Disclaimer: The contents of this post describe my very first attempt at shoemaking. Do not attempt this at home before consulting a professional.
My first test shoe
It was a while since I finished (or at least stopped working on) my prototype pair. I have since then been putting time into my next project – my first real pair of shoes – but I will not update that progress as frequently as I did with the prototype pair. This is in order to have more time to actually make shoes.
In conclusion, making the test pair was indeed a very instructive experience – I learned a great deal about shoemaking, and identified areas that I will perfect or at least develop in coming shoes together with ideas on how to do so. A lot went well, but the prototype is, as expected, riddled with mistakes.
Perhaps the most valuable and basic lesson was the importance of choosing leather wisely. Alas, choosing leather was one of the very first things I did, and greater knowledge would have been handy at that point. As pointed out several times during the journey, the baby calf skin I made these test shoes in is completely unfit for uppers due to how thin it is. The shoes hold together on their own, but aside from the toe puff and heel counter, they do feel more like a supported set of socks than a proper pair of shoes. When it was time to finish these shoes off, I was also so eager to get to work on the next pair that I skimped on the finishing. I didn’t really sand the heels down smoothly, didn’t take care to learn how to make a proper waist, etc.
Instead of commenting here on what steps and skills I will focus on developing, I will cover that in future posts with future shoes when I also have results to show. I just want it said that this pair was made for learning purposes, and that I did learn a great deal.
And without further ado, here is my extremely scruffy first prototype pair:
For reference, this is where I started:
Thank you so much for writing this blog. I’ve been watching the same video set you did, and have read (twice), Bespoke Shoemaking by Tim Skyrme. I feel ready to start. I have my lasts and some deerskin for linings but need to get the rest of my tools and leather… and courage. Reading this blog is certainly helping me with that last part. Thank you! -Katy
Thank you for writing – I’m very glad to hear that! Best of luck getting started, and feel free to ask if something is unclear in the blog!