Friday, December 30

New years Memoires

AAaaand it's another wonderful year past, which in fact has been full of changes. But first, before anything else, to those who missed my apologies on facebook: I apologize for my lack of informative knowledge on the account of my blog. I've been terribly tired, largely to the blame of the dark passing month. All shoe projects have gone on hold, but hopefully this new year brings new strength and enthusiasm!

This babble reminds me of a saying one of my teachers always repeated: "Only the guilty ones explain and explain" ;)

BUT, before venturing to new stuff we'll have a look at what actually happened. As some of you have probably found out by themselves; my blog is quite a new one. I made my first post on 28th of may of this year. So that's almost exactly an even 7 months, which to my mind is not a long time. But I feel like lots of stuff happened during those intensive months. Let's have a quick memorial on some of the highlights:

My very first post. Yenni shoes for my wife. Here.

After a few posts and some random ladies fashion blog surfing, it was time for action!
I got a spark from a discussion in Paubella's blog to make a pair of ballerinas and to document it.
Take out the measuring tape! Here.
And this was the outcome. After 10 posts and about a hundred images later. Here.

I started to draw designs too. While they're not the most anatomic or realisticly proportionate, I find some of them quite pleasing. I can also see an advancement on the designs page, because they're listed chronologically. Here.

I held my first lottery on mid July. Some high quality oak tanned outer sole leather keyrings :)

I even designed my own business card for my blog! Shamely, it seemed that I was the only one that was super excited about them :) Are business cards so passé? There is a strongish resemblance to early Minna Parikka. Somewhere.
But I'm quite satisfied with them so far. Even though I woudn't use the stripes anymore. They're just too much.

Two sided! Another feature I was completely and utterly hyped about, without similiar enthusiasm from others ;)
Oh well, another time then.

Just looking at this photo makes me want to leave all this bespoke quirckyness and  to: "just do it".
Just make it. Make pairs and pairs of beautiful shoes without the headache of fitting and shaping.
A gorgeus pair! I mean the heel and the last. Absolutely gorgeus. Here.

And a magnificient project started with Niina the author of Nelliinan Vaatehuone, a famous finnish fashion blog.
Still on the wörks.
Here's her boots. Mockups that is. 

Drew designs for my first potential customer.

My first customer with an 9,5cm high heel. Needs some tweaking still. The position is quite aggressive. More of this next year ;)

And as a final reminder: I've made a small gift to one of you, and there's a lottery on the way! On sunday!

I want to thank you all for being here and being interested! Without you all this wouldn't make much sense. We crossed the 10000 visitors limit this month too, so it's another reason to celebrate! Until Sunday, may you all have the greatest and most inspirational 2012! Happy new years <3


Tuesday, November 22

All we need is a little patience.

Unfortunately I have to tell you all that my posts will be down for a few more days. :(
Life's full of tasks right now, there's a lot to do, and two shoe projects are taking a quantity from my free time. So I'll be back, hopefully soon when I'll have some decent progress made with my projects.

I'm happy to say that the second mockup was done via a video chat with Niina, and she ok'd them. So now it's official: next up with those is the actual process of making them ready. Finally.
Ms. Melissa's black below-the-knee-high boots's patterns and mockups are currently on the works, too.

Here's some inspirational random shoe-related images alá google:

Septieme Largeur



Giuseppe Zanotti

Septieme Largeur

Christian Louboutin

But I bid you all adieu for now,
May you all have the most decent and delightful early winter :)


Tuesday, November 15

Shape that high heel last, baby! Shape!

After an embarrasingly quiet week for blog posts, it's been a less embarrasing week of actual shoemaking. Niina's second mockup is sent by mail and she's going to try them on and we'll propably take a look at them via a video chat. And if they're a fit, it means a step closer to their completion :)

Meanwhile my main concern has been Ms. Melissa's black knee-high boots, to which I started to shape the lasts. Her concern is a wider-than-usual ball of the foot, and a higher heel hight (9,5cm). Her lasts came ready today, so ladies & gents, let's take a look!
Shape, rattle & roll!

This is the beginning stage. an untouched high heel last.

I just dig that asymmetry! This is a front view and one can see the skill of the guy who originally made these. This asymmetry makes the shoes more elegant and even functional. Qualities that come rare on everyday common shoes. The art of last making is for some reason losing it's glorious heritage, and nowadays it's more common to see ugly and bulky lasts. Even for women.

She wanted a higher heel, so I started to build it to this area.

And here's the finalized shape.

After the heel hight, it's time to make the lasts more fitting to the clients foot. Here's a traditional ink print of the foot with measurements and the ball of the foot marked.

We'll place the last over the print and start to estimate the new required width of the last.

The growth areas are marked and sanded and cork material is added.

And after some time we'll have something like this. The lasts are shortened and the girth of the ball of the foot has already been modeled.

Whaaaat?! :D Yes, I'm serious! You're propably wondering why did I ruin them? Well, they're going to be boots so I thought of extending the shaft for a better fit. But it does look more like a terrifying sculpture than a last.

*Bling!* After a few hours of making friends with Mr. Grinder, Ms. Last became ready to be patternized ;)

Put a sock on it!!! Literally! This is a great way to see how they're really going to look like.
Next up with these boots is making some patterns and a mockup.

Monday, November 7

When you're fixing, do it right!

Ladies and gentlemen, for starters let's hit off with the marvelous rag time band:

And after my favourite band of the moment, we'll take a look at why I decided to do changes for Niina's lasts:

Here's the before and after shots. On the left you'll see a normal last, but it's meant for normal pumps and low shoes, rather than boots. With red I've marked the lines in which the shape should approximately go, and on your right you'll see the changes made. Why? Well let's see below:

In the circle you'll see a close up of the fitting I did for Niina, and you'll also notice the creases that for along the shaft of the boot. This is because the shape of the last is too steeply shaped from the upper part of the heel, as you can see on the picture to the left. This position is fixed properly on the boot to the right. This will lessen the creases and also make the front part alot more good looking and sturdy.

I'll hopefully get to try the left boot on Niina's feet before actually starting the manufacturing, this thursday?
The black boots are also due to begin their journey towards completion tomorrow, so we'll see what's up with them later this week. Have a good one!

Monday, October 31

Making High Heel Boots - Part 5 Fixing

There was only a few things to fix with Niina's lasts, but I managed to spend a good full 10 hours on them last weekend. Mostly because of my uncertainty about the changes. So I really had to sit down alot and think about what changes would affect which parts of the lasts, and how would that work while worn. All in all last shaping appears to be something magical, but it's not rocket science. It's bloody challenging and hard, but it's not too much so. It's a trickery between a few things: anatomy, bio-dynamics and aesthetics. And one has to find the perfect balance between them.

Let's see why:
I first circled the areas that needed some more mass. Just a few millimeters thick though.

Here's the cork/rubber sheet pieces glued on the lasts.

After smoothing out the excess and checking the measurements, I decided to go for a boot  styled lasts. So I attached a block of wood with a screw on it.

I grinded the meeting joint to zero and added a plastic "cup" on it. The idea is, that when you take the boot shaft out you'll still have lasts ready to be used for low cut shoes as the original lasts were meant for pumps, not boots. My bad.

I added a ridiculous amount of cork/eva sheets to the back and front, as I had barely a thought of what I was doing.

And there it is. Smooth shapes, and a last that now looks alot more like a boot last instead of  pumps. I decided also to make the shaft a lot lower, since it would've been a headache to figure out the measurements.

Next up, it's either having the second fitting, or I'm going to start to finish them. I haven't decided which.
Pahoitteluni kaikille suomenkielisille. Postaukseni menevät aina niin myöhäiseen että käännöksen pähkäily kaiken tämän päälle tuntuu usein ylivoimaiselta. Sori.

Tuesday, October 25

Happy St. Crispin's day!

Happy-say-what? Well, St. Crispins day is a traditional holiday for all shoemakers. Quite obviously sanctified by the catholic church, St. Crispin and his brother St. Crispinian were two shoemakers who preached the gospel by day and made shoes by night in Soissons, France. They were beheaded c. 286.

(Image from the blog:
This only shows how ancient our craft is, dating back to ancient times. This day of celebration is no longer practiced by shoemakers, though there's a visible awareness rising amongst shoemakers even in blogs. And it's something I celebrate today by bringing some sweet buns to work, and keeping in my mind this great profession that's ever so intriguing and full of history. Needless to say, I'm proud to be a shoemaker! A profession of which I'm absolutely passionate about, and today's a great day to tell it to the world :)

There will always be shoemakers.

Here's a few pioneer blogs dedicated to the craft:

  • Carréducker - A blog dedicated to the techniques of completely handmade bespoke gentlemen's shoes. they have a shop in Savile row, London.
  • Koronya - A hungarian Master Shoemaker, who has a shop in Budapest and has this wonderful blog about making shoes. There's even some high heels there :) He has a great video channel on youtube, too: Here.
  • The Shoe snob - Held by Mr. Justin Fitzpatrick, a passionate shoe lover blogging about the finest gentlemen's shoes on the planet. A great bank of inspiration and knowledge for me. He's working on Savile row, as well.

Enough said, Happy St. Crispin's day!

Sunday, October 23

Making High Heel Boots - Part 4 The Fitting

With great uncertainty I sat in a tram, on my way to downtown. It was time to meet Niina and Saku for a fitting somewhere in Forum. The reasons for my uncertainty were clear: these were my first bespoke high heels, ever. I've taken a step into the unknown. An area where many shoemakers dare not step: fine ladies bespoke high heels. But my passion to take that step and defy my masters warnings was too great...
So there I was, sitting next to Niina, who keeps an amazing and popular fashion blog here in Finland, called Nelliinan vaatehuone. Our sushi's were eaten so it was time to learn the horrible truth: do they fit, or won't they?
Let's take a look:

I didn't go through this phase in my blog. I just mentioned about it on facebook: I actually made another version for the left foot. That means I drew the patterns again differently and added rubberband section to the mouth. I also cut new leathers, sew them, lasted, fixed the heel on and made a mockup outer sole. Lot's of work, but it was worth it.

While being quite unnecessary, I wanted to put a decent rubber on both of them. We had small surplus pieces, so they were perfect for this.

And this time I made a more astonishing looking bow :) You can see the rubberband insert underneath it.

And as a big relief, the boots were quite a perfect fit! I will have to do some changes to both the patterns and the lasts, but we're all set to start making the actual shoes. Maybe she'll get them before christmas ;)

Suurensuurella jännityksellä varattuna sovitin lauantaina Niinan saappaita. Kaikesta huolimatta istuvuus oli loistava, muutamaa tarpeellista pientä muutosta lukuunottamatta. Eli pian päästään tekemään lopulliset kengät valmiiksi! Cheerio :D

Thursday, October 20

The gentleman's detour: Balmoral boot.

While I'm mostly posting about making women's shoes, I've still a soft spot for gentlemen's shoes. Right now, HBO's incredible series about an american town and it's villain leader, the Boardwalk Empire inspires the hell outta me. It's filled with glorious dresses and shoes. And atmosphere. So I've had an itch to make a pair of balmoral boots for myself. Balmoral is basically an oxford cut boot, and dates back to the victorian 19th century. It's still a part of men's fashion, though maybe more concentrated on the more expensive dress shoe category.

Niina and Saku are coming for a visit in Helsinki on saturday, and I'm currently quite horrified and uncertain of the mockups's fit. Actually I'm quite sure she won't even get them on. Oh well, It's all the more experience for me ;) Also, tomorrow I'll order a pair of lasts for those knee high black heels.

First some shaping of the lasts to my measurements.

And some pattern drawing. It's quite a simple model but does have it's own tricks to make it fit the last.

After drawing patterns, cutting leathers, sewing uppers, making the insole, lasting and building of  a fake sole, they came out like this. Looking groovy!

They're a bit funny looking on me because of their length. Maybe I'll make em shorter?