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Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » June 7th, 2016, 4:55 pm

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I think I finally have my ducks in a row with this project so I would like to keep a post documenting the process.

The Project Brief :

I would like to design and make a pair of simple sneakers, which I am calling "Popular" for now.

While I would love to eventually manufacture and sell this or other designs en masse, ( another project all together ), for now the goal is to start with a design and finish with a picture of me wearing them and see what I learn along the way.

The Design so far:

Prototype001Sketch.jpg


I like to make informed changes as I go along and learn new things, this design has already been replaced by a new one, but it is more or less where I started, I'll talk more about the construction & materials as they relate to the design in another post.

Disclaimer :

I am a flawed self taught everything man/designer living a very precarious life by both choice and circumstance, so this won't be a master shoemaking class by a design demigod at the top of his game, rather just a guy trying to make a pair of shoes, if you know or were taught another way and want to share or comment, great, just don't be a dick about it.

More preface:

While writing this now, the project started about 2-3 yrs (and counting) ago, It's taking so long for a number of reasons ( lack of knowledge,resources, other projects, life issues, etc,etc) Still, there is some preliminary work done through those years which will be the subject of my next post, till then.

Best,

- Keno
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby iab » June 8th, 2016, 8:57 am


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KenoLeon wrote: just don't be a dick about it.


What if my name is Dick?

Is snarky a-hole acceptable?

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby iab » June 8th, 2016, 8:57 am


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I've had way too much caffeine this morning.

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby yo » June 8th, 2016, 10:11 am

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Hi Keno,

I think this design should be very makable. A Toms slip on is a good example of one of the most easy to make footwear products. They really got it down to almost the most minimal basics. I think it would be worth taking dome of those apart.

What are your next steps?
How are your cut and sew skills?
Do you have access to a last?
Is the bottoms going to be sheet stock rubber adhered to EVA and then cut and buffed?

Also, you might want to check this out: http://sneakerfactory.net/sneakers/Shoe ... f-midsole/

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » June 8th, 2016, 3:16 pm

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Thanks Yo:

What are your next steps?


- I am currently doing eyelet tests with a 60 yr old button holer ( I'll post about it later, it's super cool).
- Then flattening the upper pattern, cutting it, stitching the upper and moving into the midsole/sole construction before joining the upper/midsole/sole. That's the order of operations I have in mind.

How are your cut and sew skills?


I guess they are just ok, I've been sewing pretty much non stop since last summer,I even did a couple of paid softgoods prototypes for a client and he didn't bat an eye on the stitch/cut quality, what I think happens is that as you learn more you start to appreciate stitch quality and finishes most folks are unaware off,but yeah I think I can do it.

Do you have access to a last?


Yes, that should be the subject of another post here, getting one made was a little adventure.

Is the bottoms going to be sheet stock rubber adhered to EVA and then cut and buffed?


I'll get into that in detail later, but I am forgoing EVA for now and instead using cork on sheet rubber.

Cheers

-K
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » June 13th, 2016, 10:40 pm

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Tools:

So the first thing I did was figure out which sewing machine to get along with other various tools, the alternative being to hand over the design to a local cobbler and pay for a prototype, I don't know any local cobblers, and I figured having the tools to prototype not only shoes but softgoods in general would be useful.

Here are the tools I have right now:

    - Sewing Machine :

Tools-PopularSneaker-001.jpg
Tools-PopularSneaker-001.jpg (58.59 KiB) Viewed 4958 times


I went with a 100 yr old hand cranked Singer. You can read about how I ended up with Gaby ( her name) in this other post along with other more modern recommendations :

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=32767&p=227253&hilit=sewing+machine#p227253

- Various other tools :

Tools-PopularSneaker-002.jpg
Tools-PopularSneaker-002.jpg (68.28 KiB) Viewed 4958 times


From Left to Right:

    - Button Holer (Inside the green case) it is what the name says, a little contraption that helps you make button holes, I'll talk about it later
    - Thread Clips : You will use this suckers all day, they basically live next to the machine and are so easy to cut yourself with, that's why I made them a little case.
    - Sewing Awl A handy tool to stitch heavy fabric in hard to reach places, I plan to use it on the midsole/upper construction.
    - 8" Trimming Shears Basically scissors made for cutting fabric, unforgiving on flesh, I had a minor cut on my fingers webbing and didn't realized until I started bleeding, be careful.
    - Seam ripper I used to spend minutes removing old t-shirt sleeves for the gym, now I spend seconds, also handy for when you screw up with the sewing machine
    - Measuring tape
    - Cutting Mat


Online Sources in the US :

    - Wawak.com Sounds funny, tons of stuff and a great catalog in the mail for acquainting yourself with all things sewing.
    - JoAnn.com Great variety of fabrics and other small tools.

    - The machine / button holer I got from eBay and Etsy, you can also try amazon for more new machines and price checking in general.


That's mostly it for tools, I'll talk about getting a Last next time.

Cheers
-K
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » July 4th, 2016, 5:15 pm

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Moving on with other stuff one might need while building a sneaker prototype, let’s move on to the last.

The last, is a foot shaped device made usually from wood or plastic ( you can even 3d print them now) that will serve various purposes, I like designing with the last in mind, so I have both a digital ( 3d and 2d) and a real one I used for design ideation as a base ( see the original design on the first post).

Once you have a rough idea of the design, you tape the last and trace/extract a pattern out (a subject for another post) and with your flat patterns cut, then you use you last as a construction base to build your shoe around.(something I haven’t done yet)

lastComparison.jpg
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Other things to consider:

- You will need as many lasts as shoe sizes you will be making.
- There are different type of lasts for different types of shoes, if you are making a sneaker you need a sneaker last, up top the first one is an old pointy dress shoe last (The diplomat) along a plastic sneaker last in the same size (10) mens.
- The wedge in the middle serves to collapse the last after building your shoe around it tight so you can extract the last.
- Ideally you need a jack or stand to place your last (upside down on the whole on the back) and work on the sole construction. In my case I will just be using a clamp and some rebar I think.
- Leather shoe construction involves hammering things into your last, sneaker construction not so much, so you can get away with a plastic last.

lastCracked.jpg
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How much and where ?

This is something I struggled with for a while, if you just want a last to practice, go to eBay or etsy and look for one they are like $20 or less, you might get lucky and get something good, but chances are you will be getting a single used,broken or funny style last like my diplomat up there which mostly serves as a paper weight / decoration.

Sourcing a single last pair in my size with a sneaker friendly design took me a long time ( if you know of a reliable place to get this please share), you might also want to research 3D printed lasts.

I ended up ordering mine from a Russian etsy seller and took 2 months, along the way the very helpful seller sent me a couple of last options (cad files) and suggested some changes, your mileage may vary and you might want to shop around, here is the link :

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShoeLastsForFelting

And this is the untaped half I got at the moment (around $60 with shipping for a pair):

lastSneaker.jpg
lastSneaker.jpg (48.91 KiB) Viewed 4784 times


And that was my experience with the last, let me know if you have any questions, next time I’ll go into material choices and sourcing them.

Best
-K
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » July 19th, 2016, 5:32 pm

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Let’s talk about materials:

For the Uppers ( The top fabric part of the shoe ):

I taught myself how to machine sew by making a series of canvas wallets, I went with cotton canvas because it is tough,easy to source and it is not animal derived, the only issue is that it is a little on the expensive side and frays like crazy, but it is a great material to make soft goods prototypes, I bought a few yards, so that’s what I have in hand.

My source is Big Duck Canvas, here’s a copy paste of an order (units are in yards):

BigDuckOrder.jpg
BigDuckOrder.jpg (144.09 KiB) Viewed 4584 times



The cordura (not pictured below) and Dennier marine canvas, it is basically cotton canvas coated with polyurethane plastic, it is great for liners and covering canvas fabric and giving it that roughed feel, plus it’s water repellent, so it is handy to have around, here's another source:

RockyWoods Fabrics


Other upper materials:

You could use other materials for the upper ( leather,3d mesh, synthetic fabrics,yak fur,etc,etc) and line up the interior with a variety of fabrics and add foam inserts to the collars and other sections, here’s a couple of good starting online shops for these materials:

Fabric.com
Joann
Wawak

Feel free to add your favorite fabric (or leather source), the only requirement I suppose is that they sell small quantities .

popularSneakerMaterials.jpg
popularSneakerMaterials.jpg (104.76 KiB) Viewed 4584 times


Midsole:

The Midsole ( the spongy,usually white thing in between the sole and the uppers ) was pretty hard to source.

Ideally you want an EVA (foam) or rubber midsole already formed and sized to your last, the issue is that unless you are buying in bulk or as a wholesaler you can’t just get a pair…So:

I am using cork; it’s cheap, natural, I can layer it and paint it and while not as spongy as eva foam,I think it can work ( About $5 for 4 sheets at staples)

Other options:

- You can buy general purpose EVA foam in Sheets ( and colors !), I haven’t tried this one, but seems a good bet for prototyping, not sure if they will hold for actual use though.

- You can use old (or new) sneakers and extract the sole; a few professional sneaker modders/cobblers do this and make amazing new sneakers.

Sole:

And finally the sole, as with the midsoles it is somehow difficult to source.

In my case, I went with a soling sheet I bought from amazon, soling sheets are usually used by cobblers for repair, but the plan is to cut out the soles out of them and glue them to the cork midsoles, they are expensive, $40 for a sheet, but you can extract about 6-8 sole pairs.

Other options:

- Mold your own soles out of rubber or silicone:

See this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=32527&p=225536&hilit=sole#p225536

- As with the midsole, you can extract your sole from an old or new pair.

Additional Materials:

Thread: Many many options, I like wawaks Tex 60 Jean Thread, good,cheap and comes in colors for all around soft goods work.

Barge glue :A favorite of cobblers it seems, great for gluing sole to midsole.

Fray Check: I use this to prevent/delay fraying on the edges of cut canvas.

And that’s it for materials, next time around I’ll go over taping a last and extracting a pattern.

Best,
Keno
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » August 8th, 2016, 4:02 pm

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The next step is taping the last, basically you want to cover the last with masking tape so you can then draw your design, I had ok results with tan scotch masking tape.


Before tracing the lines, I made some reference rulers by drawing straight lines on sticky transparent tape and covering it with another piece, that way you can place and remove this guides to your liking.

Here’s the whole setup:

lastTape001.jpg
lastTape001.jpg (66.06 KiB) Viewed 3054 times


Drawing the pattern on your last is pretty straightforward (just transfer stitch and fabric lines from your sketch), it helps if you add lines in the central axis as well as the bottom sole for later reference.

Once the design has been drawn, you transfer it to flatland by cutting the pieces ( a somehow delicate process) out of the last and laying them flat on paper and tracing them, hence the name flats or patterns.

lastTape002.jpg
lastTape002.jpg (120.91 KiB) Viewed 3054 times


I then transferred those early patterns into a second set of paper sheets and cut them out, the next step will be making a toile or mockup and adjusting the patterns.

lastTape003.jpg
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That's it for for extracting a pattern out of a taped last.

-K
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"

Re: Popular - A sneaker project

Postby KenoLeon » September 12th, 2016, 3:43 pm

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Summers gone, my studio is no longer 120° so I can start working on this project again, I just finished a toile:

Why make a toile ?, well because I am not sure my patterns are cut right and they will fit my feet, furthermore I have serious doubts about how to sew the bottom and then glue said bottom to the midsoles, cobblers have dedicated sewing machines which I don’t have, so I need to experiment.

First things first, let’s cut the patterns, I am using some denier marine canvas in funky colors I had laying around.

Toile001.jpg
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Then it’s just a matter of sewing them together with the sewing machine and placing them on top of the last, to hold that upper in place I used some tacks nailed to the last.

Toile002.jpg
Toile002.jpg (67.32 KiB) Viewed 2347 times


The last part, is a bit of a trial and error, I am hand sewing the bottom across and then gluing it to a piece of cork.

The result is a sneaker Toile !

Toile003.jpg
Toile003.jpg (107.71 KiB) Viewed 2347 times


I now need to collect all what I've learned and actually do a proper pair, I might also hand the design/fabric over to a cobbler to make an A/B comparison, doing an electronic/consumer product next, so this might have to wait a little though, but so far so good.

Best,

Keno
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
k3no.com Linkedin Instagram

"Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated"


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