A custom shoe is created (5) The pinch
Pinching gives the still shapeless upper the later shape of the shoe. In the process, the upper is first placed over the custom-made last along with the attached insole. In the further process, it is then pulled over the last with the help of special nippers and fastened to the insole with nails or staples. Particularly at the toe and heel, excess material is created by folding the upper over the last. The shoemaker must now distribute these folds evenly by means of targeted pulls. The art of pinching is to shape the upper over the last with exactly the right pull, so that the left and right shoe are as mirror-image as possible, but also so that the upper for the individual shoe fits exactly over the last and the shape and proportions are correct. In addition, make sure that there are no air pockets so that the socket rests on the last without spacing or gaps.
The shoemaker directly influences the fit when pinching. By the strength of the pull, he decides how much tension to apply to the material, whether a certain amount of residual tack is left in the material to increase the comfort of the later shoe, or whether the material is pulled completely tightly over the last to rule out later stretching of the material, for a tight fit of the shoe. An experienced shoemaker varies the traction at different points of the shoe to optimize the fit and comfort of the subsequent custom shoe individually to the wearer. Of course, the tensile strength depends on the processed material and the shaft design. If you pull too hard, you always run the risk that the seams of the joined socket parts will not withstand the tension and the thread will break, or worse, that the material will burst or even tear. In the latter case, it goes straight back to cutting and a lot of time, work and effort has been done in vain. This is just one example of the risks inherent in custom manufacturing, which ultimately, of course, affect the price.
A significant step in the process is tapping the pinched upper with the shoemaker’s hammer. The remaining transitions on the stem, e.g. at the copings, are levelled out with many targeted hammer blows at a relatively high frequency. In addition, tapping compacts the fibers in the leather, which increases dimensional stability. In the area of the shoe toe and at the heel, the folds created during pinching are reduced again to facilitate further processing. The shoemaker can also, within certain limits, influence the appearance of the later shoe by tapping. Even small changes to the leather surface, through targeted tapping, influence the light reflections. This way, areas on the shoe can be emphasized a bit more or even toned down, which at best makes the shoe look even more elegant. The sensitive hammering also smoothes the upper material, giving you the unique look of a high-quality custom shoe.
The next step is to fix the bottom of the shoe, i.e. the sole. You can find out what happens next