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

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

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Just thought another photo would be tasty...

    This is a partial array of awls used in a bespoke shoemaking operation. top to bottom:

    Sewing awl of the kind used in "split and lift" or "skin stitching." The blade is probably an inch and a quarter
    long. The handle is ironwood or mesquite (turned by yours truly...as are all the others except the boxwood handle)

    Inseaming awl( notice the deep curve in the blade) handle persimmon (American ebony)

    Sewing awl, also used in inseaming (flatter blade) handle rosewood of some kind.

    German or "sickle" awl boxwood handle turned at CWF

    Square awl, for outsole stitching, blade in the vertical plane. Handle tulipwood

    Square awl, flatter curve, handle ironwood.

    (Click to enlarge)

    [​IMG]

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016


  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    By the way the handles on 2, 3, 4 are replicas of an 18th c. handle found in the midden heap at Jamestown or Williamsburg, IIRC.

    And 5 and 6 are replicas of a sweet little antique handle I got at a tool swap. I don't know the age but judging from the seamed ferrule on the antique I'd guess early 19th c. anyway.
     


  3. Trqmaster

    Trqmaster Senior member

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    When making a seamless wholecut, how do you go about making the pattern and sewing it to the liner?
    Do you stretch the outer over the last, make your cuts, and remove it to line up with the liner, then cut the liner and sew it around the ankle and down the facing? Or do you last the liner and upper at the same time and then cut both before removing to sew together?
     


  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    The upper is blocked on the last, pretty much as you describe.

    When the the shell has been cut and removed from the last, you have to finish the edge of the facings and topline. (Or not...but personally, I think an unfinished topline...or edge anywhere...looks terrible.) And generally I add topline tape at this point...sometimes I can fold it into the topline 'bead." I like to add a facing backer too about now, as well.

    I block the liner (for all oxfords) on a board and add a liner counter / heel piece. The liner is still pretty much a blocker at that point. I then fit it inside the shell of the shoe and sew the topline and facings. After which, the excess liner is trimmed.

    At that point it's just a matter of mounting the tongue, sewing the "frog" and lacing or stitching the facings together.

    Ready for lasting.

    Others may have a different sequence or procedure.
     


  5. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    High, I just received these pics from a cobbler friend of mine. I wanted to have some of your expert inputs about materials and HW inseaming technique used here (no holdfast/feather) . Thanks.
     


  6. globobock

    globobock Senior member

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    The downside to the 19th century is, that not everybody could afford shoes...

    I do think that in These days, there will always be a market for high-Quality products. It might be a niche market, so the pricing will be accordingly.
     


  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    In my opinion (both professional and personal), the insole is too thin for handwelting and I suspect it is not shoulder or even belly. Both of these factors contribute to the inseam ripping through the leather and failing...as can be seen in the first photo. The technique is often referred to as "stitching aloft." While it has no feather, the substance of the insole acts as a holdfast.
     


  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    That's true but the same can be said today and the world has far more options available as regards inexpensive shoes than we had even 100 years ago.

    The real distinction that must be made...and attached to your observation...is that not everybody could afford new shoes. Or shoes that you might recognize as shoes. Or shoes that had any hope of fitting their own feet.

    For centuries, shoes were not much more than a shaped leather bags. For centuries, itinerant cobblers bought...or simply collected...used shoes and patched the holes and sold them to people too poor to pay the medieval equivalent of a weeks worth(+) of wages for even a cheaply produced shoe.

    Then too, many people wore sandals. The Roman Empire moved on sandals, and all of western Europe, including the British Isles as far north as Scotland was conquered and occupied in sandals. Many of those sandals...like the moccasins worn by Am. Indians...were made by the people who wanted them...not by makers.

    It is worth remembering as well, that lots of people, even today, have never worn a pair of shoes...and neither did our ancestors, time out of mind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016


  9. globobock

    globobock Senior member

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    Originating from warm, tropical south east asia, I know exactly what you mean - as wearing sandals is sometimes even a proper night attire (FWIW, at official ceremonies in the Sultans Palace in my hometown, the Sultan is the only one wearing sandals... all other attendees are barefeet).

    But since currently I'm living in good ol' socialist Germany which has its fair times of winter, I learn to appreciate tight, dry, warm shoes for the wet and cold times.

    Even old man Ötzi (you know, that 6,000-year old dude found dead in the alps) was wearing proper shoes (http://www.iceman.it/en/node/274) - not Haferl, but fritzl would love this. So I'm pretty sure the Roman and bravehearts soldiers didn#t just wear sandals during the winter unless they love their frostbite.

    My point is, and that is the Little socialist in me, saying that only the highest Quality of shoes have their right of existence so that those who couldN't afford it should Refrain to rags is... inhuman. Harshly speaking.

    In an ideal world, of course, there is everything for everybody to choose... with only their ideals driving their choice, not the state of their wallet. Than we could say that the low Quality stuff should be banished.
     


  10. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    Thanks DW, I forgot the name of the technique. As you mentioned that insole seems really thin to be used by a cordwainer and I am not sure if the insole is 100% leather or the tanage gives it that especial laquered aspect but both outsole and insole are really stiff. On the other hand, it seems to me that the filler is a paste made of wood and resin instead of cork. I believe this is an example of chinese HW shoes. Cheers.
     


  11. Testudo_Aubreii

    Testudo_Aubreii Senior member

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    But nobody is saying this. Certainly not DWF. He's publicly said that it's a good thing that Goodyear or cement construction is an option for many who can't afford high quality shoes. The question is whether shoe-hounds should buy 20 pairs of Gaziano & Girling readymade Goodyear welted shoes, or should instead buy some hand-welted shoes, and some bespoke shoes, so as to keep the craft and the quest for true excellence in bootmaking alive. What we're against is the hegemony of Goodyear-welted shoes among fine men's shoes. We're not against their existence or wide availability.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I am somewhat sympathetic to this POV, but it seems to me there's at least two points missing from the equations:

    The first is...how many labourers / skilled workers are laid off every time a machine is put into production? (Not just in the shoemaking industry) My guess it is probably on the order of half a dozen in one generation although such effects take place across many generations.

    How many laid off workers can afford any shoes?

    Cheaper means of production invariably means not only cheaper shoes, quality-wise, but more poverty for those who, but for the machines that make cheaper means of production possible, might otherwise have been employed.

    The second is that in a pure capitalist system...and even in one not so pure such as the US or other Western economies...if a person really wants a pair of high end shoes they can afford it. It is only a matter of priorities--how much do you want it? Are you willing to save for it? Are you willing to work harder for it?

    In my experience (personal opinion alert!), the problem with socialism and more to the point contemporary society is that no one wants to work for anything--they want it all handed to them. Now!

    Because fundamentally we've all come to believe that we are "entitled." (even to opinions we haven't worked for...present company excluded)

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016


  13. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Nice extrapolation from a single data point. Now we can safely extrapolate American shoes from Allen Edmonds or Spanish shoes from Meermin.

    FIrst world problems. People pay for what they want, be it $10 twisted cables instead of $500 nicely packaged cables for audiophiles, or $100 GYW sheos or $2000 HW shoes for shoe collectors. At the end the performance and useful life is all about the same.
     


  14. OzzyJones

    OzzyJones Senior member

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    Except Meermin are made in China?
     


  15. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    Is Shanghai part of China?
     


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