How to Make a Shoe Pattern Step by Step
Making a shoe pattern or cutting a shoe pattern is not a difficult shoemaking skill! If you have some time and patience you can make your own shoe pattern come to life with a few common tools. The shoe pattern making process is not complicated. The basic techniques for drawing on a shoe last are simple, the process easy, but the skills required to make a beautiful, well proportioned, mechanically sound shoe pattern may take years for a shoemaker to perfect! This is the true art of the shoemaker that a computer can not replace. A skilled pattern cutter is the heart of a shoe factories development group.
But here we will shoe you how you can cut your own pattern.
Here is a list of the shoe making tools you will need to create a shoe pattern:
1. A shoe last! If you don’t have a shoe last you can tape over a shoe or 3D print one!
2. 1/2 inch masking tape. This will be used to cover the shoe last. (3/4 inch will do)
3. A sharp X-Acto knife or other hobby knife.
4. Pens and Pencil
5. Small flexible steel ruler
6. Bristol paper (any stiff paper will do, like a manila folder)
Here is a list of some other shoe making tools you may need,
The first step is to tape up the shoe last:
To make a new shoe pattern step by step you will need to “tape” the last so you can pull the shell the shoe pattern. The tape should be layered in two different directions so the pattern stays together when you are ready to peel it off the last. You will start on the lateral or outside of the shoe last. First lay the tape length wise down the lateral side of the last, starting at the top. Next run a stripe of tape down the center of the last from the top of the instep down to the toe. Do the same on the heel of the last. Finally, run a layers across the last from the bottom edge up the side of the last. Make this extra smooth, this will be your drawing surface the you start marking you shoe pattern.
Make sure the tape wraps around the bottom edge of the last. You will need this edge, as it will be come the bottom edge of your shoe pattern. If you shoe design is symmetrical half the last is okay. If the medial and lateral side of you shoe design are different you will need to tape the entire last. The process is the same just repeat the process,
How to mark the shoe pattern on the last:
Once shoe last is covered with tape it is time to start marking the shoe pattern. With the steel ruler mark the center line of the last from the instep to the toe tip and down the heel. For a list of last terms you can read this post about Shoe Lasts and How lasts are Made.
With the center lines marked it is time to start drawing the pattern on the last.
Drawing the shoe pattern:
It’s fun to add a little color or paste on a logo, you can start to get a feel for what the design will look like in 3D. Go ahead make any changes to your design, this is your time to be creative. If you old like your line gab some tape and cover it up and try again.
Make a quick check of the Top line, Collar and Heel Notch heights. For a size 9 shoe (measuring from inside to the strobel sock) The collar line 55mm, heel notch 80-85mm to top eyelet 90mm. It’s fun to add a little color or past on a logo, you can start to get a feel for what the design will look like.
Flatten The Shoe Pattern:
Here is the tap pattern free of the last. You will find that it does not lay flat, don’t worry.
Now carefully lay the tape on a sheet of stiff paper board and press you new shoe pattern flat. Starting at the top eyelet position and collar line work you way down the middle then out to each end. As you move to the heel and toe the 3D pattern will need some relief cuts to “Spring” the pattern. Add a few cuts and the pattern will flatten.
Cutting A Shoe Pattern:
Once the tape is peeled from the last and flattened you have the shoe pattern! With the pattern attached to still paper it’s time to trim out the pattern. The pattern with all the parts together is called the “shell” pattern. Now the shoe pattern can be redrawn in a computer, cut out of heavy paper. The Pattern Cutter will add the overlaps and alignment marks.
As a shoe designer you should always ask for the flat pattern of a new shoe design. Then you make corrections it’s easy to draw on the samples shoe then mark the shoe pattern for the pattern maker. It is much faster to scan the corrections and email back to the factory, rather than Fed-Ex the shoe back to China.
To learn more about shoe patterns, pattern cutting and download a real factory shoe pattern check out chapter 3 in the new book. Our Shoe Designers Kit Includes a factory shoe pattern.
How Shoes are Made.
Here is a great Video showing a master pattern maker at work!
If you want to learn more, check out our new books.
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