March 28, 2019

When you make your own shoes you must Save your money on leather.



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


How to make shoes working with paper patterns and save your money on leather is the topic of this post. 

When you work on a new shoe, before you make the actual shoe, you must check it. It doesn’t matter if you are a master shoemaker or a beginner, you must check if your shoe pattern is correct to not fall flat on your face.  Although it’s more common to make the shoe pattern check from leather, I strongly recommend to work with ordinary paper.

This is how I work and how I make my shoes, and this is how I teach it in all my shoemaking courses of the 1 Year Program.

Why? It will cut your work time, it will save your money and actually, it will be more accurate. 

How to make shoes using paper pattern

Now, on the example of simple flat ballet shoes I will explain you how to make shoes using the paper, the ordinary paper A4. 

Here is how I make simple flat ballet shoes:


1. This is the cardboard basic pattern of flat ballet shoes, which you need to check


2. Here is the exact copy of the cardboard basic pattern with all its lines from the ordinary A4 paper. 


3. To make the paper pattern more flexible just crumpled it a little bit. This way it will be possible to last it on the last. Here is important not to overdo it, or it will tear up.

paper pattern-on-last

4. Here is the paper pattern lasted on the last. You see, it looks exactly like leather upper lasted on the last. This way you can easily check your pattern that is made from paper. This is how it must be done in shoemaking working with paper.

5. Observing how your paper pattern lays on the last you can easily understand if you need to make some corrections or not. Then you will make all those corrections on your original cardboard basic pattern.

Now, to explain to you better I made for you a shoe making tutorial on how to check your basic pattern using an ordinary paper A4. Watch the video and share this shoemaking tutorial if it was useful for your shoemaking craft. 


Why I use paper to check my shoe patterns?


When I check my patterns from a paper I get more accurate results, than the check from leather. Paper does not stretch as leather. So, if you made some mistake during your pattern construction of basic pattern and then you will check it from paper, you will see your mistake immediately.

The paper pattern with a mistake will never lay perfectly on your last; you will never be able to place it correctly on your last. The paper pattern with a mistake will tear during lasting or it will just look wrong.  On the other hand, when you check your pattern from leather, you may not notice that, because the leather pattern stretches and you can always place it perfectly on the last, even if your pattern is wrong.

The best example of paper pattern accuracy is pump shoes. The design of your throat line that you draw on the last ( on the adhesive pattern) will lay exactly as you designed using the paper pattern. But it will be much harder with leather, as it will stretch less or more in the throat line on the last and you will not get the exact design.

Here it can influence your decision if you need to open the top line or close it more on the throat line. Once you like it, make the mark on the last where the top line of your paper pumps passes and only then make a check from leather, which you chose to work with. This check relevant only to test the chosen leather, because each type of the leather stretches differently and to get the pump’s throat line exactly as you have on your basic pattern, you need to check it.  

Note: There are shoe models that you must check with leather-like; pumps, one cut patterns or 3D patterns with volume like we made in Freehand pattern techniques course.

Useless leather

Working with paper patterns to check the correctness of your cardboard basic patterns will save you money on leather.  Using paper you don’t need to use leather to check your pattern.  It’s not a problem when you will make just one check but there can be many, especially if you made your pattern wrong. So, just calculate how much leather you will save. Work smart, consume less! 


Finally, working with the paper you will save your time:

1. You don’t need to cut, to assemble the parts of the leather pattern.

2. You will get a correct check of your basic pattern with the paper pattern and then you will develop all other parts correct as well. This way you will not waste your time on repairing all those details if you made not such an accurate check from the leather pattern for example.


Now, I really hope I convinced you to use a paper pattern, or at least to try to. I strongly advise it just because I use it myself. So, will you use the paper pattern? Let me know!  

About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Hi Sveta, Thanks for making me think about how one would correct Dan’s problem… it’s good practice. I think I know the reason why the pattern is not fitting correctly. If I am correct, the original cardboard wont be needed for the solution and he can work from his paper pattern, but I will have to wait for your answer to check my thoughts.

    1. Hi . Yes you are both right. We can work with the paper pattern, that is why it is so important to make our check with paper pattern. And I will show my solution to Dan problem too. Thank you for your comment.

  2. As usual, a useful video. Thanks Sveta. Obviously, or presumably, most of US MORTALS do not get the paper pattern perfect the first time. I know I don’t :(( One of your full videos (ballet pumps?) shows how to correct loose sides on the paper pattern. Do you plan to follow today’s video with an explainer of how to correct various imperfections in the paper pattern? I know that feeling when a paper pattern fits PERFECTLY (I experienced it ONCE), but often my attempts to correct errors simply lead to bigger errors, or to the error moving to another part of the last/pattern. Many thanks.

  3. Thank you, Sveta. I was using felt, but this so much easier and cheaper. Looking forward to using it on my next pair of shoes.

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