After adding allowances and creating the patterns it was time to finalise my choice of colour and trace the patterns onto the leather ready to be cut out. I chose to use this ‘rust orange’ because I wanted something quite neutral that would go with many things, but not brown or black. At first I didn’t think that so much leather was needed, but in the end it took me ages to trace and cut everything out, with a total of 22 separate pieces. I am very excited to keep working on these boots!
This Wednesday was the first Project day of term 3 and I guess you could say that it was when I first started to feel more pressure about the completion of my shoes. In order to finish my platform wedges and my boots in time for the presentation/exhibition night and thesis hand up, I need them both done in the next few months, however one half day a week of shoemaking ends up being a lot less time than you first realise. Therefore, in order to keep moving forward I went down to Heidi’s place this past Wednesday amid trying to read Crime and Punishment to keep working on them and hopefully move forward. I tried on my adjusted platform wedges, however they were still too wide at the side of the outer toes and too tight across the top of the foot, so after noting down where the last needed to be adjusted, we decided to leave them be for the week and instead focus on my boots. In the last week of the holidays I had finally come up with a design for my boots that I was happy with, and had drawn this onto the master pattern. At Heidi’s place I made the seam lines definite in black pen as the photo shows and from that I went on to create my patterns.
This week it was also necessary to begin my knee length boots as time is quickly running and boots are noticeably more time consuming than most other shoes to make. In order to begin the process of making my boots, I needed to create a ‘master pattern’ which I could then draw the specifics of the boot pattern onto. Pattern making is something that I have struggled with so far in shoemaking as I guess it is the real ‘technical side’ of the trade. The best way to actually understand the whole pattern making thing was to just follow the steps of George Koleff’s book, and although some parts I found slightly confusing, taking it step by step and with the occasional help from Heidi, I found the steps to be quite understandable and self explanatory. After completing the master pattern it was then time to actually add the details of what I wanted my boot to be like. However, this is something that I’m currently struggling with. This boot will probably be my last pair of shoes for my project and therefore I really want them to be how I want them to be! At the moment I am still trying to decide on the details..
Going back down to Heidi’s place at the start of the week I knew that it would be time to try on my platform wedges (after the tacks had been taken out and the upper glued down) and I was slightly nervous! Upon trying them on, we realised that they were slightly too long at the front and that they were quite tight over the top of the foot. Because of this, it was sadly necessary to pull them apart and adjust them. I actually find it quite strange pulling apart shoes as I’m always nervous that I’ll accidentally rip the leather, however it wasn’t as fatal as I thought it might be.. After taking off the upper and back piece, I needed to pull the cover off the insoles, sand them back and recover them. However, this was easier said than done, because the foam that had been added for comfort had stuck terrible well onto the underside of the leather. We adjusted the lengths of the insoles by standing on them, and then I sanded them on the sander to the correct adjusted shape. Then, after sanding some of the foam down off the leather and re-glueing the cover onto the insole, I adjusted the places of the upper to be slightly further back before tacking them on.
This photo shows how my suede platform wedges are currently looking, and I’m actually really happy with the progress on them at the moment! Although making a pair of shoes for the first time is incredibly exhilarating alone, the second or third time around feels quite different, possibly because although the whole process is still so new and premature in ones brain, but also because it comes with a sense of familiarity. I’m so excited to keep working on them see how they turn out when they’re finished!
The next step after lasting the back piece and stiffener was to last the upper which would sit over the front of the foot. This stage in shoemaking (lasting up in general) is one that I find pretty exciting, as it is truly when you start to see the shoe take form. Although it may not look like it, lasting up actually requires a certain amount of strength or at least effort and persistence to get the leather in the shape that you desire without any creases. This is done by placing in upper in place and first tacking the first corners on. Pleats are then created while the leather is pulled and felt and pulled and felt until the finish is smooth and in the correct position. The lining up of the seams is also important in this stage of the process as if they ended up crooked or out of line it would be quite obvious. This process was done to both shoes and continually checked to make sure that they were both the same.
After skiving and placing the heel stiffeners, I was able to actually shape and last them onto the insole and last, which would essentially allow them to dry into the correct shape. To do this, I tacked the insole onto the last and correctly positioned the back piece. Some tacks were also added in various places such as where the ankle strap was sitting to ensure that the piece wouldn’t move out of place during the lasting process. After lining the seams up (which was important because they would be very visible in the end product), the leather was tacked on in pleats, all the while making sure that the leather was sitting close to the last and in the correct shape, before being hammered.