Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 9 January 2015

New York Shoemaking School 2015

We're back at the workbench and soft hands are quickly hardening up as we get back to making. It's been a lovely break - hope that you all enjoyed good holidays too - and we're looking forward to the year ahead.

We finished last year talking about training and there are certainly lots and lots of courses to choose from. Finding the right course can be life changing, so if your New Year's resolution is to learn shoe making then here are some important questions to ask: 

1) Who is teaching you and what experience do they have?
2) What is the classroom environment like?
3) What do you want to get from the course/learn? 
4) What is included in the course fee?
5) What support will you receive after the course is finished?
6) Can you access suppliers, tools and materials?

At our Shoemaking School, we teach both Hand Sewn Shoe Making and Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes. Sharing our expertise and enthusiasm has been part of our business from the start and we get many phone calls from people interested in learning with us. It's great to have the opportunity to talk through what we offer and to advise on whether it is the right course. 
Making leathers - pit tanned from Bakers in Devon
With over 15 years as handsewn shoemakers and 10 years lecturing under our belts, we have tweaked, honed and added to our courses over the years to offer students the best training, value and support. 

The School relocates to New York every May, to Brooklyn Bespoke in super-cool Williamsburg. Here two former students of ours - Jesse Moore and Marika Verploegh Chasse - create their own beautiful bespoke shoes for private customers. We love the annual trip and the opportunity that it offers students to immerse themselves in shoemaking in an inspiring, workshop environment.  

Jesse teaches our Pattern making for bespoke shoes course. Knowledgeable, articulate and multi-skilled - doing everything herself from design, patterns and clicking to closing, fittings and making - Jesse equips students with the skills to bring their own designs to fruition as working patterns.

The intensive course follows immediately afterwards, so that the two courses can be taken together. James and I teach it in six-day bursts to keep energy levels high and to give students the chance to talk each of us about our work, experience, approach and techniques.
Each student starts with a pack of making materials, a pair of Derby (Gibson) shoe uppers in tan, brown or black, a pair of lasts and a starter pack of tools. Then we guide them through the 200+ steps involved in hand sewing a pair of shoes...a journey that is exhausting, challenging but infinitely rewarding.

What they come away with is....

- A beautiful pair of shoes
- The know-how to make bespoke shoe patterns
- The skills (and some of the tools) to make more shoes
- Comprehensive notes
- Sources for tools and materials to make more shoes
- Contact list of suppliers a big discount off the tools, packs and materials we sell

...and an open invitation to contact us when they can't remember what comes next!

Until next week happy shoemaking!