Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 23 July 2010

Summer Course

First things first. We at carreducker would like to congratulate our ex-student Makoto Taguchi on his magnificent degree collection. We love his shoes and really appreciate his use of the traditional handsewn techniques he learned with us in his very modern designs. Very well done Makoto! And may you be an inspiration to our new students.

Which leads us nicely on. The carreducker summer handsewn shoemaking course starts on Monday. We are really looking forward to it. The contraction to two weeks seems to have appealed to potential students and we have much more interest than places. Hence the launch of a new London course in January.

The dates are:

Monday 10th January 2011 till Saturday 22nd January

9.30am - 5.30pm

96 hours teaching time in the classroom


There are 4 places left. If you are interested, please email us for more information

You might be asking yourself what happens in the course.

It takes you through the more than 200 processes involved in making a pair of handsewn bespoke shoes. There are no machines involved, only hand held tools, so it is really the traditional English shoemaking techniques you learn. It is purely practical, all making and no theory. You take notes and pictures during the course, but that is the only writing you need to do.

Here is a shot of the student packs ready for Monday and I will open one up to give you a graphic explanation of what goes on.

Inside the pack, you will get a pair of uppers and a corresponding pair of lasts which the uppers will fit. We prepare both of these before the course. This means that the student does not design an upper, make patterns or close the upper. This would have to be the content of another course.
We ask the student what size they are and give them a last and upper in that size. This does not guarantee a bespoke fit, but it should be close. However we can make a bespoke last and upper if you book with enough notice. This service costs £300. It does mean that you can make shoes for yourself in the future.

Next comes the tool kit. This is a basic set of tools a shoemaker would need to make a pair of shoes. It includes a tape measure, knife, welting awl blade, stitching awl blade, awl handles, sleeking bone and lasting pliers. We provide the rest of the tools the students will need.

Lastly is all the hide needed to make the shoes (rough stuff). This is English oak bark tanned cow hide. It includes insoles (from the shoulder); soles (called a bend); heel lifts ( from the bend); top pieces (bought as pre-prepared units with a quarter rubber); toe puffs (from the belly); stiffeners (from the belly); and split lifts (from off-cuts). We buy this in huge pieces from the tanners and cut it to size for the student packs.

We also provide a detailed set of notes which take you through all the processes with room for extra notes and pictures and give you a list of resources for buying tools and equipment.

And that,as they say is that. It is now up to the students to do the work and make the shoes.

It is a challenging course, lots of hard work, but it is suitable for people with no previous craft experience. We say that everyone is capable of completing the course and we have never had anyone who has not finished their shoes. And because the numbers are kept low, you get a lot of individual attention.

As a complement for the course and for those who are making bespoke shoes on their own at home, we have launched a set of Making Packs for sale around the world. They will give you everything you need to make a pair of shoes, lasts, uppers, rough stuff. There is also a complete tool kit.
Now I have whetted your appetites, I will give details of this next week. Email us if you can't wait till then.

So until next Friday, happy shoemaking.

PS I have been asked for an explanation on how to keep the uppers clean while working. Next week, I promise, and sorry for delay.