Artisan, How Shoes are Made

Artisan Technique: Pattern-cutting

Making a pair of shoes consists of more than 200 individual operations. But before one can do anything, the leather must be cut.

Before shoemaking became industrialized, a shoemaker would cut out every single piece of the shoe himself.

‘Clicking’ is the traditional name for the process of hand cutting all of the pattern pieces and it originated from the sound of the knives cutting around brass-bound patterns.

When cutting leather, the direction of stretch of a piece of leather is important — otherwise it may stretch sideways after being worn for a while and destroy the shoe’s rigidity and space.

The uppers of shoes are usually lined to make the shoes much more comfortable to wear – also enables skin of the wearer’s feet to breathe naturally. The upper parts may be made of soft, though durable leather, but when the shoes are made they are treated in many ways as the soft leather is given a final, lasting form.

The result is a stack of cut pieces ready to go on to the next operation: closing.

Closing is the process of sewing together the upper part of the shoe. It was all done by hand up until the late 1800s, when the Singer Company designed a sewing machine that could sew through leather.

And thus, the birth of modern shoemaking.

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