"Frankly, I think the blog is the best one devoted to shoemaking on the Internet."

D W Frommer II, Bootmaker

Friday, 4 September 2015

Suffolk Shoes

Welcome back once more, dear readers and shoe enthusiasts, to the Carreducker blog. Being handsewn shoemakers does not mean that we are not interested in other forms of shoemaking and we are always keen to meet other people who are making shoes, especially in the UK.

And so, with this in mind, I set off from Liverpool Street Station one sunny Friday morning in August on a train to Wickham Market in Suffolk. Not the sort of place you would expect to find a small shoemaking factory, but, nevertheless, this is what I had come to see.

My host was Mr Jadd Friedman and his story turned out to be quite extraordinary. Having had no training in shoemaking, he and his father set about finding, buying and restoring old factory machines. His father has a shoe repair shop in Saxmundham and I can't recall whether that pre-dated the shoemaking machinery or vice versa but a passion for these old machines they certainly had.

Not being very mechanically minded, I was mightily impressed by their ability to restore and maintain these fantastic machines. Jadd said they were the best ones ever made and were built to last.

Jadd set himself the target of making shoes with his assembled crew of venerable kit. So he has taught himself pattern making, clicking, closing and making. On his own! Respect. That is some achievement.

His chosen construction is stitch down or veldtschoen - great for desert boots, work boots and work shoes. It is a more robust, waterproof construction where the upper is turned out to become the welt and the sole is stitched to it. So, in theory, water is less able to get in through the welt.

While I was there, Jadd was in the middle of finishing a large order for a well known British footwear brand to celebrate an important anniversary. So he worked while we chatted.

So, we started with a massive sole stitcher - impressive!

Another sole stitcher which they don't use - they had a lot of machines like this which they have restored to working order.

Toe lasting machine.

Jadd preparing the uppers for lasting by glueing them.

The heels are pre-formed

And this is what it looks like this.

With the heels formed, he revived the glue with a heat gun and glued the upper to the sole..

This machine pressed the heel section to secure the glueing process.

The fore part was then glued down.

And formed.

And this is how it looked with the upper glued to the sole.

This machine defined the edge of the turned out upper.

Then the excess was trimmed off.

This machine righted any twists that had developed on the last so that the boot was perfectly flat again.

Finally the boot is stitched.

Et voila! A stitched boot.

These boots were having a crepe sole which Jadd was not attaching, so he went the boots at this stage to have the crepe sole attached in another factory in Northampton. However, Jadd can do most other kinds of soles - leather, synthetic etc

This was an inspiring visit. To see how one person can achieve so much with determination and dedication. Acquiring all these skills through trial and error is amazing and I can only applaud Jadd for getting this far. And wish him every success in the future.
Plus he is doing it in England where small scale shoe production has shrunk considerably. Let's hope he can inspire more people to do the same. Jadd, we salute you!

We are now full of ideas and will hopefully be collaborating with him in the future - watch this space.

Lastly today, the lovely Deborah is doing the Great River Race on Saturday 12th of September to raise money for The Promise, a charity which supports children with disabilities in Russia. If any of you kind shoe folk would like to sponsor her, please go to the following link


She would be very grateful.

And that is your lot. Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Fascinating Footwear Lecture

Welcome back shoe folk of the world. With Madame Shoe swanning about on Jersey (that's the original Jersey, not some odd place in the New World) practising for the Great River Race in a couple of weeks, I'm busy at the work bench and so we thought we'd share some information about an interesting three-day course at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Image: Oded Ezer

Fascinating Footwear: Short History of Shoes is lead by our very own Fiona Campbell. When she isn't teaching Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes to Carreducker students, Fiona lectures on all things shoe related at the London College of Fashion and is also a visiting lecturer at the Victoria and Albert Museum....a prestigious position which recognises her expertise in the world of shoemaking. 

So if you want to find out more about the history of shoes then this lecture may be just up your street and you could tie it in with a visit to Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

Over three days:
30 September 14.30-17.00 
1 October, 10.30-13.00 
2 October, 14.30-17.00 

Image: V&A
... Fiona explores the rich and fascinating history of shoes, from the introduction of the humble sandal in ancient times to the ever higher heels and flamboyant styles of the present day. The history of shoes has included a huge variety of different designs – from the fashionably functional to seductive statement. 
Image: V&A
High points include the pointed shoes of the middle ages when the length of the toe was an indication of status, and the emergence of the heel, first for men and then for women in the later Renaissance period. The dashing Cavalier knee boots of the Restoration were followed by the introduction of increasingly elaborate buckles, and then dainty mules made out of exquisite silks and satins. 

The 19th and 20th century has seen many changes in both production and design from the button boot to 1920s bar shoes; giving way to 1940s utility styles, 1950s stilettoes and 1970s platform soles; and today’s innovative statement shoes. 

Throughout, Fiona examines the principal styles, techniques and cultural connotations related to the history of shoes. 

Image: Heneghan Penn Architects

The lecture costs £125 / £110 concessions. To find out more please email courses@vam.ac.uk.

And please, if you like the blog, become a follower - it's only a click away. And check out our Facebook and Instagram pages - you will make two old shoemakers very happy.

That's it for now....so until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Carreducker Intensive Shoemaking Course - Days 11 and 12

And so it ends. Another August intensive shoemaking course is finished with 5 pairs of high quality shoes on 5 happy students

The last 2 days are spent finishing - making the  shoes look sharp and presentable

Day 11

After much rasping (some would say too much!).....


More rasping

The shoes were ready to sand. We use three grades of aluminium oxide paper and sanding blocks to achieve a flawless finish.

The edges had the same treatment.

Sanding the edges
The last task of the day was to set the edges with an edge iron.

Day 12 - the last day!

After much hard work the previous 11 days, the last day was a little more leisurely.

They glassed and sanded the soles and then moved on to their chosen finish - inked or natural.

We then passed a single lipped iron around the heel and used the seat wheel

Before taking out the lasts, they cleaned up the uppers and tried some polishing/burnishing techniques to great effect.

With the lasts out, we put socks - either half or full socks depending on the fit and voila! The moment of truth - trying them on.

Once everyone had finished, we celebrated with champagne and cup cakes

And here are the finished shoes. Fantastic work we hope you will agree.

And some very happy students.

And so another summer intensive shoemaking course finishes. We hope you feel inspired by these posts and will maybe think about doing one of our shoemaking classes. The next intensive is in October and then again in January 2016.

We have planned dates for next year and will be posting them up on the website soon.

And by the way, look out for our new website which will have an e-commerce section called the Tool Shed where you will be able to buy all of our lovely tools and shoemaking materials.

So, that's a wrap. Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Carreducker Intensive Shoemaking Course - Days 5 to 10

Days 5 and 6

Welcome back shoemakers to the second instalment of our summer shoemaking course. Week 2! The welting awls took the brunt of our students' efforts this week. Any of you who have broken an awl before will know, it feels and sounds awful! Even worse when you then have to find and pull the broken blade out from your shoe...or your thumb! 

4 down
A sharp knife is always needed 
Attaching bristles - a 'favourite' activity
Welting done!

Trimming the upper, toe puff and lining ready for shanks and cork

Day 7

Day 7 moved our intrepid students onto stitching their soles. So channels were cut; threads made; and stitching begun

A bit of masking tape to protect the upper

Boning down the stitches inside the channel

Soles stitched

Hammering the soles to shape

Drying out the soles before gluing the channels closed

Days 8 and 9 - Heel building

Day 8 saw them making split lifts (rands) and building the heels. Lift by lift with paste and nails - no pegs in England!

Notching the split lift
Making split lifts
Trimming split lift
Preparing heel lifts


Peening, peening and more peening!

And a bit more peening

Day 10 - finishing the heels and finishing! The final push to the summit.

The last touches to the heels were trimming the seat; cutting the heel breast; and balancing the top piece.

Trimming the heel seat - carefully!

Cutting the heel breast

Last nail into the heel breast to close up a gap

Checking the balance of the heel with the top piece

With the top pieces on and nailed into place, we moved on to finishing, beginning with rasping.

And so, with 10 days done, we have 2 days left to make the shoes look beautiful - rasping, glassing, sanding, setting edges, inking, and polishing.

We will post the results next week.

Until then, happy shoemaking!