Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 11 January 2019

New and Renew

Welcome back dear shoe folk and a Happy New Year! 

It's the start of a new year again and like many, January is all about new and of course, renew. We've had a swathe of bespoke shoes and desert boots in for repair and as you can see, some of them have been loved and worn for a little longer than we'd like. We're all about sustainability and longevity so they can, and will, be rescued to look as good as new! 

These beautiful brogue Oxfords are seven years old and came in just in time for a re-sole as you can see below. The customer has a distinct wear pattern with the majority of wear to the outside edge and centre. 

Here's how we go about re-soling. 

The old sole with the heel removed and the split lift folded back.

We slice through the sole, well behind the heel breast mark

Then we cut the sole stitches, peel off the worn sole and pull out the old stitches

The shank and cork is usually intact and can be left, although we rasped it smooth here
New soles are cemented in place and re-stitched through the existing holes in the welt

We stamp the sole with our logo 

And then they're all set for heel building

The next pair we will be tackling are over 10 years old and this too is their first re-sole! You can see the difference that three further years of wear makes to the sole and also the customer's completely different wear pattern.

This customer wears quite evenly...

...but after 10 years has worn right through the toe!

Although they're worn through, they're still a great example of just how hard wearing Bakers' oak bark leather is
and how durable handsewn shoes are.

And the final pair are from our ready to wear collection Carreducker London, a pair of desert boots with a natural crepe sole also back for a re-sole ....or should I say a complete re-make! Damp socks gave the game away.

That's it for this week as we gently get back into the swing of things. Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 21 December 2018

Happy holidays!

Welcome back good shoemakers and shoe enthusiasts! We'd like top thank each and every one of you for following us here on the blog and on social media @carreducker (Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram) and #bespokeshoe (Twitter) throughout the year. It's been lovely to see your comments, answer your questions and to even meet some of you!

James, Maud, Frankey, Me, Fiona and Marcus at The Gate, Islington

Like the elves we're taking a break and will be back with the blog on 11th January. To get us in the holiday mood, we had a lovely lunch with the Carreducker team today to thank Maud, Frankey, Fiona and Marcus for a great year.

Here's to the year ahead!  Until 2019, happy holidays!

Friday, 14 December 2018

A feast of bespoke

Welcome back good shoe folk and as a pre-Christmas treat here's a shoetastic 12 days of Christmas featuring a few of our favourite bespoke beauties....

1 sharp-toed wholecut

2 English grain Oxfords

3 lime-edged Derbies

4 toe-cap Derbies

5 calf & canvas Derbies

6 burnished wholecuts

7 asymmetric slip-ons

8 burnt umber Oxfords

9 Pigskin Wholecuts

10 pick 'n' mix 

11 Wingcap Derbies

12 ghost stitched Derbies

Until next week, happy shoe making!

Friday, 7 December 2018

Insectum Bespoke Boot Commission

Welcome back good shoe folk and you're in for a treat! We're showcasing a pair of boots recently delivered and truly 'bespoken' by a couple who are modern day patrons and champions of the crafts. 

Generally, if we were to describe our bespoke customers it would be as confident, assured and with a clear sense of their own personal style. We're their shoemakers of choice because they know that we will design and make to their tastes and preferences; we're not afraid of colour and pattern; we are passionate about beautiful materials; and because we are unapologetic about the craftsmanship involved in our making. (We've had some wonderful commissions over the years, but these might be the most colourful yet!)

So, when the couple in question proposed a pair of derby boots incorporating embroidered fabric (commissioned separately from textile artist, Lisa Vaughan Thomas), we didn't bat an eye! (Well actually we did, because we were so excited!)

The bespoke process started in the usual way with a consultation to discuss styles and take measurements. A variety of designs were submitted and a Derby boot was finally decided upon, to be made in a mix of French navy calf and the embroidered fabric.
Some of the initial sketches
The lasts were made, a fitter upper created and the customer came in for a fitting. All good so far.

We were then all set to move forward with Lisa, who had already been developing embroidery ideas. But now for the tricky bit, ensuring that the embroidery sat in the right place on each inside and outside quarter and left and right vamp. We sent Lisa copies of the paper pattern pieces showing the underlay and overlays so that she could design the embroidery completely tailored to the boots. 

The quarter pattern pieces - inside and outside

Insects were the chosen theme, as you can see from her development work below. 

And gradually the pattern shapes were covered in bugs and beetles...

Testing the fabric design in situ on the last

We also tested the proposed background fabrics for stretch and 'bleed' (to make sure paste wouldn't seep through the backed material) and a slightly textured cloth was selected from the shortlist.

Finally, Lisa could start working on the fabric itself, carefully ensuring that she designed an inside and outside quarter for each boot and a left and right vamp.


Outside quarter

Inside quarter

Attention to detail - beetle boot tugs

The finished uppers lasted over

With relief we received the fabric sections and sent them off to our closer to be made up before lasting them over.  The original design had included a leather tongue, in case the fabric was too fragile, but when the boot uppers came back the leather was too obtrusive. So, with Lisa and our closer's help we exchanged it for a more discreet fabric tongue.

At last the boots could be made. We covered them throughout the making process; finishing the soles and heels with a natural polish finish before carefully removing the wraps to reveal the boots in all their glory and here they are!

We'd like to thank Lisa and our closer for creating such beautiful uppers and our customers (you know who you are) for such an exciting commission.

Until next week happy shoe making!

Friday, 30 November 2018

Shoe Polish and beeswax from the Borders

Welcome back good shoe folk! Here we are with Christmas Open Studios done and dusted (and lovely it was too) and the holidays stampeding towards us. So it's just as well we have some wonderful new products if you're hunting for stocking fillers!

The new Carreducker polish trio, gift-wrapped

A stack of neutral, brown and black polish 
Our new polish comes from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Borders (of England and Scotland) and is a lovely natural combination of Carnauba and beeswax, along with a little turpentine and white spirit.

It's available in black, brown and neutral polish £3.95 for one tin and £10 for a set of three.

The beeswax nourishes and protects the leather; the Carnauba helps to give the leather a good shine; and the turpentine and white spirit helps to clean off dust, dirt and old polish without drying the leather. We've been using them for a while and like the results., particularly for a high shine.

We are also selling these lovely bee-stamped beeswax blocks, perfect for shoe and furniture makers out there, £2.50 for a 6cm x 12mm block.

That's all from us this week, we're back to the workbench for some bespoke shoe finishing... until next week, happy shoe making!