How to Make Shoes
If you want to learn how to make shoes you have come to the right place! I’m going to explain the modern, most common ways that shoes are made. This is how the big brands like Nike™, Adidas™, and even Walmart make shoes. This basic shoemaking technique applies to almost all running shoes, basketball shoes, dress shoes, work boots, etc……so let’s get started!
Let’s talk about the steps in shoemaking. The basic idea is to sew the upper in a shape that resembles a sock, then stretch the upper over a foot-shaped form called a last.
Once the upper is stretched over the last, the shoe bottom is glued, stitched, or nailed to the shoe upper. When the last is removed the shoe is complete. That is the most basic explanation of how to make shoes, but within each step are many variables and complications.
First, the shoe upper can be sewn together from one or many parts. The key here is the shape or “shoe pattern” of the upper. To make the flat, sewn parts, fit to the 3D shape, requires “spring” in the shoe pattern. This work can be done by hand or by computer. When a shoe is in development the pattern maker may need to make a few attempts to get the shape just right. This is why shoes tend to be made of a material that has some stretch, like leather. Leather may be the perfect shoe making material. It’s strong, stretchable, and shrinkable.
Once the shoe upper is sewn, the next step in shoemaking is to pull the upper onto the last. The upper must be tight so it can be stretched to take the shape of the shoe last. Dry heat or steam is often used to soften the uppers, getting them ready to stretch. Once on the last, they are often cooled to shrink them down tight to the last before the shoe bottom can be attached.
To learn more please check out our
OnLine Shoe School.
Learn more about how to make shoes in our book
How Shoes are Made.
Learn more about making shoes:
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Print Edition, 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.
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