If on the other hand, it DOESN'T fit, blog about it (so that people find out how complex and difficult shoe making is) and start plotting and scheming about the next pair you're going to make.
So, here are my first pair of handmade shoes!
As you can see, I am wearing them, but they don't fit. They were, however, great fun to make- fantastic teacher and fun group of people doing the class- and armed with my scrappy notes, knowledge gained (I'm sure someone wise pointed out how much we learn through our mistakes?), my teacher's email address and a book or two, and I feel ready to rush out and brave the daunting warehouse at Leathlers to procure materials and try again.
The course crammed a great deal into a short space of time. Brendan has so much knowledge to impart and everyone in class was totally engaged, constantly asking questions and discussing things (which meant we got way off topic at times, but were constantly entertained!). I usually take copious notes when I'm learning something new, but there was so much to look at and play with that I barely wrote anything down.
The first class (each class was one day) covered shoe making history and methods, a tour of Brendan's (amazing) studio and meauring our feet for some basic pattern making. There's a great rundown of shoe construction history and basics here. We also picked out a style that we wanted to make from the choices Brendan was offering- all styles could be produced with a Veldtshoen technique (which meant we weren't working leather over a shoe last, rather just stitching an upper down onto an insole, and applying a sole to the bottom).
Class two was a whirlwind. We selected leather (I picked out a deliciously soft but thick oxblood matt finished leather -and I seriously want to pick up a few more correct technical terms at some stage too...) and cut leather, and handstitched, and machine stitched, and glued, and attempted to "skive", and stapled. We also had a lesson in preparing linen thread and saddle stitching. By the time the security guard kicked us out of the building I had this collection of bits, ready for the uppers to be stitched to the thick leather insoles.
The style I made has a very simple seam at the toes which creates space for the toes (just like a dart, for you dressmakers out there). I stitched my seam with some "feature" hand stitching (sadly not much thread colour choice available), but there's a few other ways this seam can be done, to make it more or less of a feature. I must admit I've been looking alot closer at funky casual shoes for ideas that I can play with in my next pair!
The last class involved more glueing, cutting, some sanding, a bit of painting, and in my case some blocking, more chats and mid class coffees whilst leafing through some selections from Brendan's shoe book library, and finished off with a class photo of a bunch of happy amateur shoe makers:
As I said, my shoes don't fit- too short at the toes (mutter mutter on this one- Brendan told me to make my insole shorter! Why does it not amaze me that even though he was drawing an outline around them he couldn't believe they're that long!), and I now know how critical the stapling part was to get the fit right. You can see when you look at the shoes without feet in them how distorted the upper is in trying to match up with the sole.
But I have to say, it was fun and rewarding, and I'm itching to try another pair, already scheming about what changes I'm going to make to the pattern I have to get the fit right, and what thread colours I need and the detailing I'd like to add to the upper. Maybe I'll even try a fabric pair? It's a fascinating craft, although it is sadly dying, which makes obtaining materials difficult (Brendan's just found out that his favorite insole material isn't made any more...)
And next year I'll deinintely be signing up for the Advanced Shoemaking course so I can make myself some stiletto's...