Friday, September 26, 2014

A Good Break

This week has been a busy one of fittings and adjustments for a client with enlarged big toe joints and a nerve problem in his right foot, but not his left. This means that both lasts have prominent fittings to accommodate the joints and the right shoe needs to be wider than the left at the vamp to ensure that the toes are not cramped.

Naturally the shoes still need to look like a pair, so we have used felt to pad out the left shoe, between the lining and the upper, so that they look similar. 

It has also been an exercise in fine tuning the fit, to create the room needed at the toes and at the big toe joint, without inadvertently creating bad break. Break - where leather folds and creases against itself - is a vital consideration in footwear where the vamp folds and creases as you walk.

Bad break is where there is too much leather in the vamp, creating deep creases which dig into the foot when it flexes or where the shoe is not the right length for the foot; too short and the vamp will break too far forward, too long a shoe and the vamp will break too close to the quarters and laces. Good break is tight, shallow creasing across the vamp behind the toes.

To make good break on this client's shoes, we lowered the fore part of the last diagonally from the big toe joint across to the outside feather and at the toes. We also soaked the uppers and lasted them mellow, so that they shrunk down onto the lasts. The result, tight creases and a good looking and accommodating fit.   

Obviously well fitting shoe trees are also an important part of the picture. They help to smooth out the creases in the vamp when the shoes are not being worn and prevent dirt and moisture from building up in the creases.

There is a great post on the Horween blog if you would like to find out more about leather properties and 'break'. Until next week happy shoe making!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Experiment

Welcome back once more, dear readers, to the wonderful world of bespoke shoes. Aren't we lucky to have found such an absorbing trade? We hope you have had a productive week and have had your hands on some oak bark pit tanned cow hide - a treat for anyone, if only they knew!

We have been working to prepare a travelling exhibition which will feature two of our shoes and some assorted tools, leathers and sundry shoemaking  paraphanalia. It is run by Fife Contemporary Art and Craft and will be touring public libraries in Scotland over the next year. Our shoes will be housed in two Craft Pods along with a description of our craft and something about Carr├ęducker. Looking forward to seeing some pictures of the launch which happens on the 23rd of September.

Onwards and upwards. While making a pair of bottle green oiled nubuck stalking boots (as you do), I had a bit of an idea. This does happen occasionally and I wanted to try it out. BTW Horween make the oiled nubuck and it's really luscious, waxy and alive - check it out

I wanted to insert a midsole made of a thin piece of Topy (brand name) sticker sole - a synthetic sheet 2mm thick. This would create a thin black line between the natural welt and natural sole and would look quite stylish

And here's the problem. Our understanding was always that you can't hand stitch these synthetic materials by hand because when you pull the awl out of the hole, the hole closes up - unlike the leather where the awl actually leaves a hole because the leather compresses when the awl goes in.

When a customer asks for a synthetic sole (Dainite, commando, Ridgeway or such) from us (it does occasionally happen), we last and welt the shoes as normal, except that we welt round the seat as well.

See this blog post for details of how we do it.

At this point we send the shoes to a company which stitches on the desired sole with a sole stitching machine.

Now I had never tried out the theory explained above and being a doubting kind of person, I wanted to test it.

So, here's what happened

The synthetic sandwich was made

And the awl was put through.

The bristle was then inserted and as suspected, it didn't come out the other side. The theory was proved correct. To be honest, I did push the awl through so far and wiggled it that I was able to put one bristle through, but the second was impossible.

The next step is to find a way of doing it. The only thing we can think of is to make a hollow awl which actually punches a whole in the synthetic material, much like what they use for body piercing. Something which takes out a little piece of the rubber.

Sounds like a project. Any tool makers out there?

Or, dear readers, is there another way? Do you know how to do it and make an old shoemaker happy? Let us know and we will be forever grateful.

Till next week (in hope and anticipation), happy shoemaking!

Friday, September 12, 2014

New course dates for 2015 - Shoe Making and Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes

We've settled back into the routine of shoe making after our various summer forays and have now had a chance to plan the courses for next year, 2015.

All of our London courses are based in central London at Cockpit Arts in historic Bloomsbury, within easy reach of the capital's outskirts via bus and underground services and the mainline train stations at Waterloo, Kings Cross and Euston.

We are offering hand sewn shoe making courses in London in spring, summer and autumn next year: 
Intensive Hand Sewn Shoe Making, London
5th  – 17thJanuary
3rd – 15th August 
5th – 17th October 

In July, we are delighted to welcome back Fiona Campbell who will be taking students step-by-step through her comprehensive Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes course. 
Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes London - 27th – 31st July. 

This is immediately followed by our two-week Intensive Hand Sewn Shoe Making course from 3rd - 15th August. 

The London Intensive Hand Sewn Shoe Making course is £1990 and the Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes course is £799. If you book both a Shoe Making course and the Pattern Making course together there is a £250 discount. 

If New York is a more convenient location for you, then join us in the spring when Brooklyn is looking its best. 

Based in the heart of trendy Williamsburg at Brooklyn Bespoke, Jesse Moore will once again be unravelling the tricks and techniques of pattern making.

Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes, New York 4th – 8th May.

...followed immediately by our two-week, New York based, Intensive Shoe Making Course. 

Intensive Hand Sewn Shoe Making, New York 11th – 23rd May. 

Courses in New York cost £2400 for the Intensive Hand Sewn Shoe Making and £799 for the Pattern Making (and don't forget the discount of £250 if you book both together).

London based shoe making enthusiasts wanting a more relaxed experience should sign up for our Monday evening classes from 6 - 9pm. The classes cost £485 per term and although we have a short waiting list, places do become available each term, so it is always worth putting your name down. Just email us to let us know that you are interested.

Spring: 12th Jan. - 23rdMarch; half term holiday w/c 16th Feb
Summer: April 13th - June 29th;  May 4th Bank Holiday; half term holiday w/c 25th May
Autumn: 14th Sept. - 23rd November; half term holiday w/c 26th October

The booking forms and dates will go up on the website shortly, so if you are interested please email us in the first instance. We look forward to sharing our students' journeys into shoe making, and their achievements, with you next year.

Until next week happy shoemaking!