Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 23 November 2012

Whichever way you measure's still a foot!

Since we started shoemaking we have seen and heard about measures being taken in many different ways...depending on the shoemakers and the last makers involved. Some call for the client to be standing and others for the client to be seated but crucially, always in the socks they will be wearing with the shoes.

Below is an example of how we measure for one of our last makers. The measures are taken with the client standing - drawing around the foot and then sweeping the pencil in at the arch; measuring around the widest part at the joint, at the instep (on the bone) and at a point midway between the two...always keeping the tape measure as straight as possible.

Whichever method you use, the critical element is to use a standard, sharp HB pencil and to keep it perpendicular as you draw the outline of the foot.

To simplify taking measurements this way, we made a 'measuring stand' enabling drawing around the foot and capturing the side profile, as well as taking the measures whilst the customer is standing on the board. 

With our new last makers however, we are using a different system. This time the customer is seated when we take the measures with their knees straight above their ankles and their thighs parallel to the floor i.e making a square.

We have simplified the above 'measuring board' to one single, leather covered board. The paper is slotted into this to draw the profile of the foot and to mark any oddities, but the measurements themselves are taken with the foot resting on our thighs.
This felt strange at first and is much more intimate for the customer, but it does give us the opportunity to really feel the foot and, in particular, the underside. It is also more comfortable for the customer, particularly our older or less flexible customers, whilst we take measurements across the widest point, from big toe to little toe joint, on the instep bone and at the crook of the ankle.

We have had the first few fittings with this new method and I have to say that the results so far have been very promising. The fit around the quarters has been particularly good, so fingers crossed we can reduce the number of fittings to just one or two.

That's all for this week news of a new Crafts Award in the UK and us demonstrating at the launch at The Royal Society of Arts. It is the beginning of a shift in funding and focus that could be very exciting for youngsters wanting to get into crafts in the future.

So until next week, happy shoemaking!

Sunday, 18 November 2012