Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 19 August 2016

August handsewn shoemaking students - impressive results and a host of different finishes!

Tired, but happy the handsewn shoemaking class of August 2016 in their shoes
Welcome back fellow shoemakers and shoemaking fans! Here's a glimpse of the beautiful shoes made by our summer course students. 

As you know, the majority of our students have no previous experience and that was the case this time. But even those who are used to working with their hands often find it a challenge. Even the very skilled leatherworker in our class, described the English hand lasted and hand welted techniques as the hardest thing they'd ever learned. 

The last day focused on finishing, when it really is a case of getting back what you put in. Here's their outstanding results!

Heel sitting flat and soles edges glassed
and more sanding.
A natural sole finish
Staining the sole dark brown prior to polishing and burnishing
Sanding the sole

A neutral polish buffed sole and edges marked with dividers ready to be painted
A decorative finish on the sole; natural polish in the middle and black edges
A natural polish and unburnished for an unfinished look - set only with a warm iron
Natural sole and polished edges - the results of great finishing.
High shine soles in the making
with contrast natural polished edges
The high shine of a burnished and polished sole
Ardavan's shoes with a neutral polish sole and rugged, unfinished natural sole edges
Ardavan proud of his work
An exciting moment...Ollie pulling his lasts...note the high-shine dark brown sole.
Will deciding on lace colours
Forest green lace in dark brown derby shoes with a wide welt and 6 to the inch stitching.
Black soles and edges on the right; brown derby shoes with polished, burnished edges
Sean's corresponding brown lace /dark brown shoe combo - bespoke lasts
Parama's distinctive lasts with an elegant elongated toe and high-shine!

Ollie, Sean and Ronan relaxing at last with their handsome handiwork
A melee of handsewn shoes - Will, Lena, Parama and Ardavan
Parama's sharp black edges and sole
Will's black sole finish
Lena's signature natural with black outline sole finish and Will's sharp black edges - lovely!
Very proud...Ollie, Sean, Ronan, Lena, Will, Parama and Ardavan.
We're taking bookings for the October Intensive course and will be announcing the dates for next year's courses with an exciting new addition so keep an eye out. Until then happy shoemaking!

Friday, 12 August 2016

August 2016 Intensive Shoemaking Course - Week 2

Hello again to one and all and welcome back to the Carreducker blog

We have been very busy in class in the second week of our Intensive Shoemaking Course

Having attached the soles last Saturday, our students stitched their soles to the welts on Monday and Tuesday.

Stitching the sole

With the soles firmly attached, we moved on to heel building, starting with the split lift. Once prepared, it is attached using paste and nails.

Making the split lift

Heel building in action

Heel building requires each lift to be added and skived flat so that when the top piece is attached, the heel sits flat on the ground giving support and stability to the wearer.
We use paste and nails and add the lifts one by one.

Nailing a heel lift

Skiving a heel lift


Attaching a split lift with paste and nails
Time is also spent shaping the heel so that the sides are straight and the back is slightly pitched to match the curve of the last at the heel.

Balancing the heel
The guys also had to cut the seat around the top of the heels and then the heel breast. This is an exciting moment as the shoes really start to look fantastic.

With the heels built and top pieces attached, our students moved on to the final stage of the shoemaking process - finishing

The shoes are functionally finished at this point and could be worn, but, to make them look beautiful, our students must spend 2 days finishing them, starting with a final shape with the knife and then some rasping.
This is a very important step and will give the shoes their final finish and shape. So they spend a lot of time getting this stage right.

Rasping the heel

Finishing en masse

This heel needs the seat to be cut to give it a clean look around the heel

They will finish tomorrow and next week we will post some images of our proud students wearing their shoes

So until then, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Intensive Shoemaking Class - August 2016

Hello again to one and all. Another milestone reached - we have hit 1 million all time page views! Amazing. Thank you so much to all of you who have read the blog, old timers and newbies. We hope you keep reading and supporting us

This week we have been flat out with our summer Intensive Shoemaking Course. We have 7 eager students from all over the world here to make a pair of hand welted shoes

Day 1 starts with sharpening their knives - very important!!!

And then moves on to skiving toe puffs and stiffeners

Hand skiving a stiffener

Hand skiving a toe puff

Explaining skiving

After a good skiving session, they moved onto blocking the insole. After soaking it for 1 hour and letting it dry out to about 80% dry, they attached the insoles to the lasts and blocked them to the unsderside.

Cutting out an insole

Blocked insoles drying

Day 2 was spent preparing the insole.

After it had dried completely, they trimmed the edges and started to prepare the holdfast or feather.

Marking out the holdfast/feather

Boning the holdfast

Day 3 was lasting - pulling the upper over the last with the stiffeners and toe puffs between the lining and the uppers.

Toe puffs drying

Days 4 and 5 were dedicated to welting by hand - the epitome of English shoemaking. This is a challenge but our intrepid students tackled it with great patience and enthusiasm

First they prepared the welts themselves

And then the welting started

Hand stitching the welt

Hand stitching the welt

Tomorrow will see them putting in shanks and cork filler and then attaching their soles. This is the half way point on the course so they get a well deserved Sunday off, but come Monday, they will be up and at it again stitching their soles, building heels and finishing

Onwards and upwards

We have finalised dates for next year's classes and will be publishing them soon on the website

Until next week, happy shoemaking!