The first steps in the process of making a pair of bespoke shoes or boots is to measure the feet and decide on what type of shoes to order. Janne Melkersson draw the outlines of both your feet, and measure the girth in four different places. He notes any irregularities and special things about your feet. He also discusses with you how you like shoes to fit, which shoes that you own that you think fits you good, if you have some fit issues that you experience often and so on.
You also decide what type of last shape, model and leather you want. Here you can come with an already set idea, or together with Janne discuss your way forward to what type of shoes you want made for you. Janne Melkersson buys leathers from the most renowned tanneries in the world, and the choice of leather type and color is pretty much up to your own imagination.
Janne Melkersson works with wooden lasts to create the perfect shape for your feet. He use a base last which then is modified with removing material and if needed adding leather fittings to adjust the shape correctly. He regularly compares the lasts with the drawings and measurements of your feet, to make sure that they are being correctly made.
Janne Melkersson has worked with shoes for over 40 years, and several of those he worked as an orthopedic shoe technician. This means that he has a superb knowledge in how feets are constructed and works, and can make shoes that fit even the most problematic feet.
When you make a pattern Janne Melkersson starts by making two paper pieces that fits on each side of the last, and then make two dimensional standards. He then makes a test upper from scrap leather, to try the pattern on the lasts to see that they work, and if needed makes corrections to the standards.
Then he takes the leather which are going to be used for the shoe, and lay the standards on the hide to find the best places with the best quality. The finest leather is up close to the spine of the the animal, and not too far forward against the neck. He then cut out the different parts using a very sharp knife.
Then it’s time to stitch the upper leather pieces together. With a sewing machine Janne Melkersson with great care and concentration sews tight rows of stitching to attach the pieces to each other. First the upper leather parts are sewn into one. Then he takes the leather pieces for the lining and attach those. And finally he stitch the upper part and the lining part together at the opening of the shoe.
To pull the upper leather over the last and attaching it correctly is a crucial and difficult step of the shoemaking process. You have to pull it the correct way, and with the correct tension, to make sure that it gets put on straight and will stay in shape for years to come.
Janne Melkersson place the upper over the last and then starts by pulling the toe part, ball area and heel, and then working his way forward until the whole shoe is lasted. He use a lasting pincher and also hammer the leather to get it into place. After it has rested for maybe 24 hours he releases the upper and attach toe- and heel stiffeners in leather, and leather reinforcements on the sides of the shoes. It’s then pulled into place again.
Now the real building of the shoes start. Janne is carving out a holdfast from the thick leather insole, and then stitch the upper and welt to it with handwelting. He then strengthen the waist with a metal shank and leather, and puts a thin cork plate in the front half of the shoe. Then the outsole is attached, a channel is cut open on the underside of the sole, and by hand he stitch the sole to the welt, and then closes the channel to make the stitches invisible from below. Lastly the heel is built with layers of leather.
Janne Melkersson use the finest quality material for every part of the shoe. Insole, sole, welt, heel- and toe stiffeners, reinforcements, heel parts, everything is vegetable tanned leather from the tanneries J. Rendenbach in Germany, British Baker, or Garat in France. No corners are cut.
The finishing part takes a lot of time. Janne Melkersson finish the upper part of the welts where the stitches are with a stitch prick or fudge wheel. Then he moves on to the sole- and heel edges. They are shaped, rasped, sanded, pressed and waxed to retain a smooth look. There’s also small decorations made at the heel. Then the sole and bottom of the heel is treated the same way.
He then pull the lasts, and finish the inner part of the insole. The last thing being done is polishing the whole shoe with cream and waxes, to give a good base protection and bring out it’s beauty.