Boots, Benches and Big Talkin’

Hi there!
First up, let me say that this new-house-got-no-broadband-connection situation is starting to wear a little thin… to access that mystical domain that is the internet at the moment I have to:
Borrow Dani’s laptop, bring it to the spare room, turn it on, connect her USB modem, plug it in to the router and wait – usually for 4 spam emails and my daily eBay saved searches – and THEN i get to go online. What a pain, but it’s only for one more week….

So, after just doing all of that AND cleaning up the spare room, here I am with another weekly ‘what has he been up to now’ update.

This week I’ve had 3 projects on the go, and haven’t managed to finish any of them.
At least I’m consistent.

Project 1 is the elastic sided boots to replace Dani’s trashed favourite pair :

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Stage 1 : Transferring (aka copying) the existing design on to a pattern from my chosen lasts (the yellow ones)

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Stage 2 : Change pattern so as not to copy the existing design, make a mockup (from vinyl because its cheaper) and test out the results.

Stage 3 : Find that the new design looks shit. Draw changes directly on shoe. Cut shoe apart and remake pattern. Repeat Stage 2 + 3 for a few days.

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Stage 4 : Arrive at an uninspired but working design. Decide that a front seam is not cool…

* Insert Quick Summary Shoe Makin’ Lesson here *

As I was aware, but chose to ignore, boots pretty much all need some way to stretch in 2 directions at once, or they pucker up like one of those shar pei dogs. The leather can’t be pulled over the top of the last/foot (ie from ankle to ankle) AND also make that nice sloping curve you see going from the top of the boot to the toe without some help.

The proper way to do it is to BLOCK the leather, which is a tricky process in which you essentially pre-stretch the sloping curve in to the leather by pulling it over a rounded bit of wood and nailing it.
The second way to achieve a compound curve (as they are called) is to add a seam to the middle = easy, but it looks, well, like it has a seam in it.
The 3rd way that I came across is to do an armadillo style split up of the section in to many half-moon shaped pieces, and that takes the pressure off, requiring the many little pieces to stretch just a little amount.
Whew.
So I got out the ruler, did some crazy maths and ended up here……

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Stage 5 : Make new pattern with no seam and no blocking required.

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Pile of discarded patterns and mock ups.

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… you see what I mean? Curves baby, thankyou Mr Chircop and Mr Carland for the VCE maths.

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Stage 6 : Sew an upper from real leather, add in some sort of red elastic and get ready to assemble.

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Stage 7 :  Add a sole and heel. Show Dani and get her to try it on. Ready to make the real thing!

Stage 8 : Make a pair of them, add heels, soles, lining etc etc. Tune in next week for that…
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Project 2 is still TOP SECRET – I’m making a costume for a dress up party and it would be no fun to preview it here to all my friends before I get there and bust out the associated poses and dance moves!

Let’s just say it is a bit lame how much effort an ex-industrial design student can/will/does put in to a costume.
Our friend Troy built this for the last one we went to…. so he is setting the bar kind of high…

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Transformer Costume + beer = Hours of work destroyed in a matter of minutes after falling over.

Next week I will have some D.I.Y photos of my effort for you all to see.
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Project 3 has been beginning the long road to designing my first ever range of shoes! Yeeeehaw.

I have decided that my skills are now past ‘super-amateur’ and are moving on to ‘capable’ and I’m thinking that just remaking whatever odds and ends my wife / family are after is not leading me in the right direction.

I’m pretty set on making Chloe / Chanel / Louis Vuitton style ladies shoes, so making another dozen Desert Boots is a bit of a weird way to get there no?
I will continue to cobble for the sake of it, but I think the time has come to get some designs down on paper, some new lasts and start prototyping my own designs. Exciting!

So far this ‘journey’ has consisted of 3+ hours of sitting with a scalpel and a stack of Vogue mags from the last 5 years and cutting out whatever rings my bell, so to speak.

The issue I have is that I’m not exactly designing “what I’d like to wear” as a lot of brand designers do, I am designing for all the well dressed ladies out there – so I will need to construct a character and demographic that I’m designing for BEFORE I draw up another page of directionless shoes.

I’m noticing a definite pattern start to appear in who I like, colours, trends etc, so that’s a start.
Next is to collage together some sort of “muse” and a big fuck off mood-board so that I can gather all my thoughts together.

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The only other thing worth noting is that I added some SWEEEET assed drawers to my desk. These used to belong to Dani’s grandpa, and were salvaged in a big clean up recently. I think i’ll add some Dymo labels to them and try not to rub off the timeless descriptions on there like “cold chisels” and “knobs”… hehe… knobs.

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Hopefully my old bits and pieces will have just as much charm and history when I retire in 40 or so years time, and by then these ones will have double charm as they’ll be 100+ years old and will have lived through 2 careers worth of crapola.

I’m done! Only took an HOUR with this banana internet connection… I hope you like the pretty pictures!

Listening to : Led Zeppelin.
160 tracks on random shuffle, its like one long never-ending album.
I think this is what they have playing in heaven, with some Faces and Tom Petty in the mix.

Where the magic happens…

Hello, and welcome back… it’s been a while!

I’ll begin today’s lesson with a quick introduction to the new setup we have here.
We are now (renting of course) in a lovely big house in Yarraville as mentioned earlier, Dani has a room inside and I have converted the shed to a workshop.

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All this fog and cold makes for some nice Bill Henson-esque photos.

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Inside the shed panorama wide-angle beastie-boys-filmclip style photo.
My workspace still a bit wonky in places as I’m using plastic shipping pallets to create a false floor (to avoid any cold/flooding issues in the future) and I dont have enough to do the whole floor yet – so things are a bit ‘up and down’… I keep thinking about that Seinfeld episode where Kramer is talking about converting his house to “all levels Jerry…” except these levels are more annoying than stylish.

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Leather stack… starting to get a nice little selection now.

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This piece of GENIUS is from our old studio pal Jeremy Ley
He’s the kind of guy who makes you want to miss phone calls just so that he has to leave you a note.

The pics below are from Dani’s little sunroom / studio setup, which I think is as close as she can get to her old Carlow House studio for now.

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(promo posters from her lauch party at Alice Euphemia give her someone to talk to)

Anyhoot, I have settled in and revived a few old shoe projects that had been neglected for a while.
I’m planning and test-fitting some shoes for my little sister who is now a 2nd year apprentice hairdresser and needs good shoes… so I hope to rectify that by hooking her up with some comfort-central hand made ones.

I also finished the ‘deluxe’ desert boots that I started way back in March, and Dani has been rocking them on the streets of Melbourne over the last week.
I changed plans a little and decided to go for a randed edge instead of a stitch-down construction as the whole hand-stitched thing was testing my patience (I don’t know how you do it on every pair James!).

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These ones have lining etc too, so they’re essentially desert boot styled shoes, with the fit and construction of a derby/oxford.

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Leather soles + Topy = ready for the streets.

Next up will be a new pair of winter boots for Dani, based loosely (or quite closely depending on how lazy I get with my pattern making) on the ones in the photo that she has almost worn out.
A bit of pattern tweaking and some “reverse engineering” and I’ll be ready to go.

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I also bought what I could from Leffler in 70mm heels to match the lasts I have here, so they’ll be put to use on something more glamorous than boots and more boots in the coming weeks (perhaps like this blue masking tape + texta mockup)

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So, that’s it for today, thanks for reading and thanks to all of our friends who have popped in over the last few weeks to make our house VERY warmed indeed – considering we are yet to actually throw a houswarming party!
Special mention to DB for being a one-man dancefloor, humping my TV, trying to steal soccer merchandise from our local pub AND riding my bike home in the rain last night…¬† a stellar effort for a non-party night.

Listening to : The Vines (they all sound a bit same-ish, but in a good way, so pick any album)

Oh, and a super sized congratulations to out pals Nicky and Tom on the arrival of their baby boy Milo, nice work kids.

Finally! Progress!

Hey Hey, after 2 days of solid work in the studio I’m back on track.
The desert boots are ready for a few hours of hand- stitching (at home in front of the TV), my workspace is now shoe reference image central (thanks to a new printer) and I managed to get most of two “first-attempt” prototype¬† shoes made… they’re more for the novelty of seeing a drawing come to life than they are for final details, but they make for great pictures!

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So rather than fill the front page up with loads of new images, I’m going to try my first “read more” divider… click through for lots of new photos.

Boots and Tools

Finally got a photo of the half-way-finished luxury lined desert boots.

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Nothing too exciting to say about them (in fact this whole post seems a little dry, I must have lost my jolly mojo tonight) – but I do have a picture to post of another hand-made tool that Dani and I knocked up the other day!

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I needed an oversized one of those stitch spacing wheel things that dressmakers use, and seeing as how we both have Industrial (product) Design degrees I like to make things instead of wasting time heading out looking around shops trying to find something perfect.

So, with a bit of maths, Dani on the mini hacksaw blade and me on drill and gaffa taping duty… BAM… new tool.

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In case you’re not quite understanding what I’m talking about, I need to make evenly spaced holes around the edge of my sole leather so that I can sew it by hand and not end up with crazy uneven stitches.
With this roller thingo I can trace around the edge of the shoe and get a nice set of even dots to punch holes through, to sew throught later on.

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A little complicated sounding when I try to type it, but in short it saves me lots of time and makes my sewing better. Win/Win.
Seems there are a whole lot of single use, wierd, antiquated shoemaker tools that this job needs, so I’ll post any other impromptu ones I come up with.

Anyhoot, I’m off to do something creative… not in the mood for a night of internet nerding tonight.

Got a wedding tomorrow, congrats to Chris and Sarah, so in their honour :

Listening to : Skyhooks – All my friends are getting married