bespoke shoemaking book cover

- Learn to make shoes by hand.
Bespoke Shoemaking Book

Bespoke Shoemaking, A Comprehensive Guide to Handmade Footwear

bespoke shoemaking book cover


Foot Measurement
Last Building
Mean Forme Construction
Basic Styles
Seam Allowances
Edge Allowances and Treatments
Last Standard
Derby Shoe Design
Closing a Derby
Oxford Shoe Design
Closing an Oxford
Insole Preparation
Trying the Shoe For Fit
Preparing the Shoe for Soling
Fitting the Sole
Finishing the Sole
Hand Built Leather Heels
Dress Boots
Court Shoes
Sandal Insoles
Sandals, Straps and Lasting
Sandal Socks
Heel Blocks
Covered Heels
Welt Sewing
Sewing the Welt
Handsewn Sole

The Book, and it's reason for being.

This shoemaking manual contains 300 pages of information based on a practical career as a bespoke shoemaker and teacher over 25 years. Included are 700 illustrations taken from video and photographs, so you don't have to interpret anything.

Mouseover the cover at right to reveal the contents, and click the layer to hide it when you are finished with it.

All images have been worked to provide the clearest picture of what I am describing without any confusing background. I have tried to include as much detail as possible with emphasis on the things most encountered by a shoemaker working on a daily basis.

How to attach buckles, covering heel blocks, and putting in socks are quite often missed during training. These things are important and used regularly so understanding them is crucial.

Sandals are also often overlooked as a form of footwear for teaching purposes and have specific attributes and problems that require specialised solutions. Similarly, platforms and joggers are often asked for by prospective customers.

This textbook was originally intended for use by my students but it became increasingly obvious that I had too much information and it should be available to anyone and everyone. Bearing that in mind, I have assumed that if someone knows nothing at all about shoemaking and wants to learn, then I had to put in everything I could think of to make the path easier for them.

The most basic step I could think of, is that nothing can be done without a sharp knife, because it is impossible to proceed without one. The book starts from this premise. I originally set out to only give the patterns for a derby shoe as that is the exercise that I used when teaching, thus the book had to be expanded to allow inclusion of the patterns for this, and how to make them.Afterwards I included patterns for an oxford to give some variety for projects.

There are other pattern cutting books out there, so I don't see a need for me to continue with the pattern side of things, my job now is to provide knowledge for anyone to put the shoe together using practical instructions, because that is the information that is fast disappearing.

I hope that any shoemaker can get enough out of the book to avoid making costly mistakes, and spending time on non-productive jobs. Feel free to contact me with questions and suggestions. I am not sure if I will be able to reply to all, but it may inspire changes, or new directions in the future.

Go to the purchase page to see all the specials.

What “they” say about the book.

"I think this book is going to be a very significant text for those interested. It is so thorough, and very clear. It's very easy to follow your instructions and will be invaluable for both intro and experienced shoemakers. I look forward to more! I think your book will be a standard part of any shoe making program at university. It's so comprehensive compared to anything else I've seen. Even after four years of experience, your book will still be an invaluable resource for me, and will fill in gaps in my knowledge and confirm things I am doing right" ... Matt Renna, Shoemaker and leather goods designer.

" This is the most comprehensive shoemaking book I have ever seen. The detailed information and step by step processes are very useful. Well done. There was a real need for this book to be written - Thank you." ... David Stanners - Shoemaker.

"I have taught adult ed shoemaking for lots of years and would really appreciate an up to date book to tell people to buy - it was something I thought about doing myself as I have written and photographed quite a lot over the years but never got to it and so am very pleased someone has" ... Luna Newby, Shoemaker and teacher.

"This will be the standard for the modern shoemaker. I cannot believe the detail. This book is a needed reference for beginning as well as advanced shoemakers. There is a very real need for a 'Hand Shoemaking Manual', which could become the standard text book worldwide. I have been in this business for a few months short of 30 years and would have given anything to have had a book of this caliber to help me learn the craft. I think there is a real need for a complete knowledge book about the construction/assembly of shoes from ground zero. There is nothing out there that really covers every aspect of construction and assembly." ... Larry Waller, Shoemaker and teacher.

"Excellent!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I probably don’t need to say any more, there are a few things I do differently but the result is the same." ... Greg Kilgour, Western Bootmaker.

"Anybody who takes the trouble to try to spell out the process of hand shoemaking, to me is either a saint or a little crazy. erhaps some of each." ... Frank Jones, Footwear lecturer and book publisher.

"Bespoke Shoemaking is a comprehensive and long sought after manual that demystifies the intricacy of the shoe making process." ... TCM Reviews.

There is no other book like Tim Skyrme’s Bespoke Shoemaking. Ditch the apprenticeship with the grumpy old boot maker and set Tim’s wonderful book on your workbench. It is the only concise explanation you will need of all the methods, techniques, and tools required for shoemakers. I’m not sure if I ever would have successfully made shoes without it. Very many thanks to Tim. - Zoé Rios

"I received your book a couple of days ago - wow!" - Leslie M.

"Fantastic book, thank you Tim. Well done on writing what I have been looking for for ages!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!" - Rebecca B.

"Your Book is Fantastic......The book was one of the best written things I have ever read!" - Bill G.

"Thank you so much Tim for posting your book and for having written those books that allow to pursue my passion." S.R.

"So glad you are making the literature available. Between your books and the odd video I hope to be wearing my first pair of boots by May." S.C.

"I see your vídeos!!!.it's very nice, very good, they are wanderful!!!.-right now i anderesten everything . I reed in your books i buy From you.- now Its clear in my brain -And now i will put in practic everything i see in yours vídeos And your books too Thanks por compartir your knolege." M.U.

"I just came across your website and videos - this email is to thank you for sharing your knowledge. I'm delighted to have found you!" J.B.

"Your book is recommended everywhere it must be extremely comprehensive can't wait to get into it

"Your book is recommended everywhere it must be extremely comprehensive can't wait to get into it." A.S.

"This copy is indeed a gift to my brother who just joined the profession of shoe repair... So I wanted to give him the true bible of footwear." R.K.

"It is much more comprehensive than I expected. It was money very well invested." S.I.

"your shoe-making-book is really great!! "I need some more..."!!" J.L.

"thanks for the books I recieved them friday. They are just what I wanted. As a shoe repairer who is going back into making they will be invaluable to me." T.K.

"I'm really excited about the book. My shoemaking teacher is... and he said your book has everything I need to know. I appreciate all the work that went into it and your commitment to keeping the craft alive." N.G.

"I tell everybody I work with to buy your book, because it's awesome!  " M.R.

"Everything happens for a reason ay! You are the best and I cannot wait to get started! I have already been telling my friends how great you are, just because YOU ARE! Most people you deal with over things like this give you a great hassle and you have not. I am so impressed with your service! If you have a "Service Provider Experience" site where I can sing your praises, please give it to me as I really do want to let everyone know how wonderful you are!" Nina

"fortunatelyI met a shoemaker from Brescia who advised me to your books.
Now I'm almost finished translating bespoke shoemaking since we do not know English well. The manual is great! A novice like me (without anybody's help) was able to understand each procedure described. Now I'm ready to try to make my first pair of shoes!" S.B.

" I just got my copy of your book - and from what I've seen I think it's amazing! I have been waiting for a long time for shoe making courses to come out here, but now I feel I won't need any because of your book.  I'll probably stay up all night going through it, and start making shoes tomorrow! (I wish!) Thank you so much for writing it and making the information available to everyone who wants to learn." L.K.