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  Shoe Manufacturing
  Shoe Manufacturing Processes

The word 'last' is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word 'laest' which means footprint or foot track. The last determines the fit and feel of the shoe as well as 'wear performance'. Lasts used to be made of hardwoods, but now are mainly made of plastic as they don't swell or shrink. Metal lasts are used in some manufacturing processes.

The design of the last is determined by the shoe manufacturer. Many thousands of people are measured annually to make sure that the lasts produced by the company match the feet of the general population.

A model maker translates specifications into original models - other sizes and widths are graded up or down from the original - holding true to the last shape.

Design considerations include: foot movements, manufacturing process, intended population, purpose of footwear and fashion. There are over 30 measurements required in the construction of a modern last. Lasts can be 'straight' or 'curved' (flared) - either inflared or outflared.

Pattern Cutting
Sectional patterns are produced for the uppers, linings, insoles, heels, soles, stiffeners, backers and toe puffs. The lasting allowance is added. The materials used in making the shoes are cut from these working patterns.

Traditionally called 'clicking'. There is an art to cutting leather due to the nature of the material - grain, blemishes, tightness etc. Cutting is done by hand with curved hand knives, or with a beam press with shaped press knives to the required pattern.

Uppers are counted, checked, matched and marked for identification. They are pierced, punched, embossed or perforated, and then skived, seamed, positioned with linings and sewn. All the aesthetic coverings/modifations to the upper are carried out in this department of the factory.

The completed upper and sole are united. The method of construction depends upon the style and purpose of the shoe. Making is basically two processes:

Lasting: stretching upper on to last

The upper is stretched over the last and attached at the bottom. Strain is applied at different points on the upper to stretch it on. All the stretch is taken out of leather during lasting, such that the shoe maintains the last shape.

Attaching the sole

Attaching: there are many different methods for attaching sole to upper

cemented construction injection moulded veldshoen construction machine welted vulcanized construction slip lasted construction machine sewn construction

Each has its advantages and disadvantages, however this information will not be discussed here (otherwise you'll fall asleep from boredom!). However the pictures below should give you an idea of the different ways that the sole can be attached to the upper.

Paring, scouring, application of final stains and polishes, then the shoe is tagged, boxed and off to market.

As you can see, the manufacturing of a shoe is a complicated process, requiring a combination of art and precision engineerng. It requires from 100 to 175 different operations to make an average shoe.

visible parts of a shoe
The Quarter - member of the 'backpart' of the shoe, horseshoe shaped piece of leather, cradles heel of foot Topline - top edge of the quarter
Heel - obvious part, 'toplift' part in contact with ground, 'heel base' between toplift and sole, 'heel seat' inside shoe where heel contacts, many variations: Cuban, Louis, Wedge, etc.
Instep - location which corresponds to instep of foot
Waist - area of shoe between instep and ball of foot
- leather flat under laces
Throat - area just in front of waist and behind ball on upper surface of shoe
- technically whole forepart of shoe upper, but more commonly top surface of the ball
Toe cap - reinforcement piece over toe of shoe
Outsole - bottom layer of shoe in contact with ground
Shank - part of outsole under arch of foot

shoe components
Outsole - various materials used, material varies according to: quality / style / utility requirements
Insole - structural hub of shoe, many other components attached to it, usually made of leather, must absorb moisture, be light and flexible, resist curling and cracking
Midsole - for shoes requiring heavy or reinforced base, between outsole and insole, usually composite material Counter - reinforcement for back of shoe, stiffened fibre material, shaped to contour to sides and back of heel, helps to keep the shape of the shoe Box Toe (toe puff) - reinforcement concealed beneath upper at toe
Shankpiece - sandwiched between outside and inside along shank of shoe under arch, NOT an arch support, reinforcement to strengthen 'bridge' between heel and forefoot, usually made of metal

shoe linings
Quarter Lining - horseshoe shape around back part of shoe Vamp Lining - inside upper of forepart and toe of shoe Sock Lining - covering all OR part of the top surface of the insole

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