November 19, 2020

Making Shoes with Basic Pattern

The basic pattern in shoemaking is the first thing that you need to master. When we are making shoes, the pattern construction of almost each shoe type is based on this basic pattern.

From this, you can understand that getting your basic pattern currently is super important to make beautiful and comfortable shoes.

What is the basic shoe pattern in shoe making?

The basic shoe pattern is the exact copy of the shoe last you're working within making shoes.

Now, the basic shoe pattern is very important in making shoes because all other shoe parts (upper, lining) you will develop working with this basic pattern. Now, if you want to know how the basic pattern is important, read this post  "What You Have Been Missing Out In Shoemaking?[Shoe Pattern]"


 It contains certain points and lines plus a lasting allowance.  

First-Basic-Shoe Pattern

Lasting allowance in shoe making

It is an extra material (fabric or leather- depends on the shoes you are making) we need to add to the feather line of the shoe last in order to attach this allowance to the insole.

This will allow us to close the shoe upper around the shoe last in the process of shoemaking.

If you want to learn more about it, you can check this post “Lasting Allowance in Shoemaking”

How do we make shoe basic patterns in shoe making.

1. Cover the outer side of the  shoe last with masking tape

2. Draw important lines and points needed for pattern construction of different shoe types and apply the design of the shoe we want to make (there are 2 approaches in shoe pattern construction) 

3. Attach the masking tape pattern to the cardboard

4. Cut the same pattern from paper A 4. 

Why do we need to use here paper A4? We need it to check well our basic pattern. I already wrote a post about working with paper in shoe making, so if you want to learn more about it check this post 

 “Save your money on leather, make shoes working with paper patterns [Video Tutorial]”

5. Place it to the shoe last to check its correctness and to have the feather line of the inner side of the shoe last

6. Transferring all corrections form paper pattern to the new piece of cardboard

2 Approaches in making shoe basic pattern

There are two main approaches to making shoe patterns. Both of them work well but there are few advantages to one of them. First of all, let’s describe these two ways of making shoe patterns. 

Make first basic pattern and second basic pattern

This is how I make shoes and teach in my courses. 

-We make the first basic pattern, the exact one that you will learn in the tutorial below. 

-Then we make another basic pattern following the same steps that we used in the making of the first basic pattern but we also draw the design of the shoe that we want to make. 

-This is the second basic pattern.

- Working with this second basic pattern we create all parts, patterns of our shoe design by adding certain seam allowances to different shoe parts depending on type of the seam. 

different design of flat ballet shoes

Make only one basic pattern

- Make basic pattern following the same steps that we do in making the first basic pattern 

- Before you will take off the masking tape pattern, draw the design of your shoe

- Use this basic pattern with shoe design to develop all parts and details of your shoe

Oxford shoes design

Advantages in the making the first and the second basic patterns

If you will use my approach you will save your time and will work smart. 


When you will make the first basic pattern without any shoe design applied to it, you will check it with paper and will have a 100% correct pattern.

Then you can design any shoe type (working of course, with the same shoe last) except ballets and pumps. 

If you still don’t have any shoe last and don’t know what is the correct shoe last size you need to check for, make sure to read this post

“How to Measure Your Feet Size[ Order the right shoe last]”

If you don’t sure what shoe last type do you need to make certain shoe design that you want to make, check this post about different shoe last types to work within shoemaking “Shoe Last [Definitive Guide in 2019]”

You can attach the masking tape pattern with the design of your shoes on the copy of this already checked shoe pattern - the first basic pattern and you will already have the correct shoe pattern, for sure, whatever is it: derby shoes, oxford shoes, moccasins, boots, etc.


The picture above is from my Sneakers making course.

If you will use the second approach, you will draw the design of your shoes and use it to make this certain shoe type

Then you will need to do it again and again in making all other shoe types you will want to make working with the same shoe last.

drawing the shoe pattern

 If you want to learn what is the perfect shoe last type you need to have to make 10 different shoes, check this post  “Perfect Shoe Last To Learn Shoemaking [1 Shoe Last = 10 Shoe Types]

So, after watching the tutorial on how to make basic shoe pattern and  work smart, saving your time in making shoes, you can understand why basic pattern is a crucial point in making any shoe type.

Now, as a good example of my approach, learn how it works in shoemaking, on example Oxford shoes here below.

How to speed up your shoe making process using basic pattern

Today I will show you fast and easy pattern making a workaround. This new approach will save you time in working on your shoe patterns as you will be focusing on one main part- Basic Pattern.

Usually in all my shoemaking courses online we make the basic pattern and all other parts needed. This is how and should work, but today I’ll teach you the new way how you can concentrate all patterns in one.

How you usually construct shoe pattern?

You will see and understand how each step of this pattern making works using the example of this Oxford shoes

shoe design of oxfrod

1.  First Basic Pattern

shoe pattern-construction 002

It’s a clean pattern without your design, just to make it fit perfectly on the last.

2.  Complete Basic Pattern. 

basic shoe pattern

After you checked your first basic pattern you can transfer the design of your shoes there.

3. The pattern of the Toe cap with added folding

Now, there is a proper way to fold in shoemaking and if you want to learn “How To Fold a Shoe Upper?! Shoemaking steps”, make sure to read this post.

toe cap shoe pattern

4. The pattern of the Vamp with folding and underline seam allowance

vamp shoe pattern

5.Pattern of the quarters with underline seam allowance and folding

quarters shoe pattern

6. The pattern of the back part with folding.

If you want to learn how to create a neat back seam, make sure to check out this post “What Shoemakers do, to achieve This perfect back seam”

back shoe pattern of Oxford shoes

7. The pattern of the tongue with underline seam allowance

shoe pattern of the tounge

A new approach to pattern construction

1 First Basic pattern (as it was in the previous method)

shoe pattern-construction 002

2 Complete Basic Pattern

basic shoe pattern

3. Compete for basic pattern with all seam allowance of each detail on it.


To this complete Basic pattern, you will add lines of each detail (toe cap, vamp etc) all necessary seams allowance. All design, details, and parts of this model will be concentrated in one place.

Once you marked all seam allowances of each shoe part on the basic pattern, you will have a full map, a guide for each part that you need for this shoe.


The good thing about this approach is, that when you create a pattern of specific detail you don’t need to think each time, how much millimeters you need to add for seam allowance and adjust each time your compasses.
This way you will save your time and will work faster. It’s especially helpful if you need to make many different patterns in short time.

On the other hand, this approach can be very confusing and not that clean. Concentrating too many lines, design, seam allowances of every part will require your full attention.  So work with this kind of pattern very carefully and here is a quick tip.
To not be confused with so many marks on your Basic pattern, mark them with different colors, for example folding mark with blue color, underline mark with red color etc.

Those are the two ways you can work on the pattern. I from my personal experience, if I don’t need to create a dozen patterns I prefer the first clean way. What way of pattern making do you prefer?

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Sveta great info. I wish I would have known this a long time ago. This would have saved me many hours of work. Thank you for sharing. …

    1. The idea of this post was to show a different way to work on pattern and not to teach how to make entire pattern. There is enough courses and resources on this site on how to make shoes and how to make pattern.

  2. I really love your ways of getting things done.
    I also prefer the idea of teaching how get things done. “Don’t give me fish, teach me how to fish”
    Thanks a lot Sveta. Your are wonderful.

  3. I also prefer the first approach of pattern making. You are a great teacher I enjoy and understand every bit of your lecture. I wish to have more of it. Thanks so much

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