Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 22 April 2016

Workshop Snapshot

Hello again, dear shoemakers, aspiring shoemakers and general shoe nerds. And if you don't fit into any of those categories, welcome to you too.

This week we are going to give you a snapshot of what is going on in our workshop today

When we have a bespoke customer, we always do at least one fitting with them, often two and what follows is how we do it. There are various ways to do it from making a fitter upper and cutting it open to check fit and getting the shoes into welt and trying on that way. Both are very good ways to do it and, if time is no object, both are worth considering

We prefer to make the final uppers and get them braced onto an insole. So we block the insole as normal, but we don't prepare the holdfast/feather. We make toe puffs and stiffs and then last the uppers onto the insole. Most times we last both the stiffs and the toe puffs together, but it depends a little on the thickness of the uppers and lining.
Once lasted on, we brace the upper into place using a simple brace stitch

This is then easy to take apart once the fitting is done and the lasts can be adjusted. If needed, the whole process can be repeated

We use a special curved awl for this job called an inseaming awl, very like our welting awls but with a greater curve so you can get it into the insole and out again in a short distance

Next up is the development of a pair of uppers for a new bespoke customer. He liked a style we had made previously which is in our bespoke gallery and decided he wanted the same style and toe shape. So we dug the old patterns to work from.

We have his lasts and so we taped them up with masking tape and drew the desired style onto the outside of the left last using the old patterns as a guide.

 We will now make the standard and pattern pieces for the new lasts and close the uppers from these.

And then get the shoes ready for a fitting (see above) on the 14th of May when he will be back in London.

While I write, Deborah is stitching the soles on a pair of Madeira blue loafers

And finally, we fixed some rather handsome button boots which we made a few years ago for a bespoke customer. The ones we originally put on were more of a contrast and the customer had grown to dislike them, so we agreed to put some new ones on. This is the beauty of a bespoke service - it continues for the life of the shoes, so upwards of 15 years in most cases.

The leather on these is a shrunken calf which has beautiful natural graining on it

So that is what is going on this morning chez Carreducker. This afternoon it gets a little less interesting - payroll and bookkeeping - ho hum.

Until next week, happy shoemaking

Friday, 15 April 2016

Desert Boot Kickstarter Campaign launches in May

Welcome back fellow shoemakers! The sun is shining and we're awash with wonderful samples. The Barkan Desert Boot samples from Suffolk are done and dusted and look awesome! 
The boots are named after Barkans, those magnificent crescent shape sand dunes shaped by the desert wind.

Sossusvlei: Roaring Dunes
Image copyright: The Cardboard Box Travel Shop

We visited the slightly less dramatic, but no less beautiful Suffolk countryside recently to visit the factory where the boots being made and to film them for our new Kickstarter Campaign. 

The Rendlesham village sign
As you can see above, it was a blue-sky day!

Here is an assortment of images from the factory with the colours that will be available. They are named after the towns and villages around Rendlesham.

We are using Italian veg tanned leather for two of the Barkans which is really lovely and will age beautifully, especially the Rendlesham, forming a natural patina over time.

The Rendlesham in veg. tanned leather with natural crepe sole
The Snape and Rendlesham
The Eyke in sandstone nubuck
A burst of colour from the Woodbridge, Aldeburgh and Saxmundham

All colours are available in a choice of natural crepe or super lightweight rubber 

Hot pink Saxmundham

Aldeburgh purple

A burst of colour

Rendlesham in delicious Cognac Italian veg. tanned leather 

A natural leather that ages will tell the tales of your adventures
We hope that you like them? We will let you know when the Kickstarter campaign is going to launch next month, as there will be some wonderful rewards available to you early birds out there.

Please contact us if you are interested and want to be kept in the loop about the Barkans. And please also share this with friends you think might like them - Carreducker needs you!

Anyway bespoke news next week - (we know we promised it for this week but couldn't wait to show you these beauties) - so, until then, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Winkers are here!

After nearly a year in development we're delighted to announce that the Winkers Resort Shoes Great British Seaside collection is now available to buy online at our new e-commerce shop.

We've taken them to Sussex and Cornwall to give you a flavour of just how well they look by the sea... the countryside

 and around town.

The overall feedback from our Kickstarter champions - those intrepid early adopters who made all this possible - has been really positive. "Perfect fit", "The first pair of shoes that perfectly fit the shape of my foot" and "Whooshes of praise for their elegance" are just some of the comments that they have received. 

So if you're looking for a pair of stylish summer shoes, then look no further. 
(As a slip-on they are naturally a snug fit, so do opt for a half size bigger than you would normally wear).

Like all new shoes, when they arrive they'll need breaking in:

  • Wear them in a little bit at a time at home 
  • Wear them with socks to start with as you won't be used to going bare foot (you might want to stay behind close doors for this bit)
  • Scuff the soles so that they are not too slippy

And then post your pictures on our Winkers Facebook page so that everyone else can see how what you've worn yours with and where you've worn them. There will be prizes for the most intrepid Winkers photographed!

There are more bespoke updates in the offing, but that's all from us for now, so until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 1 April 2016

Personalised Training With Carreducker

Hello again, dear shoemaking folk. We hope you have had a good week.

We at Carreducker Mansions are in the middle of preparations for our second Kickstarter campaign, this time for a stitch down desert boot, the Barkan. It's really exciting - we have finalised the design; nearly finished the sampling; filmed the piece to camera bit for the film; and are going to Suffolk tomorrow to film in the factory - really looking forward to that.
And speaking of Kickstarter, our Carreducker London online shop is now open where you can buy Winkers Resort Shoes. The Barkan Desert Boots will be added later in the year, followed by a work boot, sneaker and cycle shoe.

Here is the sneakiest of peeks of what we are doing - these two are in veg tanned calf with natural crepe soles. We are also doing suedes and nubucks

We will post more of this as the campaign develops

As well as our scheduled shoemaking classes and courses, we also offer one to one training for individuals who want a more flexible timetable. So throughout the year we get individuals who come to the workshop and make shoes with us on a one to one basis

Yesterday we started with Tetsuro, a Japanese masters student studying Service Design at the Royal College of Art. He will be going home in July, but wanted to learn shoemaking before he left, so we have devised a  personalised study programme for him. He will come to us 1 day a week over the next 12 weeks and make his shoes

Yesterday, we started with knife sharpening - the most important skill in the shoemakers arsenal probably

Using the stop to sharpen the knife

Then we moved onto skiving toe puffs and stiffeners

Skiving on a glass skiving board

Indication of what to skive

We also blocked the insole, so after soaking it for an hour, he cut it in half (a true test of knife sharpness).

And secured the insole with 4 nails into the lasts

Once he had trimmed off the excess leather, he nailed the edges down so the insole took the contour of the underside of the last. This is then left to dry so that the next time he comes, it will be ready to prepare the holdfast/feather on the insole.

And to finish off, a little more skiving

Next week is tricky for him, so we have scheduled the next session for the week after. This is the beauty of this way of working with us - flexibility.

We have another student coming in June who will do the 12 days consecutively as she is coming from Austria and wants to condense it into the shortest time possible. She is doing 1 to 1 training with us because the scheduled classes are at inconvenient times for her work.

So if you want to come to make shoes with us and our courses don't suit your schedule, get in touch and we can organise your own personal training programme with us - email us at

We can also offer longer training periods if that is what the student wants - plenty of room in this workshop

We have also tried out the sole stamp we posted last week - love it.

And that is about it for this week, so, until the next time, happy shoemaking!