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shoe construction...behind the veil

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    If it's economic you're worried about and none of the other aspects I have mentioned above (or my many posts on this and similar issues), then a full rubber sole is more economical...and more practical...than a sole protector. I am not one who particularly objects to the aesthetics of a sole protector, although a leather outsole is part and parcel of what defines a better quality shoe. I just think sole protectors are an answer to a question that never needed to be asked. It's a little Rube Goldberg ...and contrary to what most people say they want in a top end shoe. .

    The inseam trimming issue...I have never had any problem with replacing welt on any of my shoes or boots. If a repairman should, I would question his skills.

    Weakness? Is there weakness in a seam on the upper of a shoe when it is sewn 1mm or less close to the edge?

    Truth to tell, if my insole is 4 mm thick and my feather 2 mm deep the inseam is at the very least 2mm below the closest trimming of the upper. It looks close, IOW, but that's my skill, or at least the focus of what skill I bring to bear and strive for--refinement. But it's not so close as it appears and a lot is subsumed in compressing the leather surrounding the inseam.

    Leather is not like cloth...something that people who don't understand the characteristics of canvas vs. leather for a holdfast, often dismiss...it has a structural integrity that is nearly unique.

    How can a skin stitch be done in leather that is, itself, only 2mm thick? And more importantly how can such a stitch be Traditionally considered the strongest type of stitch known to man? Much less withstand the rigours of lasting, etc.?

    The only reason a customer would, or should, worry about the close trimmed inseam is if he was in the habit of wearing his outsoles down to the point where the insole itself was being abraded.

    For that matter how much excess would be enough? Another mm? Two? How about 12? What is adequate and what is superfluous and awkward? Would the same philosophy of leaving plenty of excess apply to bespoke suits? Shirts? Watches? ?

    Coming back around to the issue of sole protectors and economics, I have often said (in a similar vein) that the only rational defense of GY is cost, all the arguments that are made in favour of it, ultimately boil down to cost, never structural or objective considerations.

    And all that would be fine on the Walmart blog but aren't we talking about something diametrically different...fine quality things, perhaps...here on SF?

    Where does this obdurate (?) reluctance to accept refinement and objective quality come from?

    Even if potential problems are just that--potential, they are still considerations that affect objective quality and matters of deep importance for those...such as shoemakers, and customers who care ...who make it their concern to understand and strive for.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  2. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Distinguished Member

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    Great videos, thanks! So on my C&Js only the leather flap covering the stitching is really in danger of opening up as it's not a layer covering the entire sole. Good info! What exactly is happening right at the 8:00 mark of the St. Crispin's video? Here's a still: [​IMG]
     


  3. chogall

    chogall Distinguished Member

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    Saint Crispins uses machine to sew its outsole. This hand cranked machine sews up right instead of up-side-down like those mechanized machines used at mass manufacturers.

    And according to some bloggers, they hand sewn outsole for resole.
     


  4. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Distinguished Member

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    Ah, a hand cranked sewing machine. Got it. So the welt is sewn on by hand (5:40ish in the video) and then the sole is sewn on with that machine. I guess I was just surprised it wasn't by hand as shown in this pic:

    [​IMG]
     


  5. Zapasman

    Zapasman Distinguished Member

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    That pic is from Vass and their outsoles are hand stiched (not SC)
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    And it looks to me as if the channels is not quite perfectly vertical--it's an angled channel, IOW.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  7. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Distinguished Member

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    Yes, that's a scan from the Vass book. I was just expecting StC would use a similar method, that's all. I wasn't sure exactly what was happening when I saw the machine in their video.
     


  8. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior Member

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    I am sure you are right about this.
     


  9. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior Member

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    How much, if any, more leather one might want? Having never even seen a pair shoes made, I have no idea. That's why I ask the master. Given DW's obsession with detail and longevity, I assume the amount he leaves is enough. It just seemed thin to me.


    I am certainly not reluctant to accept objective quality, but I do see tradeoffs. It is possible to invest an enormous amount of effort, trouble and expense in making even less likely something that is already extremely unlikely. At some point, and that point varies for different customers, among bespoke makers (I assume) and definitely for RTW makers, the cost in this sense exceeds the benefit. For me, I like to keep any of my things going as long as I can, because I hate discarding something useful. But when the cost of repair so greatly exceeds replacement, or the cost of maintenance outweighs the value preserved, I accept that physical objects have limited lifetimes.

    Refinement, on the other hand, is very much in the eye of the beholder. I think it may be difficult to get wide agreement on what is or is not refined. Even if one could get agreement on this, it matters a lot to some people and little at all to others. I am far on the low end of prioritizing refinement, not just by SF standards, but in the broader world. I don't think anyone who knew me would describe my dress or my tastes in clothing as "refined". I tend toward entertainment that some might call refined, but most would call it "boring" or "stuffy".

    In any case, I am not opposed to refinement in clothing. It may not matter to me, but the enthusiasm of SF members makes it clear it is very important to some people. It is what keeps top tailors, designers and bespoke shoe makers in business. But I am not a customer of such people because, for me, it is nowhere close to worth it. Even if the cost were the same, I could never buy a bespoke suit. I could not imagine putting up with having to select cloth, texture, color, details... Then all the fitting! Long before we got through the first visit, I would have lost interest and left. But I could have a great time in back watching the tailors making the suits, then wander off in my unaltered off the rack monstrosity.

    I am fascinated by "how things work" even if I will never own one of those things. Hence, my interest in the details of handwelted shoes although I will never own a pair.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, I'm not quibbling--it's a a good question...and one I'm happy to answer.

    That said, everything has to be put into perspective. If you've never seen a shoe being made, if you've never done the work yourself...how can it seem "thin?" By what standard is it thin? It's certainly a thin margin for cloth, but again, think of the example of skin stitching--it's not cloth, it's leather.

    As far as refinement goes, we can all have variations of a definition but at some point any definition has to include the notions of what is adequate and what is superfluous. And just as, if not moreso, what is affected. If I leave excess in the inseam it means I have more space I have to fill with material that is not "shoe." And which may affect the performance of the shoe to some detriment. That's one of the reasons I dislike cork--if you have a foundation under the foot that embodies the shape of the last and the shape of the foot, and it ends up being fugitive (meaning it moves out from under the foot), it seems to me that something critical is lost of original intent.

    IMO.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  11. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior Member

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    Rephrasing my question.

    It surprises me that leather is strong enough to hold with such a small amount beyond the stitch. Does the amount you need vary depending on the strength of the upper and lining? Whether these are cowboy boots made for years of hard use or dress shoes for a SF type who will baby them throughout their lives? Do you leave extra if the leather appeared more fragile than you had hoped when lasting and trim it close when it seems quite strong? Or is that 2mm pretty typical, with enough margin that these considerations do not change the amount you need?

    Since this gives the cobbler a pretty small target if they need to replace welt, would it be safer to send the soles back to the maker when they need resoling? Or at least to limit cobbler resole jobs to shoes that do not need welt replaced?

    I think you have referred to replacing part of the welt. How would that look? I would have thought that someone who cared about the details you describe could not sleep at night with the welt in more than one piece. What would happen to that string of pearls?

    If replacing the entire welt would look better than replacing pieces, then is this something one might expect most cobblers to do well, using the exWisting holes, sewing by hand, or something one would leave to a trusted and experienced repair person only?
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Why does it surprise you? Why do you think shoes have been, and continue to be, made of leather? Have you worked with leather? Have you ever heard of "64 to the inch"? How can leather on tops and outsoles be strong enough to support 64 stitches to the inch?

    No, I don't leave more. Nor did I say it was only 2mm margin. I said "at least." And that's assuming a 4mm insole. I generally like insole shoulder to be closer to 5mm.

    The stitch is deceptive. It doesn't travel in the direction you think it does.

    And, again, when I get done stitching and trimming, the whole inseam may be as much as 2mm prouder than it is when I get done hammering and burnishing the seam.

    "You can't always get what you want....but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need." It gives the cobbler what he needs...if indeed, he needs it.

    But, done correctly it takes some fair amount of abuse for welt on a handwelted shoe to need replacing...even in small sections. Unfortunately that abuse can often come from said cobbler.

    It is always safer to send the boots or shoes back to the maker
    There is no reason that replacing a small section (or any section) would disrupt that string of pearls. Done correctly a splice in the welt cannot be seen nor will it affect subsequent operations. Commercial welt (such as used by manufacturers and cobblers) comes in a long roll...much longer than the cow is long--it is spliced, IOW. I cut my own welting from horse and it is no longer than four feet long, usually less.That said, I regularly splice sections of welt while doing the initial inseaming...if the welt is thin or gets damaged or simply if I feel like it.

    "The string of pearls" effect relates to the spacing of the stitches, the way the stitches are made, the alignment of the stitches, and the pricking up of the welt. Nothing to do with splices or replacing the welt.

    Again, why and why? Why would a whole new welt look better than a welt with splices?

    And why would anyone need or want to replace any welt unless it had been worn or trimmed more than prudence would dictate? Given the postulated "trusted and experienced repair person" it shouldn't be an issue but even if welt needs to be replaced, it's not going to be any harder or problematic than replacing welt from any other maker. True...it's probably better not done by a one-eyed drunk with delirium tremens but anyone competent enough to pick up an awl and needle without bleeding from just that simple act, should be able to handle it.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  13. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior Member

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    I am always amazed by how much goes into this.

    I had just assumed that the welt was always a single piece. Never looked closely enough to check, but I usually see one seem on the medial side of my decidedly not bespoke shoes, so I figured that was all there was.

    I get it that a multipart welt would not by itself prevent the string of pearls appearance. I was suggesting that people who look at the shoes closely enough to appreciate that artistry of the stitching would be put off by seeing a welt in more than one piece. And I was assuming they would see it.

    I have to do a lot of assuming about what other people can see because many of the complaints people post here about things I cannot see at all. Earlier in this thread, I think, there were photos of poorly done hole punching and stitching. To the people complaining the problems were obvious. I stared at them for a while, then gave up on even seeing the problem. As long as I cannot tell this sort of bad work from done right, I will be blissfully unconcerned about how well my holes were punched.

    What is this about hammering and burnishing the seam?
     


  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    If the splice is done correctly, it is near-as-nevermind invisible. I mean that literally...when I'm done even I can't always tell where the splice is.

    Well, I mentioned it before too, as I recall. Every shoemaker does it to some extent. When the inseaming and trimming is done the whole seam is wet and hammered to compress and level the leather. Burnishing with the hammer handle is just another step. I also use the pane of a 00 Hammond, with a polished face and pane, over the holdfast to compress and set / lock the stitches in the leather.

    I might also add...since you asked about different weights of leather...that the heavier the upper leather (and lining) the more proud the inseam is going to be and the deeper the forepart cavity...what there is of it--still none too great.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015


  15. laufer

    laufer Distinguished Member

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    Hey @DWFII I think this might put a smile on your face. For your profession is indeed very old one. Here is example from early shoemaker's last from ninth or tenth century. This is from book The Early Slavs by Paul Barford. The picture depicts some wooden artifacts from Slavic culture found in southern Poland. The # 17 is a last, pretty crude last nevertheless.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     


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