Friday, September 28, 2012

A Bespoke Fit

It’s been a busy week at the studio with the Added Value? exhibition, a talk by iconic fashion commentator Colin McDowell, lots of fittings, new lasts being delivered and eagerly-awaited shoes being despatched to overseas customers…the pink and cream Battenbergs are on their way! (Boy, have I had sleepless nights about them, nightmares about things being spilt on them, water seeping under their covers etc.). But they left us spotless and now we hope that they do the trick – make a certain customer very, very happy and give his colleagues something to talk about!!  

Anyway, the fittings are always an exciting time because it is when we see how well our measurements have been interpreted by the last makers and it is when the customer gets a first look at their uppers. So whilst they are admiring the successful interpretation (we hope) of their dream shoe we are concentrating on the fit – are there areas that could fit better, how do they feel and is extra comfort or support needed?

Blogs and shoe forums usually talk about bespoke shoes in terms of style, but the comfort and fit is as important if not more important than the look. This is particularly true of customers who live with painful foot it’s our job to try to help to reduce or alleviate their discomfort where we can. The most common complaints we see are:

Hammer toes – where the toe is curled at the first joint raising it above the horizontal plane of the foot. This is usually caused by shoes that are too tight at the front or heels that are too high.

Morton’s Neuroma – where the nerves between the toes are inflamed (as the wearer of far too high and too tight shoes in my youth I know all too well about this myself and have had cortisone injections to try to manage the pain) and cause pain and numbness. Bespoke shoes are very effective in helping to relieve the pain by reducing the pressure on the metatarsals.

Bunions – caused predominantly by not wearing good fitting shoes, arthritis and inherited structural defects. It is an unsightly, painful bony mass that forms on the big toe joint and points outwards forcing the other toes to crowd against each other. Again, we can create space for the bunion and compressed toes within a bespoke shoe to help to alleviate the symptoms.

Flat feet – where the arch inside the foot is flat. This is very common and usually not problematic although it can cause the foot to pronate (rotate inwards). Orthotics or a bespoke insole-up-in-waist can help to correct the pronation.

Plantar fasciitis – this is a very common cause of heel pain where inflammation at the bottom of the heel bone causes excruciating pain.  It is treated with a combination of pain control, steroid injections, proper foot wear and rest. Its nickname is “policeman’s heel” and cushioning built into the shoe can help as part of an overall pain management plan.

All in all, helping to alleviate the above problems is perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of our bespoke work. Not only do we deliver a pair of shoes to suit the customer’s personal taste and style but we help them to feel more comfortable and confident by helping to reduce or alleviate some of their symptoms. One of our customers literally claimed that we had transformed his life! It doesn’t get better than that for us!

For now, we’re looking forward to our evening course starting on Monday and completing more customer shoes next week. Until then happy shoemaking!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Added Value?

Welcome back, shoe people, we hope you have had a great week. We certainly have - Wednesday saw the launch of an exhibition by the Crafts Council called Added Value? which explores what commissioning bespoke work gives you beyond the monetary value of the product. Things like experience; knowledge of materials; a personal relationship with the maker; input into the product; supporting the local economy; exclusivity etc.

They chose six bespoke companies producing very different products, including carreducker.

The following Link will take you to some short films about each company. Luckily ours is first and we are really proud of it - hope you like it.

The exhibition was part of designjunction which, in turn was part of London Design Week. It is on at The Sorting Office, 21-23 New Oxford St which is an old Post Office building in the heart of London and has a lot of the old sorting machinery in place where the letters and parcels were shunted around. It's a massive space, spread over three floors and just right for a show like designjunction.

The afternoon was the Press View and we met various journalists and curators from around the world. There is talk of the show going to Hong Kong and Dubai - hello! And then there was a private view in the evening. Numbers were huge and there were queues down the block to get in. So a lot of people saw us which is fantastic.

Love the old chutes which go from floor to floor. Do you think the workers were ever tempted to go down one?

Here is the Added Value? exhibition. Each company had a stand with one piece of work on display and then another stand with a video, images and description. We thought it was very well presented and reflected the quality of the work on show .

Our Shoes

We really liked the brass lettering for the company name.

Another feature was customer recommendations which really gave a sense of what bespoke adds to the customer experience.

Entry to the show is free, but you need to register on the following link to get in.

If you are in London over the weekend it is a really interesting visit.

And that is our news for the week. Until next Friday, happy shoemaking!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A New Kind Of Last

Hello, one and all, and welcome back to the carr├ęducker blog. Another week, another shoe, I suppose you could say.

Added Value? starts next week, so if any of you are in London and would like to go, it's free, but you need to register here

Below is a typical last with a cone, the old fashioned style of last if you like. Very functional, but quite hard to pull (with a hook) and if you need to get the last back into the shoe for any reason, it can prove difficult. The good thing about them is that if you do need to block a finished shoe, the forepart and heel are connected, so that when you hammer the heel area, it really pushes right up to the toe.

Next you have the sprung last with a sprung hinge in the waist. This is much easier to pull - you just break the last on a pin and then pull it out. It is also much easier to get back into a shoe if you need to make an adjustment.

And here is a third type of last which is new to us.

We have recently started working with a new last making company called Crispinians. With over 20 years experience in bespoke last making and a similar period of time in tree making, we thought we would give them a chance. The advantage of working with them for us is that they are in London and we can discuss face to face any issues that arrive from measuring to fitting.
They have recently set up business and will make bespoke lasts and trees and also runs of lasts - check them out. They are very friendly and helpful.

This is called the easy exit last, where the heel part is cut at an angle with a little step in it. This makes pulling the last very easy, especially if you have a very curved heel profile. Getting them back in is also very easy. We thought we would give them a try.

You can see the cut better from this angle.

You just unscrew the two pieces and they come apart very easily.

The forepart.

And the heel.

This is the first time we have used them, so we will report back with our findings. Crispinians Ltd say they are very easy to use - we shall see!

And that is a wrap, dear readers. Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Spare Thread

Greetings shoe people of the world. Let's start with a great piece of news from the carr├ęducker camp. We have been chosen to participate in an exhibition curated by the Crafts Council called Added Value? It aims to look at all the extra things that commissioning bespoke work gives the customer beyond the product itself by examining 6 varied and distinct bespoke companies, including us.
It will take place during London Design Week at Designjunction at the Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1BA.

Entry is free but you need to go to  the website below to register.

You can also visit the Crafts Council  website to see more.

And this one to see a gorgeous portrait of Us in the studio.

Added Value? will then begin a world tour (hopefully) beginning in Hong Kong and Dubai. Exciting. If all goes well, we have been invited to go to Hong Kong with the exhibition. Now, how will Deborah and I decide who will have the honour of attending - it'll be a scrap!

Now, what do you do when you have a precious thread left over after welting or stitching? Obviously, this is only worth doing if the thread is about this long.

Waste not want not is our motto and here is what we do.

Take your saved thread and start at the heel where you would normally finish the welting (see last week).

Stitch round to the other side and then start the welting as normal.

Continue welting until the extra thread runs out. Make a last hole and pass the outside thread through it.

You should have two threads on the inside like this.

Tie a knot to secure it.

You will need your new thread at this point. Put the awl through the last whole you made, where the knot is.

Put just one of the bristles of the new thread through as you would normally. Pull it through to the midway point.

Then welt as normal.

You just go round the shoe as normal and finish where you started on the heel. And there you go, the whole shoe is welted and you haven't wasted a single bit of the threads you have made.

And that is our top time saving tip for this week.

Until next week, happy shoemaking!