Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December Darby - Derby Development

I adjusted the toe shape on my latest version with a more modern "Chamfer Toe."

Used this beautiful leather from Horween Leather that I got on a field trip to Chicago last year.

 Was able to keep track of my time on this pair: 4 hours, clicking, skiving, and closing.

Getting better with air-nailer,

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Glue & Stitch Welt - Full Circle Welt

I have been experimenting with a "full circle" welt.

I do glued construction and add a typical welt to aid in flattening the out sole.

I decided to try this method and have used it a couple of times so far.

After gluing, I stitch all around with the old 77.

Using my 5in1 with my lift attachment I am able to get to the inside of the ring and use the skiver function.
The ends have to be skived by hand bu the whole process is only appealing because of the 5in1.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Boot Making: BOG Version 1 (Last taping, Pattern development, Clicking, Closing, and Lasting)

The Boots on the Ground (BOG) team Headed by Jarret Schlaff contacted me a few months ago for help with making a sample of the boot they are working on.
With an excellent theme envisioned by Steve Schock (Proff, CCS) I developed a full set of patterns and the finished boot.
The process:

Getting from the sketch to a full set of flat patterns requires hours of development starting with taping the last.

This last is a size 11 from J&V.
There is a lot to know about lasts, this one was ordered for use as a boot last and as you can see does not provide any guidance above the ankle.
I added this hand made extension to the top for the purpose of pattern making only. Combining new and old tech, in the future we could scan this last, design an exact matching extension in CAD and use a 3d printer to create it.

I use masking tape and striping tape to get the basic proportions started.
The 1st iteration of the primary parts as they fall on the surface. As any one who has tried to create proper curves over a three dimensional surface can tell you; a line that appears straight may be curved and vice versa.

I carefully remove the tape from the outside and press it onto a sheet of paper. This is a tricky process because the tape will not lie flat and has to be coaxed and pulled in the correct places to get it to lie in a usable manner.
The 1st step is to start making "compensations" in the pattern so that the flat part will match the curved form as close as possible.
Above and below are the completely adjusted Master Forme and the Drape form, I make a "Drape," from tracing paper. The process of getting the Drape and the Master to work as well as possible takes me about 4 or 5 tries. Each time both the design and the Master are adjusted until each are beautiful.

This is only the 1st half of the pattern making process.

The next step is to create the patterns for all the pieces.This is done by 1st making an overall draft.
The back strap required tipping and schmoozing to get a workable piece.
In addition to the part break-up, I add all of the seam allowances, the tongue (straightened out,) the lasting allowance (on the bottom,) and the the two part lining, all on the same draft. I use different colors of pencil to designate the different parts. Yes it is confusing but looks exactly like an old 2d Body Draft from when I started in Body drafting (on the board) back in the 80's.
And yes to answer your question; this is done on computer in a production environment but the software is very expensive so no one but the big shops can justify it.
 A close up of the side panels. I make 8, 11 x 17 copies of the final draft and (secret method) tape the local areas with clear packing tape before cutting out each piece.
The final cut patterns, and drape are marked and stored together in a file.

The next part of the process is called "Clicking." Clicking is the process of marking and cutting out the leather.
 Depending on the color and or part you are working on you can mark the A side or the B side of the leather.
Now cut out all the parts.

Next comes "Closing." Closing is the process of sewing all the parts together before Lasting.

All of the part are carefully aligned and sewn. Edges are skived where necessary, thread choices are made and using your post bed - wheel feed sewing machine the closing begins.
The lining goes thru the same process.
The two pieces are interwoven and stitched together to form the complete Closed upper ready for lasting.

"Lasting" is the process of stretching the Closed upper over the Last.
The Closed upper has been pre-lasted and set aside till the next day. Pulling on each side then turning it over to see the alignment should be done with care and patience; pulling the Upper out of position is very easy and undoing it is very hard.

This boot is of course a "Sample" and not the finished design, but represents what we can do right here in Detroit.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Shoe Making: Leather Skiving with Curved Blade

My go-to knife for skiving is this Swiss stainless steel curved blade that I converted from a Kitchen knife.
Sometimes however, you must use a straight knife and the only straight edge knife for me is the Carreducker that I got in 2011. The Carreducker is at about 15 degrees angle, I do not like those knifes at 60 degrees; they are too heavy, too thick, and clumsy.

On my curved edge knife the steel is tapered from handle to point to about half thickness.

They are of course only sharpened on one side and flat on the other.

I use 1/2" 2 sided tape for all my hemming and so I skive the full 1/2"

This 3M tape has ultra thin adhesive so two or more layers don't cause a problem with the sewing machine. Two sided tapes are vastly different, there can be some with very thick adhesive; avoid those. You can use 1/4" tape too.

My approach to skiving is to get there in three passes:
  1. Take the edge down about 2/3rds thickness and 1/8" in. 
  2. This leaves a ridge to remove so I take that from 1/2 way into the 1/8" skive all the way to the 1/2" line. (I usually scribe the 1/2" line)
  3. Lastly I take the edge down to a fine edge. 
See YT Video

Feeling and looking at the edge is important to know that you have got it down to a nice smooth taper.

Here I use the Carreducker method: a piece of sand paper attached to a plank on one side and a piece of leather on the other. I like to use a high quality 220 paper, if you are only touching up the edge one piece of paper may last years. If you are starting a new blade use 120 grit.
Some people are convinced that you need polishing compound on the strop side... I say no, I never use any. My secret is to us an oil tanned leather for the strop. I have a nice piece of Latigo Side Burgundy it has served me well for years.
What's the point of the strop? The strop is to remove the little burr on the edge of the steel. This little burr referred to as the "wire edge" it will always be there, it easily gets broken off by the repeated stropping back and forth. The burr can be felt with your finger tips. I use the "sticks in your finger nail" method of confirming my success.
Remember also you can look right down at the edge of the knife, if you see any light reflected then you know you have a little more work to do.
See YT Video

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shoe Making: Men's Summer Sandal SV10

For the summer in Michigan the sandal must be more open.

I made 6 development "lefts" to get the pattern refined.
 I reused the soles for this pair, they will be worn until they are worn out!
 I just ordered some Vibram build-up and out-sole sheet and am in the middle of making a "casual" Saddle tan pair and a fully hemmed "dress" pair in a very dark Cordovan like color.
Sandals are harder to make than fully closed shoes because alignment, position, and the development of the negative space is more dramatic and easier to pull out of place than are fully closed uppers.

With fully closed uppers all of these details remain in relation to one another.

I am a firm believer in having the buckle or Velcro adjustment on the inside of the shoe and not on the outside IF it is to be used regularly; this facilitates the very comfortable crossing the leg while putting them on by having the adjustment easy to access.

Completed the "Casual" and "Dress" pairs today!
The Casuals are raw edged.
The Dress pair are fully hemmed.
Good quality Horween leather on both.
I'm all set for summer 2015 with three pair of sandals.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shoe Making: Men's Winter Sandal Development

I finally got my latest Men's sandal design complete. I have developed the pattern and the process for this specific type of lasted sandal.
One of the tricks is to stitch up the entire upper and add the velcro or buckle after the shoe is off the last.
The full sides is the design type I was going for.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shoe Making: Women's Custom Shank - Insole

Over the years I have tried almost every way imaginable to make High Heel insoles for my theatrical works and have settled on this method as my 1st choice.

For me it is not a place to spend a lot of time and once you've been thru the process it is really straight forward.

1st go to the next few Estate sales in your area and buy heeled shoes that are close to the same height as you are planning. I would say plus or minus a 1/2" height and plus or minus 1 shoe size will be fine. Get a couple they are cheep.

Next (this is fun but takes some practice) tear them apart. This is a great excuse to take shoes apart and see what the production house does. The heel is on really well and I recommend putting it into a vice and hammering a large screwdriver in between (two one from each side) the heel (usually plastic) and the sole. Carefully pry all around until it comes loose. Or take it to a shoe repair man, he'll have it off in seconds.

They look like this, you don't care about the BoF area that will be made to fit your last.
This very hard cardboard material is extremely durable and has the Shank imbedded into it; thats what we are after.

There are two ways to re-curve the shank encased in the insole. The trick is to go slow and make an absolute match to your last. Technically the shank is a piece of hardened or spring steel, it will bend to a new shape if moved far enough, if you use the hammer method hold the piece with a pair of pliers. Its trial and error until you get the shape correct, make it exact because you don't want to revisit this step later.

Skive and and glue two over size pieces of leather as shown.

Form to your last in your favorite manner.

Cut and grind to fit.

If you are reattaching the old heel or any production heel and the height does not exactly match your last you must regrind the mating surfaces so that the heel looks and lands in the right spot.

Attachment of the heel is critical and time consuming but done correctly the 1st time you will never have to rework it. Of all of your construction the heel attachment is paramount! it must not come off during use.
Use the holes where the original fasteners were in the insole we have scavenged, do not bother trying to drill thru the shank, it will never happen.

Good luck, Tom