Glossary

Awl
A small pointed tool used for marking holes in leather.

Back Height
The height of the back of the shoe in the achilles area.

Back Seam
The seam at the back of the shoe.

Ballet Flat
A style of flat shoe where there is a simple closed upper which encloses the foot. Often there is a small bow which sits on top of the vamp.

Closing
This is the industry term used for stitching the uppers together.

Clicking
This is the industry term used for cutting out the pieces for the upper and lining.

Clicking Knife
A traditional shoemaker’s knife used for cutting the uppers and linings. I also use the clicking knife for lots of other processes involved with shoemaking.

Counter
A type of stiffener (see Stiffener) which is inserted within the upper, cupping the heel area to give shape and structure to the shoes.

Court Shoe or Pump
A style of heeled footwear where there is a simple closed upper which encloses the front and back of the foot.

Cutting Mat
A flexible type of mat that can be used for a range of arts and crafts endeavours.

Dart Back Seam
A type of stitched seam that will create a nice curved shape around the heel area of the upper.

Derby
A style of footwear where the laced up panel of the shoe is sewn on top of the vamp.

Dividers
A measuring compass with a screw used for patternmaking.

Feather Edge
The ridge running around the bottom edge of the lasts but also the bottom edge of the shoe.

Folding Allowance
An addition of usually 5mm to the toplines of the pattern where you will need extra leather to fold the topline over for a neat edge.

Folding Hammer
A small handheld hammer with a flat head on one side to flatten out seams and folded edges.

Handheld Drill
A power tool primarily used for making round holes, in the case of shoes it will be used to attach the heels.

Heat Gun
A power tool that blows hot air. You can use your hair dryer instead but it’ll take much longer to heat up.

Heel
When describing the heel as a shoe component this is the block or stilt which holds up the height of the shoe. Heels come in all shapes and sizes and have a huge influence over the style of the shoe.

Heel tip or Top Piece
Fits onto the bottom of the heel and protects the heel from wear.

Hole Punch Tool
A tool used to cut out uniform holes in materials. It normally has a range of hole sizes to choose from on its turning head.

Insole
The insole is the heart of the shoe and sits beneath the foot. During the lasting process the lasting allowance of the upper is wrapped around the last and attached to the bottom of the insole holding the shoe together.

Insole Sock
Also known as ‘insock’, an additional piece of material, often with padding which is added to the shoe at the very end of the making process. They serve to cover up the insole board, screws/staples that attach the heels and they add comfort to the shoes.

Last
A shoe-shaped block that the shoe is built around. They come in left and right pairs and are normally made of plastic or wood. Lasts will determine the heel height, shape and size of the shoes.

Lasting
The process of stretching your uppers over the lasts to form them into shape.

Lasting Allowance
An addition of usually 20mm to the feather edge of the pattern where you will need extra leather to wrap around the bottom of the last.

Last Bottom Pattern
The pattern which fits the bottom of the last, it is normally used to trace out the insoles.

Leaf or Tail
The piece of material which covers the underside of the heel.

Lining
The lining is the part of the upper which sits inside the shoe and is in contact with the foot.

Notch
A small cut out ‘V’ shape which is marked on the lasting allowance on the inside edge of footwear patterns and pieces. It is generally a universal symbol used in footwear that determines whether it is the right foot or left foot. In footwear factories there can be several different notch symbols on the lasting allowance which also determine which size the upper is.

Nylon Tape
A type of self-adhesive tape which is made from nylon and has little-to-no stretch in it. It is used to reinforce seams or within straps to prevent them stretching out.

Oxford
A style of footwear where the laced up panel of the shoe is sewn underneath the vamp.

Patternmaking
In footwear, ‘patternmaking’ is the process by which patterns/templates are made according to the style and size of the shoe to be constructed.

Pattern Allowances
These are certain margins which are added onto the footwear patterns which factor in the material that is lost during the stiching and lasting processes, i.e. within seams.

Peep Toe
A style of footwear where there is an open toe and usually a closed back.

Quarters
The quarters are the side parts of a lace up shoe’s upper.

Randing
This is a decorative addition which can be added around the feather edge of the shoe before the sole is attached. Randing mimics the traditional shoemaking technique called ‘welting’ and is often called a mock welt.

Raw Edge
This is when you leave the edges of the leather unfolded. Having a raw edge is quite common with leather as it doesn’t fray.

Rubber Crepe
A pebbled latex sheeting which is commonly used as a raw material for cleaning excess glue of shoes. It is sometimes used to make soles for shoes.

Safety Beveller
A handheld knife which is used to skive away excess material. We call it the ‘potato peeler’ because it works in a similar way.

Screwdriver
A tool used for screwing and unscrewing (inserting and removing) screws. Also in this case used to attach the heels.

Seam
A seam is a join where two pieces of material are joined together.

Seam Allowance
An addition of usually 5mm on both sides of the pattern where there is a join that you wish to stitch together.

Seam Tape
Flexible adhesive tapes for reinforcing and reducing stretch (see Nylon Tape).

Shank
A reinforced strip of steel which sits inside the shoe between the insole and outsole. The shank gives support to the arch of the shoe and the foot and is therefore a vital part of high heeled shoes. In most footwear the shank is embedded within the insole.

Silver Pen
Traditionally used to mark out the patterns onto the leather. Silver ink tends to show up on most colours which is why it is used. It’s the shoemaker’s equivalent to dressmaker’s chalk.

Skive
The process by which excess material is shaved down, normally from a seam, underlay or folded edge. Skiving can be done with hand tools or by machine. A ‘ skived edge ’ is an edge of material that has been skived down.

Sling Back
A style of footwear where there is a strap which wraps around the back of the heel to hold the shoe on the foot.

Sole or Outsole
The layer in direct contact with the ground. They come in all different materials and are made to fit the last/shoe. Outsoles are normally made of a durable material to slow down the wear of the shoe and protect the upper. We use leather soles throughout this book.

Sole Bend
The part of the cow used for soles is called the ‘bend’ and it comes from the back of the cow.

Sole Unit
A sole which has been glued and stacked with multiple layers and has become one solid unit.

Stacked Heel Tip
Layers of soling material (usually leather) stacked to create a small heel lift for a flat shoe.

Stiffener
Traditionally made of leather or thermoplastics, stiffeners are inserted within the upper to give shape and structure to the shoes. Depending on the style of shoe, two types of stiffeners can be inserted – the ‘counter’ which cups the back of the heel and the ‘toe puff’ which cups the toe area.

Table Vice
A small and portable device which can be quickly clamped to any work surface and is used to hold an object secure so work can be performed on it.

Texon® Board
Texon board is a strong semi-flexible material made of cellulosic paper and used for insoles. Texon is the brand name of the material and whilst there are alternatives on the market they are generally still referred to as ‘Texon’ board.

Thermoplastic
A plastic material that becomes malleable when heated. Thermoplastic is often used for stiffeners within footwear (see Stiffener).

Toe Puff
A type of stiffener (see Stiffener) which is inserted within the upper around the toe area to give shape and structure to the shoes.

Topline
Any design line that is visible or sits on top of another panel on the upper.

Underlay
An underlay is a join where one panel of the upper sits below the other.

Underlay Allowance
An addition of usually 5-10mm to the side of the pattern which is the underlay of a join that you’re stitching together. The top side of this underlay will be considered a topline.

Upper
The part of the shoe that covers the foot and essentially the part of the shoe that you see. In the simplest cases, such as sandals this may be nothing more than a few straps. Closed footwear can have more complex uppers with seams and separate panels.

Vamp
The front part of the shoe starting behind the toe, extending around the eyelets and tongue, towards the back part of the shoe.