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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 66

post #976 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I don't think you will have to worry about the room in the toe. Any competent maker will have taken that into account. But by all means mention any hot spots or pain. If you're going to experience trouble you'll probably notice it right away. In the final shoe the leather will open up some and accommodate your foot. The point is that first impressions...the first few minutes...are the best indicator of whether the fit is good or not.

...

As I said--"like a glove." Bear that in mind and it shouldn't be a big deal.

...

DW, thank you very much for your insight!

The point you mentioned above (in bold), seems to be key. I've tried on RTW shoes that seemed tight when I first put them on, and despite my initial gut feeling, I convinced myself that they would fit better with time and bought them, only to be sorely (quite literally) disappointed later.

I will keep the "glove-like" fit in mind. Nevertheless, I imagine I will still be anxious until I get the final shoes.

On another note, the cordwainer explained to me that when making lasts, there is a compromise between fit and style. I believe he was trying to say that a shoe built around a sleek last may not be as comfortable as a shoe made around a last which offers lots of wiggle room, even if both are based on the same foot. Is there some truth to this?
post #977 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Fit is very personal, so communicate what you feel to your shoemaker is essential. Otherwise fitting for bespoke shoes is similar to fitting w/ RTW shoes.  Walk around in the trial/fitting shoes for at least 10 minutes so the leather gets warmed and softened.

A few things I personally check:

1. Top lines: try to feel if the top line is biting into your ankles or heels.
2. Toe box length: bend your toes all the way, similar to sprinters position, to check if there's enough toe spaces; front of your toes should not be pressed/pressured against the front of the shoe toe box.
3. Arch: try to feel if theres any hollow space underneath the arch; there shouldn't be any.  At at the same time your arch should not be pressured/pushed up by the arch support.
4. Lacing: tighten them as much as possible.  There should be a lacing gap when new.

Listen to your shoemaker but be very insistent with your demands; you will be the one wearing the shoes going forward.  Shoes do soften up and stretch after broken in, but blisters will hurt damn bad.

I believe the trial shoes will not be fully-finished, so I do not know if it is possible to really walk around in them. I'm thinking that basically they will be uppers sewn to a thin sole, with no heels. Therefore not much walking would be possible. Also, the uppers will not be made of the same leather, at least as far as I know.

Thanks for the check points, though!
post #978 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan'l View Post

DW, thank you very much for your insight!

The point you mentioned above (in bold), seems to be key. I've tried on RTW shoes that seemed tight when I first put them on, and despite my initial gut feeling, I convinced myself that they would fit better with time and bought them, only to be sorely (quite literally) disappointed later.

I will keep the "glove-like" fit in mind. Nevertheless, I imagine I will still be anxious until I get the final shoes.

On another note, the cordwainer explained to me that when making lasts, there is a compromise between fit and style. I believe he was trying to say that a shoe built around a sleek last may not be as comfortable as a shoe made around a last which offers lots of wiggle room, even if both are based on the same foot. Is there some truth to this?

Well, first, let me say that you should indeed have some ability to wiggle your toes. In fact. you should be able to wiggle your toes fairly freely. But "wiggle room" is kind of a misdirection, IMO. Toes can just barely snuggle up to the inside walls of the shoe (along the sides) and still be plenty comfortable...again like a glove...they don't need any extra room, IOW.

As for the "nurture vs. nature" argument....a shoemaker should "fit what is there," IMO. And that means that sometimes "style" has to go begging. It's not that often...if the maker is good...and it is not often that it has to be so drastic that the shoe forfeits all style and grace.

But it is a measure of how backward and superficial we've all become when we cannot even accept and like ourselves the way God made us--to the point where we'd rather put up with pain than look like an ordinary human being with all the "variations" that the specs for ordinary human beings allow.

So your shoemaker is correct as far as it goes but that doesn't excuse him from making a pretty shoe...even if it isn't a clone of some cachet brand RTW.

The key in all this is "the fair curve," if that makes any sense.
post #979 of 1710
I suppose in my naïveté I thought that a last - at least a bespoke one - was just a facsimile of one's foot and hence any shoes made from it would be perfect in all ways.

I guess this is where it comes down to the skill of the lastmaker in interpreting the foot and producing a last which represents the foot, while expressing a sense of style. Talking about this reminds me of the first suit I had made, nearly a decade ago. Although it fit me well, it was definitely not flattering and seemed to accentuate all of my physical flaws.
post #980 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan'l View Post

I suppose in my naïveté I thought that a last - at least a bespoke one - was just a facsimile of one's foot and hence any shoes made from it would be perfect in all ways.

I guess this is where it comes down to the skill of the lastmaker in interpreting the foot and producing a last which represents the foot, while expressing a sense of style. Talking about this reminds me of the first suit I had made, nearly a decade ago. Although it fit me well, it was definitely not flattering and seemed to accentuate all of my physical flaws.

That's it, exactly.

cheers.gif
post #981 of 1710
Making a great looking shoe that doesn't fit is super easy.

Making a lumpy, foot shaped shoe that fits like a second skin while you're sitting down is also super easy.

Making a great looking shoe that fits and wears well at all times can be a challenge, should never be a compromise, and should be achievable - that's what you're paying top dollar for.

Even that's not the hard part though. I know what I think looks and feels good to me, the real trick for a fitter is in figuring out what looks and feels good to you, and providing you with it.
post #982 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ntempleman View Post

Making a great looking shoe that doesn't fit is super easy.

Making a lumpy, foot shaped shoe that fits like a second skin while you're sitting down is also super easy.

Making a great looking shoe that fits and wears well at all times can be a challenge, should never be a compromise, and should be achievable - that's what you're paying top dollar for.

Even that's not the hard part though. I know what I think looks and feels good to me, the real trick for a fitter is in figuring out what looks and feels good to you, and providing you with it.

Well said.

cheers.gif
post #983 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan'l View Post

I believe the trial shoes will not be fully-finished, so I do not know if it is possible to really walk around in them. I'm thinking that basically they will be uppers sewn to a thin sole, with no heels. Therefore not much walking would be possible. Also, the uppers will not be made of the same leather, at least as far as I know.

Thanks for the check points, though!

Sounds like a trial shoes rather than in-welt fitting. Usually makers cement cork or leather outsole/heels for trial shoes. They are definitely wearable but just not for long periods of time.

Guess your maker is going to cut it open as well?
post #984 of 1710
^ I'm not sure, actually. I guess I'll have to wait till the fitting and see if he's holding a big knife behind his back!
post #985 of 1710
DW, forgive me if this question was raised in the past.
How do you pick a last? Do you modify something out of stock? Build it up with cork and leather?
Either way.....I would think that you have a nice inventory on hand.
For regular customers, do you save their lasts? Who owns them, they -or you? It's just a question of policy.
To me the real artwork and time is in making the last right.
post #986 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

DW, forgive me if this question was raised in the past.
How do you pick a last? Do you modify something out of stock? Build it up with cork and leather?
Either way.....I would think that you have a nice inventory on hand.
For regular customers, do you save their lasts? Who owns them, they -or you? It's just a question of policy.
To me the real artwork and time is in making the last right.


Yes, it has been asked...and beaten to death, mostly by people who have never made a shoe or a last.

(And yes, I'm suspicious of your question...we do have a history, after all, and you do have a modus operandi. But I will hope and pretend, for the sake of those other readers who might really be interested, that this isn't a "too clever" way to instigate.)

Yes, I use stock lasts. It's not a secret. I've made no bones about it. I think that in the right hands, it is a very good way to model a foot and achieve a fit and a stylish shoe. Its primary drawback in my opinion is that it limits the maker to specified heel heights.

I have also said that I envy and admire those who can and do carve lasts from blocks of wood. That's how I started, actually, but never had the benefit or good fortune of formal training or proper tools. I think last carving/making, if done properly is nearly as difficult to master as shoemaking itself...if not more so.

And I think that, in the right hands, carving a last from scratch is a very good way to model the foot and achieve a fit and a stylish shoe.

I think that to a great extent the two approaches overlap more than amateurs and shoe groupies know or would like to acknowledge.

One is additive and other is subtractive. But the objective is the same. Anyone who can do the one well enough, can do the other.

It goes without saying that the carver will often add material to alter the last after the fact, and by the same token and for the same reasons, the stock-last-modder will very often subtract material.

I have even money that if a carver were to start with a stock last he would end up near-as-nevermind with exactly same shape and size...same bottom radiuses, same toe shapes, etc, as if he had started with a chunk of wood. And vice versa--if I, as a modder of standard lasts, were to start with a block of wood I have no doubt I would end up with a last that was identical to to what I would have if I had started with a standard last.

I currently have a size 7C (?) last that I am converting to a roughly 6A--it is a custom last and dedicated to one individual. I don't recommend that beginners do this but I myself often reshape and alter lasts significantly.

When I choose a last I look for much the same things I look for, and focus on, when measuring the foot.--heel seat and treadline width, heel-to-ball length, girths at 6 -7, 7 places that correspond to bones on the foot, etc..

If the last I have chosen is way out of range I chose another that is closer. If it is still too large or too small I either cut it or build it up with scraps of leather.

If I have not cut the last...relying on build-ups only...I do not retain it as a dedicated last for that particular customer but pull the build-ups, tag them, bag them, and save them for the next time the customer comes in. That allows me to reuse the last.

I own the lasts unless the customer wants to pay an additional fee for them--either to ensure that they will remain set up for their foot alone or to take...as is their preference.

There is "art", or at least aesthetics, in making a last. For the carver, it is like "finding" the shape within. For the modder, it is like the lost wax sculptor.

But the real artistry is in arriving at a last that embodies the salient measurements and features of the foot and yet creates a visually appealing and graceful shoe.

Again...the concept of "fair curves" is the key, IMO. And, much like the Golden Mean, if you don't understand what a Fair Curve is...even if only subconsciously...you have no basis for understanding art...or Art...either one.

--
Edited by DWFII - 3/20/16 at 5:52pm
post #987 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Yes, it has been asked...and beaten to death, mostly by people who have never made a shoe or a last.

(And yes, I'm suspicious of your question...we do have a history, after all, and you do have a modus operandi. But I will hope and pretend, for the sake of those other readers who might really be interested, that this isn't a "too clever" way to instigate.)

Yes, I use stock lasts. It's not a secret. I've made no bones about it. I think that in the right hands, it is a very good way to model a foot and achieve a fit and a stylish shoe. Its primary drawback in my opinion is that it limits the maker to specified heel heights.

I have also said that I envy and admire those who can and do carve lasts from blocks of wood. That's how I started, actually, but never had the benefit or good fortune of formal training or proper tools. I think last carving/making, if done properly is nearly as difficult to master as shoemaking itself...if not more so.

And I think that, in the right hands, carving a last from scratch is a very good way to model the foot and achieve a fit and a stylish shoe.

I think that to a great extent the two approaches overlap more than amateurs and shoe groupies know or would like to acknowledge.

One is additive and other is subtractive. But the objective is the same. Anyone who can do the one well enough, can do the other.

It goes without saying that the carver will often add material to alter the last after the fact, and by the same token and for the same reasons, the stock-last-modder will very often subtract material.

I have even money that if a carver were to start with a stock last he would end up near-as-nevermind with exactly same shape and size...same bottom radiuses, same toe shapes, etc, as if he had started with a chunk of wood. And vice versa--if I, as a modder of standard lasts, were to start with a block of wood I have no doubt I would end up with a last that was identical to to what I would have if I had started with a standard last.

I currently have a size 7C (?) last that I am converting to a roughly 6A--it is a custom last and dedicated to one individual. I don't recommend that beginners do this but I myself often reshape and alter lasts significantly.

When I choose a last I look for much the same things I look for, and focus on, when measuring the foot.--heel seat and treadline width, heel-to-ball length, girths at 6 -7, 7 places that correspond to bones on the foot, etc..

If the last I have chosen is way out of range I chose another that is closer. If it is still too large or too small I either cut it or build it up with scraps of leather.

If I have not cut the last...relying on build-ups only...I do not retain it as a dedicated last for that particular customer but pull the build-ups, tag them, bag them, and save them for the next time the customer comes in. That allows me to reuse the last.

I own the lasts unless the customer wants to pay an additional fee for them--either to ensure that they will remain set up for their foot alone or to take...as is their preference.

There is "art", or at least aesthetics, in making a last. For the carver, it is like "finding" the shape within. For the modder, it is like the lost wax sculptor.

But the real artistry is in arriving at a last that embodies the salient measurements and features of the foot and yet creates a visually appealing and graceful shoe.

Again...the concept of "fair curves" is the key, IMO. And, much like the Golden Mean, if you don't understand what a Fair Curve is...even if only subconsciously...you have no basis for understanding art...or Art...either one.

--

Thanks DW. And yes I understand your suspicion of me asking the question. I would like to qualify. You and I have differed along the way. To Me it's always based on our differences from our experiences. So be it.....
Building a last as you explained, per person/client is a huge time commitment. To simply have a few lasts on hand and for you to be as successful as you have been is certainly a tribute to you're
abilities.
post #988 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

Thanks DW. And yes I understand your suspicion of me asking the question. I would like to qualify. You and I have differed along the way. To Me it's always based on our differences from our experiences. So be it.....
Building a last as you explained, per person/client is a huge time commitment. To simply have a few lasts on hand and for you to be as successful as you have been is certainly a tribute to you're
abilities.

Well thank you for that.

I hope I have provided some insight. To you and to those reading these posts.

That's why I get paid the big bucks. lol8[1].gif

PS...FWIW, I actually have around 200+ lasts on hand in four heel heights and at least four different styles. I don't buy half sizes ( I can make a 7 into a 7-1/2 in less than five minutes) so a run is roughly 50 pair.

--
Edited by DWFII - 3/20/16 at 8:57pm
post #989 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Well thank you for that.

I hope I have provided some insight. To you and to those reading these posts.

That's why I get paid the big bucks. lol8[1].gif

PS...FWIW, I actually have around 200+ lasts on hand in four heel heights and at least four different styles. I don't buy half sizes ( I can make a 7 into a 7-1/2 in less than five minutes) so a run is roughly 50 pair.

--

That makes more sense, thanks.
post #990 of 1710
I have a question. I have been reading several blogs lately and certain bloggers highlighting leather board heel stiffeners as an upgrade over celastic heel stiffeners. We already know that leather heel stiffeners iare what we should be looking for.

However, I was wondering if there are any differences between leather board heel stiffeners and celatic heel stiffeners?
Some manufacturers has been highlighting this leatherboard heel stiffeners feature as an upgrade over celastic heel stiffeners.
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