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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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    I cannot think of a single good reason to line a shoe with upper leather.

    First, most upper leathers have a finish on them. This would prevent the liner from "breathing"--wicking moisture away from the foot--as efficiently as an unfinished leather. And if the upper leather is unfinished but dyed (as most is) then there is a very good chance that the dye will migrate to your socks.

    Second, many upper leathers are chrome tanned...even crusts. Some people who have no previous signs can develop chrome allergies when perspiration from the foot is held next to the skin. Most high end shoemakers (but not all) use veg tannages for shoes.

    Third, upper leather is more expensive than lining leather. But that said if a maker has surplus upper leather on hand and not much lining leather, using the upper leather might be the least expensive way to go.

    And most upper leathers are heavier than lining leathers...although that may be, in certain circumstances, the very reason an upper leather would be chosen.

    So...while not beyond the bounds of imagination, I can't think of any good reasons and probably wouldn't offer that option to a customer.
     
  2. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    Thanks @DWFII
    It was definitely something I had not encountered before as well, and I think what you've said makes a lot of sense.
     
  3. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    That's really weird....
    I sense that what he offered was not an option to you but, an advantage to him.
    Why not ask him the pro's and con's and let us know his reply?
     
  4. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    There is a language barrier between us, and though communication is possible, it is fairly.... rudimentary.
    One thing though. He is quite an incredible maker (at least IMO).... and he certainly isn't one to cut any corners.
     
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, just for clarity...what I said was my take on the issue. The logic as I see it. He may have good reasons (I can't imagine what they would be) but without hearing him explain or address the issues I raised, it's hard to know what his motives might be.

    Perhaps I should have said in my answer to you that in certain circumstances....depending on the upper leather--tannage, finish, etc.--it might make sense.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  6. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    Yes I definitely do understand. I have always appreciated your candour whenever it comes to answering any questions and sharing your opinions.
    I'll definitely try and ask him why he does so, though I'm not sure how much information I can glean out of it.
    I'm certainly curious myself.
     
  7. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Are you sure, your shoemaker suggested using upper leather as lining for for the vamp area?

    Lining the quarters in upper leather and lining the vamp in "horse" is the traditional way for English bespoke dress shoes. Never for country-type shoes, never for 'casuals' (loafers). Traditionally this was restricted only to black shoes (if it wasn't black, it wasn't a dress shoe). 'Opera pumps' and other evening shoes were traditionally lined in bright red kid, echoing the red visible lining of the opera cloak. By extension, some firms today line the quarters of brown dress shoes with brown upper leather, which can look very attractive on crust, as the unfinished leather is several shades lighter than the finished one. Alternatively kid,which is available in whichever colour you fancy is used by some firms as lining for the quarters.

    As I said, the use of coloured linings, be they upper leather or kid, is only done in the rear section of the shoe and is accompanied by a 'sock' in the same colour. The front is lined with conventional calf lining or 'yellow horse', which is a (split) cowhide, producing an extra-soft and drapey leather that feels a bit spongy. As far as I know, "horse" is never used for lining a shoe fully.

    http://www.aacrack.co.uk/product/fo...e-shoes/luxury-horse-lining-yellow-08-10.html
     
  8. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    If I recall correctly, yes. Though it's been some time now since I had last met the maker.
    I'll re-check this.
    But thanks, the information you shared is most interesting.
     
  9. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    That would be my expectation if there is a language barrier, that he's offering to use calf lining (like the calf upper) or some other softee leather.

    I use a soft vamp lining on oxfords, same as most people. That yellow "horse" is very flexible and doesn't crack with prolonged wear like other leathers can, so on a shoe that gets lots of wear (black oxfords) it's preferable. You can't really use it on derbies, because the vamp forms part of the tongue, or casuals because the lining is one piece.

    Upper leather as vamp lining would be madness.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  10. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    A couple of questions about welt finishing.

    Do you shoemakers prefer to use dyes or coloured cream/ waxes for the welt and sole edge?. Do you apply the colour on it with that kind of small brush?.

    In order to leave the stitching of the outsole with its natural colour (unpainted) on the welt, do you dye/coloured the welt/edges before you start stitching the outsole?. If so, what happens afterwards to the colour of the welt if a welt prick tool is used by the maker?. How is this process carry out in order not to damage the colours of the welt/stitching?. TIA.
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I use horse welting. Real horse. But Traditionally welting was cut from the same leather as the outsole or insole, usually in the belly or shoulder, and thinned with a welt mill. The welt I use is already the correct substance, although it must be cut into strips and "channeled," etc.. I use horse because it is dense and strong...although much bovine welting would surely take the imprint of the fudge wheel, and squeeze up into those ornamental ridges, more readily than horse.

    Some commercial welting is given a heavy paint on the grain surface--to hide blems, I suppose.

    Regardless the source, the grain surface must be scoured in the same way as the insole. This opens up the grain a little and allows the dye to penetrate.

    And that allows the welt to be dyed before it is sewn to the shoe. If so desired. Sometimes I leave the welt natural, esp. on boots (it was part of part of the Boot Tradition and the way I was taught).

    I don't always leave the welt stitching natural. Sometimes I'll dye the threads after stitching. Sometimes not.

    When the threads are to be dyed, usually a shrink wrap covering will have been sewn into the inseam (although I understand white cloth was used in times past and meticulous care was needed). And some makers undoubtedly eschew all such protective measures and just rely on a steady hand and a heaping measure of that meticulous care.

    Nowadays a lot of makers use masking tape. Masking tape has changed a lot in the last decade or more but when I first got into the Trade, masking tape was not always benign. Sometimes it would remove finish. I don't use it....not even the blue or green stuff.

    Because the dye has soaked into the welt (if dyed beforehand), pricking up the welt won't change or alter the colour of the welt...not even in the deepest part of the pricking. If it does, it was done with too heavy a hand, IMO.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
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  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Interesting. I used a yellow calf for many years. I think it was very similar if not identical to what Crack is offering (although I got it from a source here in the States). I thought it was a good lining leather although I felt it was a little too thin for some applications.

    It's not immune to cracking however, even if it doesn't happen immediately. Depends a lot on the chemistry of the individual foot.

    I have used dyed or finished leather in the quarters of shoes, and it surely makes for a very clean and finished top edge on the shoe. But I don't like the way the heel sips when a finished leather is used for lining. I know (or hope) that slipperiness will wear off...along with the finish, unfortunately and all too often...but I don't like to imagine the shoe when it gets to that point.

    Kidskin is too delicate for the inside of a shoe, IMO. I haven't used any in decades but it used to be that, esp. on women's shoes...as colourful and dressy as it was...it would peel if you looked at it cross-eyed.

    And a good veg kip or calf is so clean. In it's own way. A good English Lining Kip (or something similar) is not cheap, however...at least not here in the States. It's not a "throw-away solution" for a part of the shoe that is not readily visible, IOW.

    In the end, regardless the leather used, it doesn't hurt to apply a thin coat of a conditioner such as Bick4 on the linings and even the insole ever blue moon or so. Might prevent some of that cracking as well as revitalize the lining leather.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  13. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    Thanks DW for your clear answer. At the end I realize that the best way is to stay with a natural welt, stitch the outsole and then just dye the edge of the shoe (or predye the welt before stitching the outsole). I thought that the welt prick tool would lift the dye of the welt. Cheers.
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yr. Hmb. Svt.
     
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  15. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    @DWFII
    Was not quite sure which thread to place this question.
    But some days ago on another thread, the topic of round closing was brought up.
    You provided a link to an entry made by Master Al Saguto on the CC, of which I quote:

    "These stitches are made one at a time by eye ........ No pre-holing, or nothing will align right."

    Also on that same thread, there was another picture of another maker executing the round closed stitch but it does clearly show that all the holes were already "pre-awled".
    Do you think this would pose a significant problem in the final product?
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Hard to say. But I will tell you that Master Saguto's standards are perhaps a little higher than most of us.

    The problem with preholing (and I think he spoke of it in the write-up from the CC), is that when you prehole you're not compensating for differences of temper that can exist even in as short a distance as a quarter inch. Multiply those differences by two...once for each side of the seam and then again by the number of stitches in a seam and you can get puckering or an uneven "lie" in the finished seam.

    Whether that will be significant or even whether it will look off is hard to say . Maybe yes sometimes, maybe no sometimes.
     
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  17. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    Thanks DW, for your time and explanation.
     
  18. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    One comment. If I am correct, the picture you refer to is a apron of a dover-like upper. Note that these uppers only have the 'tunnel' stitch (aka 'split' stitch (?) per Mr. Saguto, or 'skin stitch' per E. Green) on one of the pieces of leather. So, assuming that is a correct recollection, that is a different situation from the one to which Mr. Saguto refers.

    It is reasonable to pre-hole the leather in a Dover like apron -- the hole in the other piece of leather will be made as the sewing is done, so there is no issue in lining up the holes. Given the aesthetic importance of consistent spacing of the stitches in the apron of the shoe, pre-holing gives a consistent look to the apron. Of course, there remains a challenge if/when the leather is not of suitable temper, but that is of less consequence when one is using quality leather, and also the apron seam isn't a high-stress seam on the shoe. The 2 guys at E Green who sew these uppers spend their entire day sewing such seams, and if it were the case that doing it by eye were superior, I dare say they would be doing so.

    As DW and Mr. Saguto say, trying to pre-hole a true round-stitch seam is madness, because in that case not only are there the temper/leather quality issues, but achieving consistent alignment of the holes on both pieces of leather will be virtually impossible if the leather is pre-holed. (BTW, the E Green guys do not pre-hole the seam of the toe on Dovers, etc, as this is a round stitch, not a split and lift stitch.)
     
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Now I am not sure which image @ThunderMarch was referring to...I thought it was this one:

    [​IMG]

    If so, quite clearly the leather of the soon-to-be "round stitched" split-toe has been pre-holed. ...as has the forepart of the soon-to-be "split and lift" apron.

    I can't speak for or second guess the maker in that photo but I suspect Master Saguto...coming, as he does, from a Tradition that aspired to and extolled 50+ spi, done by hand, and who teaches 18+spi by hand...might have a somewhat different perspective than most of us with regard to what is acceptable, much less "good better, best."

    Nevermind "best practices."
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    No problem...

    :cheers:
     

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