Ideation Exercise

This weekend, I gave myself the assignment to make quick mock-ups over lasts. The idea was to refrain from judgement and see if any ideas came of it. It was a timid start, but maybe in the future I’ll have the courage and imagination to get more wacky.

meh 2

This does nothing for me.

Meh.

Meh.

Excuse me, my 80s are showing.

Excuse me, my 1980s are showing.

Now this idea, I like!

Now this concept, I like!

The idea is that while some of the straps are functional and hug the foot, the others escape beyond the boundaries of the foot.

The idea is that while some of the straps are functional and hug the foot, the others escape beyond the boundaries of the body. Ignore the holes in the sole; it was just some old piece of leather I saved for practicing with on occasions just like this.

Here's roughly what that sandal would look like on. Next, I'm going to make a prototype!

Here’s roughly what that sandal would look like on. Next, I’m going to make a prototype! I think I’ll make the outer straps even longer to exaggerate their swoop. Stay tuned.

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At Long Last!

Shoes are built over a form called a last. Since you first pull the leather/fabric tight over the top of the last and then attach it to the sole, the shape of the last directly informs the shape of the resulting shoe. If you want to create a pointy-toed, high-heeled shoe, you’ll need a pointy-toed last shaped for the desired heel height. And if you want to make a size 9 wide shoe, you have to use a size 9 last—a size 6 won’t fit—and you might have to modify it to make it wider than it is. As they say, the last comes first.

Built to last–there’s another little pun courtesy of shoe makers. One more: Lasting impressions. Groan.

Lasts are hinged so that when you’re finished making the shoe, you can get the last out from inside it.

 You can find lasts on ebay, of course, but that’s not the place to go if you want an entire run—every size in every width for a given model. I’ve bought new lasts from Jones & Vining, and used lasts from Shoedo.com and George Barta Hide Company. I haven’t yet gotten lasts from Dick Anderson, but I’m told he’ll let you get a pair on trial to see if they work for your needs. I’ve also come across Shoe Last Shop online; I haven’t ordered from them but via email they said they have many more styles available than are present on their website.

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Lasts can be made of wood or of plastic. I don’t personally own any wooden ones, and all of mine are for making sandals, flats or very low heels.

I would consider these fairly narrow. Note the squared toe.

I would consider these 8 1/2 Bs fairly narrow. I would guess they’re fairly old, from when women were as a general rule more petite than nowadays. Note the squared toe.

Here's the same style but much wider. The one on the left was altered by adding some leather at the top to produce a shoe with a taller arch.

Here’s the same style but much wider, in a 9E. I’m a B width in contemporary shoes, but an E in this style, which is why I think it’s an old last.  The one on the right was altered by adding some leather at the top to produce a roomier shoe over the arch.

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I’m told this style was designed for loafers or moccasins (I’m not sure why the latter would need to be lasted, so that might have been wrong). At any rate, these lasts are perfect for sandals to fit my own foot!

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Front view of a turquoise last that I think was developed for an athletic shoe of some type because (a) it’s unhinged, (b) it has a bulbous toe, and (c) I bought it from a small company in Colorado that designs athletic shoes or shoes for cyclists. The off-white last is designed specifically for sandals.

Viewed from above. The slit in the one at the top is for making flip-flops or other thong sandal styles.

Viewed from above. The slit in the one at the top is for making flip-flops or other thong sandal styles.

New Sandals, Step by Step

I started by covering the last with masking tape (just the areas I knew the sandal would cover--I'm lazy!) and "drawing" a rough outline of the location of the straps.

I started by covering the last with masking tape (just the areas I knew the sandal would cover–I’m lazy!) and “drawing” a rough outline of the location of the straps using a narrow black tape.

Other side.

Other side.

Carefully pull the masking tape off the last and stick it to stiff paper. To finish the pattern, draw the outlines of the straps and add allowances to their ends. I also drew a pattern for the sole.

I carefully pulled the masking tape off the last and stuck it to stiff paper. To finish the pattern, I drew the outlines of the straps and added allowances of 1 inch to their ends. At right, there’s also a pattern for the sole.

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I cut out the paper pattern and traced it onto crappy leather so that I could check the fit without wasting nice material. After cutting out that leather, I shaped it around the last and taped it to the topsole.

It looked okay on the last, but the proof is in the pudding, and...

It looked okay on the last, but the proof is in the pudding, and…

blog--peacock prototype bad fit on pinkie

…the strap didn’t hold the pinkie in, dammit! Also, the fit over the toes was way too baggie. That was due to the bulbous shape of the toes on the last, so I changed to lasts with a flatter toe. (Kindly ignore my toenails-of-the-dead. I’ll get around to removing that flaking nail polish someday.)

I redrew a wider strap on the paper pattern and cut new leather for another prototype. After nailing the topsole to the bottom of the last...

I redrew a wider strap on the paper pattern and cut new leather for another prototype. After nailing the topsole to the bottom of the last…

...I centered the straps over the last and...

…I centered the straps over the last and…

...began taping the straps to the bottom of the topsole.

…began taping the straps to the bottom of the topsole.

I checked the placement/centering of the back straps, then taped those to the bottom of the topsole.

I checked the placement/centering of the back straps, then taped those to the bottom of the topsole.

It looked good. The next step was to try it on...

It looked good. The next step was to try it on…

Closer!

Closer!

So I made another adjustment to the paper pattern, as well as to the placement of the slit for the strap, and the resulting prototype kept that little piggie under wraps.

So I made another adjustment to the paper pattern, as well as to the placement of the slit for the strap, and the resulting prototype kept that little piggie under wraps.

I tried punching holes to embellish the straps. Thought the shape was wrong. No need to finalize that now.

I added a back strap held on with rivets and punched holes to embellish the straps. Circles were all wrong, but no need to finalize the shape of the cutouts now. My prototype work was finished. Time to move on to the real leather I wanted to use!

All that remains is to add the sole.

I made them in an iridescent purple-green and found a much more successful shape for the hole. Next time, I think that instead of a hole, I’ll try three brass spots in descending sizes. All that remains are the steps to add the sole and a wee heel.

finished

Finished.