The Custom Shoe Process

What to expect when you buy a pair of custom shoes from me


The custom process starts with a print of your foot. This is a weight-bearing impression on an ink mat. An outline of each foot is drawn as well. About 6 landmarks are measured with a flexible tape. The prints with measurements will tell me the length and width of your feet, as well as their circumference and how your feet carry your weight.

Foot print with measurements

Vacuum Form

I usually make a vacuum form of the last in clear plastic to help validate our starting point. With your foot inside this clear mold, I will be able to see if your feet press the borders of the lasts and if so, how much. We mark this up together with a sharpie and modifications are made accordingly.

foot in vacuum form

Design and the Upper

Each unique last needs an upper that fits, so a new design and pattern are created for it. Upper design sets out the lines of the pieces — from toe cap to back strap — and how they fit together.

The shoe upper is literally the upper part of the shoe. The upper is typically in two main parts: the outer leather (also called the upper leather) and the liner. Most of the shoes I make have leather uppers and leather liners.

A design can be drawn directly on the last. Another method is to create a profile of the last from paper and draw designs on that. The profile with the design becomes the template for the pieces of the shoe upper in flat space. Below is a template and pattern that I drew first by hand, then scanned and recreated using the open source vector drawing program Inkscape.

Unlined casual oxford pattern
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