April 9, 2015

Shoemaker Challenge: Basic and Upper Pattern


Shoemaker Challenge

Last month we started our first shoemaker challenge and today we will have our first guest post by our own challenger. For me ,personally ,it was very important to run this shoemaker challenge as I was sure that I could learn more about what you are struggling with as a begginers in shoe making.

My guess was 100% correct and I could see it clearly following Evgeni work. I can see what he is struggling with, what is complex, and what is understandable and easy to make. I make my own notes and changes, upgrades that I need to do in my courses to make them better. 

Here are our shoemaker challenge volunteer.

Oxford shoes for my shoemaker challenge

Hello to all shoe making courses online readers , thank you for following this beginner shoemaker challenge.

My name is Evgeni, and when I accepted this shoemaker challenge, I knew it will not be easy, but I was very open-minded and thought it could be a great experience for me. To make it clear I never made a shoe in my life or anything close to this craft, so my skills were close to zero.

Sveta gave me choice to choose the shoes that I want to make from her list of shoemaking courses. I chose to make Oxford shoes.
Although Sveta suggested making Flat ballet shoes first, as it will be a more suitable model to start from ( later on I found out that she was right), I just don’t like ballet shoes in general.

For me to enjoy this process, I’ll better make the shoes that I really want to make. I suggest the same to everyone. There is no point of doing something that you are not attracted to. Lack of motivation will make you quit and in my short experience with shoemaking, persistence is the key to success. 

Basic pattern


I started from watching and making my basic shoe pattern and first thing that you must do is, to cover your last with masking tape. 

masking-tape-heel pattern

I made about a dozen attempts to cover my shoe last with masking tape before it looked considerably good. Watching Sveta and practicing covering my last with masking tape, I learned a trick to smooth the folds, but I will talk about it later.


Central line 

Sveta made it look so simple, and it probably is ( after doing it 10-20 times), but I just couldn’t draw central line correctly.

To draw a perfect central line you must create two extra lines, outer and inner side of the instep. The trick here is to use an elastic ruler and to hold it in correct places. You can see how it’s done in this short video.



Moving masking tape pattern to cardboard

When you find all the important lines, joint line, central line, back line(that will help you to create your model later on),  you must move your masking tape pattern to the cardboard. 


Follow Sveta instruction exactly, and you will place your masking tape pattern on cardboard correctly.


Important: follow all instruction carefully to attach it correctly.

Paper pattern

In the next stage of my work, I must create a paper pattern from the cardboard pattern that I got to check my pattern.



Masking tape is very useful, and I love Sveta tricks with the tape. (cuts-cuts-cuts)


paper-pattern on last

This is what I got and it looked good on the last, except it was too tight on the instep and ripped eventually.
After consulting with Sveta, the mistake that I did was missing an important cut on the cardboard pattern that must change the pattern direction.

Here is my pattern after correction

Correct paper pattern

Now that I got my basic pattern, and it’s needed if you want to use this last for other models repeatedly, how do I know it?
It was frustrating for me to follow the process that at first looked like it repeats itself. But if you are working with the same last, it is not necessary to create basic pattern each time. Do it only once!


A trick to cover your last

It’s time to cover the shoe last again (yes, you do) to make my Oxford shoes design, and here is my first trick that I learnt during this shoemaker challenge.

Smooth the masking tape

The trick to have less folds as possible when you cover the last is, to smooth the tape with the back of your knife(or any other tool). 

Full masking tape cover

This is the end result, much smoother. 


Oxford shoe design

Oxford shoes design

Most joy I had during this shoemaker challenge is, to draw my Oxford design on the last. What I loved about was, that our “master shoemaker” (Sveta) explained the lines that are needed,  the options and variations that I can do in design. 


My big mistake

Next step was to attach my Oxford pattern tape to cardboard of basic pattern. Then I realized that my Oxford joint line doesn’t match my basic pattern joint line. 

Meaning, although my design looked great, I didn’t found my joint line correctly with Oxford pattern as I did with the basic pattern. So I had to do it all over again.

Here is the good result.

Correct Oxford pattern

I had a lot of trouble making Oxford cardboard (only Oxford design cut out).

First, my central line was not straight enough or my other lines as well.

Oxford central line

Oxford back line

Full not accurate Oxford


Here I lasted paper pattern of Oxford to check the inner sidelines. Need to do it to have a nice and correct design.

Paper Oxford Pattern

I wanted to last it correctly, so it will fit well , but I pulled it too strong and got it ripped. Be very careful, it’s not leather! 

Ripped paper Oxford pattern

Ripped paper Oxford pattern 2

This is the end result that I got. Here I transferred all the inner sidelines to the basic pattern cardboard of Oxford. From this, I made an upper pattern.

Final Oxford basic pattern



My strong suggestion is practice cutting cardboard. It may seem like no big deal, but I had to do it several times to get it right, especially with those small upper details.    

Oxford Upper pattern


That’s it for this post. Next step for me is lining pattern that I started already, and I will be back here to report on my progress soon.

I am open to any feedback or even better good suggestions. So don’t be shy and tell me what you think about my work and my progress.

If you want to learn more about different pattern making techniques, techniques to solve most of your shoe making problems, you are invited to visit this directory: “Shoe pattern and templates”.  

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. It’s great to see another beginner’s work — this is very helpful! I’ve been watching many of the videos and now I’m finally working on my first last pattern. I’ve made the last pattern and I’m doing a paper fitting on the last, but I’m not sure how much patter correcting I should be doing here. How perfect-fitting should the paper pattern be on the last? Should we attempt to remove all excess (small vertical folds that appear in the paper pattern, running from the arch to the inside and outside, for example) from this main pattern? Or are these small folds considered normal?


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