Shoemaking Techniques: Shoe last

Shoemaking Techniques to Change The Shape of Your Shoe Last

Shoemaking is an amazing craft that can allow you to make your own shoes with any shape, any design!  

You can make a comfortable and at the same time beautiful footwear that will set you apart from the crowd.

Making shoes that you love will emphasize your personality.

Sveta Kletina-shoes

To have this possibilities, you must gain this shoemaking knowledge, and I am here to help you do that. 

I already wrote few post about the shoe lasts but this theme is endless.

There are so many details about shoe last that you should know, that it will never be enough.

If you are a beginner in shoemaking and just getting started to source materials and tools, you can understand very quickly that it is pretty hard task, to find appropriate shoe lats.

If you purchased some old shoe last but you don’t like the shape, it is too narrow or too wide for you feet, don’t worry, you can fix it.  

old and used shoe last

So in this post I will show you a few shoemaking techniques on how you can change the shape of your shoe last. Make sure to read till the end and watch my video tutorial as well.

Customize your shoe last

two shoe lasts, one customized with vegetable tanned leather

To make comfortable shoes you need to customize your shoe last according to your feet measurements.

It is especially super important, if you don’t have standard feet, meaning they are too wide or too narrow.

What should you do if your shoe last has standard parameters?

You need to do to customize it!

Here is how it’s done:

1. Take a measurements of your feet: 

The outline, the line of the feet bottom, the girth of the joints, the waist, the instep,the short heel girth and long heel girth.

2. Take the  same measurements of your shoe last

3. Compare the measurements of you feet and the measurements of your shoe last to understand where you need to change your shoe last

4. Change the shoe last.

Work with vegetable leather, if you need to enlarge your shoe last.

Work with rasp, if you  need to reduce it.

5. When working on your last don’t forget to measure it each time to fix it correctly.

How to make your shoe last shorter  

Using this shoemaking approach you can make your shoe last shorter, if the toe shape is too long.

1. Measure the length of your feet

2. Measure the length of your shoe last

3. Compare these 2 measurements to know on how much you can reduce the toe shape of the shoe last.

4. Make a pattern of the last bottom (insole pattern) and mark on it a line that will be the new edge of your shoe last.

5. Reduce the toe shape working with rasp or a sandpaper.

Change your shoe last shape with epoxy clay

shoe last customized with epoxy clay

You can work with epoxy clay when you want to make; 

  • rounded shape

  • square shape

  • an asymmetrical shape

You can find epoxy in any hardware store . Here is an example :

It is very easy to work with the epoxy clay.

When you mix it, it becomes very soft, so you can create any shape on your shoe lasts.

When it dries it becomes hard and solid, so you can shape it even more to get the desirable form.

What is important to know here is, you must be very careful during lasting, to not break the epoxy.

In this shoemaking step (lasting) we must hit on the last here and there, so be gentle.

Another great thing about working with epoxy is, that you can always take it off, if you don’t like the shape anymore or if you want to create a new toe shape.

Change your shoe last shape with vegetable tanned leather

If you want to make a pointed toe shape on your last, use another shoemaking approach

Work with vegetable tanned leather.

shoe last customized with vegetable tanned leather

The pointed toe shape made from leather will not break during lasting process.  

It is a little bit harder to work with leather then working with epoxy clay, but it is safer.

Meaning that the shape that you will create on your shoe last will last longer and won’t break.

Make sure to watch this shoemaking video I made, going through all this shoemaking techniques.

Some of you already making shoes or just getting started, please take a minute and let me know (in the comment), which of the techniques you would prefer to use in your work?

Video Transcript:

00:00 You purchased a shoe last, but you don't like the shape of this last,the last is too long, or maybe you have wide feet and your shoe last is very narrow. So what you can do: in bespoke shoemaking, they're different shoemaking techniques on how you can fix all these problems. So let's watch the video where I will show you these shoemaking approaches. Don't forget to subscribe and comment below the video.

00:45 Even in bespoke shoemaking is very important to have very comfortable shoes and that's why shoemakers customized shoe lasts according to the feet measurements. Now, if you have narrow shoe last or you have shoe lasts that don't fit your feet perfectly, you can customize your standard shoe last according to your feet measurements working with vegetable tan leather. And here you can see an example on how I used this shoe last and customize it according to the feet measurements of my client. And you see the difference between these two lasts. And now let's see how you can use this shoemaking approaches to change the shape of your last. And using the first shoemaking approach you can make your shoe last shorter, if you have too long shoe last and you don't like it. So to change the shape your last you need to measure the length of your last, then make a pattern of the insole (the pattern of the bottom of your shoe last), mark on this pattern the new line, the line that you want to create on your shoe lasts. And then work according to this new line working with rasp you can change it on both pairs of your last to get beautiful shape,

02:14 the shape that you want to create on your shoe last. Next shoemaking approach is more complicated. Here working with this approach, you can customize your shoe last. To do that, you need to measure your feet to take measurements of your shoe last in the same places. And then compare these parameters to know how and where you need to enlarge your shoe last or maybe to reduce your shoe last. And if you want to enlarge your shoe last here, you can work with vegetable tanned leather. You need to attach pieces of vegetable tanned leather on the shoe last in the places where you want to enlarge it. And then step by step, you will change the shape of your shoe last according to the parameters of your feet. In the next shoemaking approach, we are working with epoxy clay. This is soft material that becomes hard after it become dry. So you, working with this material, can create almost any shape on the toe of your shoe last working with rasp after it'll dry. And the best thing about it, is that you can return your shoe last to the original shape,

03:26 if you don't like it anymore. In the next shoemaking approach, you will work with vegetable tanned leather to create different toe shapes on your shoe last . Working with this material, you can create a pointed toe shape on your shoe last. If working with epoxy clay, you could just apply it to the toe shape of your shoe last , working with the leather you need to create patterns. And this process is a little bit complicated than the previous one, but your shaped shoe last will last longer. That's it. It was a brief introduction of these shoemaking approaches. If you have questions, please, comment below the video. Thank you and see you in the next video. Bye. 

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  • December 5, 2018

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