Originally Posted by thelonius
Although many in Northamptonshire offer hand sewn lasting for the bespoke service, so they must have the craftspeople to do it. And then there's some people starting off on their own, like Sid Roberts. I do not understand why some of the makers that offer "made to order" models (shoes made on their standard lasts, and based on their RTW models, but the client can choose leathers, colours and many other details, soles, etc) could not add to this an option to hand sew at the lasting stage. The ones I've contacted have not replied positively. Something about the process is probably escaping me. If this were possible it would be cheaper than a full bespoke.
Pardon me, I don't wish to revive the "late unpleasantness," but I think you're asking the wrong question. It sounds to me as if what you really want to know is why hand welting isn't the "go to" construction technique...esp. at the prices asked.
Hand inseaming isn't all that hard to do, conceptually. It does take work and time however. And that's just the sewing, you still have to purchase a stock of really good quality insole leather; grade, cut, channel (can be done by machine) and prepare the insole for hand welting; cut, bevel and prepare welt; make up the waxed ends (which admittedly can
be done en masse); bristle; provide, sharpen and prepare awls (often idiosyncratically) , hand leathers, large amounts of beeswax and individual work benches for inseamers.
It is by no means a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" type of thing.
When I first got into the business I was told that a skilled bottom man could inseam twelve pair
of boots in a day...of course that was just waist to waist. After 40+ years I can hand welt a
shoe...breast to breast, with a locked, hasluck whip stitch in the heel...in about an hour and a half or a little more. Admittedly, I'm not interested in speed--speed kills...quality. But I doubt anyone can do it in half that time. I would sure like to watch if they could.
Now the GY machine can do all of that in five minutes or the like and all the incidentals--the quality insole, the awls the bristles, all of that is beside the point. Not a factor. Not wanted, not interested.
And as we've seen in other threads, the upper leather is not significantly all that much better between the really high end leathers and the more run-of-the-mill leathers. Yet, in a very real sense, the upper leather is really the only substantive
thing that distinguishes the cachet brands from the scorned. All else is pretty much the same.
Yet some outfits/workshops...like St. Crispin and Vass...do
hand welt all their shoes. And still charge less than the big Northampton manufactures.
I don't know about anyone else but knowing what I know, it makes me wonder what the cachet brand guys are charging for when they make a GY, RTW shoe?
--Edited by DWFII - 12/13/13 at 8:09am