Shoe Designer Vs Shoe Pattern Maker

Shoe Designer vs Shoe Pattern Maker

What is the difference between a Shoe Designer and Shoe Pattern Maker?  A shoe designer is responsible for all aspects of the shoe’s design. The designer must consider the styling, materials, colors, customers, price, trends and product performance.  The footwear pattern maker, while critical to the entire operation is really only responsible for creating a beautifully proportioned pattern that fits tight to the last.

To be a great footwear designer, Do you need to make your own patterns? In my experience, the answer is no. A shoe designer does not need to know how to maker cut a footwear patterns. It’s important that a shoe designer can read, work with and adjust the patterns but the creation of new pattern is best left to the “Master”.  I have been lucky, I have been able to work with the same pattern master for years. He knows what I’m looking for and despite the fact he speaks no english we can still get the job done.

The Pattern Makers Challenge:

Teh shoe pattern make will make a shell pattern
This is the blank shoe shell pattern

The shoe factories pattern maker has a lot of work to do when a new design lands on his desk. The pattern masters first job is to get the last that has been selected by the designer and examine its shape.   If it is a familiar last it’s a simple task to mark the throat opening and the shoe collar height.  He may already have the “shell Pattern” on file.  The shell pattern is what a one piece seamless upper would look like.

If the last is new the pattern maker he may “tape” the last so he can pull the shell the shell pattern.  He will over half the last with layers of tape, then carefully cut the tape along the center line of the last and along the bottom edge.  At this stage he can draw the shoe design on the tape.


Once the tape is peeled from the last and flattened you have the pattern!

Now the pattern can be redrawn in a computer, cut out of heavy paper.  As a designer you should always ask for the flat pattern of a new design.   Then you make corrections it’s easy to draw on the samples shoe then mark the shell pattern for the pattern maker.  It is much faster to scan the corrections and email back to the factory, rather than Fed-Ex the shoe back to China.  Here is the shoe designers drawing with the pattern makers actual pattern.  For this flat pattern each shoe part can then be created.
Flat pattern for Shoe shoe making process steps

Here is a great Video showing a master pattern maker at work!

Shoe Patterns
How to Make a Shoe Pattern
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