Archive for the ‘Learned’ Category

Sewing the Treadsole of a Welted Shoe

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

I thought it might be illuminating to describe the manner in which I currently outsole a shoe, since I’ve recently started playing with a new technique and rather like the results. In two separate instances with two different and very knowledgeable individuals, I’ve had welted stitching described to me as “rice grains laying against each other,” or a similar variation thereof. As a result, I think I’m getting rather close to the ideal, as I hope the images will soon describe.

But, just to be sure that we’re on the same page, let’s first remind ourselves the construction of a welted shoe.
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Europe Trip Part II: Lausanne

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

If you saw the first half of my Europe trip, then you will recall that I was in Munich for business, but had the opportunity to do some exploring and visit some museums while I was there. As it turned out, I had some vacation time coming up, so I decided to stay in Europe a bit longer. And, coincidentally, Dr. Marquita Volken, of the Musee de la Chaussure in Lausanne, Switzerland (the Museum of the Shoe) had recently published a manuscript, “Archeological Footwear: Development of Shoe Patterns and Styles from Prehistory til the 1600s.” On a lark, I looked up how far away Lausanne was from Munich – only about 330 miles! That’s about the same distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles! I was sold – I booked a train and routed my return flight through Zurich instead of Munich. And, after my last day of work, I found myself on the train headed for the beautiful city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The very day I arrived, I was already in shoemaker heaven – I met up with Dr. Volken, her fantastic husband (also Dr. Volken), and their charming daughter, and travelled together to the Chateau de Chillon, probably one of the most fantastically preserved chateaux in the area.
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1350s Shoes from Fischmarkt

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

This pair is based on a 1350s extant piece documented in “Archeological Footwear” authored by Dr. Marquita Volken. The pattern comes from an unusual extant shoe which has an oval cutout on the inside of the shoe, along with a buckle strap to close the shoe around the foot. This shoe also has a binding strip all the way around the shoe including the strap, and is quite a pretty example of a medieval shoe. A few points of note – the original has the buckling on the inside of the shoe (it is easier to buckle your shoe this way while sitting down or standing up), but it unfortunately hides the pretty cutout and the buckle. As a result, the recipient asked that the buckle be placed on the lateral (outside) of the foot, rather than the medial side. Further, you will notice a rather thick sole – this was constructed as a turn-welt shoe, even though that particular style doesn’t really start to come about until the third quarter of the 15th century. I took several cues from Dr. Volken’s book in the construction of this pair, and I’m particularly pleased with the way they worked out. The decoration is inspired by several extant 14th century pieces with lines of decoration across the vamp of the shoe.

Let me share some of the techniques that I tried, starting with the binding strip. Although I’d done binding strips in the past, this was the first time that I’d done it in this manner.
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Europe Trip Part I: Munich

Friday, August 15th, 2014

In case some of you were not aware, shoemaking is actually not my livelihood. In fact, my primary breadwinning is far less interesting to the general public, although it does sometimes afford me some liberties. In this case, I was traveling to Germany for work (Munich specifically), and since it was my first time in Germany, I decided to arrive a bit early and see the sights, visit a few museums, and sample the local cuisine. I understand that this is not, strictly speaking, related to shoemaking, but if you bear with me and be patient, I can promise you shoemaking insight of the kind of that has opened my eyes and made me a believer! To start, here is what is on the front of most subway cars in the Munich U-Bahn: a fellow in medieval clothes going along for the ride. This is apparently Munich’s “mascot,” the Munchner Kindl. He appears on Munich’s coat of arms, as well as obscure places like manhole covers, and the front of U-Bahn trains. =)

I traveled to Munich a few days before work needed me, and took the time to visit three different museums: the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, the Munich Residenz, and the Alte Pinakothek.
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