How to Order Bespoke Lasts

Before I learned shoemaking, I knew I wanted to practice with a pair of bespoke lasts (i.e. lasts made per my measurements).

My primary concern was the health of my feet and body (and yes, wearing improper shoes affect other areas of your body). I also wanted to enjoy what I was making and construct personal shoes and patterns.

I went to a shoemaker to measure my feet and sketch the outline for my last. If requested, I can make a guide on taking measurements.

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My measurements, taken in millimeters (mm) on an ordinary long sheet of paper

The order was placed through a last-making company called Springline. Springline services can vary, and the accuracy of your last depends on who works on your shoe. An experienced last-maker named Michael worked on mine.

In addition to sending copies of your measurements, make sure your lasts come with a  v-cut hinge wood lasts and metal heel plate with tack holes. The v-cut last can bend, allowing removal of the shoe from the last. Springline lasts come with this as a general rule, but I would check. Also indicate your desired heel height (I did 7/8″).

Also specify if you want a wooden last (varnished or unvarnished) or a plastic last. Plastic is cheaper, but I find wood more pleasurable to work with.

I also sent them a photo of the shoes I would like to make with this last. This helps guide the last-maker when they work on your last, particularly the toe. As I mentioned, a shoe’s aesthetic begins with the last.

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I sent this photo as I love the shape of these shoes by Philippe Atienza. It’s a softer French style with an elongated toe; photo credit: Philippe Atienza

There are other last-makers in England you can contact for lasts. After some delay, the package arrived!

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I was excited and tore open the box
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This is varnished maple wood. I drew the dotted red marks to establish guidelines

If you order bespoke lasts, I recommend ordering an additional pair or two of bespoke shoe trees. In my case, I ordered one pair of shoe trees, because I wanted to ensure the last fit before ordering another pair. One pair of shoe trees costs‎ ~£100.

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Request hinged shoe trees because that means the measurements have to be spot on with the last

After receipt, check your last measurements against your paper measurements. Place the last on top of the paper, and see how the last lays against the outlines. You may also measure the ball, waist, instep, and heel of the last and check the measurements against your initial measurements.

The total cost, including the lasts, shoe trees, and shipping was $315.

My lines matched perfectly. What’s left now is making the shoe and seeing the fit!

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