Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 22 April 2016

Workshop Snapshot

Hello again, dear shoemakers, aspiring shoemakers and general shoe nerds. And if you don't fit into any of those categories, welcome to you too.

This week we are going to give you a snapshot of what is going on in our workshop today

When we have a bespoke customer, we always do at least one fitting with them, often two and what follows is how we do it. There are various ways to do it from making a fitter upper and cutting it open to check fit and getting the shoes into welt and trying on that way. Both are very good ways to do it and, if time is no object, both are worth considering

We prefer to make the final uppers and get them braced onto an insole. So we block the insole as normal, but we don't prepare the holdfast/feather. We make toe puffs and stiffs and then last the uppers onto the insole. Most times we last both the stiffs and the toe puffs together, but it depends a little on the thickness of the uppers and lining.
Once lasted on, we brace the upper into place using a simple brace stitch

This is then easy to take apart once the fitting is done and the lasts can be adjusted. If needed, the whole process can be repeated

We use a special curved awl for this job called an inseaming awl, very like our welting awls but with a greater curve so you can get it into the insole and out again in a short distance

Next up is the development of a pair of uppers for a new bespoke customer. He liked a style we had made previously which is in our bespoke gallery and decided he wanted the same style and toe shape. So we dug the old patterns to work from.

We have his lasts and so we taped them up with masking tape and drew the desired style onto the outside of the left last using the old patterns as a guide.

 We will now make the standard and pattern pieces for the new lasts and close the uppers from these.

And then get the shoes ready for a fitting (see above) on the 14th of May when he will be back in London.

While I write, Deborah is stitching the soles on a pair of Madeira blue loafers

And finally, we fixed some rather handsome button boots which we made a few years ago for a bespoke customer. The ones we originally put on were more of a contrast and the customer had grown to dislike them, so we agreed to put some new ones on. This is the beauty of a bespoke service - it continues for the life of the shoes, so upwards of 15 years in most cases.

The leather on these is a shrunken calf which has beautiful natural graining on it

So that is what is going on this morning chez Carreducker. This afternoon it gets a little less interesting - payroll and bookkeeping - ho hum.

Until next week, happy shoemaking