1590s Buff Heels

August 20th, 2014

A pair of heels, but shorter (only about 1″ heel), but this pair was done in buff leather. I learned a great deal on this pair, and that buff (or undyed) leather can be an incredible pain to work with. The main reason is that because it’s not dyed, any mark or scuff can mar the surface, and keeping the shoe clean can be a real challenge. For this pair, I ended up tallowing both sides of the leather prior to closing and lasting, but I think that the next time, I’ll probably try just try tallowing the grain of the leather rather than the flesh. It made the shoe a bit more tricky to form, and the heel stiffener was giving me a fit. That is both the advantage and disadvantage of tallow – it makes the leather more supple and pliable, yet also more water resistant. When making shoes, you need the advantage of the water to help form it around the last/heel block.

Another thing I tried on this was to use thicker treadsole thread, smaller stitches, and putting in double half-casts while I sew the treadsole. This had the very pleasing effect of creating little “rice” stitches, in that each stitch sticks up like a slightly angled grain of rice. When done correctly, each stitch also has a slight angle to it, giving a pleasing effect of symmetry along the shoe. I plan to do this for all of my shoes going forward.

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