About Shoe Lasts

The Footwear Last

The Shoe Last (Practical Handbook for Shoe Designers)What is a shoe last?  The last is the form used to define the shape of the shoe. The last is critical to the shape and function of your shoe. The footwear last used by the factory will decide the look, fit, and shape of the shoe. The right last can make your shoe a high fashion hit! The wrong last can make your design look like an ill-fitting brick.  The Pattern Master creates the shoe pattern to fit the last tightly. Each different type of shoe will need its own specific shape of last. The last for a running shoe has a very different shape than a last used for a hiking boot or basketball shoe.

 shutterstock_304861490 all about shoe lasts Shape, Fit, Performance, and Style

The last determines the shape, fit, performance, ergonomics, and style of a shoe. There are many different types of lasts. Lasts can be injection molded plastic, carved wood, or cast from aluminum. The last is the starting point of making any shoe design. The last is what makes a shoe suitable for playing basketball, climbing mountains, or strutting down the runway.

When discussing the many attributes of a last you will need to know the common terms.  The majority of footwear last measurements are measured by volume around the last, rather than the traditional length and width associated with shoe fit. A flexible measuring tape is a key tool for checking lasts.

Parts of a Last – Shoe Last Diagram
The parts of a shoe last all about shoe designs

The parts of the last include the forepart, instep, cone, back part, waist, and seat. If the last is hinged it will have a vent above the hinge point. A hinge is needed to prevent damaging a shoe when it is being removed from the last. Shoe lasts may have tiny bumps marking the vamp point, toppling point, and counterpoints.  The last terms are the same for men’s sports shoes or women’s fashion shoes.

Footwear Last Measurements

 shoe last drawings about shoe lasts What is a shoe last
Last Stick Length: Measured from the longest points at the toe and heel.
Last Ball Girth: Measured with a flexible tape around the ball of the last.
Last Instep Girth: Measured with a flexible tape over the instep of the last.
Last Waist Girth: Measured with a flexible tape around the waist of the last.
Last Toe Spring and Heel Lift:  Are are measured with the back of last held parallel to the ground.

Last Stick Length: Measured from the longest points at the toe and heel. Last Ball Girth: Measured with a flexible tape around the ball of the last. Last Instep Girth: Measured with a flexible tape over the shoe instep of the last. Last Waist Girth: Measured with a flexible tape around the waist of the last. Last Toe Spring and Heel Lift: Are are measured with the back of last held parallel to the ground.Last Bottom Length: Measured on the bottom of the last. A flexible tape pressed to the surface.
Last Ball Width: Measured with a flexible tape across the ball of the last.
Last Instep Width: Measured with a flexible across over the instep of the last.
Last Waist Width: Measured with a flexible tape across the waist of the last.

Heavy paper templates or last gauges are cut by computers. The gauges are marked with critical dimensions, the last size, and code number. The paper gauges are used to check every size of the sample lasts.  Once the last fitting has been confirmed, the same paper gauges are used to confirm the production lasts.

Last Stick Length: Measured from the longest points at the toe and heel. Last Ball Girth: Measured with a flexible tape around the ball of the last. Last Instep Girth: Measured with a flexible tape over the shoe instep of the last. Last Waist Girth: Measured with a flexible tape around the waist of the last. Last Toe Spring and Heel Lift: Are are measured with the back of last held parallel to the ground.

You can see how lasts are made: How Lasts  are Made
You can download a last for 3D printing: 3D printing Last File

shoe last shapesWant to learn more about last design, last making, wood lasts, plastic lasts, and metal lasts? Check out chapter 13 in the book
How Shoes are Made.

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