Cuban Heel


This shape is kind of rare. First of all: not the latest fashion, except western boots and women shoes. It doesn’t mean you can’t find this style in the bespoke fashion. Here is an example. I am not saying it is only possible by hand, but for a nice result – that s the way. It took me a shamefully long time to make it, but it was very a meditative, very satisfying process.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 16.09.04

I also made a slight change with the transition between the bevelled waist and the heel. I think I am going to do it this way from now.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 16.08.38

Grading a Pattern

There are rare occasions in the bespoke shoemakers life, when we have to make a whole eerie for the same style of last. Here are some advices.

1. Don’t bother with US sizes. Seriously. You need to make half sizes as the scale if pretty big, so you will end up 11 sizes – even if you do every half size, that is 6 patterns. (If you really want to work with US sizes, well… go ahead. I warned you.)

2. You can buy fancy grading machines on eBay – they do the same what Illustrator can, but you will have a problem with the size of the printing. And by the way – even if it seems logical, the proportion might be a bit different what sizes would suggest – this is why we don’t measure the length of the sole, but the length from the countertop to the toe. That gives a more accurate number.

3. You don’t need to scale everything.

4. Don’t be afraid to scale everything.

5. OK. I need to elaborate the last 2 points, so… not everything needs to be scaled – decorations, eyelets, buckles, rivets, dogtails… etc. This rule will be used if you use those fancy machines.  Theo there one – when you scale everything – after all the eyelets will not be one millimeter bigger, right? So, if it doesn’t cause an extra work – just throw that scale on the whole pattern. It won’t hurt.

6. Start from the middle sizes if you scale the patterns. Always.

7. Don’t bother with any of these rules, and follow this method:

use European sized lasts. Tape every second size. 39, 41, 43.. draw the main design lines and put them on a flat.


Now you have 3 sizes – make those modifications, start with the medium size. (I am not gonna list those, I assume you can’t make a pattern if thou want to learn grading, hmm?)

Then use the medium sized pattern as a ruler to adjust the style lines the same and voila, you are done with the master pattern, the rest is a piece of cake.



ps. I make these for my upcoming (June) courses. By the way: we have only 2 seats left.

Answers about the course

We got a few questions about the course, let me ask them here too – maybe there are people who wants to know the same.

What constructions I can learn?

That depends on you, your skills and ambitions. I have some years of teaching experience, I am confident that I can guide a perfect beginner through the process of making a pair in 3 weeks, although you need to be a hard worker.

What will we learn?

That is actually an easy question – exactly what I told you: pattern making, shoe making and some upper making demo. About the last one: this time is just not enough to finish a welted shoe from scratch to finish so I needed to sacrifice something – either sewn construction or upper making. I chosen the last.

Is there any course in the future? I can’t come for this one.

I am very busy, working on some big project, teaching in a college, run a brand, so I teach less and less classes. I understand that you are busy too, I just can’t promise anything. The next course can be in a year ahead, but easily more.

What previous experience is needed for this course?

Good news – nothing. We learn from the very beginning to finishing the shoe. Come as you are – we provide tools, equipment, leather, whatever you need to complete a pair welted shoe.

Why this course is any better than others?

Answering this question would be cheap marketing and I don’t need that, luckily many students are lined up to register. Choosing a shoemaking course is not any different than choosing a college. You check the appreciation, the faculty the alumni.. etc. Do your homework and check these! I am proud of my previous students.

I have this and this… issue, can I still join?

I am not a doctor – you might want to ask yours, but once I had a student with one arm. He could do it.

And finally…

Do you need assistance for the course? 

No thanks, I already have 3 and quite honestly the easiest part of this to get assistants. To be an assistant by the way doesn’t not mean that you will participate in the course free, more like work hard to maintain the workshop, prepare everything, moving heavy furniture, etc. so the student can use every minute of the course useful.

The course will be from 9th (Monday) to 27th (Friday) June 2014, We only have a few seats left. send an an inquiry so we will send you a registration form.