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!

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