Are "handmade" shoes handmade?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Nerkg, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    That's the front of the boot and the tongue in particular. Look at the top of the black portion--the tongue--there is a cloverleaf there that is also part of the tongue. And of course, it's all sewn by hand, probably with silk thread using a small, fine hair for a "needle." I would wager that it is sewn at 30 spi at the minimum.

    Why is it famous? Because one of the Elder Shoe Gods--Devlin or Rees or maybe even Leno--mentions it in the early literature. I don't know if this particular boot and this particular cloverleaf tongue is the one mentioned but it was exemplary of fine work, as I understand it.
     


  2. Xenon

    Xenon Senior member

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    I was also under the impression that uppers made with certain skins such as stingray could only be hand sewn since you have to manually guide the thread/needle in between the pearls. Using a sewing machine on stingray would seem to provide messy results. Could be mistaken though
     


  3. bluesman528

    bluesman528 Senior member

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    Probably you are referring to Gabriele Gmeiner in Venice.
     


  4. jimmyshoe

    jimmyshoe Active Member

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    Hey to you too DW, good to hear from you.

    June Swann is indeed an amazing woman and I have had the pleasure of meeting her at the Independent Shoemakers Conference here in England, where she shared her expansive knowledge of shoes and critiqued our favourite shoes.
    And the Museum in Northampton is a little gem. The town itself is very industrial but has a certain Victorian charm and the factories are a plus for all of us shoe nerds.

    The reason Edward Green is so good is that their CEO, Hilary Freeman, spares no expense in improving the quality of the shoes. The skill levels are very high in the factory, the materials are good, and the shoes are of a very high quality.

    Other shoes I rate for quality are G&G and John Lobb. You get what you pay for.

    As for handsewn, the craftsmanship is excellent and you really make a choice based on the house style of each brand.
     


  5. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    There is also Saskia Wittmer in Florence, but seeing that big post sewing machine in the background of the video, I doubt her uppers are hand-stitched.



    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]


    Quite frequently shoe uppers have certain decorative seams stitched by hand (usually on top of the vamp).
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012


  6. sully

    sully Senior member

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    I did mention its use in handwelting only, and only to illustrate that with the best will in the world a modern shoemaker would be hard pushed to reproduce work as fine as the 'old school' and that things have changed in even the more traditional pursuits.I believe most of the shoemakers in UK and Europe still use natural fibre but they may have to change in the future
     


  7. Pliny

    Pliny Senior member

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    yeah the lake edge appears to be stitched by hand. It's a little irregular, but in a good way.

    Thanks for this vid. It's so interesting to hear about makers hidden away doing their thing.
     


  8. Galix

    Galix Senior member

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    I love your posts. I always learn something new.
     


  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Again, I could be wrong...I'm not in Europe...but I doubt any maker is using natural fiber for upper work--ie. sewing quarters to vamps, toe caps to vamps, or sewing in the lining .

    As for inseaming, I have spools and spools of vintage Barbour and Campbell linen yarns--that's the way I was trained. Some years ago I bought a kilo of 9 inch, prime grade, India Blond boars bristles. I probably have enough linen yarn and boars bristles to last me the rest of my life. I have inseamed with linen most of my career, experimented with what was purported to be real hemp (yarn) and worked out a method for using dacron that many contemporary bootmakers in the US are now using. Which, when made up, is, to the untutored eye, virtually indistinguishable from a linen waxed end. And used in precisely the same fashion.

    As far back as the '50's I think, mono-filament bristles were introduced and sold commercially in the UK, to replace the almost-as-hard-to-find-as-long-staple-linen boars bristles. Eventually that practice migrated across the pond establishing itself among those who understand and value the ways in which a quasi-boars bristle is superior to a wire bristle (needle) for inseaming.

    I make my own handwax from pine pitch and rosin and have roughly 20 pounds of each stashed under my main workbench. Again, it is unlikely that I will run out. But my main source for the pitch--Rausch Naval Yards in Louisiana--closed shop about five years ago. I know of no reliable source for anything that comes close.

    Each one of the above components--the bristles, the yarn, the materials for the handwax--have to be in place and put together with very specific...even arcane...techniques to be effective.

    I would be surprised...although I would, and am doing everything in my power to arrest the process...if even more of the knowledge and materials and Traditions are not lost in the future.

    This is the world we live in. But a lot of it has to do with what customers expect...or will settle for.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012


  10. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    actually, she's not hidden away.
     


  11. Son Of Saphir

    Son Of Saphir Senior member

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    me find it very hard to find proper bristle and thread.
    me force to try with fish gut line for bristle and use thread shoemaker use for blake stitch machine. :violin:
     


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    As I said...

    Monofilament fishing line is very commonly used instead of boars bristles. It's either that or a wire bristle. Cheap monofilament can even be split to emulate the split ends of a natural bristle. A boars bristle...and to tell the truth a mono bristle even moreso...can turn a corner much more easily than a wire bristle. But it must be finessed, it cannot be forced.

    The thread you're using from the Blake stitcher is undoubtedly a commercially twisted thread such as Barbour's Red Hand. Same as is used in a curved needle outsole stitcher...sometimes--when dacron is not substituted. It is the worst of the worst as far as being short stapled. Unravel a bit and you will see--the staple is less than 2 inches long.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012


  13. Son Of Saphir

    Son Of Saphir Senior member

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    it make sense.

    Wish it were different.
    Might need full shoe rebuild at later date when inseam wear out.

    Hand inseam shoe by many maker might need full rebuild in future because of weak thread.
    lt make me very sad. :(
     


  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's still stronger than glue.
     


  15. intfxdx

    intfxdx Senior member

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