Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 13 July 2018

12-Day Intensive Shoe Making Course, July 2018 - Week 1

Hello again to one and all, we hope you have had a great week

To really get the new school in the groove, we have been running the first 12-day intensive shoe making course there this week

It was smaller group of 3 which meant that any teething problems were easy to sort out, but the school looks to be functioning just great and is a lovely environment for learning.

We set up the classroom ready for a 9.30 start on Monday morning with lasts, uppers, a tool kit, a rough stuff pack and course notes.

And in the first day, we covered knife sharpening - an essential skill.

We also we blocked the insoles and skived the toe puffs and stiffeners.

Blocking the insole

Insoles blocked and ready to dry for Tuesday.

With the insoles blocked and dried, Tuesday saw us preparing the insole for lasting.

Preparing the holdfast or feather

Cutting the holdfast

Wednesday was lasting, stretching the uppers over the lasts with the toe puffs ans stiffeners between the lining and the upper.

Thursday and Friday,  we spent the time welting which is the basis of the construction we do. They prepared the welts and made threads. This is a challenge but very rewarding and the students did a great job.

Concentrating on welting!

And we wanted to show you our beautiful new table, forged in Sheffield

Our beautiful new table base made from cast iron

Class continues tomorrow, Saturday (this is hardcore shoemaking!) and we will bring you the results next week.

Until then, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 6 July 2018

School's IN For Summer!

Welcome back good shoe folk. Whilst the debate about whether we're in Islington, Hoxton or Shoreditch rages on the reality is that, a bit like the Bermuda Triangle, we are on the borders of all three depending on who you ask....but what borders they are! 

With summer school under way at 50 Chocolate Studios from Monday...

Here's our tambour cabinet packed with seven shoe making kits, lasts and uppers

...we thought we'd give you a taster of some of the fabulous architecture, food and culture on our new doorstep.

Palladian architecture around Bank

The magnificent, Sir Edward Lutyens-designed, Grade II listed 1 Finsbury Circus...
pictured above and below

The original door of the Honourable Artillery Company

And it's turrets

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground - a leafy oasis of calm and handy cut-through
between City Road and  Bunhill Row

Home to William Blake's cenotaph

A juxtaposition of old and new with the Museum of Methodism

Wesley's Chapel and Museum

The Chapel's stunning gardens

Ultra-cool workspace White Collar Factory
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...hip hotel The Hoxton (image courtesy of

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and ultra-hip, members-only, Shoreditch House (image courtesy of

Street signs new and old ...or not

Some great, characterful public houses - The Angel
Great food and atmosphere at The Three Crowns nestled between its modern neighbours 
and below, at our local the Eagle

London's changing skyline in a nutshell

Shoreditch Grind for great brunch and coffee

The old and the new

The wonderful facade of Imperial Hall, built in 1930 as a Methodist mission
originally known as the Leysian Mission. Now Grade II listed, it is apartments

A bit of retro browsing just around the corner at Renaissance under what looks like the most amazing, sadly private, roof garden

Cosy Westland Coffee for a cuppa on the way to the workshop
and a glass of convivial wine on the way back

And that really is just a snapshot of the locale...we can't wait to get to know it better.

Until next week - when normal service resumes with an update from the first shoe making course at Chocolate Studios - a belated 4th of July, happy shoe making and good luck to England tomorrow!

Friday, 29 June 2018

New Bespoke Shoes

Hello once more to one and all. We hope you have had a good week.

London has been basking in wonderful summer sunshine and we have had to turn on the air conditioning which is quite an unusual occurence. We were hotter than Greece yesterday. Marvellous!

Our Korean one to one student, Jove finished a pair of shoes this week with a fiddle waist which we think was really well executed, so well done to him.

This week we delivered a pair of handsome Derby shoes to an American customer who was here on business. They were his second pair, so we thought we would show both styles to you.

He has a challenging fit and it took a couple of fittings to crack it, but we got there and he is very happy.

First up was a pair of black monk shoes made with our signature Carreducker buckle

They were made with a 1/4 inch sole and bevelled waist.

And a royal blue kid lining with a black finish all round.

 Three piece shoe trees finished them off. Rather handsome!

After he had broken them in, they fitted really well and he decided to order another pair, this time a pair of Derbies in Longchamp calf leather which is a beautiful tan with a hint of burnt orange - very cool and distinctive.

Again, he chose a 1/4 inch sole with a bevelled waist

But with this pair he chose a natural finish all round for a more casual look, great with a summer suit or jeans. We particularly like the hand stay stitch on the facings.

They looked really great on and the customer was very pleased. Now to break them in. Slowly

We have five solid weeks of intensive shoe making and pattern making courses starting in July, so next week we will be getting ready for those. Can't wait to meet all our new students

Until next week, happy shoe making!

Friday, 22 June 2018

First Class In The New Shoe Making School

Hello again, dear shoe friends, we hope you have had a good week.

This week saw the first class take place in our new shoe making school in Shoredtich, London. Hurrah!
It was amazing to have students in there to share our wonderful new space.

We decided to do a trial run of our new key fob course which teaches saddle stitch and edge treatments of small leather goods. So we invited a group of friends of the brand to spend a relaxed evening making a beautiful leather key fob.

Our fantastic tutor, Frankey Pinnock, set up the classroom with all the tools needed to make the fob and, as soon as our guests arrived, we got down to work.

Requisite tools and leather blank
The students chose between a brown or orange fob made from beautiful Tempesti Elbamat veg tanned leather which we have had moss backed to stop the pile raising during the life of the key fob.

We started with edge treatments - bevelling the edge with a beveling tool and using the heat creaser to make a clean line next to the stitches.

We then punched the 2 and 1 brogue pattern down the centre of the fob and marked the stitches with the stitch marker. Both processes use a mallet - plenty of hammering which is always popular.

Next up was some skiving of the ends of the leather so that the metal work can be glued into place before stitching.

And then we glued the ring and clasp into place. We are using really nice quality metal work to give the fob a luxury finish.
We had a little break to let the glue dry and have a snack.

And so to the saddle stitching, the core of the class. Frankey demonstrated to everyone and then we set about making two beautiful straight lines of saddle stitch, or we tried, at least!

We used small wooden clams to hold the work still as you need two hands to stitch.

It was a really successful evening and we got a real handle on what to focus on when teaching these classes and we think the students had a great experience.

We will be running the saddle stitch classes throughout the year and you will be able to choose between the key fob, a card case and a felt lined folio suitable for tablets.
Our new website will be up and running very soon and you will be able to book the classes online - so watch this space!

And so to the finished product. While our efforts may not match up to Frankey's excellent work, the level of the work we made was really good and the students were very pleased with themselves - and rightly so. Congratulations to all of them

And that about wraps it up. Until next week, happy shoe making! And saddle stitching!