Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 6 June 2014

Guest Blog: How To Tape A Last

Pattern making is the link between design and creating the actual shoe. There are several ways of covering a last to capture its 3D proportions. Some people use craft paper, which they crease against the last to make a form; others use masking tape, which can range in size from 15mm to 50mm.

Many people have asked me how I tape a last so I thought you might find the following demonstration useful.  A popular textbook method involves taping the last both horizontally and vertically. However, this is time consuming, uses up a lot of tape and can be bulky so below is the method I use and recommend.

Wooden last

Take your last and a roll of masking tape 18mm wide. In bespoke shoe making, we work with wooden lasts which are made to the specifications of the customers feet but this method can also be used with industrial plastic lasts.

Where to start

Place a strip of tape from the top of the cone to the tip of the toe. Do the same at the rear of the last from the back point to the bottom edge.

Taping technique

Place the edge of the next strip of tape halfway across the first centre strip so that half the tape is a single layer but the other half now has 2 layers of tape. Smooth this down so it sticks to the last and is not bulky.

Covered half

Continue this method across one half of the last until it is completely covered and you have built up the tape so it is strong and will not tear or lose its shape when you remove it from the last.

The other half
Some people only tape the outside of the last and use this form for the inside of the pattern also. However, I prefer to tape both the outside and the inside to get a complete form of the last. When this is done, the next step is to draw the design on the tape.

When you have taped the last and smoothed down the tape with your fingers, cut away the excess along the bottom feather edge. Now you can now draw the design on the last.  The above design is a 5 eyelet ‘wholecut’ with 1mm decorative perforations along the top line and neck.

Hope this is helpful. Happy pattern making!
Guest post by Fiona Campbell MA