Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 16 November 2018

A team experience at Studio 50

Welcome back good shoe folk. We're celebrating our first team experience at the Shoe & Leather School which took place last night. We hosted the Canaletto team who came together to make wonderful key fobs under Frankey's watchful eye and careful guidance, 

Explaining the benefits of veg tan leather

Applying gum tragacanth

Synchronised burnishing...

Tools all set for action

Punching the brogue pattern proved a popular and therapeutic activity after a busy week

Hemma, Noush and Helen looking forward to using the mallet

Lou, Anna and Alex watch on attentively

Getting down to stitching

Clare and Hemma




dining on a delicious Mediterranean supper from Humdingers Catering in our versatile second space...(dressed with a linen tablecloth, white 'hobnail' Portuguese plates and candles for the evening)

and celebrating a great evening with a glass of fizz at the end! 

Thank you and well done to Helen and her team!


Finally, if you are in London next weekend why not pop into Open Studios here at Cockpit Arts in Holborn? All of the studios are open to the public for a weekend of Christmas Shopping, buying beautiful things straight from their makers and designers. We're open Friday from 1 - 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am - 6pm.

Until next week happy shoe making!

Friday, 9 November 2018

A Celebration of Craftsmanship - QEST

A Cordwainer's hands using an Axholme knife (Photography: Julian Calder)

Welcome back dear readers, here we are with autumn fully upon us, Christmas just around the corner and our plans already focused on 2019 to make sure we hit the ground running in the New Year (in beautiful leather brogues of course!) 

We're proud to have been included in a second book this year, A Celebration of British Craftsmanship, this one to celebrate QEST (the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust). The book features portraits and the stories of 100 of the 450+ craftsmen whose training and education QEST has helped to support. (QEST was founded in 1990 as the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association). 

My own apprenticeship in handsewn shoe making was supported by QEST (many, many moons ago) and I am proud that we continue to share our skills and expertise with more recent QEST scolars and apprentices, including Frankey and Maud, currently training with us. 

A huge thank you to QEST and to Saddlers Hall for a wonderful launch party...

Nick Farrow former Chairman of QEST

Photographer Julian Calder, who travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles to capture the 100 craftsmen featured.

Spectacle maker apprentice Mila Chielman (working with Cubitts)

Nick Creame, Chairman of QEST and Karen Bennett, the book's author

A Celebration's production team

The Earl of Snowdon, Vice Patron of QEST and guests

A cordwainer, a thatcher and a bell maker

A Cordwainer and a coatmaker

Saddler and saddle stitch accessory designer, Mia Sabel

Peter Ting and Mark Henderson

A lovely family of craftsmen; QEST alumni, so proud to be amongst them

The Cordwainer - magician, conjourer and showman (Photograph by Julian Calder)
It really is a beautiful book with fascinating portraits of craftsmen at work and some extraordinary stories...if you would like to buy a copy it is available from QEST for £50. The net proceeds will help QEST to continue to fund aspiring and talented craftsmen, the next generation of professional craftsmen.

Until next week, happy shoe making!
(All photography courtsey QEST )

Friday, 2 November 2018

An Evening Of Saddle Stitching

Hello again to one and all, we welcome you to our blog and hope you enjoy the post

This week, we did our first scheduled saddle stitch class to make a beautiful card case, ideal for credit cards, travel cards and business cards. They are made from beautiful Tempesti veg tanned leather split to 1.2mm. Buttery and soft, this leather will age beautifully, developing a natural patina from being handled.

They make fantastic presents either for a loved one or for yourself.

We also have gift cards which can be redeemed for any of our courses if you know someone who would love to make one.

The class started at 6.30pm at our school in Shoreditch and was led by expert leather worker Frankey Pinnock of Foster and Son, London

She took the students through edge treatments, heat creasing, and gluing the pieces together prior to stitching.

And then came the saddle stitching.

Using the clam to stitch


Threading the needle
We finished at 9pm and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus they came away with a lovely, eminently usable leather card case. What could be better?

If you fancy making one yourself, you can book and evening class here or a Saturday class here

And don't forget a Carreducker Gift Card for those hard to buy for people

And that's it for this week. Until next time, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Welcome back good shoe folk and a belated happy St. Crispin's Day to you all!

We've been busy making new bespoke shoes - we'll be posting pictures in the coming weeks - but this week has also been about tools, plans and DIY.

We hope you've had the opportunity to take a look at the website...we'd love to have your feedback. We've added a vintage tool section to the Shoe Making Shop, starting with a haul of vintage French pattern and nail hammers.  

These are the remaining French pattern hammers:
  • 3.4cm head x 17cm handle
  • 3cm head x 17cm handle
  • 3.8cm head x 22cm handle
  • 4cm head x 19cm handle
  • 4.5cm head x 23cm handle
  • 3cm head x 27cm handle
The heads and handles have been rubbed and oiled; the heads are in pretty good nick; and some have more dints than others, but they are all very usable. 

There are also a few nail hammers remaining, with pitted or dented heads to give extra grip on the nail heads!


2 x 24cm with hatched head
1 x 18cm with hatched head

1 x 24cm with dented head
1 x 17cm with dented head

Whilst we're in the refurbishing zone we've also been tackling the second space at Chocolate Studios

and learning new floor laying skills in the process! 

We're getting the space ready for a spate of corporate hospitality and group events. 

Our first event is booked for next month and it's been great fun to organise. Mocktails to start, key fob making, a break for supper (provided by Humdingers in Hoxton) a little more key fob making and then Prosecco to celebrate!

On a very positive note, we'd like to congratulate Fosters on their new factory in Northampton...a great sign for the shoemaking industry in the town and hopefully the start of more shoe making jobs, training and apprenticeships.

That's all from us for now, so until next week, happy shoemaking!