Archive for November, 2011

Skulls are for girls too

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I stumbled across these strands of colorful turquoise skulls beads at my local bead shop one day and immediately scooped up all they had.

I could easily design an entire collection around these beads.  I even made myself a necklace with them that I am always getting compliments on when I wear it.

First prototype

These sandals have been through many different designs and failed prototypes.  The first finished prototypes would slide off my feet as I wore them; the second, the wiring holding the beading together broke and skulls went everywhere in a parking lot on the way to a party (good thing I always carry a spare pair of flip flops in my car); the third had strap placement issues; the fourth are finally wearable but still need a little tweaking.


What about you?  Would you wear skulls on your feet?

MEAN Form Diagram

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

This is a MEAN Form for a basic high heel pump, from a symmetrical Last:

This is a Diagram of the making of the above High Heel Pump MEAN Form:

  1. Red lines are the medial side of the taped Last.
  2. Blue lines are the lateral side of the taped Last.
  3. This is the vamp axis point.  In pattern making, the MEAN form is only one half of the shoe and therefore the center of the vamp must be a straight line in order to fold the MEAN form over to convert the half to a whole.  It is OK that the axis point is underneath the vamp lines at the toe for there is enough stretch in leather to compensate for the additional portion needed.  If the axis was above the lines there would be excess material, resulting in potential wrinkles and/or excess waste.
  4. New heel curve to use for the Upper pattern.
  5. New Liner heel curve to use for the Liner pattern.  These lines come in more due to the orange peel effect and the natural stretch of leather.  The top two thirds is a straight line as this pattern piece does not have a back seam.  To make the pattern piece, you would fold a piece of cardstock and make 2 symmetrical sides as one piece.
  6. The seam line for the joining of the two Liner pieces.  The original blue line had to be greatly modified because it was outside of the axis line and therefore the pattern would overlap in those areas that the seam was outside of the axis line.
  7. The medial seam line for the Upper.  This line is inside the axis line to ensure the long pattern piece does not have any overlap with the shorter pattern piece.
  8. The final design line for the shoe.
  9. The lasting allowance line for the lateral side.
  10. The lasting allowance line for the medial side.
  11. Feather edge of the Last.  This is where the side edges of the Last meet the sole edge of the Last.

An explanation of my silence and how that may benefit other novice shoemakers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

A predominate reason why I have not been posting to this blog lately is that I have been actively working on creating my first collection.  Part of that journey includes trying to find an upper maker to sew my designs so that I can make the samples and prototypes for trade shows.

A great shoemaker is not necessarily a great upper and/or pattern maker.  I think it’s important to know how to do them all, but perfecting them all is very rare.  I suck at sewing, and quite frankly do not enjoy it at all.  Therefore, I NEED a good upper maker.

Independent Upper makers do not exist in the US anymore.  Most of the existing shoe manufacturers still in operation in the US employ their own upper makers in their factories or have the work done abroad.

Just being an accomplished sewer does not make for a good upper maker.  First of all, working with leather is difficult and many seamstresses never even attempt it.  Second, upper making requires a precision that is second to none.  Just go take a look at your favorite shoes and examine the sewing.  In some cases, it is less than 1mm from the folded edge of a topline.  Third, due to the 3D nature of a shoe upper a special post sewing machine must be used.  Just imagine trying to sew around the topline of a pump with a flatbed sewing machine.  It’s virtually impossible to see what you are doing at points when the heel of one side is curved around the head of the machine.

With all of that said, I spent a great deal of time working with small sewing contractors who had previous experience working with leather to teach them some of the basics and nuances of shoe upper making.  I’m not an expert (yet) so I am sure there are holes in my explanations, but I figured that regardless I would share this information – that I have spent many hours compiling -  with those that follow me.  Maybe it could help fill in gaps for some that are struggling with certain aspects of the process.

I have not decided how many posts I will split this up into, but I will start off with a diagram of the MEAN form, a simple explanation of creating a high heel pump MEAN form, and the pattern making of that high heel pump from the MEAN form.