Shoemaking School Pt. 7  —  Derby Shoe Pattern

Shoemaking School Pt. 7  —  Derby Shoe Pattern

Well, its been two years and about 24 pairs later that I’ve finally found the time and the initiative to update this series. The plan is to include this derby pattern tutorial, then another past soon-ish with assembly instructions, and then follow up with an oxford and boot pattern guides whenever I make the next pairs in those categories. There are a few ways out there to make patterns, most of them are complex and esoteric. If you’ve ever seen pictures of the geometric method, there is a lot going on and its a bit overwhelming. This is the method I learned at Stefano Bemer, and so far the most simple and effective that I’ve used. The best part is, it just works. You don’t really have to know why things are the way they are to create a working pattern that fits the last perfectly.

Here are the tools I use when making a pattern.

First order of business is marking a center line on your last. I lay out a piece of masking tape, draw a straight line through it with a straight edge, then cut it to a more manageable width. I start by finding the center on the toe, get the tape attached there, then do a straight shot to the midpoint on the top of the last. Laying the tape down straight is the tricky part! Do the same thing for the heel.

I use a REALLY thick masking tape for this, but you can just use normal tape and lay it all out. afterwards, trim everything off along the center line. It doesn’t matter what side you tape up, I prefer the right foot mostly because that’s what’s shown in the reference material I use.

This is the reference material I got from Stefano Bemer, I’ll use the point markings going forward.

To find W, line up your last with a flat surface, making sure the last touches at the heel and ball of the foot. Mark W at the ball joint area. Do the same thing on the other side.

Take your measuring tape from both W points, where it intersects the centerline is your C point.

Now, shift up 5 mm from C, and mark C’. From there, make your tape perpendicular to your centerline and mark your reference line.

D is the halfway mark between C’ and W, you can add 3 mm to that length to account for insoles. I’ve also marked out F, the point where you would add your captoe. F is 1/3 of the length between C’ and the tip of the toe, and you make the line by making it perpendicular to the centerline until the last starts curving down, then you just follow the last down naturally as shown. The 1/3 isn’t a hard and fast rule, but its the norm for a reason. You don’t want a tiny toe cap, or one that extends too far.

B is your heel height. The general rule of thumb here is for a 42 size shoe, B is 6 cm from the base of the last. For every size up, you ad 1 mm, treat half sizes as full size up. This is a bit tricky with all the different sizing standards, but even if you convert to US sizing and you’re off, we’re talking a difference of +-1 mm, not a big deal.

Now connect B and D for a reference line.

A point is 7–7.5 cm from C’. This is a design choice, but generally men’s shoes have a higher A point, women’s are lower. At A, do another 90 degree line down to your BD line as a reference point for your pattern.

Now, its a matter of drawing out how you want your shoe to look like, using the guidelines we added earlier for proportions. I added a rather large heel counter here that will meet up with the vamp line. I also shifted the facing back a bit from the centerline to account for a lower instep than the last’s measurements.

Page Two Of The Reference Material

Lay your tape down onto another piece of paper, preferably something a bit heavier than normal printer paper. Start with the toe, when you get to the C’DW line, make two cuts, along DW and DC’, leaving it connected at D. Overlap the toe section at C’ and W by 3mm.

Keep laying the rest of the tape down. If it wont lay flat without massive wrinkles, you can make an incision like the one pictured here and spread it out a bit. Depending on how aggressive your last is, you may need more than one slice. Make sure you take away 1 mm from the top of your heel for every cut you make.

Straighten out your wingline also, adding that incision warps it.

Well, I skipped a few steps between pictures here, but this is an almost complete pattern base. Remember to take away that 1 mm from the top of the the heel, then add 2–3mm to account for your heel counter. Add 2.5 cm along the base, in a straight line, for your lasting allowance, adding only 2.3 cm along the toe area. Extend all of your lines down through that lasting allowance. Add another line for your lining starting at the D point. Here is also where you mark out your eyelets. Its kind of personal preference, but traditionally its 1.5 cm from the edge, and 1 cm minimum distance between. Notice how I have two lines along where the vamp and quarters meet. The outside one is for the outside portion of the shoe, and the other is for the inner portion. Most lasts are basically symmetrical, but since there is a little bit less volume on the inner side, you shift the facing up a bit to correct for that.

I am using a bellows tongue for this pattern so unfortunately that wont be in the pictures here, but you can take a glance at the reference picture on how to do a tongue. You basically extend the C’F line out to where you want it, typically about 5mm past the top of the shoe. The tongue will then meet the vamp at the G point, 1 cm over and up from D. If its too close to the vamp, you can separate it.

Here is where you spring the pattern, I’m sure there is a bunch of theory on what exactly all goes into it. You can find that in one of those esoteric pattern making books, don’t ask me why, this just works. I make a cut somewhere at the C point, down, adding 5 mm space along the tape line. Also notice the cutout along the vamp, that will be for the inner side of the pattern, for the same reasons mentioned above.

Here is the full pattern base, notice most of my cuts are wavy (except for the inner/outer part of the vamp/quarter seam). That is so you don’t mistake where to draw your lines.

Now that we made the base, time to make the actual pattern! I use a poster board. I would recommend something dense like that, not only will it last longer than normal paper, but you can also use it to cut click your uppers by cutting directly around the pattern. That is the preferred method, because you aren’t messing with your tolerances like you would if you drew everything out with a silver pen.

This is the gist of it, you draw a center line, then draw out both sides of the pattern base to make your individual pattern pieces. I’ll throw in some pics though in case it isn’t entirely clear.

Right side, lining it up along the FC line to the tongue. Oh, you can see a pattern base here with the tongue, also notice that I added different lines for the inner and outside of the tongue. At this point, you just flip the base along the center line and draw out the inner side, making sure you use the correct cuts for those lines. Its useful to label them until you get used to it. Make sure to mark your inner pieces with a little V cut to identify them.

For the inner side of the quarter, shift your line up 2–3 mm. Your ankle bones aren’t even in height, and this accounts for that. I will sometimes shift it up to even 5 mm.

Since that pattern reference doesn’t have a heel counter, you can see how its done here. Line up the top with the centerline, with the other point on the line being where the tape line of is on your pattern base. Mark that point on the other side as well like you see in the picture. Draw out the outside of the pattern.

Now, make that V shape about 5 mm under the base point, this will make that seam be under the last and not visible on your final shoe.

I didn’t take any pics of the process, but here is the steps for drawing out the vamp lining pattern. You shift the base about 1 mm, and the top about 2 mm over, to make it a bit smaller.

And here is how to make the quarters lining and the shorts! The shorts are if you want to make the heel lining roughout, for more traction. I didn’t go over it earlier, but you just draw a straight line down your pattern base about 4.5 cm from the back of the heel, and use it to draw the back end of your quarters and the shorts. As pictured in the reference, draw a centerline, overlap B by 2mm, and a point 2/3 length down from B. Draw the outside, shift it in 5 mm and draw that inner curve (at E in the reference). Do the same for the other side.

Here it shows having a separate lining piece for the inner side and the outside. You can, I don’t bother.

I add the underlay using a compass.

Here is every component of the pattern. The extra lines are where you add underlay. Add 9 mm anywhere that will be overlapped, 11 mm to the top of the quarter lining, coming down to 5 mm along the facing. Also 5mm extra around the tongue for the vamp lining.

I lied, here is the vamp part of the pattern. Notice the V mark at the centerline on the toe, that’s important so you can line up your upper with the center of the last later. Also notice that I labeled each piece, in case anything gets lost later or if I try to figure out what this pattern is for. The pattern base is the most important component, if any piece of the pattern gets messed up you can always make another.

And here is each piece cut out. Same idea with the cuts here, wavy lines are to show that you should mark along the straight edge.

And the final product! I think I forgot to add the tongues, but you get the idea. The tan pieces in the upper right weren’t gone over, but they’re extra pieces I cut out of lining leather to add for reenforcement along the side of the shoe, between the upper and lining. They basically go from the heel counter to the toe puff.

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