Friday, 25 February 2011

Fittings

First of all some more new shoes, well boots actually. Remember that we designed five styles to inaugurate our collaboration with Gieves and Hawkes? We made the croc loafer with the extra hand stitching on the side - gorgeous.


We then made the Campaign boot with the cavalry twill quarters. Again, lovely and both on display in Gieves' window currently.


Well, we have style number three to present to the world. My current favourite and a boot that I would wear. Blue suede shoes! Inspired by the classic beatle boot with its split seam (we used our Half-cut seam rather than a plain stitched seam) and pitched heel, this pair of beauties has the elastic sides designed to mimic shapes we saw in the G&H military archive. Add in a sky blue military ribbon tug. Include the stitch detailing at the top edge and you have a fantastic Chelsea boot. But add the electric blue suede and it becomes a real dazzler. They leap out at you in our display in the shop. The blue might not be to everyone's taste, but imagine the style in a brown suede or black calf and you have a very wearable boot.







What do you think? Comments please.

The Other One and I are off to the Independent Shoemakers Conference on Saturday and we are looking forward to seeing old friends and new faces on the shoemaking scene. We are also looking forward to some interesting seminars. Should be fun.

Now back to all things shoemaking. One thing we at carr├ęducker insist on is doing fittings for our bespoke shoes, much like you would for a bespoke suit. We measure a client's feet; make their last; make an upper; and then get them to a stage where they can try them on for size. We think this is an essential part of the process as one of the main features of a bespoke shoe is that it fits you correctly and is very comfortable. Obvious really.

This is how we do it. This pair is a mock up because the final shoe is going to be in lizard which is expensive and fragile, so we use a calf mock up. Normally, we just use the final upper from the start.

Block an insole on the last as usual, and when it is dry, trim it to the feather edge as you would normally do. But that is it for now. Do not prepare your holdfast.


Prepare stiffeners and toe puffs as normal. Put them into the uppers all at the same time, toe puffs too. I put a tiny blob of paste on each just to keep them in place, but not to fix them.



You can now last the uppers straight onto the unprepared insole - it's pretty simple unusually! Do the forepart first. Then pull down the heel and continue to last and nail all the way round till you get back to the toe.



Now here is the fun bit. This stage is called bracing the upper and it is the most simple of stitches, the brace stitch. You must remember to leave all the lasting allowance and not trim so that you have leather to brace through.
With the first stitches, starting in the joint, put your welting awl through the lasting allowance, into the insole and out again. Put your bristle through the hole and pull. I always do the same on the other side so that I can use both ends of the thread equally. This way, you keep each end of the thread the same length so that they are reusable for other tasks.
You should now be able to start bracing all the way round.



Repeat the brace stitch half way round with one thread and half way round with the other and meet back where you started. Just remember to take the nails out as you go. It is really important not tot leave any nails in the shoe. You won't be able to get the lasts out.


When you get back to where you started, tie a knot in the threads and cut them.


You now have a braced shoe.


Leave the shoe on the last for 24 hours and then take the last out. You can cut out a rough sole from your insole bend to fit. Glue them on with rubber solution - remember to let the glue dry for 10 minutes. And finally make a temporary heel either from leather or cork. From the inside of the shoe, hammer two nails in to the heel which will attach it firmly.

Last thing is to put your feet or someone else's into the shoes to fix the fake sole in place. Et voila, your shoes are ready for a fitting. They look like hell but reassure your client that it is just the internal dimensions that you are interested in at this stage and that when the shoes are finished, they will look beautiful, which they will.

You let the customer try the shoes on and check the fit. make notes as to what needs to be done. Add leather to the last or rasp away material depending on whether the shoes are too big or too small.

You can repeat this as many times as you need to until the shoes fit perfectly.

Any questions, please ask me.

Until next week, happy shoemaking.