1. Welcome to the new Styleforum!

    We hope you’re as excited as we are to hang out in the new place. There are more new features that we’ll announce in the near future, but for now we hope you’ll enjoy the new site.

    We are currently fine-tuning the forum for your browsing pleasure, so bear with any lingering dust as we work to make Styleforum even more awesome than it was.

    Oh, and don’t forget to head over to the Styleforum Journal, because we’re giving away two pairs of Carmina shoes to celebrate our move!

    Please address any questions about using the new forum to support@styleforum.net

    Cheers,

    The Styleforum Team

    Dismiss Notice

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

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,360
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    SG
    Actually yes @DWFII
    That was exactly the photo I was referring to. And I'd thought that it was indeed pre-holed on both edges.
    But thanks for your input @shoefan, that was still very informative.
     
  2. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    853
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2003
    Yes, I now see that your surmise appears correct. I must say that pre-holing the round seam is surprising to me. However, I would note that the toe seam features two straight, equal length pieces of leather, which will make the pre-holing less difficult than a curved seam would be. I do agree with DW that is would not be consistent with tradition.

    When I've cut a split toe, to be round-closed, I cut the pieces with a curve (akin to how the 'forme' comes off the last); it makes sewing the seam a bit more difficult but makes lasting in the toe easier, as it reduces the excess leather than one needs to last around the toe. Trying to pre-hole a curved, round-closed seam would be very difficult.

    Also, those awl holes on the vamp look pretty large, which may make the sewing easier when doing the apron seam, but will reduce its strength. I would imagine the closer likely still uses the awl a second time when doing the actual sewing, because finding the hole in the edge of the leather with the bristle (or a needle) is pretty challenging if you don't have something to follow into the hole.

    The one benefit I can see to the pre-holing is it will help insure the apron ends up being correctly aligned with the vamp pieces. If you are making the holes (even in just the vamp pieces and not the apron) as you go, it is easy to get the apron a bit out of alignment, which then makes the toe a bit mis-shaped and the upper sit a bit askew on the last (believe me, I have experience with this, unfortunately).
     
  3. j ingevaldsson

    j ingevaldsson Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,195
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    (for some reason most of my reply didn't show before, tried editing it to see if it works now) ^^^Regarding the above discussion, Edward Green does in fact pre-punch their round-stitched toe seam. Here's some pics I've taken of Andy Peach of Edward Green doing the stitching: [​IMG] [​IMG] And here's a film:
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  4. vmss

    vmss Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    672
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2015
    Location:
    Curacao, Dutch Caribbean
    
    Interesting. Do you have also a video of round stitching the tongue?
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  5. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,360
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    SG
    Thanks @shoefan.
    Much appreciated indeed.
     
  6. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    853
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2003
    
    Guess my memory has failed me!
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. j ingevaldsson

    j ingevaldsson Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,195
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    No video unfortunately, but a few pics. It doesn't show perfectly here, but as I remember it the vamp/tounge part is pre-punched, while the sides are not:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,115
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2014
    Location:
    España
    Hi DW, I have read most of your post about shoemaking Tradition, but the concept of the term is not still clear to me. Is the use of nails part of the Tradition?. What about the use of metal shanks?. Would you say that HW without a carved holdfast is part of the shoemaking Tradition?. What about the use of rubber outsoles commonly used by most shoemakers recently?. Is the shoemaking Tradition evolving nowadays and accepting innovations as part of the Traditions?. Who or what institution/s preserves and updates the content of Tradition?. Are they generally accepted by most cordwainers? Is the Guild of Craft in the shoemaking static?. Are there different shoemaking Traditions depending of shoemaking schools (english/american/austro-hungarian and the like). Why are you the only shoemaker in SF who does great effort to explain and preserve the content of that term?. I do not think cordwainers today pay much attention to the term Tradition but it seems very relevant to a small minority.

    I would like you to clarify me what is all about for a better understanding. TIA.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,215
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    What a strange question. With all due respect...and I hope I'm wrong...it's almost as if you weren't really asking about shoemaking Traditions so much as challenging the idea that there is any authority above and beyond the self and the arbitrary.

    If you want a definitive definition of "tradition" I can think of no better one than can be found in the Oxford English dictionary which stipulates that a tradition must be passed down from generation to generation. It cannot be something that we suddenly decide is a tradition because we've done it for two years in a row. Or ten years, or even faithfully for 100 years. And "passing it down"...which implies a certain level of respect, a recognition of our own place in the scheme of things, and perhaps most importantly a certain level of humility...is a critical part of Tradition. Any real Tradition.

    If you want a more specific definition of Shoemaking Tradition you need to first be able and willing to bend the knee, to sit at someone else's feet, to listen, learn and openly acknowledge your own ignorance. Openly acknowledge and respect the effort and the achievements of those who have gone before and who, by every objective measure, have reached skill levels that you yourself can only marvel at. And hope to emulate, if only roughly.

    At that point, you might be able to read the literature and look at the history and the artifacts of past shoemakers and honour and appreciate "what a piece of work is man...."

    Therein lie the Traditions.

    And yes, you are right, only a small minority of people today...in this age of continuous selfies and unbridled self absorption...consider anything outside of themselves worth allegiance, or respect or, as you say, relevant.

    Why am I the "only shoemaker" who goes to "'great effort to explain?" I don't think I am. But if so, perhaps it is simply because I am foolish enough to think it is worthwhile in and of itself. Or maybe it's because I cannot allow myself to give up on my fellow man. Or more likely, it is because somewhere along the line of my life I ran across someone who was wise enough and generous enough to pass that lesson of respect...even reverence...on to me. Maybe I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.

    Maybe it's just the luck of the draw.

    Karma, neh?

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,215
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    And FWIW...there is a big difference between "changing" and "evolving." No one would deny the changing part. I, myself, deviate (occasionally and, hopefully, only as necessary) from Traditional shoemaking techniques and have even "invented" techniques that are outside Traditional paradigms.

    But unless techniques and processes can equal or even surpass the objective quality and finesse of that which has gone before, it cannot, by any stretch of the equivocating imagination, be called "evolution."
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  11. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,360
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    SG
    I've got a question today about toes.
    I'va attached 2 pictures..... perhaps not the best comparison, but one is a bespoke pair (top) and the other is RTW (bottom).
    For the bespoke pair, right at the tip of the toe area, where the chisel ends, the uppers seem to come very very close to the surface of the welt, almost touching, creating a very elegant sihouette where the outlines of the uppers and welt / outsole seem to merge very smoothly.
    The RTW pair however, at the tip of the toe area, has the uppers lifted off the welt and there is a noticeable "break" in the continuity of the lines / curves.
    I am assuming it is incredibly difficult to achieve something like what is shown in the bespoke pair.
    How does the maker go about achieving this kind of an "effect"?
    Must the toe puffs be very finely skived?
    And what are the challenges faced?
    Thanks in advance.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,215
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Thundermarch,

    Good eye! :fonz:

    I don't think it is all that "incredibly difficult"...a lot of it is the shape of the last. Some small part of it is the shape of the insole and another part is the way the shoe is inseamed.

    Goodyear welted shoes will almost always look like your second photo.

    Handwelted shoes can be done like your first photo, although not every maker takes the time and the care ...or even admires that look enough to make it so.

    IMO, the profile in the first photo is damn near perfect. A good job all the way around and the ideal for a good many of us.
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,360
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    SG
    Thanks as always, DW.
    During the inseaming process, what specifically does the maker need to take note of, to ensure such a profile can be developed?
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,215
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    With regard to HW, it's not in the inseaming per se but more in the prep work--the way the last is shaped, the way the insole is cut (feathered), and the type of material and shaping of the toe puff.

    As mentioned, I think GY will always exhibit a less elegant profile. And that is inherent in the inseaming...such as it is.

    That said...and with the disclaimer that I am not entirely satisfied with my own efforts in this regard...I don't believe it is possible to totally eliminate that "tuck-under" gap between the shoe and the welt.

    It is possible to minimize it significantly, however. As your own photos illustrate.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  15. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,115
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2014
    Location:
    España
    I am sure you know my intention with my respectful question was no other than to reach a better understanding of the meaning Shoemaking Tradition for you cordwainers (at least the ones who cares for). I understood part of the meaning before ( tradition must be passed down from generation to generation....willing to bend the knee, to sit at someone else's feet, to listen, learn and openly acknowledge your own ignorance...) but I thought that there could be a regulatory body (approved by appointed experts in the Trade ) which could compile all best practices from different makers in the past such as Thornton, Garsault, etc. A kind of text glossary of hand made shoes that could serve you as a Guide. It seems you must do your own journey working with dedicated compagnions to really understand the meaning and to have the willingnes to go beyond by yourself.

    I stand corrected.

    My final reflection tells me that to really understand those meanings you must have first walked a long journey at the bench. That is why of my ignorance here.

    Thanks for your explanation.
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,215
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    No worries. But it's worth remembering that such regulatory bodies did exist once upon a time. They were called guilds and a lot of what they endorsed became the foundational principles for the Traditions. More broadly, set the stage for defining the Traditions. Of course, once mass manufacturing began to get a foothold in the Trade, the influence of the guilds was lost. If only because people...esp. newbies...don't want to be told what is right or wrong, much less why.

    In that sense corporations really are like individuals--always self-promoting and never acknowledging any authority...or higher power or greater insight or more important interest...than their own.

    Beyond all that, everyone wants to be an Artist (with a capital "A")...and immediately, no effort required. Everyone wants to claim "mastery" and be seen as a master. No one wants to be a simple Craftsman, or a Tradesman. No one wants to be seen as a student, nevermind a novice. In such an environment, no one can lower themselves to admit or acknowledge an "expert" much less a body of experts that doesn't include themselves.

    The books and the history and the work and the Traditions...the words of the "old, dead, guys" IOW....are the only "appointed experts" we will ever have going forward, I'm afraid.

    Well, between you and me...one of the reasons you don't see many shoemakers who use such expressions or take the time to explain in detail is that they are young and haven't had the time in harness to think about these things in depth or at their leisure, much less the perspective to really and truly look back over a long career and appreciate and respect the complexity and value of what they have done or are trying to do. As well as the generosity and value (skills, insights, work) of those who passed it on to them.

    And perhaps more to the point, they don't have the desire or the communication skills that I have. I have always been a writer. Always been a talker and a "discusser."

    Always been a teacher. Always been willing to share.

    And I have always believed that if a person cannot articulate what they believe or why they do something, they haven't done it enough and / or haven't thought it through, and as a result, are not...cannot be...certain of their conclusions or beliefs. Language is just an echo of what's inside. Hence my focus on speaking and writing well, or at least clearly...mostly. I've thought about these issues for close onto 50 years and I've explored the pros and cons from every angle, simply because shoemaking is my passion, is who I am.

    A lot of people, when faced with such uncertainty in themselves, think that "fake it til you make it" is the best course. They pretend to know rather than simply admit that they don't.

    Again no worries.

    :cheers:

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
    4 people like this.
  17. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,115
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2014
    Location:
    España
  18. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,360
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    SG
    Must say that I couldn't agree more.
    I think you do have a way of articulating concepts and processes, and teaching, that really brings life and interest to the topic of shoemaking.
    You could probably go to a school and teach it to a bunch of kids and make them enjoy it.

    Thanks for the insight.
    I guess in looking at it as a whole, it's always been more a "sum of all parts", that gives rise to a good end product.
    Sometimes when looking at a pair of well made shoes, I find that a lot of the aesthetics are very "unconscious". You look at it, and you get blown away, but you can't quite figure of what are the exact detail/details made it so awesome.
    Such is the beauty of and artistry of it. Subtle and refined.
     
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,215
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
  20. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,360
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    SG
    @DWFII
    I know you dislike making direct comments about a named maker, and I'm sorry to put you in a spot, but recently I've been giving this some thought.
    I am going to reference this video here.


    I know that when the technique of pegging is used in lieu of a conventional hand welt, for maybe say, a pair of cowboy boots... the proper way would be to first whip stitch the uppers to the insole, and then at the end, drive the pegs deep enough so they go through the outsole, then the uppers, and finally the insole, to produce a secure bond between all these components. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at these areas, there is NO welt and inseam.
    However, in the video, what I CAN see, is that the inseaming and welt goes all the way to the breast of the heel, and encompasses the waist.
    But following that... the outsole is then attached and it seems that the entire waist area is skived down very tight to the uppers. The machine stitching of the outsole is then done, ending before the waist, and then pegging commences.
    Again, correct me if I'm wrong. But it seems that here, pegging is done in lieu of outsole STITCHING while the hand welt is maintained. Do you think this is a somewhat unconventional approach?
    Secondly, I can't tell, but I'm not sure if the holdfast was cut in such a way that it was more set more medially at the waist, like the way you would prepare a holdfast for a blind welt. If it wasn't, wouldn't there be almost NO welt left behind, for the peg to be able to grip both the welt and outsole, and then in effect, rendering the pegs' function as merely ornamental, and the only bond between uppers / insole and the outsole, being the glue that was used?
    This in turn, begs the next question, if indeed the holdfast was prepared correctly, why then use pegging for the outsole "attachment method" instead of stitching?
    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
    1 person likes this.

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by