April 23, 2020

What You Have Been Missing Out In Shoemaking?[Shoe Pattern]

You know that shoemaking is all about details. In each step of shoemaking there are certain steps and techniques that you need to follow. But I guarantee that after every pair that you will make you will get better and better.
That is a general view of shoemaking learning, but ask yourself, what is one crucial thing that you need to master first?  

For sure you will know how to cut leather ( to click), how to skive and how to last and everything else. But one process is so important that it will make the difference between good, comfortable, beautiful shoes and just nice, a sweet DIY project to make you feel better about yourself.  


That’s why I am here, this is my mission!


To explain, that one of the most important steps in shoemaking is pattern making.
This is the First thing that you need to Master!

Nothing will help you ( save you from failing) like pattern making if you made the wrong pattern of your shoes! Not your sewing skills or lasting skills!


Most of your shoemaking fails come from the wrong pattern.


Pattern making Mistakes That You All Make

Let’s see some of the simple examples of how bad pattern making can influence on beauty and comfort of your shoes.

1. Applying your design on the last is one of the exciting and interesting steps, but can be crucial in making your shoes if you did it wrong. Applying design of your shoes is the beginning of your pattern making.



A. If you designed the throat line of your pump shoes or flats too low, the toes of your feet will show up and the shoes will have an ugly look.

B. If you designed the throat line of pumps or flats too high in the instep it will press your feet.

C. If you will not measure correctly the height of the back on the last, you will have not comfortable shoes, no matter what type of the footwear you have. It will slide down from your feet or will create uncomfortable pressure in your heels.

D.If you have many details on the vamp ( too many seams) and designed them without considering the placement of the bones it will create very uncomfortable feeling when wearing those shoes.

E. If you designed the quarters of your oxford shoes or derby shoes without right proportions, your shoes will have unhealthy look and you won’t even understand why.

F.If you will not consider the placement of pinky toe in your sandals , it will fall out from the sandal.

G.If you will not consider your design and pattern making the ankle bone in every shoe type where it has the ankle strap, you will get uncomfortable shoes. The strap will bother your ankle bone.


It’s just the tip of the iceberg


I can go on and on to give many other examples of how applying your design ( part of pattern making) on the last may influence on making your shoes. But you don’t need to be a genius to understand that pattern making is so important in shoemaking.


Only from those few examples that I gave you here, you can understand how pattern making is important to make beautiful and comfortable shoes and why it is the first thing that you need to master.


Why is Pattern Making The King of Shoemaking?


What if I’ll tell you that ?pattern making is an important not only as singular process but it is a big deal in all other steps of shoemaking as well.  
Now? I want to show you where else pattern making will help you in the creation of your shoes.


1. There are many footwear types that you need to sew using post sewing machine, but not everybody has it. So you can change/modify your pattern to use simple flat bed sewing machine that you have.
2. There are many footwear types and all of them have certain order of assembling. So to know how to assemble, you will understand from pattern making of those footwear types.



3. From pattern making you will understand where you need to skive leather parts of upper and lining,  and how much you need to skive.


4. Pattern making will be your guide for seam allowance during sewing.

5. You need to know pattern making to create correct insoles.


6. To make soles in the easy and fast way you need to make a pattern of your soles first

7. In heel making, pattern making will help you to make the identical shape of heels and that it super important to have beautiful and well-done shoes.



8. Without pattern making you can’t make the sock lining, the inner part of the shoes that cover the insole. Using your pattern making skills you can make a variety of different sock lining designs.

Pattern making is a crucial component in learning shoemaking and the first thing you need to Master.

Now, I want to show you what tools you need to have in your shoe pattern making process. It doesn’t matter what shoe type you will want to make, the pattern making tools are always the same. 

I want to share with you all these tools and explain shortly how we use each of them in shoe pattern making to demonstrate to you that you can start master pattern making already today because all tools are very simple and you can find them at your local store.

Then I want to talk specifically about one of the tools because the use of this tool requires some basic understanding of the shoe pattern making principles. 


Shoe Pattern Making Tools

  1. Cutting mat

cutting mat for shoe pattern making

If you don’t have this specific mat, you can use some of the cutting boards for vegetables. Chose the big one. It will protect your table from scratches left from the knife in the same way as a professional cutting mat.

  1. Masking tape 

masking tape for shoe pattern making

We need masking tape to cover the shoe last with masking tape in order to draw a shoe design on it. There are masking tapes with different widths. I use tape with a width of 5 cm. 

Here in this post “Shoe making Case Study: Cover Your Shoe Last Using Right Masking Tape”you can learn more about the use of masking tape and why 5 cm width is the optimal tape for you. 

  1. Simple pencil and eraser

 We need these 2 things to draw the design of your shoes on the masking tape and on the cardboard, and paper. 

           4.  Measurement tape

shoemakers tape

To measure at the shoe last certain parameters we need to have this tape. If you don’t have this shoemaker’s tape, use the simple tape for sewing

  1. Two types of the rulers: straight one and with the 90 degrees angle

  1. Utility knife

ulity knife and blades for shoemaking

I work with a simple utility knife. What is important here is to use a good blade, for example, Japanese blades BD 100.  To not waste too many blades you can sharpen them using this approach I teach in this post ‘’Simple Knife For Shoemaking Craft’’

  1. Cardboard and paper

In pattern making you will work with two types of the paper: cardboard and paper A4.

From the cardboard, you will make all parts of your shoe upper and then use them to cut leather.

Paper A4 you will need to use in order to check the correctness of your cardboard pattern(Basic Pattern). Why I recommend it, you can find in this post ‘’Save your money on leather, make shoes working with paper patterns [Video Tutorial]’’

  1. Short nails and Hammer with magnetic edge

magnetic hammer and nails for shoe pattern making

I use these two tools in shoe pattern making in the step of paper basic pattern check.

To hold the paper shoe pattern on the last I use short nails, the same nails that we need to use in the lasting process. 

Then with the help of the same nails, you can spread a paper pattern on the cutting mad and transfer all corrections to the cardboard pattern. (this is one of the possible pattern making approaches in shoemaking) 

The hammer with a magnetic edge helps to catch these nails but you can use the ordinary one. You just need to attach some small piece of magnet to one of the edges and you will have a magnetic hammer. See how to do it in the tutorial below. 

  1. Awl

awl for shoe pattern making

You need to use a simple straight awl to create some marks inside of your shoe patterns.

The last tool for shoe pattern making is one of the most important tools you need to have and I want to talk about it in more detail. 

Gauges for seam allowances and its alternative

gauges for seam allowances

These are gauges for different seam allowances you need to add to your shoe patterns and this is the last tool you need in the shoe pattern making process.

They have different numbers. It is usually from 0 to 10 mm. Each number is the distance that is between two sharp edges of gauges. 

Depending on the seam allowance you want to add to some of your shoe patterns you will use a different number of the gauge.

These gauges are super comfortable tools and easy to work within pattern making but it is very hard to source and it is pretty expensive.

So what alternative do you have?

It is very simple: instead, these gauges use simple compasses. It works in the same way, everybody can buy it and it is cheap.

compasses for shoe pattern making

What you will need to do is to open compasses on the needed distance for each seam allowance you want to add during developing your shoe patterns.  

Now, let’s talk about this step in pattern making where you need to add different seam allowances and what are most common seam allowances you will use as a beginner in shoemaking. 

How to work with compasses in shoe pattern making

After you will check your basic pattern you will need to develop an upper pattern and lining pattern. Because the basic pattern contains only all lines of your shoe design without any seam allowances, you will need to add them during making each part of your shoe design to create its pattern ready to use in the cutting/(clicking step).

basic shoe pattern

So with compasses, you will follow each line of your shoe design and will add a parallel line to the original one in a certain distance, depending on the seam allowance needed. 

adding the seam allowance for folding

Let's say you will need to make folding to the top line, so you will mark with a compasses line parallel to the top line in the distance we need for folding, and so on. 

3 most common types of seam allowances in shoe pattern making

There are few seam allowances you can use in shoe pattern making.

You, as a beginner, in shoemaking probably will use the most only 3 of them.

  1. Seam allowance for folding.

folded edge in shoe upper

This seam allowance you will use only for the upper pattern to have accurate and smooth edges.

The seam allowance for folding is 4mm.

In this post ‘’How To Fold a Shoe Upper?![Making of Shoes]’’ you can learn how to make folding professionally. 

  1. Seam allowance for the underline

 We use this seam allowance in any place of the shoe pattern where one part of the pattern must be attached to the other part. 

The seam allowance for underline is 8 mm.

Also, we need to have a mark of the original line to know where to attach the second part on the top of this one, which has underlined.

shoe pattern with underline seam allowance

We mark this line with an erasable silver pen.

mark of the underline in the shoe upper
  1. Seam allowance in the back part of the shoe pattern

This seam allowance we need most in the back part of the shoe part and it is 2 mm.

These were 3 most common seam allowances you will use in your shoemaking craft at least at the beginning. 

Now, watch a tutorial  about all these tools for pattern making

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Hi Mrs.Sveta Kletina, my name is Mehmet Kuru I’m footwear dizayn and production a student Gaziantep in Naci Topçuoğlu junior technical college I read and I want to hear your course

  2. Your site says the mega bundle has 17 shoemaking courses, and they can be downloaded to watch them offline, but it also says there are 4 months of access. If I buy the mega bundle and download the 17 courses, will I still be able to watch them offline after 4 months?
    Also, if I were to get the mega bundle plus, would I also be able to download the courses to watch them offline?
    Thank you,
    Lucy Gibson

    1. Hi Lucy,

      Yes you can download all of the lessons and in Mega Plus bundle you can download all 17 courses and footwear design course. As soon as it is downloaded to your computer it is yours to keep !

      I understand that it is not possible and really not very educational to see the process once to be able to make quality shoes, that is why I made it available for download.

      So don’t you worry, in both bundles everything is downloadable and you will have it after 4 month to watch them offline!

  3. I am curious about the tool that you used for surveying last sections (I saw this tool in your instagram story). May I ask the name of this tool?

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