17 . 2 . 2022

Handcrafted Shoes

Shoe Manufacturing

Shoe manufacturing is the concept that describes the process behind the making of footwear. To handcraft a pair of beautiful quality shoes at Carlos Santos, more than 200 manual operations can be executed by our experienced artisans.

However, the number of steps taken by every shoe manufacturing business differs from one another. Some take more, some less.

Back when no machines were used, the cobbler was responsible for the entire shoe manufacturing process. It was tiresome work, but we believe the passion for the art of the old masters helped them through it. 

Naturally, technology advanced and so did the shoe manufacturing process. Today, it is impossible to handcraft some types of shoes without the help of machines, even if guided by expert hands. Point in case is the Blake Stitch machine, without which the Blake Construction System could never be used for shoe manufacturing.

So if you are interested in knowing more about the shoe manufacturing process as a whole, read along as we share the most important steps of the shoe making process.


Shoe Making Process Steps

Generally, the shoe manufacturing process undergoes six essential steps before a quality product arrives at a loyal customer.

The first step is design, then followed by stamping, sewing, assembling, and finishing. 

The final step is the shoe room, which might not be what you might be expecting. Below, we briefly explore each step of the way, so you can end with a little bit more information regarding the shoe manufacturing process. We’ll begin with Design.



Like with every creative endeavor, design begins with research and knowledge. Designers try to know everything that happens within the shoe manufacturing industry. Every single detail. 

The research and data gathered can include other designs, the product’s performance, what materials were used and their origin; the trends shoe manufacturing is going through, or why the competition is behaving in a specific manner and how are consumers reacting to it. All of this and more greatly influences future choices to make. 

With this information at hand, the designers’ vision and creativity shine through the final product.

But before shoe manufacturing can proceed, two things are still needed: sketches or images depicting what is to be handcrafted, and the shoe last.

In shoe manufacturing, a last is a mould, usually made of wood. It works as a “fake” foot on which everything will be constructed. However, this simple definition does not do it justice. 

A last is not just a piece of wood that somewhat resembles a left or right foot – it mimics the human foot to the best of its possibilities, including how it might move.

Without lasts, shoe manufacturing would be a very, very different world. 



In shoe manufacturing, one single shoe is handcrafted with many different parts of, sometimes, different materials. At Carlos Santos Shoes, leather is our favorite material. 

All these parts need to be marked or stamped. This is to avoid any misunderstandings further down the road. Particularly during the next step of the shoe manufacturing process: sewing. 

The marks are stamped according to the design and the model type.

For example, if perforations are needed, these will be marked on the piece of leather on which they will need to be made – be it the vamp or the upper. The same happens where the eyelets should be punched if laces are to be used.

But the importance of stamping in shoe manufacturing becomes self-evident when it is used to mark every point in which the materials will be sewed to each other. Precisely, the next step. 



This is the step of shoe manufacturing where every material is cut and stitched together following the marks made during the stamping process. 

The upper is usually the first part to be stitched. Next comes the heel and the toe cap, swiftly followed by all other parts that complete the anatomy of a shoe. And after sewing everything together, shoe manufacturing goes on through its pivotal step.



This stage of the shoe manufacturing process might be the one with which most are familiar. This is where everything truly comes together. All the pieces are fitted to form something resembling a finished handcrafted shoe.

To do this, the shoe manufacturing process uses different constructions systems. At Carlos Santos, we assemble quality shoes according to methods such as the Blake or the Goodyear Welt, among others.

If you explore Carlos Santos online store, you can discover which type of construction system was used, just above the name.

But there is a detail worth mentioning about how we handcraft our shoes: to achieve the quality we aspire to every day, we also use cork as a middle layer between the insole and the outsole, making sure the feet will be extremely comfortable.

It is also at this stage that the last, which accompanied the shoe manufacturing process up until now is removed, having done its job to perfection. But the process is not complete as yet. Two more steps remain. 



The finishing phase of shoe manufacturing is where the visible details are applied. If perforations were marked during the stamping process, this is the stage where they are effectively done. 

During this phase, shoes are also smoothed. This is done by abrading its heels and outsole and cleaning it to perfection before the final step.


The Shoe Room

In shoe manufacturing, the shoe room is the final step of handcrafting. The shoe room can also be seen as where the finishing touches are made, and where minor imperfections are corrected.

This is done by obsessive attention to detail, making sure our handcrafted shoes are according to our standards. And before transforming them into a piece of art, they are entirely polished and lace-up, if required. 

Not exactly part of shoe manufacturing but certainly as important, comes packaging and shipping, making sure our customers can wear a pair of quality shoes handcrafted by Carlos Santos.