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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 69

post #1021 of 1710

On the topic of pegs, I noticed that shoemaker Antonio Meccariello is particularly disdainful of pegs, especially in the waist (See https://www.instagram.com/p/6aaFjOxA3q/?taken-by=a.meccariello&hl=en) . I know DWF prefers using pegs. What are the arguments for and against use of pegs?

post #1022 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JermynStreet View Post

On the topic of pegs, I noticed that shoemaker Antonio Meccariello is particularly disdainful of pegs, especially in the waist (See https://www.instagram.com/p/6aaFjOxA3q/?taken-by=a.meccariello&hl=en) . I know DWF prefers using pegs. What are the arguments for and against use of pegs?

Sometimes you're caught between a rock and a hard place.

I start off with the assumption that pegs do no more damage than nails. And less damage if the nails are iron. I think that the case can be made logically and scientifically.

So...how do you attach the outsole in the heelseat area? Nails or pegs? How do you attach the heel stacks? Nails or pegs?

I believe that pegs are always the better choice.

Beyond that, inseaming in the waist is almost certainly a better approach than pegging. But I have pegged the waist for 40+ years simply because the style of footwear that I made demanded / expected a pegged waist. And because the functionality of the "western" boot in a stirrup is enhanced by a pegged waist as opposed to an inseamed waist.

I do not peg the waist on shoes or boots that will not be ridden. I do not believe that pegs are as secure a method as inseaming (although it is pretty good esp. the first time around) and I think that over the long run, pegs tend to be destructive of the insole in areas that require replacement and re-pegging, in a way that inseaming never will be.

As I may have said in other threads, I have probably driven more pegs than any other maker, current or past, that has ever posted to this forum. But I am not blind nor defensive about it.

The objective truth is that pegs will never be as secure or as structurally benign as sewing. If sewing is a viable alternative.
post #1023 of 1710
Could one build and attach a heel stack completely with sewing? Would it have any advantages? Basically, could one have a top quality shoe made with no nails, tacks, screws, or pegs?
post #1024 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by JermynStreet View Post
 

On the topic of pegs, I noticed that shoemaker Antonio Meccariello is particularly disdainful of pegs, especially in the waist (See https://www.instagram.com/p/6aaFjOxA3q/?taken-by=a.meccariello&hl=en) . I know DWF prefers using pegs. What are the arguments for and against use of pegs?

 

For: easier to achieve a beveled waist and still claim handmade compare to blind welting.  Faster to make compare to hand sewing. Traditionally the method to use for cowboy boots waist. Interesting pictures if you search for pegged waist.

 

Against: less secure, prone to have pegs falling out, half sole resole.

post #1025 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Sometimes you're caught between a rock and a hard place.

I start off with the assumption that pegs do no more damage than nails. And less damage if the nails are iron. I think that the case can be made logically and scientifically.

So...how do you attach the outsole in the heelseat area? Nails or pegs? How do you attach the heel stacks? Nails or pegs?

I believe that pegs are always the better choice.

Beyond that, inseaming in the waist is almost certainly a better approach than pegging. But I have pegged the waist for 40+ years simply because the style of footwear that I made demanded / expected a pegged waist. And because the functionality of the "western" boot in a stirrup is enhanced by a pegged waist as opposed to an inseamed waist.

I do not peg the waist on shoes or boots that will not be ridden. I do not believe that pegs are as secure a method as inseaming (although it is pretty good esp. the first time around) and I think that over the long run, pegs tend to be destructive of the insole in areas that require replacement and re-pegging, in a way that inseaming never will be.

As I may have said in other threads, I have probably driven more pegs than any other maker, current or past, that has ever posted to this forum. But I am not blind nor defensive about it.

The objective truth is that pegs will never be as secure or as structurally benign as sewing. If sewing is a viable alternative.

Again, DWF, thanks.
post #1026 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post

Could one build and attach a heel stack completely with sewing? Would it have any advantages? Basically, could one have a top quality shoe made with no nails, tacks, screws, or pegs?

Well, it was done once upon a time. But again aside from the few who specialize in 18th century work, few know how, much less are skilled enough, to pull it off.

Whenever I hear people talk about "modern" techniques and "efficiencies", etc.--all that exculpatory BS...I think about high heeled womens shoes made in the 18th century. The heel (sometimes quite high) was a block of wood that was covered with brocade or leather and sewn on--hand sewn to the upper and to the outsole and a leather toplift sewn on as well. No nails, no screws. Just sewing, sometimes at quite amazingly small spi..

And, according to current understanding, quite secure and stable.

Today very few makers of women's shoes can make a shoe without leatherboard or fiberboard insoles, tucks and massive screws driven, from the heel inside the shoe, into the high impact plastic heel block itself. I don't know any who do it any other way, actually, unless they are stacking leather lifts and even so, some sort of core stabilizer is generally resorted to. And no one...zero...making anything but historical reproductions who can or will sew the heel on.

How far the Trade has fallen...or been dragged down.
post #1027 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Well, it was done once upon a time. But again aside from the few who specialize in 18th century work, few know how, much less are skilled enough, to pull it off.

Whenever I hear people talk about "modern" techniques and "efficiencies", etc.--all that exculpatory BS...I think about high heeled womens shoes made in the 18th century. The heel (sometimes quite high) was a block of wood that was covered with brocade or leather and sewn on--hand sewn to the upper and to the outsole and a leather toplift sewn on as well. No nails, no screws. Just sewing, sometimes at quite amazingly small spi..

And, according to current understanding, quite secure and stable.

Today very few makers of women's shoes can make a shoe without leatherboard or fiberboard insoles, tucks and massive screws driven, from the heel inside the shoe, into the high impact plastic heel block itself. I don't know any who do it any other way, actually, unless they are stacking leather lifts and even so, some sort of core stabilizer is generally resorted to. And no one...zero...making anything but historical reproductions who can or will sew the heel on.

How far the Trade has fallen...or been dragged down.

Thanks for your answer.

How would sewing through several layers of hard leather even be physically possible with the technology of the 18th century at a relatively high spi? What technique was used? Were their needles and awls hard enough not to bend under the pressure? Sheffield steel is legendary for its strength...but how strong was it?
post #1028 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JermynStreet View Post

Thanks for your answer.

How would sewing through several layers of hard leather even be physically possible with the technology of the 18th century at a relatively high spi? What technique was used? Were their needles and awls hard enough not to bend under the pressure? Sheffield steel is legendary for its strength...but how strong was it?

Well as regards the men's boots / shoes, it is well to remember that the leather lifts were probably not as hard as they are today. . Beyond that, I'm not sure how it was done. It's not my specialty. You could post over on the CC in the Boots and shoes in History topic and ask DA Saguto about it.

And just to be sure we are on the same page, sewing through several layers of toplifting was not part of making the women's shoes. Maybe a relatively thin outsole and one leather toplift. Most of the stitching that was exposed was on the side of the heel and in a brocade or upper leather.
post #1029 of 1710
Even on the factory side, things appear to be declining in quality.

There is a local vintage shop with an interesting array of old clothing, footwear, and accessories. I have visited several times, but never found anything that was both my size and my style. Still, I wanted to support the shop. The owner is a knowledgeable and decent guy who charges very fair prices for his goods.

Thus, I decided to look through some shoes and found some Florsheim Imperial LWBs in my size. They fit well and appeared to have a lot of life left in them. I am not really one for second-hand shoes, but bought them anyway--for $60. I think they are from somewhere between the 60's and 80's. They have the "v cleat" on the heels and five nails in each waist.

Anyway, after comparing the vintage Imperials to my pairs of new Allen Edmonds and Aldens, all cordovan, all firsts, I despaired that the Imperials were just better made...the stitching, the soles, the heels...the uppers still look good after 30 years.

The Imperials were not the cheapest shoes around, but they also were not rare or exclusive...I guess men just expected more for their money back then, at least as far as shoes go. Sad...
post #1030 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Speaking about women's shoes and the way heels were mounted here are a few photos. (it is fairly easy to fine photos of these kinds of shoes but not too many are large enough or in colour to be inspected.

Not a few men's dress shoes were done the same way but again some were stacked with the first or first two layers sewn to a "rand" and the outsole. I see some that are like that on the 'Net but all are too small to really get a good look at and be sure. The white pair are the men's shoes.

4X5 original






--
Edited by DWFII - 3/24/16 at 5:44pm
post #1031 of 1710

Question for Nicholas and DWF or another shoemaker or person with extensive knowledge:

 

If I'm understanding it correctly, on a handwelted shoe a small portion of the insole is turned out at the edges to stitch the insole, upper and welt together. I understand that canvas gemming is cemented on not to imitate that little rib of leather at the insole. 

 

I also understand that there is a machine that cut and turns up a rib on the outsole that allows for closed channel stitching. Could that same machine be used to turn up a ridge on the insole, then the same machine already used to stitch the insole to the upper and then the welt? If there's a machine that already cuts and flips up a piece of leather for the outsole, why isn't there one for the insole? 

 

I'm looking for an answer regarding feasibility, not the standard "factory" and "cost-savings" answer. 

 

If I'm not making sense, I'm happy to clarify. 

post #1032 of 1710

^ I'm not a person with extensive knowledge - but cutting an insole rib was the original goodyear welt method (as DWF and perhaps others have mentioned)

from what I understand, teh fact that some makers "handwelt" by splitting the insole and stitching the uppers to an upturned rib by hand (instead of creating a holdfast) is either a matter of lack of knowledge or in some cases for historical reasons

post #1033 of 1710
^ Can you explain what a holdfast is?
post #1034 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbhan12 View Post

^ Can you explain what a holdfast is?


 

can't explain better than this post from the past (point #2 shows an insole with a holdfast)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
  Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In 1935, drawing from millenia of Tradition and carefully preserved and passed-down knowledge, as well as his twenty years experiences as an instructor at the Cordwainers’ Technical College, his six years as manager for Messrs. Peal & Co., Shepherd’s Bush, and his two years as Assistant Master, Cordwainers’ Technical College, H. Rollinson wrote regarding hand welt seam construction (Boots and Shoes F.Y. Golding vol VI):
^(emphasis mine)

These are the strengths of a hand welted shoe:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

1) The insole is deliberately chosen from a section of the hide that has been determind to be the best for holding a stitch and for absorbing moisture (wicking perspiration away from the foot) and for making a footbed--the impression that the foot will leave in the surface of a good quality insole after but a little use. Makers vary in their needs and judgements but these criteria are going to be pretty much universal among bespoke makers. The only variability might be the thickness needed for a particular style of shoe or boot. I personally, favour an insole that is nearly a quarter of an inch thick--9-10 iron--both for it ability to form a deep footbed, as well as to protect the foot from the displacement of leather by the stitching. Additionally a little thicker insole tends to cushion the foot itself against irregularities underfoot.




2) The channeling and creation of a holdfast in the insole leather. Again, makers have different needs and expectations but essentially the insole is cut or carved to create a ridge of leather (known as a holdfast)...often as much as 6 millimeters thick...to which the upper, upper lining, and the welt may be stitched by the use of horizontal stitches running parallel to the surface of the insole. This stitching...this connection...is known as the "inseam." The holdfast is structurally part and parcel of the insole. There is no disconnect, no weakness that is not already present in the insole itself. There is simply no better anchor for the inseam--the stitches that hold the shoe itself together.



  Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

3) The threads for the stitches that comprise the inseam are traditionally made of linen or hemp yarn. Hemp being the fiber used in making rope--rope that was used in 19th century tall (sailing) ships. Hemp is notorious for being rot resistant. Traditionally, four to 12 strands (depending on the application) of hemp or linen yarn was twisted together to make the thread. [Parenthetically, with the loss of skilled makers, the loss of the knowledge and the falling off of demand, good quality, long staple (longer than three inches--flax and hemp can produce fibers as long as 36") hemp or linen is not readily available anymore. As a result some makers have had to resort to synthetic threads such as dacron, which, while not a perfect equivalent, can substitute with only minor drawbacks. And which, with the closing of the great Irish linen mills, may just have to do.]


4) The inseaming thread is then coated...even impregnated...with a "hand wax" that is comprised of pine pitch and pine rosin along with a softener such as oil or beeswax. Pine Pitch is antibacterial and further enhances the rot resistance of the thread. The wax seals the thread and the holes made in the leather. While the leather of a shoe may not be waterproof, the inseam is. The resulting thread is extremely strong and the stitches very tight--the stitches will not slip and in fact the thread often bonds to the leather so strongly that despite that strength the stitches may be almost impossible to remove short of cutting them..



5) The stitch that is used when inseaming, has been known time-out-of-mind as a "shoemaker's (cordwainer's) stitch." The best way to describe it is that the thread is run through the holes in opposite directions...every hole. Thus each stitch is made up of an independent thread and each thread describes a serpentine path as it makes its way the length of the inseam and through the leather. This is an extremely strong stitch...even if damaged or cut, the combination of the hand wax and the shoemaker's stitch limits the damage and prevents the seam itself from being weakened to the point of failure.

6) When a shoe is handwelted, the shoemaker controls nearly every aspect of the inseam, from how tight the stitches are pulled to the frequency. Where an inseaming machine has a limited and set stroke, the bespoke maker has an infinitely variable stroke. Stitches can, and often are wider apart in some sections of the shoe and while going around difficult curves such as the toe area, stitches can be adjusted for angle and frequency so as to incorporate as much of the strength of the holdfast as possible into each stitch. In fact, Thornton suggests that inseam stitches should always be run, as far as possible, parallel to the treadline in the forepart, necessitating angles that machines cannot duplicate.


 
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
 
7) When done properly, no filler is required which might tend to impede the breathing ability of the shoe or induce creaking. I often do use a very thin layer of 100% wool felt along with paste to avoid any possibility of creaking but the insole itself is the medium for the footbed and for comfort.

DSCF1563.JPG
  Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
8) Handwelting opens the possibility of stitching the heel seat to the insole...thus eliminating the typical and commonly found, iron nails. It even allows for the shank iron to be secured in place and prevented from shifting.


DSCF1567.JPG
 
--
post #1035 of 1710
So it's basically the ridge that's been cut or shaved off, so to speak?
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