Monday, September 26

Making High Heel Boots - Part 3 The first mockup

Seriously, I'm so unsure about these lasts, that a second mockup is due for sure. It could of course be the voice of uncertainty, since it's my first bespoke high heel creation. Which is perfectly natural :)
Anywayhoo, today's program consists of first cutting away those individual pattern pieces from the basic design that my colleague Mr. Master Shoemaker Joonas conjured on the cardboard. Then it's leather cutting, leather skiving (=making the edges gradually thin, wherever needed), gluing & sewing and finally lasting these babies to see how they end up. It's ever so exciting!

First, I had to add more lines to the design :) Like allowances and such.

Here's a nifty tool: to copy the shapes from the design, you simply position another cardboard underneath it and start rolling that baby. Thus, there's a pattern waiting down under.

With necessary markings made, the patterns are cut out with a sharp knife.

And here's all the patterns and some leathers of which I'll do the mockup. A great chance to tryout that red handled clicker's (=upper cutter) knife. The ladies at our shop cut only with scissors, which is also accurate but more slow. Cutting your leathers with a knife is the traditional way to go and will save you a lot of time in contrast to first marking with a pen and then using scissors.

And all the pro's go: he's cutting from the neck!? Yes, dear fellow shoemakers I am. It's a mockup :)
Neck is usually not the best areas to cut your uppers from, since it has these dark stretch marks which you can maybe see in this picture. The best part of a cow is on the lower back and ass area.
On red, you'll see the stretching direction of the  leather on the neck area.
The blue arrows show the direction where we don't want the leather to stretch when compared to the pattern.

Cut away! The blade is amazing! Thanks cordwainertools :)

I took a traditional approach to markings as well: The small hole is made with a sharp spike.

Here's the whole family ready for skiving and sewing.

A close up of the skiving machine. The leather is fed from the left and it leans on the stopper. The foot is adjusted to the required skiving position and the rough stone pushes the leather towards that rotating round blade seen on the right.

Like so.


Some of the edges are contact glued to help sewing.

The glued surfaces are carefully placed together, and it's sewing time.

The shoe industry's special sewing machine with a pole base. This way it's easy to sew uppers which tend to have tight corners and shapes.

I wanted to try out a french fold on the upper part. A small but rewarding detail.

There it is, after 4 hours of manual labour.

A bow tie made with great haste ;)

Before lasting, I'll use contact glue to the upper edges of a heel counter, so I can put some carpenter's glue in between. This way I'll have them hard and durable.

The toe part needs a stiffener too.

Before lasting, the toe cap get's some carpenter's glue.

And it's a wrap! This image tells quite well how the uppers are stretched and attached to the bottom.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of lasting, check out my earlier post about the same subject: here.

Here it be. I managed to accidentally put the zipper to the outer side of the shoe. Oh well,  luckily it's just a mockup.

Back view.

View from the inner side. The cuts need some tweaking.
What say you? ;)

Friday, September 23

Making High Heel Boots - Part 2 Test patterns

Now that we've got the lasts done, think about this challenge: you have a three dimensional object with curvy shapes and all, and you're supposed to draw patterns to it. All the more, patterns that can be reused and modified later. How on earth could that be possible? With your everyday masking tape! :D
Here I'll demonstrate how the patterns are born to a shoe.

Let's see how:
First the last is covered with masking tape in an orderly fashion.

Like so.

Next, the excess is cut thorough the edges of the sole.

Like so :)

Then, some necessary markings and a central line to the front and back.

And a cut along the middle lines.

And thus we'll have the inner and the outer sides of the last. Which are then removed separately, like seen in this picture.

They'll be a pair of quirky, mischievous pieces of masking tape after...

...So we'll discipline them flat on a cardboard.

Both of them are drawn on top of each other, to produce a single pattern.

When cutting the copy, some of the areas are halved.

And there it is! If the lasts remain the same, with this pattern one can now draw any kind of design on them.

I have to admit, I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to drawing patterns. So luckily I've a very skilled colleague, a sturdy professional, Mr. Joonas. This base pattern is 99% his handwork. I just basically drew two lines to it.

Seriously, even Joonas was hesitant of the design, so I'll just have to make a test run with it. Then I'll see how different things'll work.
Next up is cutting the pattern pieces and using them to cut the leathers. And skiving and sewing the leathers, so we'll see what's up with the uppers. Cheerio!

Lesteille täytyy seuraavaksi tehdä kaavat. Yllä esitellään kuinka kolmiulotteisesta lestistä kopioidaan muodot kaksi ulotteisiksi, käyttäen maalarinteippiä :) Useiden vaiheiden jälkeen on viimeisinä kahtena kuvana kollegani Hra. Joonaksen mestarillinen kaavoitus. Itseltäni ei tuo kaavoitus oikein vielä näin mallikkaasti suju, joten oli mahtavaa saada rautaisen ammattilaisen apua. Seuraavaksi sitten leikataan kaavapalat sekä niitä hyödyntäen päällisnahat. Näin päästään testailemaan miten kaavat toimivat.

Sunday, September 18

Making High Heel Boots - Part 1 The lasts

After taking the measurements, we pick a suitable last with the wanted heel height. For new readers I'd like to point out that the last is the most important aspect when making shoes: it defines the size, shape and even structural elements of what will eventually become a shoe. I will demonstrate some phases in which the lasts are reshaped to fit the clients measures. After all they're bespoke, which means they're made to measure :)
The lasts I ordered from the factory are like they're traditionally made: they're made of beech, which is a very hard, dense and stable wood. Ideal for lasts!

Let's take a look:

Here's what we'll start with: The last with some markings, a pen, some files for shaping and lots of courage :D Really, They look so fine already, so it's somewhat terrifying to start reshaping them. But it's gotta be done.

We can't forget the foot shape drawing and the measurements, now can we?

The drawing serves as a good base for defining shapes. This way we'll get an approximate on how the toes will fit etc.

The original was very chesty, as you can see on the left. The right one  has it's shapes redone.

The inner arch got some new, more anatomical shapes.
And of course you'll have to shape 'em both. Here they are, ready to be modeled into patterns.

Kenkiä tehtäessä tärkein valmistuksen elementti on lestit. Lesti määrää koko kengän muodon, sopivuuden sekä toiminnallisuuden. Aloitankin pyökkilesteillä, joissa on sovittu n. 7,5cm koronkorkeus. Lestit itsessään ovat jo niin upeat että niiden muokkaaminen pelottaa, mutta ne ovat niin rintavat että kaipaavat aika rankkaa muotoilua. Kyseessähän on kuitenkin mittatilaussaappaat. Urheasti taistoon!

Wednesday, September 14

Anyone fancy a good book while waiting?

Hi everyone! I know it's been almost a week since the last post, but I've been waiting for those lasts to arrive and haven't thought of anything useful to post since. But when I see a small but faithful crowd returning everyday to check out if anything new is happening, I really think they deserve a post.

What I wanted to share with you all today, is a fantastic book about the history of the finnish shoe. Well, more like the history of the industrial shoe in Finland, as the tradition of handmade shoes is very belittled in this publication. I don't know what it is that makes us Finns loathe handmade domestic articles, as they're mostly considered just tinkering. It's all wonderful and grand if it's an Parisian shoemaker but if it's domestic... It's just tinkering. This all is of course rough generalization, but it's quite visible in this book and in the exhibition it's based on in Vapriikki, Tampere.
When I met Niina, from Nelliinan Vaatehuone -fashion blog, after visiting the museum and praising the old Finnish shoes she asked me: "well, what has happened with the Finnish shoe? It all looks like they're for grannies now!" A very good question, indeed! And I think this book sheds some light into it. And I think the answer isn't very simple. But one main focus would be the 70's, since when the third world countries started producing cheap basic shoes. For the following decades the finnish shoe industry tried to keep them at bay and produce the same shoes instead of specializing, which would've maybe been the savior of many a fallen company. Some of the companies did specialize, and are nowadays successful, like Sievi, whom produce modern safety/work-boots. There's basically just two companies in Finland that make women's shoes, which is ofcourse the main concern of my blog: Janita and Pertti Palmroth. Both of these companies are to my mind outdated, have ugly designs, ugly heels and their quality just doesn't meet with the price tag. Janita's leather's are better quality, but the shoes are just ugly. Palmroth uses a lot of synthetic leather which is a point I don't understand, also when I was studying a few of their shoes in a store, the quality of work was way below average. Baaad, actually. To my knowledge both of these companies's main markets are in russian export. I know my opinions are quite pointy, but please feel free to correct me :)

Now to the surprise of many, there used to be some extremely stylish, sexy, high quality and fashionable shoes made in Finland back in the day. The book has a nice layout and lots of pictures, which include some old shoe adverts and photos from factories etc.

Let's take a look:
The cover has a great picture of a gorgeus pump from the 1960's, wherein one can see the brilliant craftmanship and the finesse of the design.

On the first pages there's the only mention to actual handmade shoemakers: an old magazine advert by a shoemaker in Tampere.

The chapters are divided to eras, which makes the book easy to comprehend and logical. Qualities that many shoe books are without.

I heard a story about this advert: The traditional shoemakers were publicly hostile towards industrial shoes and claimed openly that because of machines they were of very poor quality. Well Mr. Emil Aaltonen, one of the first gentlemen to start industrial production of shoes responded with this add:
are definitely the most economic to use,
because of the best materials used
and the first class machines
they were made with.

I held my breath when I first saw these. They're an absolute statement of  the high standard of quality. A masterpiece from 1919.

The 1930's doesn't let us down either! Minna Parikka's inspiration is quite visible here.

More of 1930's jewels.

During the WW2, materials were scarce but the Finnish shoe was inventive and even colorful like this example.

Early 1950's pumps. Urvikko -brand.

1960's sleek pump. Groovy baby yeah!

And not all the winter boots were dark brown and black either! Mid 1960's.
The book is a hardcover with 287 pages. Some webstores sell it for about 60€, but you can get it from Vapriikki museum shop for 20€. There's an english print of it too. And the museum is definitely worth the visit!
It's a great book for anyone passionate about shoes, and has a thorough list of Finnish manufacturers at the end with their logos. So they'll come handy if dealing with vintage shoes. I heard a rumor that it's possibly out of print, so get it quick!
ISBN: 9516092764
Buy at CDON.