bespoke shoemaking cover

- Learn to make shoes by hand.
Sample Pages

Bespoke Shoemaking, Sample Pages

bespoke shoemaking book cover


These pages are samples of what is available in the book. All the images are done the same way to show clearly what it is you need to know. The purchase page is here.

















Foot Measurement

The bespoke shoemaker must have accurate measurements to work from, specifically the joint, the instep, the long heel line, the short heel line, the ankle, the calf, and the under knee measurements. These measurements may be supplemented by others as required, and there is no limit to the number that may be taken.

The only consideration is whether or not they are really necessary, and if there are any features that need separate measurements taken because of particular peculiarities.

Orthopaedic shoemakers use a plaster cast of the foot in question to refresh their memories of the individual characteristics that have to be taken into account once the client has gone, but this is not essential if you have taken the measurements accurately.

Certainly, if desired, use a plaster cast. If the customer wears an orthotic device, always include this in any measurements. Never guess, and if the device is not available,don't do the measuring. It will always cause problems.

Tools required; Narrow tape measure, firm paper, size-stick (optional), flat board to stand on and a sharp pencil. Always use a sharp pencil and a thin tape measure, as a wide tape measure does not bend as easily to the shape of the foot.Be as accurate aspossible, it will save time.

Have the customer stand with their weight evenly balanced between both feet with no socks or stockings being worn, as these can compress the foot. Pull clothing away so no aspect of the foot is hidden.

foot measure 1








While drawing the foot outline hold the pencil vertical. Always reach right around the heel as far as is comfortable, and then draw from this position towards yourself, and then across the front of the foot.

Foot measure 2









Now go to the starting point and draw back down towards yourself again on the other side of the foot, to join up with the first line.

foot measuring 3











It is easier to draw towards your body than away from it. Reaching around the foot at the start will avoid drawing a peak behind the heel which happens if you start the drawing behind the heel. This peak, caused by the pencil being held innacurately here, will give an inaccurate foot length measurement. Accuracy is necessary when using the geometric pattern cutting method, and also for checking the last against the foot shape.

foot measuring 4









Mean Forme Construction

A mean forme is the plan of the surface area of the inside and the outside surface of the last, represented on a flat surface.

As the Mean Forme is used to create the Standard, which is then used to cut patterns for the finished shoe or boot that is to be made on a particular last, then extreme accuracy is required from this point forward. It is the fundamental building block for making patterns, whatever method of pattern cutting is used. Near enough is not good enough because if you are a few millimetres out at this stage, then that can easily be compounded until the final upper does not fit the last at all.

Selecting a last is the first job, and all the requirements of the type of shoe to be made must be considered now, such as heel height, toe shape, suitability for the job, (court shoe or boot), and size and fit. Once satisfied with the last, whether it is built up, or just standard, then proceed to create a mean forme as follows

Tools required.

Last, masking tape, pencils, tape measure, knife, flexible ruler (optional), compass or dividers.

Covering a last This is done to obtain a pattern of the surface of the last to enable it to be rendered in two dimensions so that it is possible to create individual pattern pieces. This is usually done on the left last of the pair. Once again this is just convention and if you want to use the right one then go ahead.

Take 20mm/3/4"-225mm/1" masking tape and lay a strip down the centre of the front of the last from the top of the cone to the feather edge at the toe, and press it into place. Run another strip down the centre of the back, from top to bottom. All the tape must run over the feather edge to wrap on to the bottom. This will be cut off later.

last cover 1










Place a strip of masking tape from the toe, overlapping the centre strip by half, and running as far back on the last as possible in a continuous line, starting on the inside of the last. This, and any subsequent strips, run as far back as possible until they either cross the centre at the back, go over the feather edge, or over the top of the last.

tape last 2










The strips are laid on from front to back first, so that when the covering is peeled away at the end, it comes off in a continuous piece. Each strip must overlap the previous one by about half. Keep doing this until the inside of the last is covered completely.

last cover 4








If the strips leave gaps because of the shape of the last then just tear off more strips to cover them, but make sure that the existing pieces and the centre strips are overlapped

last cover 5







Now cover the outside of the last in the same manner, overlapping the centre tape at the front, and crossing the strip at the back. The next job is to cover the last with tape running across it, at right angles to the centre tape. Start at the toe and work towards the back.

last measure 6







These strips overlap by half as did the others. As the shape of the last distorts the placing of the tape in straight lines, use shorter pieces to fill gaps, but the whole masking tape cover must be complete with two thicknesses to reduce stretch and distortion. If the transverse strips are laid across the last before the longitudinal strips, then peeling off the masking tape is difficult but can be done with care. If two layers are not applied, then the tape may stretch on removal, and give a distorted pattern.

Lasting the Back

To pull the back down once the front is fixed, remove the nail holding the upper on to the last at the heel. With the pincers, tug the lining, working from the inside waist to the outside waist or vice versa, with special emphasis at the very back of the seat.

This is to take out any wrinkles and stop the lining being caught up when the upper and lining and stiffener are gripped and pulled down together. For this bit of lasting, the pincers cannot push the upper away from the last very far, and at this point, the lasting becomes quite difficult.

Make sure that the lining and stiffener come together with the upper, or they will smear paste on to the last and wrinkle at the top of the last, making it difficult to pull over, or even leave a lump inside the topline

lasting 1









Use the leverage of the pincers to pull the bottom of the upper down to provide material to wrap under the insole, while at the same time, making sure that the topline clears the top of the last by pushing it with the fingers of the free hand. The lining may have to be pulled a bit more here to clear it at the top of the last and if it is needed, the upper may be pushed back up again to allow the lining to be straightened before pulling it down again. Make sure that the insole does not get curled up with the lining

lasting 2










When the topline has pulled down to the back height mark, put a heavy nail through the upper, just down from the topline, so that when any more pulling is done, the top will stay right on the line.

lasting 4










Pull the upper, lining, and stiffener under the last at the backseam, and fix it to the insole with a thin nail.

lasting 5








The stiffener must come over the edge of the insole to be fixed, so it will set and provide rigidity to the back of the shoe. If it doesn’t, then the upper will not be held in place at the feather edge and will collapse at that point and the stiffener will be useless, so always check this. The next two pulls are made at right angles to the edge of the last in the area that the front of a heel would come to, which is about ½ way down the seat area from the back of the last.

Women's Fitted Soles: Louis Heels.

Women’s fashion shoes with higher heels generally have pre-made, thin, flexible, leather or resin rubber fitted soles, made using the bottom pattern created from the last. Two shapes of sole are made this way, one for a Louis heel, and the other for a Knock-on type.

Louis heel









Women's fashion shoes with higher heels generally have pre-made, thin, flexible, leather or resin rubber fitted soles, made using the bottom pattern created from the last. Two shapes of sole are made this way, one for a Louis heel, and the other for a Knock-on type

lasting 3





Join these two points to make a line running straight down the centre of the waist. This line does not run down the centre of the forepart, and if it does, it is incorrect

ladies soles4





Place the seat of the heel block to be used onto the back line of the bottom pattern, and mark the front edge of the block.

ladies sole 4





Discard the block and make marks 3mm/1/8" towards the toe of the sole from these marks. The centre line is so that the heel can be positioned correctly, facing down the centre line, not lined up facing the toe.

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