Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 25 January 2013

From shoe to boot

We are back in our studios and it's so quiet without any students about...there's just me and James ploughing our way through a heap of bespoke and design work. (Hopefully the snowy weekend didn't delay anyone's flight too badly getting home)?

Anyway onto all things shoe. During the course, one of our students came up with a great blog question - "How do you fit up a shoe last for a boot?"

Obviously having boot lasts for boots and shoe lasts for shoes is the ideal, but is not always possible. You can make boots using a shoe last without any fittings at all, as long as you have the necessary short and long heel and ankle measurements.

But a boot fitting is helpful for the following reasons:-

- To keep the upper at the correct angle for the foot
- To stop the boot upper being mis-shapen when you are making the boots
- To create a better fit/shape at the facings

There are many ways of making a boot fitting and this is just one of the ways that we do it.
  •  Use a paper template to cut a semicircle of leather (the fitting) from shank leather or an off cut from the insole leather. The semicircle should be long enough to overlap the cone of the last by at least 1.5" and to extend above the cone by a further 1.5 - 2". 

  •  Skive the leather a third thinner all over, so that it is thin enough to bend in half.
  • Skive the curved edge of the fitting to nothing
  • Rough the skin side with sandpaper or a rasp
  • Check the angle of the fitting on the last using the long and short heel measurements  to ensure they correspond to the client's measures. (you may need to notch the fitting to position the it correctly - see above).
  • Draw a line to mark the bottom edge and angle of the fitting on each side of the cone
  • Use contact adhesive on the corners of the skin side of the fitting and on the sides of the cone of the last 
  • Stick one side of the fitting to the last; hammer it in place and use short, wide headed brads or nails to secure it. (Punch the nail heads below the surface of the leather so that they won't scratch the lining).
  • Now fold the fitting around the cone and stick the other side in place. Hammer and nail securely as before.
Ultimately what you are trying to do is to provide the upper with some support whilst you are working on it; and to keep the top edge at the right angle and at the right height when you last the upper. We hope that this brief description helps and we look forward to hearing what techniques you use to fit up your lasts.

Until next week happy shoemaking.


DWFII said...

Very nice. Isn't there also a fitting that needs to be added at the top of the heel?

Perhaps, at some point you could talk about how to make a loafer or slip-on if all you have is an oxford last.

Madame Shoe said...

Thanks DW - we don't put a heel fitting on the last, although plenty of people do. We think the part of the heel that needs to be gripped is catered for by the last. A heel fitting can help keep the shape, but we only really make short boots and it isn't that much of an issue.
Will think about making casual shoes (slip-ons) on regular shoe lasts and post