How are Shoes Made?
For centuries, shoes have been made by hand. Shoemakers were often among the most talented and experienced craftsmen in a community. While this is still the case with expensive, hand-made shoes, most of the shoes we wear on a daily basis are constructed by machine, with just a little human input.
Shoemakers (traditionally known as cobblers) first had to gather the right materials – leather, cloth, thread etc. Handmade shoes were formed on a “last.” Essentially, this wooden item is the mold for the shoe.
A complete shoe is made from specific parts. These individual parts are cut from patterns that produce the sole, the insole, the upper, the heel etc. Parts are punched or pierced to provide holes for stitching or other binding.
A cobbler will “close” a shoe after all the preliminary steps are taken. This involves placing the lining in the shoe and completing some of the final sewing. The “last” comes into play again as a final step in the process. The upper portion of the shoe is stretched over the last to get a particular shape. Only then is the sole attached. Traditional shoemaking involved tacking or nailing heavier soles to the upper. Shoes are finished with fine trimming and polishing.