Tuesday, February 21


Ladies & Gents! After several months of waiting and about 90 pure handmade working hours; I'm proud to present the newest creation by yours truly! A project for the amazingly beautiful Niina, from the fashion blog Nelliinan vaatehuone.

*Drum roll...*


I think I was quite obedient to the original drawing, though some changes did occur. Naturally :)

Taken from her blog (28.2.2012): here.

Taken from her blog (26.10.2012): here.

  • Collar: Black suede with a black sheep nappa lining
  • Bow: Black patent leather ring with black alcantara bows.
  • Uppers: Cream white nubuck, Black patent leather.
  • Heel: Black patent leather covered plastic heel.
  • Sole: Vegetable tanned leather with an black 4mm rubber half sole.
What can I say? Well, I'm pretty satisfied with the outcome, being my first bespoke high heels... I'd say I'm REALLY pleased. There's a million little things that could've gone better, but then again a million little things that I learned. So that's a alot! 
I'll update images of Niina wearing them from her posts later on.
One can only say: Tally hooooo!

Sunday, February 19

Making Bespoke High heels - Part 9 Everything else

The boots are ready :) But there's a lot of phases to be shown, so I decided to make an mega post, showing some of the phases. This is because I already would want to show you all the boots, but I also want to show the whole process. So here's the 32 images. Don't watch this on your phone ;)

First, the moistened uppers are lasted. This is a picture of the first pull to the front.

The bottom view after some  systematic pulling.
After they're dried completely, I marked the line where I wanted the  patent trim to come to.
I then marked the 10mm allowance line.
Now that the uppers were dried, they assumed the shape of the last. Here they are without the lasts, and next came a phase which was logical but seemed totally nuts at the time: cutting the excess leather from the uppers with scissors. Nuts.
But it all made more sense when I glued the patent trim on it and started stitching.
I wanted to show this picture because it shows the "ugly" side of the uppers. The space between the upper and the lining is something no one usually sees. In this image, I'm tying a knot so that the stitching will look  better outwards. Without double stitches, which are the most common way to lock stitch.
Before lasting, The wet heel counter goes between the upper and the lining. Glued of course.

And after some sweating, we've reached this far.

The toe cap made from leather is glued on the tip, rasped to the desired shape and compressed with a hammer for minimal thickness.

And everything is wrapped together with adhesive.

After they have dried for another day,  the staples are removed and all that empty space is filled with a cork material.

Here you see the filling after it's been grinded straight. I'm using a traditional heel iron, which has been heated to help me shape that seat for the heel.

The heel quarter is nailed. This will prevent those uppers from  moving in case the glue fails, and helps to keep it together if the heel needs to be replaced.

The heel is covered with 0,5mm thick patent leather. It could've been even thinner, actually.

With the heel put to place with hot glue and the area where the outer sole leather is grinded, the shoes are just waiting for those soles.

I used a pattern to cut the outer sole leather from a 3.0 to 3.5mm thick vegetable tanned sole leather.

The logo is stamped to the damped leather and the surface is shaved with a piece of broken glass.

I pre-shaped the outer soles before applying adhesive.

Adhesive applying.

The leather is carefully placed on the  bottom. Force is used with a hammer and a bone to compress the sole neatly on.

I cut the excess using a special knife.

The rest of the surface is shaved.

The edge is damped with water and prepared with soap for the next phase.

Using a hot iron to make a neat edge.

After a red dye, I painted the edges with black.

Niina wanted some decent cushioning under her ball of the foot. I first thought that this could've been a bit over exaggerating with it... but I was wrong.

Next up was the decorative bow ties. For them I made two small holes for some waxed threads to be used for the fixing of the bows.

The bow ring is made from patent leather and fastened to the shoe with a knot.

Two flat tubes from black alcantara are stuck to the rings... and voilá! Bow ties :D

 Next up, it's the reveal.

Friday, February 10

Making Bespoke High heels - Part 8 The Insole and Heel

Well, before lasting, one has to have an insole. Insole creates a spine on which the other components are fastened. By various methods I might add. My method is the cemented (glued) structure, which originates from around the middle part of the last century. It's quite modern, but one of the most common structures these days. The  gentleman with an keen eye on quality dress shoes despises this structure, but to my mind it's well fitting for ladies shoes. Although there's only the adhesive (another english word for glue ;) that keeps the structure together, it's a long lasting shoe construct that's quite easy to repair and faster to make too.

Back to business:

First to draw an approximate outline on a 3mm thick purely oak tanned insanely beautiful german traditional  leather.
Too much adjectives? ;)

After cutting, the pieces are scraped with... a piece of broken glass?
Many of you might not know about the great qualities of vegetable tanned leather: it might be quite stiff when dry like this type of leather I'm using, but after soaking them in water they turn into the mother of all elastics and completely formable. A beautiful traditional material. <Sorry for the blurry pic!>

The wet leather is fastened with nails to the last.

A carefully applied rubber band.

Voilá! All wrapped and left to dry to shape.

To add some modern high tech; I put the first supportive layer out of 0,8mm carbon fibre plate. Heat formable stuff.

And because with high heels the arch needs to be as stiff as possible, I'm going for the ultimate. I'll laminate this piece of steel between two layers of carbon fibre.
Sadly, I didn't have any more detailed images on the actual process of making these.
But here's one, all ready for action. You can see that right after the heel part the edge is trimmed almost to zero. But there's a heavier supportive ridge at the center, which you can see better in the picture below.
A bottom view. The steel shank is laminated within those layers of carbon fibre.
And the heel is what I actually worked on for a full day's worth of time... For nothing. I found a perfect match for these lasts from a box. At my work. Perfect. That was a bit annoying. All that work for nothing.

Another rub of salt on my broken nerves.

And these are the babies I found. I've done some grinding on the top parts only. To get them fitting perfectly to the insole.

Next, it's lasting for sure :) See you soon!