Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 22 February 2019

An Introduction to Shoe Making Class - Hand Lasting

Welcome back good shoe making enthusiasts and what a lovely day we spent yesterday, helping Keith to celebrate his birthday with a one-on-one Introduction to Shoe Making. 

It's one of our new classes, where students learn to hand last a pair of shoes which are then sent off to our specialist cobbler for a leather sole to be blake-stitched on and leather heels added.

Keith visited us a few weeks ago to try the shoes on for size and to choose a style; we have shoes for students to try on and make, in sizes from a UK4 to a UK13. This was especially important as Keith wears orthotics. 

Keith opted for a pair of burgundy, derby brogues which we ordered with extra lasting allowance and a curved outside quarter top line. This meant we could raise the back height to accommodate the orthotics without the top line rubbing on the ankle bone.  

We decided it was best to still do a fitting, so Keith spent the morning getting to grips with the lasting pliers, pulling his uppers over and then cementing them in place. The toe puffs and stiffeners were pre-prepared so there was no skiving to be done and we put them in mellow, without paste, just for the fitting.

Setting the upper straight along the last

Lasting the toe
Lasting pliers in motion

Pulling down the heel to the marked back height

Lasted to the joint ready to tackle the toes

The fitting after lunch with the orthotics went very well. The scooped quarter top line allowed plenty of space for the ankle bone and the raised back height gave a good fit at the heel.

Sliding in the stiffener, pasted this time

A very happy man at the end of the day toasting his hard work 
High quality Rendenbach soles, blake stitched in place

And in a couple of weeks the leather soles will have been stitched on and heels attached, the shoes will have been polished and they will be wending their way to Keith! we look forward to seeing them in their finished glory!

That's it from us for this week. We're off up to Harrogate for the annual Independent Shoemakers Conference. Can't wait, it's such a great chance to catch up with everyone and to learn some new techniques! News from there next week, until then happy shoemaking!