Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 20 January 2012

Week 2 Day 11

After a frenzied day of cajoling and coaxing, we hit our target of setting the edges by 5.30, so well done everyone. It is hard work, but really worth it now as the shoes are taking their final form.

We started off by doing the last bits of rasping we needed to get the final heel shape and edges.

This was followed by glassing and sanding. We used 80, 120 and 240 grit paper to achieve a smooth finish.



Sanding The Edge

After this we prepared the edges for setting with the edge iron.

This involved gently rasping away the lip on the sole side of the edge. And ploughing off the lip on the welt side. We also passed the fudge wheel round again to really set the stitches well.

This was followed by setting the edges with a hot edge iron after previously wetting and putting on a little soap to lubricate the iron.

Some even got on to glassing and sanding the sole and top piece.

Last day tomorrow. Finishing the soles, inking the shoes, waxing the edges and pulling the lasts. Yippee!

And just a little teaser, what am I going to do with this?

Until tomorrow, happy shoemaking!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Week 2, Day 10

Week 2, day 10, the final push to the summit.

It's all heels, heels, heels. We have been adding extra heel lifts; cutting the seat; and putting on the top piece. The pace dropped a little this morning, but I am hoping to crack the whip a bit this afternoon and start the finishing process. Now that might sound like it is quick, but, believe me, good finishing takes time (especially because we do not use a machine to do it!).

Here are a selection of shots of what we have been doing today.

Trimming The Top Piece

Trimming The Heel Breast

Nailing The Top Piece

Rasping The Heel Edge
The Happy Class

Friday tomorrow and it will all be about making the shoes look pretty. As they are now, we could pull the lasts and they would function perfectly well as shoes, but they don't look good - they will by Saturday! Until tomorrow, happy shoemaking!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Week 2, Day 9

Everyone arrived today with their second shoes stitched which meant that we could get into heel building from the word go. We had a very successful day and the students have caught up considerably. I am more hopeful of finishing both shoes than I was yesterday. Excellent!

Attaching The Split Lift

The Second Lift Goes On With A Row Of Nails

Cutting The Heel Breast

Marking The Heel Breast On Both Shoes

So, dear readers, more tomorrow. We will get the heels finished and move on to finishing. Until then, happy shoemaking.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Week 2. Day 8's all in the balance. If things go smoothly and nobody has any hitches, we could finish both shoes.

We did some sole stitching today, but we also started our heels. They have trimmed in and peened the seat on both shoes and they have prepared the split lift or rand ( the first section of the heel)

We put nails in, clipped them and punched them around the heel.

Preparing the split lift by skiving it.

Finished split lift, after hammering into a horse shoe shape on the flat iron.

I have sent them home with the remaining stitching to be done on the second shoe. Most are round the toe already. If they all come back witht them done, then it's game on. Fingers crossed!

So, until tomorrow, happy shoemaking!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Week 2! Day 7

So here we are and the time has come to hand over the reins to Mr Ducker. I transformed into a sargent major today to inject some energy, a sense of timeliness and to try to get everyone motoring along a little bit faster. 

We are behind! Can you believe it? This may be the first time when we have to say to the students that they can only finish one shoe. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but they have so many more processes to learn that this really is the best solution.

 Somehow the processes just aren't going in. Usually by week two they are becoming second nature, but not this time. Disappointed does not even begin to capture how James and I feel. We love seeing a group of students complete their shoes and try them on at the end... We think that once you have skived, trimmed, stitched, used the paste and contact adhesive and done some stitching once, you really only need to keep practising to finesse your techniques and capabilities with the tools. Anyway, let's hope the energy levels lift. 

After a massive final push this afternoon all soles were on and by 6pm the final student had been shown how to stitch the sole. Some brave souls even took it upon themselves to cut the channel - not easy on a first attempt (nor when you are under pressure)! But everyone has gone home happily with homework to complete so soles will be stitched by the end of tomorrow.

 I'll be at Gieves & Hawkes tomorrow so I am looking forward to regular updates and hopefully the good news on Tuesday that the second sole is stuck and stitched! Good lucks guys - heads down, knives sharp and go!