maker Riina O' for a five day course to learn to make yourself a beautiful pair of hand stitched, leather gloves. 

Hope you can join us. Until next week happy midsummer and happy shoemaking! 

Friday, 7 June 2019

Midsummer activities for Open Studios

Welcome back shoe enthusiasts, designers and makers and here we are gearing up for a special Midsummer Open Studios! 

Pagan or otherwise, it's going to be a vibrant weekend of visitors, selling, chatting and storytelling so, if you're in London next Friday, Saturday or Sunday 14 -16 June why not pop in to join in the celebrations?

Highlights include:

Secret Postcard Sale - an eclectic display of original pieces by Cockpit makers that offers a snapshot of their inspirations and connections with the city. Snap up a postcard-sized artwork in this fundraising event and help Cockpit Arts to continue its support for talented new makers. Postcards will be allocated at random and sent out by the middle of July. Cost: £25 each, payable at the payment desk. 


Please book ahead for these mini-taster sessions. Most pre-booked workshops are £17.50 and tickets include materials.

Fri: 7 – 8pm, Sun: 1 – 2pm

Designing with colour with Ian Scott Kettle - book here

A unique opportunity to gain an insight into the process of colour storyboarding for fashion and textiles. 

Sat & Sun: 12.30 – 1.30pm

Mindful Stitch Embroidery with Ekta Kaul - book here

Slow down, learn to embroider and improve wellbeing through the calming movement of needle and thread. 

Sat & Sun: 3 – 4pm

Create your own artwork with Onome Otite - book here

Using a fantastic range of colour and pattern from recycled wax print material, explore the art of personal and cultural storytelling.

Fri: 6.30 – 7pm, Sat & Sun: 2 – 2.30pm, 4 – 4.30pm

Up-cycling workshop with Carréducker - FREE - book here

Yes, book onto our short workshop and help me to transform some of our beautiful leather scraps into a cuff or bracelet for you to take home. Get your GOT vibe on and let's get upcycling together! 


Each maker will share insights into their techniques and skills they’ve perfected to create their pieces. Drop-in – no booking required. Space is limited so please arrive promptly at the allotted times.

Sat & Sun: 2 – 2.30pm - Studio Candice Lau 

Candice Lau will demonstrate the art of traditional leatherwork with her ‘Leather cardholder/purse kit’.

Sat & Sun: 2.30 – 3pm - Judy Bentinck

Judy Bentinck will create handmade flowers in silk and organza for a floral garland headpiece – the perfect accessory for a summer festival or wedding.

Truth be told, I wish I could slip out and join all of the demonstrations and classes going on. I'm particularly drawn to Onome's, I love her illustrative style and mixed media and Judy's because I just love flowers! But Mr Ducker is off celebrating with the folks, so I'll look forward to seeing you in W9 instead!

Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Sandal Making and the Livery Ladies

Welcome back good shoe folk and this week we've enjoyed hosting a special new group workshop, sandal making. The class was developed especially for a group f ladies from the Livery Companies of London at the generous invitation of the Master Cordwainer's lady.

For those of you who have visited us at 50 you will understand that 10 ladies was a bit of a squeeze but they rose to the occasion and were great fun and were very conscientious and industrious!

Here's how they got on...

We already had their foot outlines and had prepared sandal outlines, so we checked and adjusted them and then drew in the arch of their feet.

Next we cut out the adjusted sandal shape and marked the big toe joint, little toe joint, little toe, big toe and instep and cut slits where we'd made the marks

Then it was design time! We had prepared a few styles to inspire

and then they were let loose with a stack of pre-cut 15 and 20mm wide card straps, experimenting by trying out different width and angle combinations to see what worked best for their feet.

Once the design was decided the length of the straps was marked on the card and they were photographed, named and numbered to ensure we put them back together in the same order! Then they chose their leathers - a choice of two colours of beautiful, natural veg. tanned Italian leather along with an optional gold grain strap for detailing.

With a quick break for lunch it was back to the table ready to finish and decorate the leather straps.

Every strap was rubbed with gum tragacanth to seal and smooth the surface and edges

Some of the ladies enjoyed hammering a brogue punch pattern into the strap...let's being honest punching holes with a hammer is great fun!

Others opted to use an edge creaser to finish their strap edges

and the gold strap detail was used as an accent in certain places

We'll be attaching the soles and heels and finishing the sandals....more pics in the coming weeks before we send them out to be worn for the summer! That's all from us for now, so until next week happy shoe (or sandal) making.

Friday, 24 May 2019

A Conversation of Cordwainers - behind the scenes

Welcome back good shoe folk of the world...did we mention we'd made a film (maybe once or twice!) now available on You Tube

Anyway, unlike most of what we do which is filmed or photographed on a phone, thanks to the generous support from the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers here in London, this was a full production we live-streamed the action thanks to my husband Andrew and his i-Phone xs! 

Itch Media were the pro. team brought in to make everyone look and sound good

I was responsible for the concept; the behind-the-scenes fun of catering, organising and looking after the talent; and then editing and marketing the film

and our wonderful group of shoemakers were in the expert hands of author and writer Simon Crompton. 

Setting up in the school space at Chocolate Studios

So that's one wide angle live stream on an iPhone and two monitors

Checking sound levels

The bespoke display, artfully laced in the background on a lovely skin 

A little Dutch courage...

Getting used to having a camera around

Thanks to The Eagle for letting us film outside, you made a great backdrop

Great shoes and boots

Simon, James and Dominic
Sebastian, James and Felix

Getting the all-important shoe shot

Getting miked up 

Plan of action...


The live stream... 

A private screening for the Cordwainers Company

Joachim Sedelmeier of Paul Smith and Sebastian

Jonathan Hooper, Master of the Cordwainers Company

Thank you to everyone involved.

That's all for this week. Until next week, happy shoemaking!