May 28, 2020

Shoe designing 100% working approach[make any shoes]

Shoe designing is not about beautiful sketches or colorful prints, shoe design is a technical realization of the total look and functionality of your shoes.

To make your shoes, any type of shoe, designing is the first thing you need to do. 

Shoe designing process pushes people (especially beginners in shoemaking)  away from the creative process of making shoes. 

The major reason is the lack of knowledge and confusion about how to design shoes. 

How you can design shoes without making shoe design drawings? Is it even possible?

If you don’t know how to sketch, how you can show your shoe design ideas or how it can be done if someone will make your shoe design for you?

How you can get this great shoe design idea from your head to the actual pattern and the finished pair of shoes?

In this post, I want to give you a solution on how you can design any shoes without any sketching skills, without any difficult pattern making calculations, without having all needed shoe supplies

What if I show you that shoe designing can be much easier for you?!

In this post, I will talk about my Freehand Pattern Technique. This is 100% working technique that I developed for myself, this is how I make shoes, this is how I design my footwear collections.

designer boots

Why Shoe Design Can Prevent You From Making Shoes

There are a few common stereotypes of what does it mean a shoe designing process that can prevent you from making your own shoes.

1. The fact is that many of you think that to design shoes it requires to work on software.

It is too expensive to acquire these programs for footwear design and it requires certain skills to work with. So you stuck.

2. Sketching shoes is another ‘’needed’’ skills to design shoes. So if you can’t make beautiful shoe sketching you don’t move on in your shoemaking craft.

3. You think that to design shoes and to be a shoe designer you need to take some footwear course (and you are right!), but you don’t have any footwear course close to you.

I am here to break all these most common stereotypes to help you in your shoe designing.

Designing Shoe Software

Of course, there is a new edge designing shoe software like Shoemaster, ICad3D+ etc that makes shoe designing to be much easier. 

But let’s be honest, this software is expensive and if you don’t plan designing shoes for big brands this is not for you

Sketching Shoe Alternative

sketching shoes
sketching shoes

Sketching shoe skills is not only about beautiful shoe drawing, but it is also much more than that.

You need to know the correct parameters of shoe models, considering the anatomy of the foot to make shoes that not only look good but comfortable as well. This what I teach in Bespoke Derby Handsewn Opanka Shoe Course or in English Welted Men’s Oxfrod Shoes Course.

You need to have certain understanding of the shoe proportions when you need to apply a shoe design on the shoe last during shoe designing process.

So sketching shoes on paper is one thing and it is a totally different thing to transfer it from paper to the real shoe last.

If you can’t sketch, but have different shoe design ideas that you want to make here is my solution for you:

Free Hand Pattern Technique

Designing Shoes With FreeHand Pattern Technique

FreeHand Pattern Technique is a technique where you design shoes through pattern making.

In this designing process, you will create shoes working with different materials like paper, fabric or leather working right away on the shoe last.

This is ‘’nontraditional’’ way of making shoes that I developed through my work. This is how I make all my footwear and this is what I teach in my footwear design course.

It is created from pattern making knowledge and that is a reason why my

FreeHand Pattern Technique is something that requires basic pattern making knowledge. 

That is the min. requirement for my student to attend this shoe design course ‘’Knowledge-Technique-Freedom’’

What Is So Special About This Shoe Designing Approach?

Because I developed this technique due to my search for easier ways to create complex shoe designs it gave me the freedom to make whatever I want, to make any shoe design, any shoe design idea very easy and fast.

FreeHand Pattern Technique gives many advantages over the traditional approach in pattern making and shoe designing:

-Design shoes and make the pattern without any calculation

-Easy to learn tools to simplify the design process

-Possibility to create 3D elements in footwear

Designer boots
Designer boots

– Fast and precise footwear design

 – Footwear sculptural integration

 – How to make full collection with just one last 

 – Learn to design right on the last ( No shoe design drawings needed)  

Shoe Design Can Be A Great Solution To Overcome The Lack Of Shoemaking Suppliers

If you have some shoe design idea but don’t have all needed shoemaking supplies like shoe lasts, heels etc or don’t have good leather to make your shoe from, you will be stuck.

But what if I tell you that you can overcome all these problems through your designing shoe skills.

You can develop such a shoe design idea that will consider the lack of some shoemaking supplies.

I worked like these many years because I, like many of you, also didn’t have the possibility to find all needed for me shoe lasts, heels that I want, leather with good quality. So using my FreeHand Pattern Technique I overcame all these difficulties and made my shoes!

Let’s say you have a bad leather, that is too thick or too soft, with scratches and suites only to make furniture. Can you use it to make your shoes?

According to traditional shoemaking vision you can’t but using my design approach you definitely can. You can create such a  shoe design that will use the ‘’bad’’ quality of the leather and will transform it to its advantage! 

For example:

– you have too soft leather – design shoe that will have folds and will use this ‘’bad’’ quality as a good one! 

With FreeHand Pattern Technique you will know how to make shoe designs with folds very easy and without any calculations!

Design of the boot with folds
Design of the boot with folds

-You want to make boots but don’t have boot last, use the pump last. 

If you want to learn more about all advantages by working with only one shoe last to make a variety of different shoe types, check this post ‘’Perfect Shoe Last To Learn Shoemaking’’

So this is only two examples of how you can overcome many difficulties in shoemaking by working smart and using your creative shoe design ideas.

Shoe Designing To Make Any Footwear

Free Hand Pattern Technique will give you freedom in your shoe design process and in the process of making shoes.

You will be able to overcome many different problems:

    • Can’t make shoe sketching- design right away on the shoe last

    • Don’t have shoe design software but want to work with big brands – design on the shoe last right away, take pictures of this shoe, send to the shoe brand

    • Don’t have needed shoemaking supplies- overcome it by transforming  with your design approach the ‘’bad’’ quality of material to the good one

    • Don’t have any shoe design idea but want to make shoes- manipulate with some material on the shoe last to find inspiration for your shoe design

Now, I want to give you a sneak peek from my Footwear design course to demonstrate to you what possibility will you have when you use my system in shoe designing.

I prepare for you a short tutorial on how to make a pump shoe that will look like a ‘’boot’’ very easy and fast, without any difficult calculations but considering rules of pump construction!

I will make a ‘’boot’’ pattern in less than 5 min.

Let’s start!

Take a Basic pattern of the pump last, cut it from paper A4 and place it to the shoe last.

Learn in this post ‘’How to speed up your shoe making process using basic pattern’’  more about basic pattern and why we need it in shoemaking.I use paper A4 not only to check the correctness of my shoe pattern but as a good and cheap material to build my shoe design right away on the shoe last working with FreeHand Pattern Technique.To learn more about the use of the simple paper A4 in pattern making check this post ‘’Save your money on leather, make shoes working with paper patterns’’  

Mark on the paper pattern all-important lines and points that belong to the pump construction:

Joint lineBack height Sideline Joint line is the line that passes in widest place of the shoe last, in the balls.Learn in this post ‘’How To Find The Joint Line In Shoemaking?’’ the easiest and precisest way to find the joint line on the shoe last.Back height is the point that the top line of any court shoe type must reach in the heel. Sideline is a line that connects back height with the joint line.In this post, ‘’What Anatomical Lines In Shoemaking You Need To Follow To Make Correct Pattern’’ you can learn more about correct measurements of the back height for each shoe last size and what is the sideline as well. 

Cut along the front center line of the paper pattern until the joint line.

Cut along the front center line of the paper pattern until the joint line.

Masking Tape Top Part

Attach masking tape to the top part of the paper pattern in order to design on it the line of the boot.

Cut extra of the masking tape

Before you will cut it be sure that you love how boot looks.This is one of the biggest advantages of this approach where during shoe designing process you can see how your real shoe will look like at the end and if you don’t like something you can fix it right away.

Take this boot paper pattern off and transfer it to the cardboard to make a basic pattern of this new boot pattern. 

That’s it. You finished the main construction of this ‘’boot’’ made on the pump last. All you need to do to proceed with the boot making is to develop upper pattern and lining pattern working with this basic pattern that you just made.

This was one of the examples of the shoe designing approach I use instantly in my work and teach all my students in the 1 year Shoemaking Program

This shoe design, “the boot pumps’’,  was a kind of artistic approach to design footwear but if you want to make classic footwear types, this approach works fine as well. 

Now, I want to show you another example, of how you can work with classic footwear types, change them, and make different types of classic footwear. 

So I will show you how you can make classic Mary-Jane pumps from classic flat ballet shoes. 

To use this pattern-making technique you should have already made the Basic Pattern of flat ballet shoes. So take your basic pattern and let’s start.

How to make Mary-Jane pumps from Flat Ballet shoes

    1. Use your cardboard basic pattern of the flat ballet shoes and cut the paper patterns. Place it on the shoe last.

2. Choose the buckle you want to use for your Mary-Jane pumps. 

The width of the strap for you Mary-Jane will depend on the width of the buckle you will use because there are only a few possible widths that existing buckles for footwear have. 

For example, there are buckles with a width of 8mm, 10mm, and maybe 15mm or 12mm. So check first the width of the buckle you can use for your Mary-Jane pumps.

3. Then make a paper pattern of the strap that will hold the buckle you chose.

The width of this paper strap will be less on 1mm than the width of the buckle. 

The length of the strap you will find when you will place it on the shoes last (you will figure it out in a few mins). 

So, right now cut a long enough paper strap.

Find the right placement for the strap on the shoe last. 

4. There are few options for the strap’s placement but I prefer to put it in the middle of the shoe last, in the instep area.

5.What is important, is to place it straight. If you place it straight on the top side of the shoe last so at the shoe bottom the edges of the strap will lay also along a straight line.

Don’t place it in inclined line, it will look strange.

6. Mark placement of the strap on both sides of the paper pattern

7. Mark on the strap also the line of the top line of the paper pattern.

8. Take the buckle and place it on the outer side of the paper pattern close to the top line.

9. Hold the buckle and mark on the strap the placement of the middle pin of the buckle. It is a point A.

Then mark point B on the strap between the middle pin and the inner top side of the buckle

Point B is the first hole you will make on the strap. Then starting from this hole you will mark others in the distance of 6- 8 mm depending on the dimension of the buckle.

10. To find the end of the strap (where there will be holes for the fastening) measure 45 mm from point B. Cut the strap according to this measurement.

11. Now, to create a pattern for this part of the strap that will hold the buckle you will need to measure the distance between point A and the top line of the paper pattern (basic pattern of your flat ballet shoes) plus an extra 8-15 mm for the underline.

The underline depends on the dimension of the buckle: the bigger the buckle is, the bigger the underline is in order to be able to sew it to the main part, to the top line of the Mary-Jane pumps. 

12. Now, leave the paper strap attached to the paper pattern and take it off from the shoe last. 

Copy your cardboard basic pattern on a new piece of the cardboard and place a paper pattern with the strap on it. Transfer to the cardboard your paper pattern of Mary -Jane pumps.

13. This is how you get the basic pattern of the Mar-Jane shoes. Now use it to create an upper and lining pattern. 

If you want to know how to fold this strap later, in more advanced straps of your work check this post “Sandals straps tutorial. Vol 1: Types of sandal straps in shoemaking”

At the end, when you will finish making of your Mary-Jane shoes, it will look like this.

That’s it. 

This is how you can see your basic knowledge of pattern making and shoemaking and design different classic footwear types.

Now, I made for you a video tutorial where I explain everything step by step.

Watch it and comment below, if it was useful for you.

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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