Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Intensive Shoemaking Course London - Part II


Welcome back good shoe folk of the world! 

What a 12-day marathon of shoemaking our students have been on... and what great wonder their toes are tapping! On Saturday they finished and here's the photo diary from their last week...

Preparing to fit the shank and cork

Fudging the welt ready for stitching

Stitching the sole

Peening the heel layers together

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Bond
After heel building and some considerable hours of rasping....
it was down to some serious glassing and then...



and more sanding...

Heads down working hard...

Once the edges were set, it was time to turn attention to the sole surface

Edges set
and yet more glassing

And sanded
Heel glassed and sanded too


Time for some careful inking

Carmelito burnishing his heels with wax as Rick snips the heads off the odd stray nail inside his shoes
Then, with a justified sense of pride, it was time to get their shoes on....

Brittney..celebrating the joy of finishing her shoes with a cracking pair of socks!

Amazing work everyone - well done.

A well-earned glass of bubbly, cake and certificates of course!

Apologies for the handsyness to Mr Bond, my post-production editing wasn't great! 

Now all of you, on to your next pair! Until Friday, happy shoemaking!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Intensive Shoe Making Course, August 2017 - Part I

Hello again to all of our readers, we send you a big Carreducker welcome

We did the same on Monday to our seven intrepid students who started our summer intensive shoe making course. This time round, we have 3 Americans, a Nigerian, a Frenchman, and 2 Brits. So a wonderfully international group, as ever

Day 1 saw us sharpening knives; skiving toe puffs/stiffeners; and blocking insoles.

Everyone cutting out stiffs and puffs

Blocking the insole

Skiving a toe puff
Day 2 was filled with preparing the holdfast/feather; finishing the skiving; and lasting the heels.

Holdfasts and awl holes made

Day 3 was spent lasting heels and foreparts; shaping toe puffs and making threads.

Lasting the forepart

Initial lasting stage

Flattening the stiffener with the French hammer

Lasting the heel
Day 4, the welting started. This is a challenge which all of the students were looking forward to and which all of them tackled with great success.

Welting the left shoe - not sure about the thread on the floor though!

More welting

Welting the toe with bristles

 Day 5 saw us finishing welting and making more threads.

Making threads

 And so on to day 6, today, Saturday. We have spent this morning attaching shanks; filling the forepart with cork; and trimming our welts in preparation for stitching the soles on.

Beating the welt

Soles which have been soaked and are being left to mellow

And that is it for this week. Well done to all of oour students who have worked so hard. Next time we will share the second week of the course with you and show you some of the finished shoes

Until then, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Summer Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes course

Class set up and ready for action

Welcome back good shoe folk. After a week in lovely sunny Lisbon, I am back in the fray as James has a well-earned break before the Intensive Shoemaking course kicks off on Monday. This week it's all about brown paper, masking tape, lasts and patterns on the Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes course under the calm, watchful eye of Fiona Campbell.

We're always delighted to see students get bitten by the shoemaking bug, so it was lovely to welcome three evening class students onto the pattern course this summer; Ardavan, Derrek and Frankey. 

Pattern tools at the ready

Fiona gets Femi, Ardavan, Derrek, Travers, Elizabeth and Frankey under way 

Students can bring their own lasts to work on
They started with a simple pump or court shoe pattern....

A simple pump pattern on a ladies last
...which can easily be converted into a slipper pattern as the same principles apply

Ladies last and a court / pump pattern and slipper pattern

Then they moved on to a classic Oxford shoe...

Last taped, Oxford shoe contour lines drawn on and inside and outside sections

The full monty...a brogued Oxford with wingcap, counter and medallion

The Oxford standard with lasting allowance and pieces marked

The inside and outside quarters to accommodate differing ankle bone heights

Ardavan checking that the facings match

Oxford pattern finished

Positive and negative space

Next up was a brogue Derby...

Femi drawing on the Derby design...

and checking the balance
Travers and Fiona reviewing style lines on the Derby 

Elizabeth sketching on her style lines

Femi, Ardavan, Derrek and Fiona getting to grips with the Derby

The week has flown and it's hard to believe they only have an afternoon left, after a well-earned break this lunchtime at the Dickens Museum. No doubt there'll be a host of questions about adapting all they have learnt to their own designs. We can't wait to see the results. 

Until next week, when we welcome back Femi and Elizabeth for the Intensive Shoemaking Course, happy shoemaking!