Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 14 November 2014

Shoe Covers

Onwards and upwards, dear shoefolk of the world. We hope you have had a productive week and we welcome back to our blog.

Have you ever said yes to something and then thought it might not have been such a good idea? We were asked to do a 50 minute presentation on bespoke shoemaking to 800 16 - 18 year old art students. At the time I had just got back from speaking at the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Istanbul and was buzzing from speaking in public. But as the date approaches, I'm beginning to think it may have been a touch foolhardy. How are we going to keep their attention for that long? Fifty seems like a lot of minutes  - ulp! Luckily, one of us is fully competent with Powerpoint, so, at the very least, it will look professional.

Just a little teaser for next week, we have just made a pair of hunting gaitors in Horween Latigo calf in Italian Brown - they are beautiful. And we have a pair of boots just finished on which to model them - watch this space.

Moving on to matters shoemaking, this week we  received an order of shoe covers. They are specially made for shoemaking and are extremely easy to use. Made from medical grade fromocene, they are seethrough which helps during the making process. We don't cover all the shoes we make, only ones which are very pale; have delicate leather; exotics; suede, nubuck, or fabric shoes.
We have them in two sizes, medium (UK sizes from 5 - 9) and large (UK sizes from 10 - ?). They are very stretchy, so it is better to use a smaller one and have it tight on the last.
They are robust enough to withstand the shoemaking process intact.

We are selling these covers, so if you want to buy them, they cost as follows:

£2.25  per pair

Minimum order is 10 pairs

We can ship worldwide

To place an order, please email - - or call +44(0)2078130093

And here they are

They are put on after you have lasted the shoes and before you welt them and the following video shows you what to do. All you need is a hair dryer. Sorry if the focus is a bit off at the beginning - it gets better in a few seconds.
The heat softens the cover so that it can stretch easily over the shoe and then when it cools, it shrinks into place. They are good because once on, they are crease free and won't get in the way of the shoemaking process.

You want to pull the cover down just past the feather edge, about 5 - 7mm. This is how it should look from the bottom. BTW, this shoe is just braced onto an insole in readiness for a customer fitting and was used just for demonstration purposes. We would not usually cover a shoe in black box calf.

It is a bit loose at this point so it is a good idea to get some clear sticky tape and tighten across the waist.

Then run a srtip of tape around the feather edge. This has the effect of tightening the cover so that it doesn't interfere or get in the way later on. It also strengthens the cover that little bit more.

The Outside

The Inside

The Toe

The last thing to do is tape up the spare plastic at the toe, again so that you can see the shoe clearly. Please be aware that if the leather is very delicate, the cover, especially the seams, can leave lines on it, so make sure you do the toe/heel areas carefully avoiding wrinkles.

Once the cover is on, you can proceed to welt or whatever construction method you are using.

At the end of the process, when the shoes are finished, you have to cut very carefully as close to the feather edge as possible with a scalpel or very sharp knife. Obviously, avoid cutting into the leather.

These covers are very handy and will save you time - this will make sense to those of you who have tried other methods - plastic bags, shrink wrap, cotton (that's what we used at Lobb).

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

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