Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 23 September 2016

What's New In The Tool Shed

Once more i=unto the breach, dear readers. Another exciting week in the lives of the Carreducker shoemakers. We have both been wearing shoes which our apprentice Alistair made for us. This is a great feeling and quite a proud moment. Well done, Alistair

The Tool Shed is our online shop for specialist shoemaking tools and materials which you might find hard to find elsewhere. We sell the stuff we use ourselves, so it is all great quality and ideal for making shoes by hand.

This week we have added some new items which you might be interested in.

First up are waist irons, aimed at more experienced shoemakers, these are for making the bevelled waist - the gold standard of "West End " handmade bespoke shoes

Example of a bevelled waist

Made by legendary Sheffield tool makers Barnsley, we are selling them in 4 sizes for £63.90 plus shipping to anywhere in the world

Next up is the craft paste we use, made by Hirschkleber in Germany, this is a water based paste which dries hard, perfect for toe puffs and stiffeners. It has a 2 hour drying time (approximately), giving you plenty of time for lasting. It has the advantage of being 'revivable' with water, making repairs and remakes much easier.
Available in 600g tubs for £13 plus shipping in the Tool Shed

And last but not least, we are selling cork sheeting, ideal for filling the fore part of your shoes. It can also be used for fitting up lasts. Should be enough for 2 plus pairs of shoes.
We are selling a 50cm x 50cm sheet cut in half and rolled for ease of shipping. It costs £6.70 plus shipping

All are available now in Tool Shed and can be shipped anywhere in the world

And that is it for this week, folks. Until next time, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 16 September 2016

New Bespoke Shoes

Hello everyone, a warm welcome to the Carreducker blog. We hope you have had a good week and that you enjoy the post

This week we are posting three pairs of new bespoke shoes which we really like

The first is a pair of boots which we made for a US customer. He saw a pair of ready to wear boots which he wanted made on his bespoke lasts. So we took the design and tweaked it in line with his choices.

We used Italian veg tanned leather which, while it starts out quite bright, will darken with age and develop a natural patina which will be beautiful. We love these boots

They are a really simple derby style workboot with ski hooks and eyelets.

Where we have changed them is to give them a leather sole and then cement a commando sole and heel top piece. This gives them a more hand crafted look while retaining the rugged look of the original pair which inspired these.

Next is a simple pair of black derby shoes notable for the very round toe shape and the adjustment we had to make after the customer had worn them a few times.

These are the original ones before the adjustment

But the customer came back saying he was slipping in the wet, so we put a sticker sole on and this is one of the fun parts of shoemaking where an unexpected change really enhances the shoes. We love this new look for these shoes.

The last pair is a pair of saddle derby shoes inspired by a pair we made a few years ago in canvas and deer skin.

We managed to find a piece of the original canvas which we used and had saved - it sometimes pays to a have a hoarders mentality!

But this time we used an oiled veg tanned goats skin from Italy which we thought was really beautiful.

We kept the 3 perforations in the saddle.

But we changed the toe shape to the customer's taste.

And burnished the leather to give it a more patinated finish.

All in all a very handsome shoe. The customer was delighted and is thinking about his second pair.

And that is it for this week. We hope you have a good week yourselves and until next time, happy shoemaking!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Closing Bootcamp completes New York syllabus

Welcome back fellow shoe fans. Here's a little more detail about the Clicking and Closing Bootcamp that Anne Marika Verploegh Chasse will be running for us in New York next spring. 

Closing is one of the four key shoe making specialisms - Last Making, Pattern Making, Clicking / Closing and Shoe Making.

Here's the syllabus in a nutshell.

The essentials:

Schedule: 4 - 6 May 2017 (3 days) - Just after the five-day Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes class and just before the Intensive Shoemaking course so that you can do all three together in just about three weeks.  
Time: 9.30am - 5.30pm

Venue: Brooklyn Bespoke, 105 Grand Street, Brooklyn, New York  

Bootcamp Aims:

The Bootcamp is carefully designed to help you to learn about leather and to practise clicking (cutting out) leather and a variety of closing (stitching) techniques at a steady pace. 

Although you will have the chance to apply what you have learned to making one sample Derby upper, the course focuses on learning skills and techniques that you can apply time and time again when making a variety of different shoe uppers. 

The Skills and Techniques you will learn include:

- Hand skiving

- How to stitch using an industrial, roller-foot, high post sewing machine

- The properties of different leathers 

- What to look out for when buying upper leather

- The different seams used in constructing shoe uppers and how to apply them

- The different reinforcement techniques used in constructing shoe uppers and how to apply them

- The order to close seams for different styles of shoe 

- How to click and close a Derby upper applying the techniques and skills that you have learned
The New York Shoemaking School course fees:

Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes - 5 days - £799
Clicking and Closing Bootcamp - 3 days - £499
Handsewn Shoemaking - 12 days - £2400
Pattern Making + Shoemaking - 17 days - £2,949
Pattern Making + Closing + Shoemaking - 20 days - £3,448

We hope that you will join us in New York for one, two or all three of our Shoemaking School courses. 

Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Illustrations from :“Handmade Shoes for Men” By László Vass& Magda Molnár – Könemann 1999; “Professional shoefitting” by Pedorthic Footwear Association 1984

Friday, 2 September 2016

2017 Course Dates - Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes; Clicking and Closing Bootcamp; and Intensive Handsewn Shoemaking

Welcome back shoe enthusiasts...we hope that you have had a wonderful summer? 

We've been busy with bespoke orders; one-to-one, pattern making and shoe making courses; Barkan Desert Boot production; developing the work boot; and selling lots of lovely Winkers resort shoes for the summer holidays. But now, as autumn gently creeps towards us, it's time to plan for 2017 and to announce our course dates for the year. 

We're excited to be adding a new course to the mix, a three-day, Clicking and Closing Bootcamp as part of the Carreducker Shoemaking School in New York. You can choose to do the Closing Bootcamp and Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes together, the Closing Bootcamp and Intensive Shoemaking together or, for a fully immersive shoemaking experience, all three courses! 

Here's our 2016 - 2017 Shoemaking School syllabus:


Autumn 2016 - September to December - Mondays or Wednesdays - FULL

Spring 2017 - Mondays 9th January - 20th March / Wednesdays 11th January - 22nd March - register your interest now, to be added to our waiting list

Summer 2017 - Mondays 24th April - 10th July / Wednesdays 26th April - 5th July - register your interest now, to be added to our waiting list

Make a pair of Derby shoes over three terms on the evening classes


Fiona Campbell developing pattern pieces for a Derby (Gibson), Oxford and Pump in the lecture space at Cockpit Arts


3 - 15 October 2016 - places available

9 - 21 January 2017 - now booking; places available

31 July - 12 August 2017 - now booking; places available

Heads down and concentrating on the intensive handsewn shoemaking course in our workshop

NEW YORK - PATTERN MAKING FOR BESPOKE SHOES - 5 days; 28 April - 2 May 2017

Jesse Moore problem solving on the pattern making course in NY


Trying out closing as a available to book


The shoe making course in full flow in the Brooklyn Bespoke workshop

In London, the courses are run at Cockpit Arts, the vibrant creative community where our workshop and teaching spaces are conveniently located, in historic Bloomsbury in Central London. 

Our workshop at Cockpit Arts

In New York, we are based at Brooklyn Bespoke in achingly cool Williamsburg, New York as usual... 

and we're delighted to offer you the experience and expertise of both Brooklyn Bespoke shoemakers, Jesse Moore and Anne Marika Verploegh Chasse. 

Jesse will be taking you through the intricacies and problem solving delights of Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes 

and Marika will be putting your cutting and stitching abilities to the test on the Clicking and Closing Bootcamp. (Marika is also a lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design and FIT). 

James and I will of course be guiding, instructing, demonstrating and encouraging you through the 200 plus stages of making your own pair of welted shoes by hand on the Intensive Handsewn Shoemaking course. 

If you would like to join a course, please email us for a syllabus and booking form in the first instance...downloadable forms will be available at the end of the month.

Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 19 August 2016

August handsewn shoemaking students - impressive results and a host of different finishes!

Tired, but happy the handsewn shoemaking class of August 2016 in their shoes
Welcome back fellow shoemakers and shoemaking fans! Here's a glimpse of the beautiful shoes made by our summer course students. 

As you know, the majority of our students have no previous experience and that was the case this time. But even those who are used to working with their hands often find it a challenge. Even the very skilled leatherworker in our class, described the English hand lasted and hand welted techniques as the hardest thing they'd ever learned. 

The last day focused on finishing, when it really is a case of getting back what you put in. Here's their outstanding results!

Heel sitting flat and soles edges glassed
and more sanding.
A natural sole finish
Staining the sole dark brown prior to polishing and burnishing
Sanding the sole

A neutral polish buffed sole and edges marked with dividers ready to be painted
A decorative finish on the sole; natural polish in the middle and black edges
A natural polish and unburnished for an unfinished look - set only with a warm iron
Natural sole and polished edges - the results of great finishing.
High shine soles in the making
with contrast natural polished edges
The high shine of a burnished and polished sole
Ardavan's shoes with a neutral polish sole and rugged, unfinished natural sole edges
Ardavan proud of his work
An exciting moment...Ollie pulling his lasts...note the high-shine dark brown sole.
Will deciding on lace colours
Forest green lace in dark brown derby shoes with a wide welt and 6 to the inch stitching.
Black soles and edges on the right; brown derby shoes with polished, burnished edges
Sean's corresponding brown lace /dark brown shoe combo - bespoke lasts
Parama's distinctive lasts with an elegant elongated toe and high-shine!

Ollie, Sean and Ronan relaxing at last with their handsome handiwork
A melee of handsewn shoes - Will, Lena, Parama and Ardavan
Parama's sharp black edges and sole
Will's black sole finish
Lena's signature natural with black outline sole finish and Will's sharp black edges - lovely!
Very proud...Ollie, Sean, Ronan, Lena, Will, Parama and Ardavan.
We're taking bookings for the October Intensive course and will be announcing the dates for next year's courses with an exciting new addition so keep an eye out. Until then happy shoemaking!