July 30, 2020

How to Make Bespoke Shoes From Home [with me]

8 months ago I started a new course on the website that was all about making a bespoke shoe.  If you learned other shoemaking courses with me or if you are a fresh beginner, this course is a must! Why? 

What are bespoke shoes and why it is so different? 

Bespoke means, made to order, especially for you, your customized pair of shoes. If you want to make shoes for yourself, your loved ones or a business, you want to create shoes that fit you perfectly, that fits you like a glove [ pretty much].  

This is very special and can be done for any type of shoes, the important part is, what makes it bespoke shoes.

Why we customing shoe last and if you are making shoes, you must do the same and the biggest reason is - YOU ARE NOT WEARING YOUR SIZE

Here is a simple test I did and you could do it to to check if you are wearing correct shoe size.

First and most important part of making Bespoke shoes is a shoe last, shoe lasts that fits you perfectly! You must learn how to take an ordinary last and transform it into your bespoke, customized last.  You need to learn how to measure your feet correctly and how to adjust your standard last to fit you.

There are different ways to create footwear, but there is nothing to compare when you talk about natural materials, and that is what we do in Bespoke Derby Opanka Course. We work with Vegetable tanned leather to make our insoles and to make our stiffeners. In this post, I focus on every benefit of working with vegetable tanned leather for all your shoe components, but the most important benefit is, there is nothing that will fit you better than a natural material.
More than that in my New Bespoke Derby Opanka Course, I will teach you a unique way of hand sewing opanka sole.

In this post we will discuss all the benefits of working with veg tanned leather in shoemaking and how this type of leather is useful to make bespoke shoes. If you want to know more about other leather types you need to work with in your shoe making craft, check this post "Best Leather Types For-Beginners in Shoemaking".

Yes, bespoke shoes that will fit you perfectly and only you. Because bespoke shoes are made according to your feet measurements and not just made on a standard shoe last that must “suit all” ,  and it never does.

Why to customize shoe last with Veg tanned leather

I know most of you buy standard lasts (  made for order lasts cost too much) that is why in my new Bespoke Derby Opanka Course I will teach you how to customize standard lasts. I will teach you how to take exact measurements of your feet to make your lasts perfectly just for you to have a real bespoke shoes.

To have perfect shoes, 100 % comfortable  from the first time ,you as a shoemaker or a beginner  in shoemaking need to customize your shoe lasts according to your feet.

If you have wider feet you need to enlarge you shoe  last.

Vegtable tanned leather covered shoe last

1 . Easy to work with

When you wet veg tanned leather it become very soft. So it is very easy to cut,  and to attach it on the curved places of the shoe last, to skive and achieve desirable shape and form.

If you skive or cut too much ( and you get smaller dimension than you needed), you can always attach another piece of leather and reshape it.

2. It becomes solid when it’s dry

After you will skive, sand the additional veg tanned leather pieces they will dry and will become solid like your plastic or wooden shoe last.  In the making bespoke shoes these additions to your standard lasts is a core of bespoke shoemaking. 

Veg tanned toe puffs and counters

In shoe industry there are different materials from which you can make your shoes and each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages that eventually influences on the quality and comfort of your shoes.

For example:
For toe puffs and stiffeners that will keep the shape of your shoes and protect you feet, there are few materials to use: chemical non woven sheets, activated with solvent( you already learn it in my courses), synthetic heat activated stiffeners and veg tanned leather stiffeners.
Fist two materials are cheap, but the quality of these toe puffs and stiffeners are far away from veg tanned leather toe puffs and stiffeners that has long history of use in shoemaking.

Benefits of Leather toe puffs and counters in making bespoke shoes

1. First of all, Veg tanned leather is a natural materials and is the main advantage of working with leather toe  puffs and counters: you will not work with any toxic materials, only natural materials.

Leather counters are dense and hard, but they become soft and easy to work with when you wet them. Because veg tanned leather absorbs water.

When you will work with leather  toe puffs and stiffeners you need only to wet them in water to make them stretch in any direction.

2. Leather tanned stiffeners after drying become solid, but flexible.

When you will learn right approach to work with leather stiffeners you will create solid surface only where it needed( in the tip of the toes), but soft and flexible in the joints (bones area).

You will get much more comfortable shoes with leather stiffeners then with any other synthetic stiffeners.

This is another big advantage in working with leather stiffness, because with other two materials you will have no control on softness and hardness of your stiffeners.

3.To attach leather tanned toe puffs and counters you will use non toxic water based glue only!

4.You are Not limited in time using leather stiffeners.(we all love to work at our own pace, so that is big plus!)

You can wet leather stiffeners again and continue to work with later if you need to make a brake. With solvent activated stiffeners and heat activated stiffeners you are strictly limited. Once you activated and placed them in the upper, you need to proceed immediately and work fast as you can, while stiffeners and toe puffs are activated.

5. You can reach thin edges of  leather toe puffs and counters by skiving, that will guarantee good quality  and beauty of your shoes.

6. You can shape your leather toe puffs and stiffeners with the hammer till you will be satisfied with your beautiful heel and toe shapes.

For both materials (leather and fabric) you should make a pattern  of the stiffeners first. If you egger to know it, check this post "How to Make Shoe Toe Puffs? ✅Shoemaking Training".

Leather insoles to use in your craft

When you need to create insoles you can make them from cardboard's or from veg tanned leather

but it is better to use a leather insoles in making bespoke shoes.

Cardboard's are cheaper than veg tanned leather, but veg tanned insoles definitely make your feet feel happy, Because:

1. Your veg tanned leather insoles will be molded to the bottom of the last, so they will keep round surface of the shoe last  bottom that repeat the curves of your feet.

These leather insoles will be much more comfortable than cardboard insoles as they can’t repeat the shape of the bottom last as leather insoles do.

2. Leather insoles is very easy to construct as you will wet them and will mould them to the last bottom.

After they dry, they become solid and flexible
3. With leather insoles you can create additional support to your arch zone to add more comfort to your shoes. This shoemaking technique you will learn in this Bespoke Handsewn Derby shoes course.

4. Leather insoles last longer than cardboard insoles.

Cardboard insoles may break down and they are sensitive to water but we use them too. In this post "Making Shoes For The First Time? Do This!" you can learn more about making of the cardboard insoles. 

There are many techniques to make bespoke shoes and if you want to learn some of them, check this interesting post.

Here are all the benefits of working with veg tanned leather to create your shoes, and that is why I am so excited about the new Bespoke Derby Handsewn Opanka course. There is much more new and interesting techniques that I will teach you in this course and you can check the first lesson and full description of the course here: 

All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. I have already purchased a 3 month subscription a while back, so now I am only interested in taking individual lessons. Do you anticipate that the Opanka Derby Shoe course will be offered by itself?

  2. thank you for this opportunity.am a Ugandan by Nationality,I have a small workshop also but we luck some tools and materials.is there any possibility of getting them so that I improve my standard.if yes send me your contact.thanks

  3. Muchas gracias Sveta, tengo años de estar haciendo zapatos con hormas estandar por encargo, y para este sincero, algún detalle les quedaban a los zapatos. Con este curso que acabo de leer, he aprendido demaciado, y quiero agradecerte infinitamente, la explicación, la facilidad con que la presentas, la motivación y los consejos que brindas. Gracias, muchas gracias. He aprendido mucho

  4. Your content looks fantastic! I have already been leatherworking for a couple of years (bags, belts, backpacks, wallets etc) and would like to make myself my first pair of shoes. I've been looking around on the internet for a pattern for barefoot style, wide toe box boots but haven't been able to find anything. Do you think any of your courses would be helpful to me?


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