Despite the mechanisation of some processes (eg heat-shaping) the basics for quality shoes seem to have remained unchanged for decades. I remembered much of it from my student holidays working in a shoe factory in Leicester. There is still a large degree of artisanal skill required; making the original pattern; cutting delicate suedes and precious fabrics in single layers; glueing and stitching parts together; trimming, sanding and buffing the soles and heels; through to assembly of the final components and embellishments, as well as cleaning, checking and boxing the final product.
The factory I have chosen to work with with have a designer and pattern cutter working on site. The first step is to cover the last with a paper-like substrate that can be moulded around all the curves. The design is drawn on. This covering is removed and by cutting along the seam or join lines drawn, a basic pattern is created in component parts. Seam allowances and overlaps are added back in, to create a final stiffer pattern piece.
When laying down templates to cut the leather, the nap or direction of the grain may also need to be taken into account, whilst maximising the number of pattern pieces that can be cut from any one piece of leather. The size of the leather source, as well as the colour required, will drive the minimum a factory is prepared to accept as an order to avoid wasteful leftover leather pieces.
|Foot length (inches)||8.8||9.1||9.3||9.6||9.8||10.1||10.3|
|Foot length (cms)||22.5||23||23.6||24.3||24.9||25.5||26.2|
More detailed sizing information available on our sizing page