How to measure your feet size, to make the best fitting shoes for you, should be your first priority in shoemaking. Customizing your shoe last begins with measuring your feet size correctly. In this shoe making post, I will explain why you are wearing the wrong shoe size all your life and how to measure your feet size correctly.
There are great shoemakers and last makers that devote years to perfect these skills, and they definitely have more parameters to their foot measurement calculations.I am talking about bespoke shoe making.
But today we are going to focus on a basic way to measure your feet size to order the right shoe last for customizing your shoes.
99% of my new students that are total beginners in shoemaking are always surprised to discover what their real shoe size is and what shoe size they need to get to make bespoke shoes.
Now, let’s talk more about it because this, for sure, what awaits you to discover as well.
So that’s why let’s start from the beginning of the process of making shoes, let’s start from the shoe lasts.
The Standard shoe last
To make shoes professionally we need to use shoe lasts. It is a copy of the human feet made in most of the cases from plastic and there are different shoe last types with thousands of different shapes.
To learn more about shoe lasts types you can read this post “Shoe Last Types & What is a Shoe Last! [Definitive Guide]”
Shoe lasts have different components that serve for the different purposes in shoemaking and you can learn more about it in this post “What you need to know about shoe last Part 1 : Shoe lasts components”
Shoe lasts have different measurement and there are two, the most important that we will talk about in this post. They are the length and width.
The length will define the shoe last size and the width will define its volume. So when you buy shoes with a certain size, these shoes were made using the same shoe last size.
What is important here to understand that each shoe last size has a different width. This is what you and most beginners in shoemaking have missed out in shoemaking.
For example, the shoe last size 38 has different widths. In other words, it can be thinner or wider, but the size ( the length) is the same.
In general, there are 8 most common widths starting from super narrow until super wide. That means that each shoe size may have 8 different widths.
Why shoe lasts have different widths?
Because human feet have different widths. Somebody has wide feet and somebody has narrow feet, but they both have the same length, meaning the same shoe size.
So, as an ideal option, all footwear manufacturers, footwear brands must produce shoes with all existing widths (for example, from width 1 to 8) but in reality, it is very expensive. Just imagine that they need to produce such a big amount of shoes where each shoe size needs to be produced 8 times multiplied by the number of pairs that each brand needs to have in their stores!
So they decided to use only one width of the shoe lasts (some orthopedic shoe brands have few) that is something in the middle between narrow and wide widths.
It is some average width and the shoe last with this average width we call the standard shoe last.
It has all possible sizes for example, from size 36 to 42 for women, but the width is only one.
All footwear brands have their own standard last and it is usually the shoe last with the width 5.
That is the reason why you can buy at some shoe brand shoe size 37 and at another size 38.
More than this, from the experience, I am pretty sure that most of you wear the wrong shoe size.
Wrong Feet measurements or Why do you wear the wrong shoe size?
We all are different and have different feet, but for each of you, the major shoe brands offer shoes with the same width. Now you know why it happens but does that mean that the shoe size you usually buy is the correct shoe size for your feet?
In 99% it’s not.As I already explained to you, the length of the shoe last defines the size. The same thing is with the length of your feet.
According to the length of your feet, you will know what shoe size you need.
So if for example, the length of your feet is 24 cm, you will need size 37.5.
The problem here is with the width of your feet. If the width of your feet is 6 but almost every footwear you can find in the stores has a width of 4 or 5, the shoe size 37.5 will be small for you.
That’s why you probably will buy shoe size 38 or 39 but your real size according to the length of your feet is 37.5.
This is what happens almost with all of you, dear friends! That’s why many new students of mine when they start making bespoke shoes they choose the shoe size that they are used to wearing, but when they measure their feet according to my instructions, they get surprised to find out what their real size is.
So if you want to have shoes that will fit you perfectly, you need to make customizing shoes.
Why do you need to make Custom shoes?
Why do you need to customize shoes and not just measure your feet and find the shoe last with the correct size? It is because most of the shoe last manufacturers produce also standard shoe lasts.
To have really comfortable shoes with the right length and width you need to make custom shoes.
What does it mean to make custom shoes?
It means that you customize some standard shoe last according to your feet measurements and when you make shoes using this customized shoe last, you will get customized shoes.
This is how my students customize shoes according to their feet measurements and make bespoke shoes. It is enough to customize your standard shoe last once and then working with these customized shoe last you can make a variety of different shoe types.
If you want to know more about how to customize shoes, read this post “Why You need Bespoke Shoes and Working With Veg Tanned Leather”.
In the process of customizing shoes can be involved also your stylistic, designing desires. You can change the shoe last shape how you wish.
For example, you have some shoes last with a rounded toe shape but you want to make shoes with the pointed toe using this shoe last. So you can customize it according to your shoe design.
You can learn more about this aspect of custom shoes in this post “Shoemaking Techniques to Change The Shape of Your Shoe Last”.
Now, are you ready to discover what your real size is? Do you want to know what shoe last size you need and how to customize this shoe last to make bespoke shoes?
To know it, you should measure your feet, and then customize any standard last you will work with accordingly.
That’s why I prepared a step by step shoemaking tutorial with a simple approach on how to measure your feet correctly.
Time needed: 11 minutes.
You should place your foot in the way where the heel of your foot touches the wall How to measure your feet [Beginners Guide 2020]
- Take a simple paper A4 and place it close to the wall.
The edge of the paper must touch the wall
- Stand on this paper sheet.
You should place your foot in the way where the heel of your foot touches the wall
- Measure the length of your foot.
Place a pencil at a 90-degree angle to the longest toe and mark a point. The distance between the edge of the paper that touches the wall and this mark is the length of your foot. Later you will measure it with the ruler.
- Find the widest palace in front of your foot
It is the place where you have bones. The middle of the most extended place on the bones is your widest area. Mark points in this place on both sides of your foot.
- Measure the width of your foot
Take a shoemaker’s tape and place it under your foot in the place where you have marks of your widest foot area. Overlap with the tape this place on your foot. Don’t pull it too much and don’t leave it loose. Measure the girth and write down the measurement.
- Take your foot off the paper and measure the length of it
Write down the measurement you got.
Now you know the length and the width of your foot. Measure the second foot and use the measurement of your biggest foot to choose the right shoe last size
I made a video tutorial on how to measure your feet. So make sure to watch it, because at the end of this shoemaking tutorial I will tell you what to do with these measurements.