Last Modification

AupairToes didn’t find pointed-toe flat last so she had to alternate a normal round-toe flat last.

Good last costs a big chunk in making a decent pair or shoes. Bespoke shoemakers only order lasts from trustworthy network or suppliers usually they know personally. In this case, we got our first size 6 1/2 women’s flat last from Lisa Sorrell’s website. Lisa, herself is a bespoke cowboy boot maker in the US and she if famous for her works’ quality. She has several YouTube videos educating people on tools, materials and shoemaking overall, that AupairToes finds very helpful (e.g. skiving in this one)

Usually a factory-made last wouldn’t be a perfect fit for any pair of feet on both sides because each foot is different while two lasts come in a pair are just made by mirroring each other in the factory. Even in AupairToes’ use case, the left side turned out to be slightly narrower than her real left foot but it’s within the range so we can go with it without modification. Now, if the last is too narrow, shoemakers often use materials to add on to the last to get to the perfect shape. AupairToes would like to explore this more in the future.

AupairToes did need to adjust the lasts to make the front pointy so the toe shape will be aligned with the design in her mind. The most common and very easy way to adjust a last which is too big or wide in this scenario, is just to use the sanding machine. It does take patience and focus. It also requires a good pair of eye to know when to stop so it’s not overdone.

Sanding the last
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During the 2nd session learning bespoke shoemaking, all the following topics were covered

  1. Last sizing and fitting (basically checking the pre-ordered last’s size and see where modifications could be needed to fit the feet)
  2. Changing from shoe to boot last
  3. Sandals and split toe lasts
  4. Heel heights and toe spring with the last (putting last in walking forms to see if heel height and toe spring are good)
  5. Heel back heights
  6. Parameters for shoe function – a top line that holds the shoes while they are on the feet (this can vary depending on the design of the shoes. Term ‘donning and doffing room’ is used commonly here)
  7. Toe shapes and toe allowances for potential last modification
  8. Bottom patterns (to make insoles)
  9. Sanding and sealing the modifications (including sanding the bottom patterns when necessary)
  10. Basic and mean form pattern design

Getting the last right is one key to success. AupairToes would love to see some easier or more efficient ways. She did find this YouTube video leveraging some easy materials to create temporary last until the pattern is done. Although that method doesn’t allow the ‘last’ to be reused, it can be some good idea to save expenditure on new lasts and be more efficient.

Shoe bottom patterns in AupairToes’ first flat case is very simple. The next challenge was to create a designed pattern for the top. Basically how the shoes should look like. AupairToes got another classical shoemaking text book regarding pattern from Lisa Sorrell’s website. It’s the Shoe & Boot Designing Manual by the famous Hungarian shoemaker George Koleff. It walks through step by step the geometrc form for shoemaking patterns. The styles in the book are quite outdated but the knowledge and method learnt are applicable to all shoemaking design patterns. Below is one of AupairToe’s ideas of how her first pair of flats should look like.

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New tools/materials used in the 2nd class:

  1. Last (that can be found at Lisa Sorrell’s website)
  2. Sanding machine
  3. Leather and other comparable materials for modification of the last, insole making, etc
  4. Tacks, nails
  5. Scotch masking tape (for making the pattern)
  6. Sketch book (for drawing the pattern)
  7. Tracing paper (for making the pattern)
  8. Hammer, water (wet the insole leather and expand it)
  9. Cement, brush and glass jar as container
  10. Fume suction device (as the cement has some strong chemical smell)
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