Fitting the Foot

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kemosabi
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Re: Fitting the Foot

#376 Post by kemosabi » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:24 pm

Ahhhhh, I see.
Sounds like I fell into the all too familiar pot-hole when reading Golding's volumes;

The authors assume there's a teacher handy to explain the missing details.

Thx,
-Nat

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#377 Post by derrick_fischer » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:08 am

Hi all,

Tell me how do you know that you have got a boot or shoe, that fits spot on and that you have taken exactly the right measurements?

Thanks Derrick.

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#378 Post by romango » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:23 am

Derrick,

I always make fitters. These are quickly constructed shoes.

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#379 Post by dw » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:32 am

Fundamentally, it is when your customer says it feels good.

Now, of course that's simplistic and the customer is not always right despite marketing hype to the contrary.

In truth, there is "good fit" from the shoemaker's POV and "good fit" from the customer's POV. And they don't always agree. Naturally the customers POV takes precedence in such circumstances even if, as a shoemaker, you know the fit is too loose or too tight. I have always said that a shoemaker must not only fit the customer's foot but, almost as importantly, he must fit the customer's head.

All that said...for a boot, when the customer is standing upright in them, I want to to be able to run my fingers over any spot on the vamp and not chase surplus leather ahead of them. The boot should fit like a second skin with no hot spots or pinching...but no looseness either.

This is important for boots...where there are no laces to secure the foot into a boot and where extra room might actually endanger the rider.

Shoes may typically be fit somewhat more loosely depending on the sensibilities of the shoemaker and the customer.

But remember that taking "exactly the right measurements" is no more important than how you translate those measurements to the last.

Tight Stitches
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Re: Fitting the Foot

#380 Post by dw » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:33 am

Also, heel seat width and treadline width have to be factored in. These are often overlooked but critically important to a good fit...from any point of view.

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#381 Post by derrick_fischer » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:02 am

Thank you Mr. Frommer, so it is not "wrong" to have a boot sit a little loose if the wearer is comfortable with such a fit?

I only have one pair of lasts and made a few pairs of boots on them, mostly the same fit is accomplished, but there have been 1 or 2 pairs fitting differently than the others, 1 abit tighter and 1 abit more loosely, but the measurements were all the same, how is that possible, is it mayby because one leather is firmer than the other?

Derrick.

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#382 Post by idris_nowell » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:53 am

I'm making a pair of shoes for a lady and I'm wondering, at what stage does one do a first fit?

I'm working with the actual uppers, not a fitter. Do I last the lining and upper without stiffeners or do I put the stiffeners in before the fitting?

The last has about 3/4" of heel, should I put a shank in before the fitting? When complete the shoe will have a wooden wedge heel so won't need a shank.

Thanks in advance.

Idris

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#383 Post by dearbone » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:24 am

Idris,

Paste your stiffeners first and than temporary last both shoes to make sure they are the same by means of nails,tacks,than come back and secure the seat/heel area by tacks or any method you use,when that is done you can now peel the top leather up and last your lining and put your toe piece, etc. when you done that pull your upper leather down and last it.
The stiffener I use is a veg tan shoulder,6 Oz for women shoes at a mellow condition(not dripping).

Nasser

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#384 Post by idris_nowell » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:23 am

I think there's been a misunderstanding. I'm not talking about how to fit a stiffener rather I'm not sure how far to complete the shoes before fitting the temporary soles and getting the lady to try them on.

Idris

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#385 Post by dearbone » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:56 am

Well, that's not the way it is usually done,instead of taking the actual shoes of the last midway and putting a temporary soles just for fitting them on the foot to see if they fit and then putting them on the last to finish them is unheard of and risky,The way i go about it is to make a fitter for that purpose and if all goes well with the fitter,the actual shoes can be made based on that,The reason for doing it this way is the fact that it is easier to make changes from the fitter rather than the actual shoes with temporary soles.

Nasser

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#386 Post by danfreeman » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:36 am

Nasser is correct, unfortunately. James Devlin, in 1839, says that even an experienced shoemaker can seldom fit a shoe correctly on the first, or second attempt. The way the foot moves in the shoe is the main the unpredictable factor; many later writers and makers agree. Most of us who are trying to fit well and truly make a fitting model of some sort, at least for the first pair for a client.

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#387 Post by idris_nowell » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:30 am

I did a full fitter for my last pair but it's a lot of work and expensive in terms of leather and time. Why is it that one cannot use the actual upper for the fitter?

My thinking is to do it like this. Cement last the upper and lining but without any stiffeners and leaving a wide margin glued down onto the insole in case I have to let it out. Perform the fitting looking for baggyness and tight spots. Adjust the last appropriately. Remove the upper from the insole then relast, inserting stiffeners this time and completing the shoe.

My OH (who is a podiatrist) has told me that this is the way the local orthopaedic shoemakers do it where making a complete fitter for each client would be totally uneconomical (the NHS being tighter than a waterfowl's... well you get the picture)

I can quite see that given plenty of time and budget it would be best to make a fitter but even then wouldn't you be remaking the fitter after each fitting to incorporate what you learnt from the fitting? In which case why not use the actual upper?

Idris

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#388 Post by dearbone » Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:27 pm

I have been saying, making shoes is easy, making them to fit a person is a different game and i personally have been successful at times but with horrible results at others which led me to study the function of the foot,it is not static,it changes with every step,sitting or standing,hence we bespoke shoe makers must learn first how to measure and apply those measurements to lasts which are unchanging,Now the purpose for the fitter is not only to check for fit but also for proportion between parts on the last after being produce by tape and papers, If the top line is too high and must be reduced or your toe cap or vamp is too high or too low,your corrections on the actual shoes will be doubled and more, The fitter cost pennies but intended to save you in pounds later,On most occasions only one fitter is enough to see where need to be corrected.
One more thing this shoe maker doesn't take advice from podiatrists about shoe making.

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#389 Post by dlskidmore » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:15 am

Have you ever seen an orthopedic shoe made by a podiatrist that looked nice?

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#390 Post by kemosabi » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:37 am

I've got an order pending for a pair of western riding boots for a lady who had her ankle broken in a horse accident and surgically re-constructed/ pinned back together. Apparently; she has enough mobility still to get her foot in and out of a factory boot.
Once I meet her, I'll know more about what I'm up against, but I'd like to get some advice from the boot gurus who've dealt with this type situation. BTW: I've already decided not to take this order if it's obvious the fit is too challenging for me.
Are there red flags to look for?

Thx,
-Nat

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#391 Post by anakim » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:17 am

Hi:

When sending in your measurements to a lastmaker for custom lasts, do you specify where and how your measurements are taken and what you're doing... or do they tell you what to do? Do you develop some sort of an individual relationship with them so they know what you're doing? (this seems to have been hinted at earlier).
I have contacted various lastmakers in Europe, Springline being one of them. They gave me directions and diagrams for girth measurements, completely ignoring the ball to heel, and did not mention anything about an imprint of any kind. I cannot believe they normally work like this with pros, and so they must have assumed I was just some Jane Doe, and not a very keen aspiring shoemaker privy to a lot of excellent information (in this wonderful forum) about imprinting and various lengths and how to use them (very keen to try it all out).

I am aware that this would be a very big risk for me as I am a beginner, but I think I have some clue of the difficulty involved, which goes some way in my favour. Another question is, at what point should a person try this? Probably I'd be advised to do a lot of adjustments on stock lasts, and make shoes on those, to see if I can fit a few feet this way first? So I would have a better feeling for how to take and use all these measurements? But if I'm going to eventually order a last made (custom) by somebody else, what matters is taking the measurements. They are the ones who will use them, so I have no control except to know how to measure properly. I will only know if I am measuring "properly" for their uses if I try this out.

A further question: In reading about bespoke lasts and how a good shoemaker should look at all sorts of amazing details of the foot (seeing that foot and making probably various notes which only you understand (not standardized), what is the role of a distant custom last maker? Are you always having to adjust what they do for you? I assume in many cases it is just easier to take a stock pair of lasts and adjust them yourself. (something I am also just starting to try).

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#392 Post by dw » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:26 am

Lastmakers are concerned with the last, not with the foot. They create the last on a lathe...sometimes computer controlled...and they measure and evaluate the last in a "trap." The trap measures heel height and toe spring and so forth at fixed points on the last with no relationship to the foot. Or, if there is a relationship, it is simplified and "dumbed down." Some measurements, such as the "instep," may roughly correspond to some statistical "ideal" of the foot but, obviously, they don't have the real foot there to compare.

Unless you know exactly how and where the measurements are found on the last, it has been my experience that sending measurements to a lastmaker will get you close but will seldom match the measurements on the foot. Bill Tippit, who had Global Footwear Solutions, took a lot of input from shoe and bootmakers and created a database of how each size measured at specific points on the last...and because of the input many of those measurements did correspond closely to real feet. But, even then, it was still never a guaranteed deal.

Third party made custom lasts are, in my opinion, a dead end, a source of a lot of frustration, and a waste of time and money, esp. if you are paying extra for the "custom last."

The best thing you can do for yourself...took me years to learn this and put it to use...is purchase a run of "bottom papers." They're not expensive compared to a last and you don't need a full run. I bought sizes 3-14 skipping every other size (3, 5, 7, etc.) and three widths in each size, again skipping (A, C, E). Usually you can extrapolate from there.

Bottom papers will give you tread width, heel seat width, SLL (standard Last length) and heel to ball.

From there, it is always going to be question of comparing the measurements off the last to the measurements of the foot. And often modifying the last by building up where needed, or, less optimally, cutting the last.

If you're serious about bespoke making, there is no way around this. Even bespoke lasts hand made/hand carved by the shoemaker who actually measured the foot, frequently require build-ups (or shaving) to suit the customer.

Every shoemaker, every bootmaker, measures the foot a little differently than every other. And each pulls the tape measure differently. And having obtained a measurement, modifies the last to correspond...usually in a different place on the last than every other maker. It is just these very factors that make ordering custom lasts difficult.

I take two instep measurements. I also take (and use) a "long heel" measurement. I use / respect the tread width and the heel seat width and defer to the heel to ball measurement religiously. Not all makers do the same. And the lastmakers damn sure don't. How could they? They don't know where on the foot or how I'm obtaining those measurements.

As a bespoke maker, relying on someone else to do what you should do...what you need to be able to do...what you are ultimately going to be responsible for, is a recipe for frustration and problems.

IMO...
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Re: Fitting the Foot

#393 Post by lancepryor » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:30 am

All very good questions. The challenges of last making and fitting feet is why it is always best to have the last maker do the measuring and inspect the feet, or as a second-best to work consistently with the person who does the measuring, so the last maker learns how to work with the measurements. It is my impression that the US bookmaking tradition pretty much relies on modifying existing lasts, rather than making bespoke lasts. There is very little tradition of bespoke last making in the US.

I know Springline used to have a last maker who did the bespoke lasts, and he worked in a traditional (UK) way -- with measurements and a tracing, but not foot impression/imprint. A tracing, if properly done, will allow the last maker to determine the heel to ball measurement, but in any event the tracing is used as the bespoke last is being made, so the last reflects the tracing. (I would note that DW might take slight exception to this statement, as the exact point of flexure of the foot may not be exactly centered on the ball as traced.) In any event, the fellow who used to make the bespoke lasts at Springline has retired, so I'm not sure exactly what they do now.

I think it may make more sense to try to fit up RTW/premade lasts if you cannot have more face-to-face dealings with the last maker. If I were you, I would try to find a model of last whose shape you like, and get a pair for your own use, in your size. Once you have a pair, you should be able to figure out the heel to ball distance for that pair and then determine what the heel to ball would be for other sizes in the same style. Springline have a last library of thousands of lasts (some of which are proprietary to individual companies), so you should be able to find one or more you like. If you down that route, I would suggest you let them know you'll be making by hand (if you're going to hand sew the outsole), since that may affect the lasts you would want -- hand making allows you to use lasts that might not be suitable for factory use.

You could also try Spenle in Germany; I think they may be both more flexible and less expensive than Springline, and they may be able to work with measurements etc. to make some custom lasts. I know someone who had an existing last modified by them, and the charges seemed quite reasonable.

I know of a couple of other people in the UK who are now doing last making as part of a bespoke offering, and at least one does offer bespoke lasts as a standalone offering, so that is also an option. I think they would be more flexible and hands-on than Springline, but also perhaps more expensive.

Hope that helps.

Lance

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#394 Post by dw » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:47 am

lancepryor » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:30 am wrote: A tracing, if properly done, will allow the last maker to determine the heel to ball measurement, but in any event the tracing is used as the bespoke last is being made, so the last reflects the tracing. (I would note that DW might take slight exception to this statement, as the exact point of flexure of the foot may not be exactly centered on the ball as traced.)
I don't know if I would call it "take(ing) exception" but I would note that a tracing cannot...physically or mechanically...mirror the weight bearing (plantar) surface of the foot with any accuracy. Even with a dedicated foot tracing tool, what is recorded is the outline of the foot well above the plantar surface and without any reference to the way that the foot naturally (and rightfully) "overhangs" the footprint and the insole.

Feet that are fleshy will trace wider / longer than feet that are boney.

Realistically then, the lastmaker who works with a tracing rather than, or to the exclusion of, a footprint is guessing (esp. if the lastmaker has never seen or felt the foot)...or ignoring these factors.

The bottom line is that more data collected from the foot...and the degree to which it is accurately collected...only serves to increase the chances of a good fit. It never lessens it.
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Re: Fitting the Foot

#395 Post by anakim » Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:31 pm

Thank you so much both of you, for your replies. I had read elsewhere what you said, DW about the necessity of an imprint, which made a lot of sense, and which is what made me wonder.
I had also asked Spenle about their prices, but didn't think they would be as good in the customizing department. But after what you've said, I'll order RTW from whichever one works, and customize them myself.
I really appreciate your expert help!

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#396 Post by paul » Thu May 07, 2015 8:48 pm

An interesting quandary came up today.
It regards fitting up a last in preparation for the next bespoke Triad style boots I'll be making. I had the thought to post it for the sake of the conversation.

Using the heel to ball measurement as the main predicator of last length, I selected an 8 1/2 D. It's necessary to take a bit off of the high instep area from the arch, interestingly. But that is not what I'm on about.
Using Sabbage, heel to ball divided by 8 yields a figure that is greater by 1cm, than ball to toe divided by three. One whole centimeter!

It's either the first feet with such a disparity that I've made boots for, or just the first time I caught it.
Well, here's the rub.

The customer is asking for a 3/4" box toe. I've fit the last to be 1.5 sections longer than her heel to toe measure since it will be a narrower toe, but it stills looks short.
If I make it longer, say, by another half section, I'll need to lengthen the toe box specific to the second tarsal of the great toe or something won't I?

I'm thinking a wider toe will help to obscure the difference of the proportion, but I don't want to make that choice "unilaterally".
I'm thinking I'll make a fitter with a wider toe, so I can trim it down if she doesn't "get it". And that way I won't have to cut another insole.

I'm interested in all comments if you're interested in sharing.

TIA,
Paul

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#397 Post by dw » Fri May 08, 2015 5:49 am

Paul,

Virtually no one fits feet exactly the same as the other guy. And probably there are dern few who use Sabbage anymore. But that said, I am one of them.

As I am sure you know, it is near impossible to take two or three measurements from a foot and determine anything, really, about it. None of it is relevant in isolation, IOW. "Data" is plural and that's what we need to analyze the foot--a compilation of as many measurements and observations as we can extract from the foot...most of which are so intimately and closely associated with each other as to almost be nonsense by themselves.

For instance, if the H-B is longer than it should be when compared to the heel to toe that tells you something about the foot...something that it is almost always possible to verify by looking at the footprint.

So without seeing the foot, without seeing the associated data...all of it...it is almost impossible to know what is going on.

Or comment sensibly.

That said, I am not sure what 3/11 of the foot length is going to tell you. Sabbage says 8/11 of foot length will give you the ideal position for the medial ball joint relative to foot length. It won't tell you what the actual H-B on the foot is. If the actual H-B is longer than the ideal H-B, it may indicate short toes. The foot is not the proportional ideal of Sabbage. That seems obvious.

In which case, it would not be unusual to find that the actual H-B resulted in a "section" (H-B/8) which was proportionally larger than the section the actual ball to toe (B-T/3) would yield. Again, all because the foot itself is out of proportion relative to Sabbage's theories.

As I say, even with the best of intentions it is hard to help...but maybe, hopefully...or even make sensible comments when there is so much missing information.

In the end, feet are universally anomalous--that's what a fitter's model is all about.
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Re: Fitting the Foot

#398 Post by paul » Fri May 08, 2015 9:47 pm

Well, I think I was acknowledging all that. Maybe my sentence structure was a little wacky.

As far as the foot itself is concerned the only visible anomaly that might explain the disparity from Sabbage, is that there are significant bunions that lean the Great toe inward, not as bad as I've seen pictures of but they sure 'nuff are shorter than the "3 sections".

So my default, H-B matters most, and the rest follows from there. "Fit what's there", you say. And that's what I've done. I have gone ahead and added a bubble to the bottom surface of the last at the point of the bunion, and have ground away a thumbprints-worth of the last in the met area, to provide a little give and take for her footbed. But that's as far as I'll go working with her feet.

Today I widened the end of the toe of the last while keeping it the same length, like I was thinking. It looks much better, and I think she'll have no objections. I'll show it when I get the fitter done.

Paul

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Re: Fitting the Foot

#399 Post by dw » Sat May 09, 2015 5:25 am

Paul,

I don't fault anything you said, nor yet the way you said it...just reviewing / reiterating some of my observations about Sabbage, for those who come to this conversation a little late.

"Fit what's there." That's right. I think you're on the right track...and the fitter's model will be the proofing of the pudding.
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Re: Fitting the Foot

#400 Post by paul » Sat May 09, 2015 8:20 am

Thanks. Back to makin' puddin'.

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