Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 7 December 2018

Insectum Bespoke Boot Commission


Welcome back good shoe folk and you're in for a treat! We're showcasing a pair of boots recently delivered and truly 'bespoken' by a couple who are modern day patrons and champions of the crafts. 

Generally, if we were to describe our bespoke customers it would be as confident, assured and with a clear sense of their own personal style. We're their shoemakers of choice because they know that we will design and make to their tastes and preferences; we're not afraid of colour and pattern; we are passionate about beautiful materials; and because we are unapologetic about the craftsmanship involved in our making. (We've had some wonderful commissions over the years, but these might be the most colourful yet!)

So, when the couple in question proposed a pair of derby boots incorporating embroidered fabric (commissioned separately from textile artist, Lisa Vaughan Thomas), we didn't bat an eye! (Well actually we did, because we were so excited!)

The bespoke process started in the usual way with a consultation to discuss styles and take measurements. A variety of designs were submitted and a Derby boot was finally decided upon, to be made in a mix of French navy calf and the embroidered fabric.
Some of the initial sketches
  
The lasts were made, a fitter upper created and the customer came in for a fitting. All good so far.

We were then all set to move forward with Lisa, who had already been developing embroidery ideas. But now for the tricky bit, ensuring that the embroidery sat in the right place on each inside and outside quarter and left and right vamp. We sent Lisa copies of the paper pattern pieces showing the underlay and overlays so that she could design the embroidery completely tailored to the boots. 


The quarter pattern pieces - inside and outside

Insects were the chosen theme, as you can see from her development work below. 





And gradually the pattern shapes were covered in bugs and beetles...



Testing the fabric design in situ on the last

We also tested the proposed background fabrics for stretch and 'bleed' (to make sure paste wouldn't seep through the backed material) and a slightly textured cloth was selected from the shortlist.



Finally, Lisa could start working on the fabric itself, carefully ensuring that she designed an inside and outside quarter for each boot and a left and right vamp.

Vamp

Outside quarter

Inside quarter

Attention to detail - beetle boot tugs
 

The finished uppers lasted over


With relief we received the fabric sections and sent them off to our closer to be made up before lasting them over.  The original design had included a leather tongue, in case the fabric was too fragile, but when the boot uppers came back the leather was too obtrusive. So, with Lisa and our closer's help we exchanged it for a more discreet fabric tongue.

At last the boots could be made. We covered them throughout the making process; finishing the soles and heels with a natural polish finish before carefully removing the wraps to reveal the boots in all their glory and here they are!





We'd like to thank Lisa and our closer for creating such beautiful uppers and our customers (you know who you are) for such an exciting commission.

Until next week happy shoe making!

Friday, 30 November 2018

Shoe Polish and beeswax from the Borders


Welcome back good shoe folk! Here we are with Christmas Open Studios done and dusted (and lovely it was too) and the holidays stampeding towards us. So it's just as well we have some wonderful new products if you're hunting for stocking fillers!

The new Carreducker polish trio, gift-wrapped

A stack of neutral, brown and black polish 
Our new polish comes from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Borders (of England and Scotland) and is a lovely natural combination of Carnauba and beeswax, along with a little turpentine and white spirit.


It's available in black, brown and neutral polish £3.95 for one tin and £10 for a set of three.



The beeswax nourishes and protects the leather; the Carnauba helps to give the leather a good shine; and the turpentine and white spirit helps to clean off dust, dirt and old polish without drying the leather. We've been using them for a while and like the results., particularly for a high shine.



We are also selling these lovely bee-stamped beeswax blocks, perfect for shoe and furniture makers out there, £2.50 for a 6cm x 12mm block.

That's all from us this week, we're back to the workbench for some bespoke shoe finishing... until next week, happy shoe making!



Saturday, 24 November 2018

Christmas Open Studios 2018



Welcome back good shoe makers and shoe enthusiasts and here we are, it's that time again Christmas Open Studios at Cockpit Arts. It's our twice-yearly opportunity to throw the doors open and welcome everyone in to see what we designer makers get up to.



The team at Cockpit have been working their socks off to make sure as many Londoners as possible know about it... 


and we're excited to have so many wonderful things to showcase and sell alongside our beautiful bespoke work.





QEST's new book celebrating British craftsmanship is on sale from us at £45 (rrp £50)
as is the wonderful Forge and Carve telling the story of 18 different craftspeople  £20 (rrp £24)
We've a host of different value Gift Cards to take the stress out of choosing the right gift...




And our own new shoe polish, made in the Scottish borders from carnauba and beeswax is available in black, brown and neutral; alongside some beautiful beeswax blocks, the perfect gift for the shoemaker, craftsman, upholsterer or furniture maker in your life...or just because they are beautiful.





Smart and cosy Christmas socks - some traditions should never be broken!
New tins of Carreducker polish made in the Scottish borders - singles
or trios of neutral, brown and black


Time to get making....why not gift making a pair of shoes on our 1, 5 or 12 day shoe making courses; as an evening class; or an evening or weekend saddle stitch class?
All of our courses are available to book online on our website....

...and we now have beautiful leather key fobs in tangerine and chocolate Italian veg. tan leather and card cases hand stitched and gift boxed




Tor boot customers...we have some very special limited edition leathers available for you to order your next pair of boots in...but be quick there is only enough leather for one or two pairs! 


Moss green veg. tan Italian calf - 2 pairs only
Heather veg tan Italian calf - 1 pair only
Russian calf - 2 pairs only
Smog veg tan leather - 2 pairs only

And show casing some new bespoke samples including these chic winter boots in the heather veg. tan shown above. (You can see how dark the leather gets with cream and polish...very plummy!) 




If there's anything that catches your eye and you'd like to do a little gift shopping with us then please drop us an email... but be quick as we have very limited stock and will be selling all weekend.

Until next week, happy shoe making and a belated happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, 16 November 2018

A team experience at Studio 50



Welcome back good shoe folk. We're celebrating our first team experience at the Shoe & Leather School which took place last night. We hosted the Canaletto team who came together to make wonderful key fobs under Frankey's watchful eye and careful guidance, 

Explaining the benefits of veg tan leather

Applying gum tragacanth

Synchronised burnishing...




Tools all set for action

Punching the brogue pattern proved a popular and therapeutic activity after a busy week



Hemma, Noush and Helen looking forward to using the mallet


Lou, Anna and Alex watch on attentively

Getting down to stitching

Clare and Hemma

Anna

Alex

Noush

dining on a delicious Mediterranean supper from Humdingers Catering in our versatile second space...(dressed with a linen tablecloth, white 'hobnail' Portuguese plates and candles for the evening)




and celebrating a great evening with a glass of fizz at the end! 


Thank you and well done to Helen and her team!


COCKPIT CHRISTMAS OPEN STUDIOS

Finally, if you are in London next weekend why not pop into Open Studios here at Cockpit Arts in Holborn? All of the studios are open to the public for a weekend of Christmas Shopping, buying beautiful things straight from their makers and designers. We're open Friday from 1 - 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am - 6pm.

Until next week happy shoe making!