Thursday, January 26

The death of Palmroth

(Edit on 24.01.2013: Reader please note that this article is from 2012. And fortunately since then Palmroth has started anew: . You should also check out their facebook pages. There are interesting comments by the Palmroth family below the post. A Definite read.)


I know the title is dramatic, and by all means I don't mean any actual human being. I'm talking about the finnish shoe brand: Pertti Palmroth.
My relationship with this brand is shallow and superficial to say the least. And the recent bankruptcy of Hamken Oy (the company's name) isn't in itself a melancholic event. What saddens me is that this is only one of the signs of a sure downfall of Finland's once glorious shoe industry. It was never internationally glorious, but served it's purpose as the people's choice when there still was no import, and all of those millions of shoes were made just for two nations: Finland and Russia.
Now, for the reasons why the finnish shoe industry has plummeted during the last decades, there's not an easy answer. And frankly, how on earth should I know? All I have are the few small details of what I've heard or seen. So the death of this company shows just the reality of what's going on with the industry.

After the studies last week, I visited the silent factory last wednesday evening. Like I said, I've no nostalgy or emotional ties with this brand. But stepping into the factory and seeing the silent and still space filled with machines, equipment, parts and lasts, made me realize that that place had seen some busy times. For decades people have run across those floors, busy with producing millions of shoes worn by people across the land. The generations have changed, old masters teaching snot nosed kids how to start with their new summer job. There's been good times, and bad ones. There's been families forming and breaking. People dreaming of that something special for their future. Until...

...It all ends.
And a couple of vultures land on the carrion
hoping for a cheap and easy snack:

We're at the front of Pertti Palmroth's factory. The lights are lit only because we're coming to meet the representative.

A general view of a part of the hall. It's quite tidy, I must say!
At the front is the logo stamping machinist's desk. To the right, sewing machines with yellow hoods on them.

In a shoe factory, the amount of required component's is huge. This is actually a small shelf filled with cutting patterns made of steel.

Here's where all the logos to your Palmroth's shoe insoles came from. You can see the metal folio running across the machine on the top of the picture.

Here's the actual logo stamp, sitting alone next to the machine.

Hmmm... I think I've seen this model somewhere. The working just stopped and someone dropped this pair out of his hands and went home.

It's leather! Or is it? I think Palmroth's shoes were somewhat famous for their use of synthetic materials. Or infamous, depending on the view point.

This beauty had been stowed away between the shelves. A prototype?
Even though I was never a big fan of their products, I must take off my hat and bow to Pertti Palmroth for contributing to the finnish shoe industry, and sharing his passion for the rest of us to enjoy.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, January 22

The lavender bird

At the beginning of this week I was studying at Kankaanpää, and I was in the middle of making a mockup, cutting the uppers and closing (sewing). I dreamed of lasting the uppers, but it turned out I was way too optimistic to start with.
All in all, I learned good tips about making patterns, how to do them more properly, so that the process of making the shoes becomes easier. While following my tutor's advice, the uppers basically just "sat" on the lasts. This means I'll have to do minimal efforts while lasting. Which is sweet :)
Pattern drawing is one tough nut, but I think I'm already doing some scratches to it's surface.

About the project at hand; for a few months now, my obsession has been on making various brogue styled high heels, so this was a very welcome practise. Hopefully I'll get those two pairs of boots finished soon, so I'll be busy with something new for a change.

I know, I skipped alot. Again. But it's not a tutorial :) Anyways, here's the prototype, which I wanted to do before wasting precious leather. It came out really good! With these kind of traditional cuts, like the "full brogue" envisioned here, one has to be careful with the proportions, as it's really easy to ruin the look with the wrong ones. So I was kinda lucky to get it right at the first try :) What do you think?

This is why I call it a bird: the front looks like a strange bird's beak.

Someone's crazy idea was to have a folding seam on each piece.

Here they are, all lavender suede :) Unfortunately we'll have to wait until march for them to be ready, because I couldn't  take the lasts with me.

What say you?
Next up, the visit to Pertti Palmroth's now silent factory...

Monday, January 16

Studying the essence of a high heel

For those that missed my morning announcement on facebook; I'm currently having a three day educational period in Kankaanpää, as a part of my Master Shoemaker studies.
When I first came this morning, I had no idea what was going to happen. So I made a mistake by not bringing some high heel lasts or previous patterns I had made. Even though it was all awkward for me, my instructor quickly guided me to begin a test project from a pair of vintage heel lasts.

Let's see  what happened today:

This is the last. Now, I won't modify it in any way, just design something and eventually make it.  Luckily, they had some components ready: the heels and the insoles are ready :) which makes my work alot easier.

I'm currently not a big fan of pointy heels. Maybe that'll change some day?

As another proof of their antiquity: they've been cast on a wooden block.

A wooden filling inside a brass tube. You ain't gonna see this kind of construction anywhere anymore. These babies have to be nailed.

The insoles are an almost fit. Needs some tinkering.

This is the sketch I did. A full brogue oxford cut. Well planned is half done.

Next up was making the tape copy.

And that 3D shape transformed into 2D.

And this is waiting for tomorrow's mockup.

Friday, January 13

Making High Heel Boots - Part 6 Cutting the leather uppers

Well, after almost three months of wait we're back to business with Niina's high heels! Groovy!
I've made progress during this time, but waited to get things decent for a logic continuum.

Without further due: Last time I made little changes to the lasts and sent a shoe for Niina to be tried, and she gave the ok. So now, all I had to do was to draw the patterns for the third time :) Well, it's the charm 'innit?
After the base-pattern, I cut all the pieces out and used them to cut the leathers for the uppers.
So they're all leather. Inside and outside. Just the way I like it.

A little peek, ladies & gents?

All the pieces. The base-pattern is in the middle.

The base is used to "cut out" all the necessary individual pieces.

My choice of materials:
(From the left) Black Patent leather, Cream Nubuck, Black Suede, Black nappa leather (thin, for lining),  White  supporting cloth.

My choice of tools:
(From the left) Punching awl, silver grease pen (for erasable markings),  clicker's knife (clicker=leather cutter person), two sharpening sticks with grit 600 and 1200 glued to them. Used to sharpen the knife.

The blade has to be like a razor. Period.

And after a few hours, here's all the pieces ready for sewing.

In a shoe factory, the clicker is an actual separate profession. After years of cutting leather, one learns to be fast, has a precise cut, learns to avoid faults in the leather and above all is economic. These are qualities that I'm not too strong in. Yet. Hence the long consumption of time. A pro would've done this in about 15 minutes

Next up sewing.   

Monday, January 9

Excitement & Intrigue

Ladies and Gents! I had a quiet time on the blog during the december, so I wanted to make it up to you all: A lottery with a leather/cloth reflector for the security of darkness out there.

The dice has rolled:

A list of all the participants with their double tickets and all.
37 people came to the poll. Which is nice :)

I used - once again - the true random number generator by

***And the winner is:***

Congrats Laura L.!
She was actually the first to participate to this lottery, so lucky her!
Laura, please send your delivery address to maensivushoes /ät/

I still want to thank you all for participating,
it's above all lovely :)

Sunday, January 1

To my lovely readers.

I hope everyone made through the new years in one piece :) The blog has been quiet for the past month, so to compensate on that quietness and to show my appreciation for you all,

I made something small for you <3

Yes, it's a reflector!

Here's some "Making of-" shots :)

You guessed it... It's lottery time! I've used only leather and reflector canvas in the making. The edge trim and the "M" logo on the other side are real patent leather.


  • Participation time: 1 week. From 1st of January 2012 to 8th of January 2012.
  • Participate by commenting to this post.
  • You can receive either 1 or 2 tickets.
  • 1 ticket comes automatically when commenting. You'll get 2 tickets in total when you comment and copy the first image to your blog AND create a link to this blog.
  • Anonymous people should comment as an alias. Use the "Name/URL" option when commenting. You don't have to input an URL, just a name. If you only comment as "anonymous" you will receive no tickets.
  • State in your comment that with how many tickets you're participating the lottery.
I will do the lottery on the 9th of January 2012, for those who participated before 00:01 of the same day.
Good luck my dear readers :)