Archive for the ‘Mens’ Category

Wholecut loafers

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

My husband hates taking the time to bend over and tie his shoes in the morning, so he practically lives in his Kenneth Cole Black loafers during the week.  Now that I have taken a pattern-making course, I decided to test my skills on a pair of wholecut loafers for my husband.

My husband has a strange aversion to brown shoes for some reason, so he wasn’t super happy about the tobacco color I had picked.  Of course he didn’t know that I had picked that light color for these shoes as I had purchased some antiquing stains and were going to try my hand on a darker patina for the finished product.

On the first fit test, my design came up too high on the sides and he was not even able to fit his foot through the opening to test the fit; the second fit test was a tad too loose (in full disclosure I also changed Lasts between the first and the second fit test and had to start the taping of the Last and the design all over again).

The final result fit him well, and even though there were some nicks and cuts along the way, I am fairly happy with the outcome of this pair.


Handmade Colorful Sandals

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Handmade colorful sandals just in time for summer!

Handmade Colorful Sandals

I love flip flops and sandals in general so it is only natural that I have all kinds of ideas for different designs.  Many of my designs feature braids of some description.

The 5-braid strap on the yellow and black sandals was fun to construct and the wider strap provides additional comfort. The toe piece is also a narrow traditional 3-braid.

The natural-looking sandals are a leather that was stamped with a basket weave pattern. Initially, I was worried that the pattern would feel uncomfortable on a person’s foot but it’s actually quite nice. There are no sharp indentations on the leather so even though you can feel the basket weave pattern, it is very smooth.  The stamped pattern did provide difficulties when sewing the upper sandal vamp piece as the material was not smooth on the underside.  This caused the material to have a tendency to bunch up and curl when I would attempt to sew the varying groove thicknesses in a straight line.  I am still working on ideas to correct this going forward without adding unnecessary thickness to the piece.

The blue and brown braided flip flops are the same pattern from my previous post about the first flip flops that I made seen here (and still wear ALL the time) but with slight variations to the pattern and the placement of the straps.

These are just a few of my simpler designs.  I am working on many more that include beading, jewels, and/or other fun accessories that add just the right amount of flair.

No, I’m not a very good shoemaker … yet

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I went to Budapest in March for an intensive shoemaking course with Marcell Mrsan, master shoemaker.  In that time I made two pairs of mens dress shoes.  The first one was a standard cemented construction and the second one I learned a new technique:  welt stitch construction.

Budapest was amazing; the course and the instructor were intense.  I bled, blistered, and bruised; I laughed, smiled, and yes, I also cried.  But most importantly, I took a giant leap forward in the pursuit of my dreams.

It takes me time to gain confidence and develop a comfort for new tools (especially really sharp knives and machinery of any sort), I rarely learn something well after only one or even a couple of examples – I learn best after I’ve made all the mistakes one could possibly make, I ask a lot of questions, and I’m really slow.  No, I’m not a very good shoemaker … yet.

*click on each of the pictures in the gallery for additional commentary

Ocean blue leather flip flops

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Ocean blue leather flip flops

I love flip flops!  I probably have more than a dozen pair in my closet right now.  If I’m not in heels, I’m either in flip flops or barefoot.  So it’s no surprise that as soon as I started dreaming of warm weather, I started the design concept for a custom pair of flip flops for myself.

I used the soles of my Havaianas for the sole pattern and toe thong placement as they fit my feet best.  I really like the look of a sole stitch on sandals, so since I do not have a post sewing machine as of yet I had to pound the holes and hand stitch these.  I also wanted to test out using a rough edge instead of lasting the leather to an inner sole.  I really like the look of the rough edge with this material.

Flip flop soles

The toe thong piece was trickier than I anticipated (imagine that).  For extra durability and longevity, I wanted the upper to be one solid piece instead of separate pieces sewn together.  I went through several different designs but this one worked and looked best.

One piece toe thong

I was a slacker this time and did not take any pictures of these sandals in progress, but as always you can click on the gallery photos for additional commentary.

Blue Suede Shoes (take 2)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
Completed shoes

Completed shoes

After I had completed the first pair of practice shoes for my bf fiance (a lot has happened since I last posted), I was really excited to get started on the real thing.

As mentioned in my previous post, the top cap of the practice pair got smooshed in while sanding and it rubbed the tops of his toes when he wore them.  For this pair, I decided to test out my super strong ‘military grade” toe caps. . .not quite steel toe but close enough. . .on the real thing.

As usual, there were lessons learned in trying something new.  The ‘military grade’ toe caps are soaked in acetone to soften the material and activate the bonding agent therefore they must be nailed in place and left to harden overnight.  (The regular toe cap material is heat activated and hardens quickly as it cools).  I made the unfortunate mistake of keeping the shoes on the lasting jack overnight as it hardened which caused the toe cap to somewhat take the shape of the cushion of the lasting jack.

Another lesson learned from this pair (and practically all others before it) is the importance of making sure your pattern remains centered on the Last when lasting the liner leather to the inner sole.  Otherwise, you will end up with a slightly off-centered shoe.

Top view of completed shoes

Top view of completed shoes

A first for me on this shoe was the “sole stitch” piece around the base of the shoe.  As I do not have a sole stitcher, I did not actually stitch the material to the sole.  It is barged on.  I really like the look of it though.

Inside view

Inside view

I’m so glad my fiance has a pair of my shoes that he can wear out, are comfortable, and that he loves.  I look forward to starting my next pair for him. . .I already have a new design picked out.  :)

Click on the pictures for additional descriptions.