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

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

  1. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Back to techniques. What's the purpose of having "braided/twisted" inseaming around the toe of the shoes?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Depends on how you define "enjoy" or "comment." It certainly takes someone who is far more knowledgeable about Scotch than you are about shoes to make anything resembling intelligent or useful comments. And as far as enjoying, if you don't know what you're drinking it might as well be moonshine. You'll enjoy that in exactly the same way and to the same degree.

    It's one thing to see; it's one thing to hear...it's quite another thing to do. Have you ever heard of optical illusions? Everyone of us can see something that really isn't there. Everyone of us is capable of picking / accusing the wrong man in the lineup. And everyone of us can interpret what we see in a way that is objectively wrong, esp. if we don't have the experience or knowledge to know what we're looking at.

    That applies to both you and Nick, in spades. I posted photos of slipped gemming...from inside the shoe as well as with the outsole taken off. And someone else posted a link to a blog where a cachet-brand pair of GY shoes were deconstructed, which clearly showed gem slippage in an otherwise relatively unworn and carefully maintained pair of shoes..

    Neither you nor Nick...nor a number of others...had the background, experience or insight to see and recognize...or perhaps, more to the point, the authenticity to acknowledge...what was right before your very eyes. That's either willfully ignorant...to the point of stupidity or willfully contrarian to the point of trolling.

    And sorry to disappoint--I'm not ever going to meet your delicate PC sensibilities. If pointing out the truth is unfair, too bad. Don't come at me with childish denials and arguments patently made solely for the sake of argument. Don't give me the opportunity to point out how clueless and devoid of experience your arguments are.

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  3. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The welting stitches are fanned-out to cope with the tight radius around the toe. The stitches around the toe have the same length as the other stitches (about 1/4") but on the inside they are much closer together due to the curvature. There is a danger that pulling the stitches tight could make them rip through the leather.

    Hence the reinforcement by either meandering a piece of thread between the stitches or placing an additional knot onto each stitch on the inside around the tight curve. Both methods do prevent the stitches from ripping through the holdfast.
     
    3 people like this.
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    This has been discussed before...you might have picked up on it if you were really interested in learning. It is not braiding in the true sense. It is just interweaving a short strand of thread as a way to bridge and reinforce stitches in an area where stitches must be placed uncomfortably close together and then tightened down with some force--an action which, depending on the quality of the insole, might pop a stitch or two. Such work is not always needed even in close quarters such as this. But the maker obviously determined that there might(again) possibly, potentially, be a problem and did what he could to forestall it...despite there being no overt sign that there actually was a problem. Do the name Ruby Begonia strike a familiar note? So there's another tidbit for your internal database that you, not having done such stitching or ever having faced the problems inherent in closely spaced stitching in indeterminate quality leather, may never fully understand. But one can hope...albeit a Forlorn Hope...that you will annotate with where you got it from--that stubbornly misguided, obviously wrong, and decidedly not top-notch shoemaker who just generously gave you some of his life's energy. --
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    PS...that's a damn fine job of inseaming.

    And to the point of another discussion, as far as I can tell from the photo, with little or no removal of leather inside the holdfast.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  6. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    Must say the topic on toe taps was a pretty good read. Thanks guys.

    I have a question on bespoke shoe fittings, I'm not sure if this is the best thread to place it in, but here goes....
    I won't be naming names but had recently had the privilege of meeting some bespoke makers, and had spoken to them with regards to their processes. I'd asked them about their fitting process and it seemed that there were differing views on how this should best be done.
    Apparently, some makers preferred to cut open the fitting shoes while others preferred leaving them intact, and instead making their observations only through visual observation and palpation. Though not explicitly expressed, I sensed some degree of disdain one camp had for the other.
    @DWFII , I'm wondering what you feel about this.... Is there some science behind it? And what do you prefer in your own practice?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  7. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    DW I prefer to keep this friendly.
    I appreciate your insights and willingness to share your experience and time. I've learned a lot from some of your posts. Most of all I respect your passion for the shoemaking trade (bespoke) and it's traditions. We agree, Shoe making and repair are two different things. Neither are anything to be ashamed of.

    Having said that, I don't know of any shoe repair shops -or- for that matter custom shoe makers that don't have an assortment of stretchers in there shops. So, with all due respect, after you finish a pair of shoes and the customer comes in to pick them up, I'm certain that from time to time they will return claiming a hot spot in the toe-box area (to short -or-narrow). Do you make them a new shoe? Take the shoe apart? How do you give them a little more length -or- width in the toe box?

    From my experience, I never (not once) had a customer claim that we distorted a shoe as a result of giving it more length.
    We do several pair each week and customers are happy with the results.

    On another friendly note, if you don't mind me asking you a favor...Where do you buy your flush mounted toe plates?
    I buy mine directly from France bc I don't know of any suppliers here in the U.S. that can supply me with my needs. I buy boxes of every size. Some sizes several more boxes. Paying wire fees, shipping costs, e-mails adds up.

    If you can find it in the graciousness of your heart please let me know. A PM would be fine if you prefer.

    Thanks in advance
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Frankly, I was trained in what I suspect was a fairly rigourous school of fitting. Pull-on boots don't have any laces, so the fit needs to be near-as-nevermind perfect right out of the gate...simply because there is no way to adjust the fit after the fact. No laces.

    And, as a consequence, in my mind at least, there no ambiguity about what is a fit and what is not.

    I take more measurements than most shoemakers that I have run across...in fact, more than any shoemaker that I've run across.

    I take a footprint (an ink copy of the plantar surface of the weight bearing foot--like a fingerprint) with a pedograph.

    I take a length of foot (LOF) measurement. I take a joint measurement, and a waist measurement and a low instep and a high instep and a short heel and a long heel.

    Some of these measurements are more associated with pull-on boots than shoes but I find all of them important when making shoes.

    And I find all of them more or less dependent on the others. So that when the low instep is large, for instance, the the long heel will also be large. And if it is too large, reducing it will also reduce the the long heel and maybe the high instep and short heel, as well.

    I am also extremely mindful of heel seat width and treadline width as well as the heel to ball measurement.

    I don't know any shoemaker that takes, much less gives any attention to the difference between the low instep and the high instep. Yet it is an old and venerable approach. I don't know any shoemaker that takes or uses the short heel or the long heel. There may be some...I don't know everybody.

    That said, I understand why they don't use those measurement--the laces--but I disagree.

    I have never cut the shoe apart. My feeling is that if I am true to the footprint and the the measurements I don't need to. And I have a very, very good reputation for fit. One reason is that I, like many other makers, do make a prototype shoe. With it, I can see and feel, without cutting , what the foot is doing inside the "fitter's model."

    Do I hold other methods in disdain? I do not. Everyone who does this has their own approach. Most work...at least to some extent, esp. in their hands. I have learned a lot over the years by talking to and respecting those other approaches. Sometimes I cannot see the logic. Sometimes I cannot see how to make those technique work for me. But I always come away with things to think about.

    If truth be told, fitting is the key and the magic. Everything else is just determination, commitment-to-a-higher-than-you-can-possibly-reach standard, and muscle memory. Without fit, it's all for nothing.

    And yet...and yet...I wish I knew more about the foot and how to model it.

    Life isn't long enough, I fear.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I have never said that stretching a shoe is not reasonable or impossible.

    What i said, and what I firmly believe, however, is that no one can stretch a shoe lengthwise. Not a good shoe. Not without distorting and probably damaging it. it's simply not mechanically possible...all the gimcracks and Rube Goldberg devices notwithstanding.

    As for toe plates...I always got them from Göetz in Göppingen, Germany. They used to have a rep in the US. I dealt with them until they closed up shop here and put their products on the web. Because of my association with them, I was given free access to the website. Not just anyone was. I don't know if they still require a special access code / permission but I bought a considerable amount of stuff from them over the years as group buys for the Guild....including broguing punches, and lasting pincers, etc..

    I haven't bought anything from them in years...I think the last thing I bought was relatively small horse shoe plates--about the size of a silver dollar or smaller, and some hemp yarn. I never did want to get hooked on chemicals and cements or leather that I had to get overseas. And I didn't really ever warm up to Rendenbach for reasons I've already explained.

    Being semi-retired and having been in the business for so many years, I have all the tools I need...and then some...and a lifetime supply (even for a younger man) of things like bristles and wax and linen, pitch, rosin, pegs, etc.

    I wish I could be at my own estate sale after I'm gone.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
    2 people like this.
  10. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    Thanks for taking the time to explain your measurement / fitting process. It certainly seems that you are extremely particular with good fit! Your clients are very lucky I think.
     
  11. Whirling

    Whirling Senior member

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    Barring accidents, illness, or major weight changes, how much will an adult man's feet change over a decade or two? How would a bespoke maker know when he should make a new last or alter an old one, short of measuring the feet again?
     
  12. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    As I thought Sir. Thank you for your honesty.
    I hope that you Cherish your estate and really enjoy it with your family!
    That's what's it's all about for all of us.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    There is no formula.

    Some people have very flaccid feet and / or "loose" tendons and ligaments. Their feet will change more and faster than people whose feet are more rigid and dense. When I first got into the Trade, one of my teachers told me that a foot will flatten and lengthen at least one full size over the space of a lifetime. I cannot confirm that. Mine have not...although my body itself has undergone changes, albeit of the opposite nature--shortening and thickening.

    That said, I have seen people who claim they wore a size 7 in high school and are now force to wear a size 10. Maybe. Not arguing. But it makes me suspicious that fit is a bit quixotic for many folks.

    For me, it's almost beside the point, I "fit what's there."
    .
    Bottom line if your shoes aren't fitting, you need a new pair. How you go about that and who you go to, is the issue, isn't it?
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
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  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Just a follow-up...I missed this part.

    I honestly seldom have someone come back at me wanting adjustments. I am sure there must be some who would if they could. But I never owned a shoe stretching machine and I haven't picked up a wooden stretcher in years. If someone comes into me with a pair of shoes that I made, complaining of a bunion or a hot spot, I find the original last and put a build-up on it and shove the last back in the boot or shoe.

    Again, I have a very, very good reputation as a fitter. I have been blessed in that regard. That's not to say I am perfect or never have a misfit. But making a fitter's model and giving the customer's input the respect it deserves ('We don't just fit the foot, we fit the head"), goes a long way towards ensuring satisfaction for all those involved.

    I think, in going on 50 years of making boots and shoes, I have remade or relasted less than ten times and probably more like half a dozen times.
     
  15. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    To me that's a fancy way of saying....I'll stretch 'em.
     
  16. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Both method works. Those who don't cut open trial shoes sometimes think that its theatrics. I recall two makers saying that, and one of them now cut up trial shoes. Keep in mind that even for the same last, different patterns/outsole thickness might feel/wear differently.

    And since its bespoke, gotta trust the maker and his system.

    All makers I've used did all the stuff outlined above and more, except for pedographs.

    Some take all above measurements and outline trace twice, once sitting down/without body weight and once standing up/with body weight.

    Not everyone takes pedographs.

    Some uses foam castings.

    Some traces profile outlines of the foot/ankle as well.
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You're right. Even lasting is stretching the leather.

    But the critical issue here is that once the shoes are made I don't try to stretch them lengthwise. I don't know how many times I need to underline, bold, italicize or repeat that simple fact before you get it. I don't know why you cannot ...will not...hear or understand the distinction.
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Bogus!!

    You show me one shoemaker...who takes (and uses) both a low instep and a high instep. Show me one shoemaker that uses a short heel or a long heel measurement in either making a last or creating the patterns.

    I suspect you're blowing smoke again. All those factories you've visited that inform your point of view--they don't take measurements of the foot and they don't modify or carve a last.

    Point of fact, I'd welcome input from @ntempleman, or @j-mac, or @shoefan or any other bespoke maker (or even manufacturer) who sees this to tell me they use the same set (or even subset) of measurements..to include both HI, LI, as well as LH and / or SH. I'd welcome someone to talk to who shares my approach. The life of the iconclast is a lonely one.

    That said, I would note that I never said there aren't any other shoemakers who measure the way I do, I said "I don't know any shoemaker that takes, much less gives any attention to...."

    Since you do, it's time to put your money where your mouth is, time to tell us who these other makers are. Either that, or be revealed (once again) as clueless.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
  19. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    The method I was taught, and the one generally used where I used to work, has been pared back to the absolute minimum over 150+ years of refinement - an outline and 3 measurements around the foot. Most people I've worked with add a few extras and I've added a couple of things which make sense to me but nothing revolutionary.

    The outline is the most important part, that provides all the length and width information you need without resorting to size sticks or any devices like that. Once it's on the paper you've got all the necessary details.

    I don't buy into pedographs, foam boxes etc personally, there's no information gained with them that feeds into how I work any better than a good outline does. I suppose it's accurate to say I'm not all that interested in how the foot actually is, any more than a tailor is interested in the shape of your pectoral muscles - I'm using the information to determine how I want to foot to be once it's inside the shoe.

    I don't advocate cutting open a shoe either, I've never felt the need to and I can't figure out what there is to be gained. Would slicing open the chest of a jacket show the tailor why the lapels are flaring open? It would stop him seeing what's wrong after it's been cut, that's for certain.

    Other people use the various methods above to good results, and what's most important is using what works best for you personally. My way isn't "correct" for anyone but me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
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  20. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    Oh yes, I forgot the measurements I take. 4 of them, joint, instep, top instep and a heel. As well as marking a few select points for triangulation, measuring a few out-of-ordinary places, various pencil angles on the outline, lots and lots of notes etc.
     
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