Handmade Shoes And How They Are Made


Handmade shoes are more complex than it may appear. It has to be begin with the measure of feet, making of lasts and then patterns and then even more skills required from years and tears of experience if not generation of experience passed down.


Every aspect of the foot is measured taking in any abnormality of the toes like bunions-heel to toe length-high arches-toe spread etc. This is done for both feet because usually no two feet are the same.

From these measurements a model of the foot called a LAST is made for individual feet, this last {model}is then the exact copy of the foot.

From this last a pattern of the individual components, depending on the style of brogue required, are cut to fit the Last. A vamp {front} toe cap -quarters {sides}-backstrap. An inside lining is also cut to the pattern. The components are all cut out to the exact pattern, by hand by using a CLICKING KNIFE then the Brogue punch holes are put in by hand individually. The components are then stitched together on a sewing machine, certain parts are hand sewn. When stitched together they form the UPPER. The Upper is then pulled over the Last with pliers and tacked onto the Last as you go, until the whole upper is tight to the Last. This is all done by hand. Between the Upper and the Last is the leather INSOLE which is part of the shoe inside the shoe which you tread on.

The next step is to attach the WELT which is the component that holds the sole and upper together. A groove is made in the underneath of the INSOLE to attach the WELT too. An AWL is used to make a hole in the INSOLE and WELT and then a waxed thread is stitched through tightly to join the two together. The waxed thread is made of 3/4 strands of thread and hand rolled in a bee’s wax to form one strand. As you are hand rolling the thread you attach a PLASTIC BRISTLE to the end to help push the thread through the holes already made with the AWL. The bristle is called a {pigs bristle} in the trade. It was used many years ago from the wild boar.

When the WELT is sewn in, you need to fill the slight void or cavity on the underneath of the shoe before attaching the sole. A support shank between the front end of the heel and before the shoe bends when it is flexed is placed, and glued in. This can be made of wood or metal and then a mixture of Cork and SOLE CEMENT is put over to level everything off, ready for the SOLE to be attached. The SOLE has a groove put in before stitching, which is either by machine or hand. After stitching the groove which has an open lip still attached is stuck down to conceal the stitches.

The shoe now has the final creams put on by hand and polished to customer specification.

The better quality shoes are made from leathers such as calf skin and shell cordovan leather.

There are many handmade shoemakers around the world, but some of the bigger known names are as follows.





Crocket & Jones


Alden Shoes

Oliver Sweeney

John Lobb


Russell & Bromley


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