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Seriously Thinking About Making Shoes...

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As the thread title really...


I am seriously thinking about getting into making shoes both for male and female.  


Nothing mass scale, not to make money and will not be taking orders from any one other than my wife(!).  


I guess this has come out of the sheer frustration of my wife sat in shoe stores for years being unable to find any shoes that fit her properly...they are either too narrow or too large or small and whilst the options remain limited, they are also far from appropriate for daily work wear.


I dont anticipate this to be something that by next Sunday I'm a fully skilled and fledged Cordwainer with 6 pairs produced, this is something that I want to do as a hobby, something that I will enjoy doing to take my mind off life's troubles when I feel like it.


My background is engineering, I have craft knowledge and experience as well as carpentry skills and an eye for detail.  I also have a workshop...  :happy:  


I understand the basic challenges and construction and no doubt will face many more challenges during the process of learning, however I guess the initial question is does anyone have any advice or pointers (looking at you Dr.Shoe?!  :cool: ), websites, tips or material suppliers etc?




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My advice would be to go on a course to learn how to do it properly.




Step 1: Get a pair of lasts made to fit your wife. The easiest way to do this is to get a pair of shoes that fit her comfortably and fill one with plaster of Paris (i suggest lining it with a plastic bag) and sending the cast off to a last maker. http://www.springline.net/ this is the UK's premier last maker. They can also make bespoke lasts for you, POA.


Step 2: Draw a picture of what you want to make. Next make a master forme of the last and transfer the design onto a copy of this forme. This will b your master pattern. Using techniques drawn from a pattern cutting course, you divide the master pattern up into components so they can be cut from the leather.


Step 3: Using a special post-bobbin sewing machine (you could probably get a secondhand one for about £300 or so) you stitch the pieces together in an act called closing along with a lining.


Step 4: You prepare an insole board with a shank and pre-treatment for lasting and attach it to the bottom of the last.


Step 5: By using special lasting pincers (about £40-100 a pair depending on quality) you then start to pull the leather around the last and attach it to the underside of the board after securing it in place with some temporary tacks. You attach it with tacks as far in from the feather edge as possible to leave a margin for gluing. Do not put the tacks in too deep because they will need to be pulled after the glue has set.


Step 6: Cover the heels with either leather or other material or spray them to match the upper. Attach the sole leaving a tail for the breast of the heel (unless you're using a knock-on heel like on men's shoes or those with block heels). Attach the heel, it's probably best to take them to a cobbler to get him to do them for you. When doing soles I spread a thin layer of glue over both surfaces and let it dry then another thin layer which is allowed to go tacky before "reactivating" it under a grill.



Do step one first, let me know how you got on and I'll guide you through each step at a time.

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Or, You could always go to one of England's master shoemakers and let them custom make a pair for her.

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There is no substitute for a face to face lessson but those courses look good to me.

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