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?

Sunday, October 16

A remedy for the upcoming cold nights: shoemaking!

Well, honestly said, my postings have been quite quiet for the last two weeks. But today I'm here to break that silence. It's a long due to show what's going on right now. I've currently three orders, of which one is in the ice for now. Also I'm planning to make myself a pair of good old school gentleman's boots, with hand sewn welts and all. Niina's boots patterns are redone and I'm going to last the new uppers soon.

Less talk and more show, that's my game:
Here's the iced project. Ms. Rock 'n roll with an "invisible" wedge. Patent leather uppers.
I was fortunate today to get a visit from a client who wants these kind of boots. We chatted and took measurements, and she was unfortunate to try my "Queens seat" ;) When clients have a picture ready, it makes everything a lot simpler doesn't it?
Yeah, baby! It's low low heels and tiny sized 47 lasts with blocks of log glued to them? Modern art? Could be, but in all seriousness I just wanted to show you all how neatly lasts can be made wider and looonger. Results shown later.

This is an approximate of what I'm going to do. These colours would go well with denims. Right now I'm nuts about the suede and calf leather combo. Perfetto! Their style is called the Balmoral boots or AKA Galosh boots. Picture found from googling: balmoral boots.

I finally bought myself a toolbox! It's great, it's marvellous and it has drawers. A must from K-Rauta for 49.90€. The upper apartment is very spacious considering it's overall size. I can fit papers, leathers and lasts there. Made by Bahco.

As an ending entertainment, I wanted to share with you all a picture I took about a week ago. This is an everyday view at my part of Helsinki, and I think it just reflects something very old and traditional. Cops on horses. In a city. Gotta <3 it! I <3 Helsinki. Period.

Joo-o. Sitä on Hra. Kengittäjä vähän laiminlyönyt blogiaan tässä pari viikkoa. Vaan ei hätää, sillä nyt rikotaan hiljaisuus palaamalla asiaan, eli siihen mitä nyt tapahtuu. Kesken on kolme tilausta, joista yksi on jäissä. Sekä itse asiassa vielä projekti tehdä itselleni nilkkurit. Niinan saappaat ovat saaneet uudet kaavat ja tänä viikonloppuna puuhailin päällisiä niihin. Haastava projekti.
Vikassa kuvassa fiilistellään Helsinkiä.

I <3 Helsinki

Sunday, October 9

Tuesday, October 4

Ready, steady, why ain't they ready... already?

Whoops! It's time to take a look at what's happened during the past week. I got another project request from a possible client: mid to high heel black boots with a twist of rock 'n roll. So I started drawing:

I made three designs on an convenient A4 size with an explanatory text portion and a neat small blueprint to help understand how different materials are divided.

And here's all three of them. I also made a special heel versions of these as requested by the client, but I'll show it to you all later when we've finalized the design. So far the one on the right is leading, but it'll go through some serious changes.

After work, it was good to test something that's been boggling my mind recently: to make french patina shoes. It's a traditional method of producing high end dress shoes (NOT the only one, though): you make the shoes normally but use a traditional vegetable tanned leather to make the uppers. The same as you use to make Lapikkaat, which are very familiar to all you Finns. You last them normally like on the leftmost shoe. Then you apply leather dye with a cloth as is done on the middle shoe. After drying it's burnishing, oiling and waxing. This way the colors get a deep tone to them, and the surface looks alive instead of even and plastic-like.

I'll still make new patterns and a new mockup of Niina's shoes, since I'm not very satisfied with the current situation.