Sewing the Treadsole of a Welted Shoe

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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Project Post Catch-up!

January 5th, 2015

It’s been a busy couple of months, hence the reason that I haven’t really had a chance to post too much about what I’ve been working on in the past few months. As a result, let me catch you up on the full list since the end of September, and note that some of it is not shoe related. Oh, and did I mention that I spent every weekend starting from the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Dickens Fair? That certainly cut into my time, but I still produced a good amount of material:

- A 1520s pair of Black cowmouths with red edging, almost identical to those here.
- A 1520s pair of Blue cowmouths with gold edging, similar to the above. Inseaming and Outsoling on this pair was done by Matt L., as we were on a tight schedule!
- A gold and green damask gown for a Greg G., with linen lining and silk turnbacks on the cuffs (no picture, sadly).
- A shot red and gold silk satin coat for Brendan L. The boots are not my work, but I’m rather delighted with the way coat came out (see the picture below, courtesy of Sandra L.).
- A new pair of 16th Century jeweled shoes, similar to those here.

I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the 16th century jeweled shoes, and how they are different from the past project.
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Caldarium Turn-Shoe Workshop

November 7th, 2014

Matt L. and I ended up spending a weekend up in Marin helping seven people put together some turn shoes, and I have to say that I’m very pleased with the results. Every one of them worked hard with bristle and thread to come up with a pair of handmade shoes all their own. As always, there were a few things that did not work quite so well, and if I don’t mention those, we will make the same mistakes!

- The black dye can go on just fine with a few coats. We don’t need to blacken the lasts, our fingers, and everything else by overdoing it!
- We need to be very careful when tapping the inseam flat. Otherwise, you might hurt the upper leather and damage it.
- Always leave more heel than you think you need! The last thing you want is a heel that is too short.
- We were able to work the leather wet without any ill effects – this is useful when you’re trying to make a pair of shoes in a single weekend!

Europe Trip Part II: Lausanne

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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