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.