June 16, 2015

Lasting shoes. Where to start?

lasted shoes on the shoe lasts.

You can create a good pattern and sew your shoes well, but it is very easy to fail in lasting shoes unless you know few important things about it. This step is only one of the shoemaking steps and if you want to learn the entire process you can read this post: “Beginners in Shoemaking Tools and Materials Definitive Guide 2023“.
In this post, I will explain you, what should be your first step in lasting shoes and why it can be crucial to making beautiful and comfortable shoes.

Why top back height is super important in lasting footwear and how to find it?

First, let’s define what is top back height.

The back height in shoes is the distance from the last bottom edge to the specific point on the heel.


At this specific point, you should place your uppers along the back center line on the last to last your shoes.
This is your first step in lasting shoes.


This specific place is deriving from anatomical structure of our foot and will determine  your shoe comfort. To learn more on how to make really comfrotable footwear, please read this articel: “How to make shoes-Custommade shoes”.

Place it lower than it must be and your shoes will slide off, and will not be comfortable.


Place your uppers higher and they will put a lot of pressure on the heel and on the sides.


Now, let’s move few steps back to the basic pattern (see this post “How to speed up your shoemaking process”)


It will help you to understand, where exactly you should place your uppers to start correct lasting of your shoes.


When you made your basic pattern, you should find the correct height of the back top line.

This is how I teach it and that’s is how it should be done.


So you already know where it must be and should place you uppers exactly on the same distance that you made in your pattern.


Small tip: how to create shoe pair with identical back height


This is very simple task, but  when you last  your uppers you get worried ( I know it from experience), you check where exactly to place the uppers on the shoe last and how to last them identically.


Ok, you already know the right back height.


*So measure the same distance along the central back line on each last and mark it.


*Place two uppers till this mark.


You should place them in the way, where the central line of your uppers matches the central line of your last.

It is also very important to make beautiful shoes, without twisting your uppers on one of the sides during shoe lasting.


If it is difficult for you to see where this central line on the last passes, mark it before lasting as well.


* Now we reached one of the most important things in how to make pair of shoes with identical back height.


When lasting shoes, you pull down the back part strong, to create beautiful heels without any folds, the uppers will slide down.


What is more crucial here is, that both halves of your uppers can slide down differently, and you will get not just uncomfortable shoes, but not identical shoes as well.


Both situations it is something that you don’t want.


That is the reason some shoemakers place the uppers higher than it must be.


So, when they will pull it during lasting, it will lay in the right place.


But here you must have the experience how to do that, how to consider stretches of leather that you used for your upper (this quality influences on how strong you can pull your uppers ).


Instead of this, you can use this small tip.


You can keep both uppers using nails.



There is special nails for this kind of work.They are thin and sharp like a needle, so they will not leave holes on leather.

shoemaking nails


Place nails into your uppers. They will hold the uppers on the right place.


But if you don’t have this type of nails, you can use same nails that you usually use for lasting.


How to do it correctly?


Just place the nails right in the hole of back seam close to the top line.


Remember, before you will take your shoes off the last, hit on the hole and it will get smaller.



That’s it.


If you have another great tip on how to make your shoes, please share it with us in the comment below!


If this tip was useful to you please share !

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Hello! I love your website!! It is very informative! I am a beginner, & I would like to make my first pair of heels. I am having problems with finding supplies. Do you know or have any information on where I can start!! HELP!!

    1. I would recommend making them yourself. It will be hard to find matching heel to your last. Learn how to make heels and everything else…

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