I was wondering if anyone had any good (or bad) experience with shoe making or finishing workshops and if you could recommend anything in the US or europe. I am looking for a 2-5 day workshop to brush up on the constructions, hands on making and finishing.

A colleague of mine attended a short course at Northampton College (UK).

I’ll try and get some info of him and update the thread.

Hi i’m new to this forum but saw your question asking about courses through an RSS feed on my website, so thought i’d share my experience. I attended a short course the other year as part of Central St. Martins (London) Summer School, it lasted for 5 days, the tutor was excellent and it was quite intensive, it was a combination of design of the shoe, watching and predicting trends, creating mood boards through to sketching and creating a collection, whilst also making prototypes. We only got to make one prototype but as it was a first attempt it took almost the entire week, she showed us taping the last, cutting out the uppers and lining, sewing it together, we didn’t use realistic soles or shanks though as it was a prototype we used foam pieces and pipe cleaners (don’t ask lol).

The full itinary is on the Central St. Martins website along with prices and availability, hope this helps :slight_smile:

thanks. yes, that is something i am going to check out. this sounds like what i was looking for.

Why didn’t you guys make the soles?
How effective was it?
Could you actually make a pair by hand now?

Glad to help.

To be honest I think it was more of a time constraint thing, also I don’t know how true this is but the tutor was basically coming from a design perspective and saying that most designers don’t have to do a lot of the actual making anymore so as long as you can express your designs clearly through prototypes, sketches and CAD along with having a basic understanding of construction techniques that should be sufficient for most companies, however it could have been political as the summer school courses are split up into different sections, you can also do a pattern cutting course for example (so it’s better for them if you do two courses instead of one) the summer school courses are also a gateway into the main foundations & higher education courses too which last a lot longer, you learn more and cost a hell of a lot in comparison.

I found the course really useful as for me it helped to get to grips with presenting ideas and actually being in an environment where i could ask any questions i had about the industry that i couldn’t find the answers to on google. i can now quite comfortably sit and make a prototype but i cant actually make a wearable pair which is a bit of a pain in the arse, the main problem i’ve had is that it’s so difficult to find suppliers to get leathers, shanks and soles cos a lot of the companies have gone bust, i did find a fantastic company in northampton called spring line that do student discounts on lasts and are quite happy to send you in the right direction for suppliers but even there they say how limited suppliers are over in the uk now.

I work with Springline quite often, as well as lasts they also now make heel models too, I’m about to find out how good these are.

I agree, it is a really good idea to do a pattern cutting course, especially if you are going to be working in China, the pattern cutting can be really terrible (especially after Chinese New Year when the factorys best pattern cutter goes on vacation and doesn’t come back), :stuck_out_tongue: sometimes its just easier to step in there and have a look at the pattern engineering yourself and see what you can fix. Also to understand the many different types of leather is important, all these things enable you to be a better designer - you will learn how to make shoes that are easier to manufacture, with better leather consumption.

I also agree about the components, you will also find that some shoe machinery is heavy, expensive and unavailable to students - if you make high heeled shoes, they will probably be unwearable because the heel will be a wooden model (as opposed to a styrene one with a steel inner that has been attached with a heel attachment machine) and no shank.

You could possibly persuade a shoemaker to let you intern with them if you want to make wearble shoes, there are a few out there.

Fab news!!! that would make life so much easier, please post back if you’re impressed by the heels.

Btw love your website Shoenista. :slight_smile:

UK: Frank Jones of Noble Footwear sometimes runs courses:

He’s the author of a book on pattern cutting and former head of department teaching shoemaking. I’ve come across him as a manufacturing & sourcing consultant but his pattern cutting courses should be good too. His other job is writing expert witness statements for people who’s shoes arrived mouldy, fell in half etc etc.

Thinking about it i’m sure i’ve seen his workshops advertised in Out on a limb and Footwear today too.

Sorry this has taken so long guys, I hope it’s still relevant?

Link to said course!