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shoe construction...behind the veil - Page 95

post #1411 of 1515
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vmss View Post

I have a question since it's related to the same topic. I have noticed at the toe that the leather seems like folded during the lasting. Is this normal or acceptable? What can you make of this?

"Normal or acceptable?" For who? For RTW or some less-than-"mindful" makers? Perhaps "yes."

It is not acceptable in my mind, however. IMO, the toe has not been lasted properly nor properly "wiped." The "pipes" were never cleared.

There are methods...even methods adaptable to high production facilities...that can prevent or at least ameliorate this. And for bespoke work, it should be anathema.

The only time it is "understandable" / excusable (maybe) is on very narrow toes where alligator or sometimes heavy lizard is being lasted. In such cases the tiles are so dense and hard that the pipes cannot be moved.

In my professional opinion...
post #1412 of 1515
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

"Normal or acceptable?" For who? For RTW or perhaps less than "mindful" makers? Perhaps "yes."

It is not acceptable in my mind, however. IMO, The toe has not been lasted properly nor properly "wiped." The "pipes" were never cleared.

There are methods...even methods adaptable to high production facilities...that can prevent or at least ameliorate this. And for bespoke work, it should be anathema.

The only time it is "understandable" / excusable (maybe) is on very narrow toes where alligator or sometimes heavy lizard is being lasted. In such cases the tiles are so dense and hard that the pipes cannot be moved.



In my professional opinion...

Thanks for your reply. The shoes are on a narrow toe last. Other than aesthetics will these pipes have any negative constructional or leather tearing consequences?
post #1413 of 1515
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vmss View Post

Thanks for your reply. Other than aesthetics will these pipes have any negative constructional or leather tearing consequences?

Probably not.
post #1414 of 1515
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vmss View Post

Thanks for your reply. The shoes are on a narrow toe last.

PS...when I talk about a narrow toed last...or more specifically, as I did, a "very narrow" toed last...I'm talking about a shoe or boot that you can use to kill cockroaches with in the corner of your kitchen.

biggrin.gif
post #1415 of 1515
😀thanks for your input
post #1416 of 1515
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyWellSpent View Post


Yeah, that's definitely the "grinning" we were referring to.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

^It's actually not too bad. I've seen a lot worse.

Apply a heavy coat of shoe polish in that "corner" and leave it to dry...so that the threads and the holes are well coated with wax...don't brush it off. Keep wax in there esp. until the shoes get broke in but it won't hurt to always have a bit of wax sealing those holes.


Thank you for taking time to look at my concern.  Will this affect the longevity of the shoes? 

post #1417 of 1515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd1101 View Post


Thank you for taking time to look at my concern.  Will this affect the longevity of the shoes? 
It could effect their longevity in theory, and DW gave his advice on the best way to minimize the risk.

That said, they appear to be standard dress shoes, which I assume will be worn in a fairly standard dress shoe context (concrete/carpet jungle), in which case I doubt this will lead to issues with longevity in my opinion.

If you were exposing them to high degrees of dirt, dust, mud, moisture, etc., then you'd have far more reason to be concerned. Wearing them to the office isn't going to bring these elements into question generally speaking, with the possible exception of a stormy soggy commute if you live in a big city travelling by subway.
post #1418 of 1515

G’day Dieworkwear et al,

   I stumbled upon SF when I was trying to find other hand 'closers' amongst the shoemaking community, and one of the links was the two photos DWF put up of mine showing a miniature mule from the 1800's (in the Powerhouse Museum's collection, Sydney Australia) after Dieworkwear had asked why no shoemakers hand sew the uppers (back on page 50, middle of last year :) ).

    I’ve known DWF II since the late ’90’s via ‘The Crispin Colloquy’ shoemaker’s forum, so I asked him if he would mind me describing what I do, and my reasons why, when I make my shoes, and specifically hand sewing the uppers with a hand rolled thread.
   I’ll break this up into several posts to help it seem a little less laborious. I will also include some of my drawings and photos of my work to illustrate the process.
  I’m not wanting to start a bunch of arguments and angst here :) , and for most shoemakers, the thought of sewing hundreds, or thousands, of tiny stitches per shoe would drive them ‘round the bend. It’s a particular type of mind that can thrive on that kind of work, and if all shoemakers were required to do so, we would lose a vast swathe of bespoke talent out there, and the trade would be the poorer for it.
  So; I’m a bespoke boot and shoemaker, and my wife and I live in the bottom right corner of Australia, where I work from the front room of our house.  I don’t make a lot of shoes, but I have enough work to keep me busy full time.

  I learnt how to hand sew with a hand rolled thread before I learnt to make shoes, and when I shifted into focusing just on custom footwear I didn’t have the resources to buy any equipment, so kept with the hand methods. Also, at that time I wasn’t able to find any teaching on hand making boots and shoes so had to read books on archeological finds and historical texts (notably an original 1896 shoemaking book my Father found), and when you go that far back into history, hand sewing all the work is the norm. ‘So why not now?’ is the way my head runs, and so I do :)

Click for larger pics in these posts.

I will be posting this, in 5 parts, over the course of the day.

Hope you enjoy this trip

Cheers
Duncan

post #1419 of 1515
Thread Starter 
Welcome, Duncan!!

Glad to see you here.

By way of introduction and a testimonial of sorts, Duncan is one of the most passionate and unique shoemakers around. He is an original and some of his work is simultaneously out of the ordinarily and superficially alarming (said with tongue firmly in cheek) and an example of great intelligence, high skill and the best of Tradition. He is one of the very few contemporary shoemakers I am aware of who has made any attempt, and come anywhere close, at stitching at the frequencies of 19th century prizework. All by hand all by eye.

I greatly admire him and his creativity.

PS...I believe your photos are on page 51.

--
post #1420 of 1515

Whew, DWF! I hope my head will fit out the door now :) 

 Now, if we can put that aside, don't just accept what I say, but study, look hard and ask questions, as this is how I've been learning the old ways of shoemaking. Life is learning, and learning continues for the duration of our lives.

I shall now get the next post in the series ready.

Cheers

post #1421 of 1515
Part the Second:
 When I hand sew, I’m not trying to emulate a sewing machine (that’s pointless) but, rather, trying to ‘catch up’ to the ‘Old Boys’ as best I can. Back in centuries past you would have taken an apprenticeship at a young age for around 7 years, and spent most of your waking hours, after that, making shoes. I came into this in my late twenties and so I have quite a few years worth of skills to compress :)
  Unlike a sewing machine, in which the needle has to be larger than the eye, the eye larger than the thread that slides through it, and the top thread is hooked around the bobbin thread halfway through the work, leaving relatively large holes, traditional hand sewing requires a very different approach.
  Single ply linen thread (Z twist, for those who want to know) is used, hand laying up the number of plies required. These plies are never cut to length but, instead, unraveled to easily pull apart leaving a long fine taper on each end of each ply. This means that no matter how thick a thread you make, both ends taper to nothing.
 

 (c)

 This thread is rolled, smoothed and waxed and a coarse or fine (depending on the work) hair (bristle) from a wild pig is twisted and braided onto each end of the thread. This will follow whatever hole you put in the leather, without trying to make it’s own way.

 

(c)  (c)

 

 

(c) (c)

 

 

(c)

post #1422 of 1515
Part the Third:
  The reason for all this work is that the two ends, with bristles, put together, are finer than the main body of the thread on it’s own. 
 

(c)

 

Close-up of an actual thread-bristle transition. The last little bit of the bristle that you can see before it drops out of the bottom right corner of the pic is just bristle.

 


And closer still at the part where the taper is wound around the bristle. Again, bottom right corner is just bristle on it's own. Top left is where thread and bristle start being braided together.

 

 

 

Therefore the hole you need to put in the leather as you do each stitch only needs to be large enough to let the two bristles, and the start of the thread’s taper, through (from opposite sides of the work). The remainder of the waxed thread may be two or three times that volume, and is forced through the leather making a water tight seam. The wax/resin mix it is dressed with melts as the thread is pulled through the hole, and cools down and ‘glues’ the stitch in place when complete. There should be no visual evidence of the hole’s existence. 

 

Customer’s shoes after 5 years of frequent wear.

 

 

It is also a stitch that cannot ‘run’ as both ends of the thread completely pass each other at each stitch, swopping sides of the work, and will take a lot of punishment without letting go. 
Getting the right sized, and shaped, awls these days is difficult (easy in the 1800’s), and so I have to resort to making my own using high carbon music wire from a model aeroplane shop and a very small lathe. Did I mention I enjoy metal work as well :) 

 

 

 

 

    As a side note; if, say, the bristle going through the hole from the inside of the work is sitting in the bottom of the tiny vertical slit the awl has made, and the bristle coming through from the outside is at the top of the slit, then that is the way they must be every time so that the stitches have a neat ‘lay’ to them. If the bristles change their relationship with each other each time you poke them through the holes, the seam will ‘jig about’ and not be a smooth line. 

post #1423 of 1515
  Part the Forth:
The goal is to make every stitch you do, the best stitch you have ever done :) , at around three stitches per minute on a straight forward seam.
   Some seams that hand sewing can achieve are:
Butt seams. This is where you join two pieces of leather, edge to edge, without coming through to the other side. The two edges are cut on an angle so that as the stitch is tightened the two halves slide over each other a little. It is particularly satisfying making a near invisible seam in veg. tanned kangaroo leather 1mm, or less, thick. 

 

 

 

 

Miniature 'Balmoral' boot I made in 2001, showing a butt seam above my thumb nail sewn on the inside. Kangaroo hide approx. 0.8mm thick.

 

 

Butt seamed heel cover (1999) at 21 stitches per inch. At that time I was only doing around 8spi for sewing soles on. Now its around 12spi. (stitches per inch; IOW 25.4mm for us metrics :))

 

 

 

 

Bound edge: My drawing explains it well enough.

 

 

(c)

 

 

 

 

 

Sewn heels: This is where the heavy stitches that hold the upper to the insole, around the heel, become anchor points for stitches that you hand sew through the leather lifts that comprise the heel stack. Up to about four lifts is manageable, the rest of the layers (if a higher heel is wanted) being pasted and wooden pegged together (or use solid brass wood screws. Won’t effect the leather like iron). This is, not surprisingly, a very difficult job, but the end result is very satisfying. 

The photos are of several different pairs, the first ones being shoes for our, then, 5 year old.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the sewing is complete, and while the lifts are still damp, the shoemaker’s hammer is used to hammer all around the sides of the heel stack to spread the layers up and cover over the stitching at the base of the heel cup, and blend it into the form of the upper.

 

 

 

 

A before and after shot.

 

 

 

One of a pair I made in 2001 after my father gave me a shoemaking book from 1896 and I found out about welting and the 'sewn heel'. I had been making medieval inspired/method footwear before this.

 

 


And close-up of the blended in heel.

 

post #1424 of 1515
Part the Fifth:
I find it interesting that I am finding a few all hand sewers around the world in the bespoke tailoring trade, Yay, but, so far I’ve only found two or three other shoemakers who are making ‘daily wear’ shoes entirely hand sewn (though, to be honest, leather has the added difficulty of needing to pre-make each hole, as you go, with an awl) . If you know of any, please tell me :) 
As time goes on, I find I’m making finer threads, and using finer stitch counts, for ‘normal’ work, as my skill increases and as I learn about the strength of the seams.
 
Miniature Balmoral at 18spi, by eye. By 2001 I had found that I was able to sew inseams and welts consistently at around 8 - 10spi by eye (score a line to sew on but not use a stitch marking wheel), so I was curious as to how fine I could go and be consistent. This was the experiment. I was happy with the result and my stitch-marking wheels have since been unemployed :)

 

 

My experience is that hand sewing anything, footwear or clothes, tends to be much stronger, and can be neater, than the equivalent machine seam, but as I said at the beginning, not everyone will cope with the idea of hand doing all those little stitches, and we would loose so much shoemaking talent.
 
Please don't take this series as an advertisement for my work. Anyone who has been on the Crispin Colloquy forum or my FB page will know that I enjoy explaining how things are done, and am concerned with the 'de-skilling' of our society. We are capable of so much creativity.
Hope you are all still awake, and have enjoyed this walk through my ‘obsession’ :D
Cheers
Duncan
post #1425 of 1515
Quote:
Originally Posted by duncanbootmaker View Post

Please don't take this series as an advertisement for my work. Anyone who has been on the Crispin Colloquy forum or my FB page will know that I enjoy explaining how things are done, and am concerned with the 'de-skilling' of our society. We are capable of so much creativity.
Hope you are all still awake, and have enjoyed this walk through my ‘obsession’ biggrin.gif
Cheers

Duncan

That was great. Thanks for sharing, Duncan.

When hand sewing, is it possible to use threads that are as fine and thin as what you see in machine-sewn seams, or no?
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