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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

What is the most common type of shoe, we create for orders? That is an easy question – the English welt. pretty much this is the only one customer know, so they ask for this. On the other hand this is the highest peek for many “professionals” as well. but, anyway.. Nothing is wrong with it, this is a nice construction. (on the other hand there are some other, nice construction, which should be also popular.. honestly no customer finds me asking for an ‘opanka’ shoe) So, English welt is one of the most elegant, but why not combine it more interesting (and sleek) with an other technology – the German welt?

Preparing the insole

As it is written for pros, I am not wasting time with explaining how to trim the insole. This example shows the shank support version – I try to incorporate this technique in all of my shoes. It gives extra comfort, support and durability for the shoes.

Check this insole – from heel front to ball – that will be the German welt. Pretty wide, around 10-12 mm. It tapers down to 3 mm to the next ball – that will be the real English welt. Around the heel – well, that is a classic heel-seat stitch. It was a required technique for all shoemakers in the good old days. Today only few of us know and maybe use it. (all of my shoes made like this if it is applicable).

Holdfast – the Hungarian name translation would be “the wall of the stitch” – which refers pretty much of the form. This wall is wide and short. Around the shank it is the widest – around 10 mm, ball – 7-8 mm, toe – 5-6 mm. Heel – well, don’t worry about it, that is just me… I prepare my heel seat stitch like this.

These are the measurements – I try to post a picture about it soon with proper numbers.

Creating the holdfast. You need to have an old knife (mine is pretty old as you see), which doesn’t have to be crazy sharp, a channel knife (or pretty good control with your regular knife… so just get a channel knife, right?) and a bone folder with thin edge. The outer side needs to be flat and smooth… except at the shank – do you remember(?), we want to create a hidden stitch there.. so just make it way thinner. That will create a more dramatic, sleeker looking shoe. Factories can’t make that with those huge sloppy machines – don’t try to imitate their work, when you can make a better one.

The inner channel should be angled a bit (where the awl is coming from) – this groove only hides the thread and let the awl go through the holdfast, so you don’t need much.

This shows the way of the awl through the holdfast (on a sample piece) – obviously it should be feel enough to hold the stitch, the welt.. practically everything together. I would say 50% of the thickness or 2 mm will do the job.

The Hungarian way – using a footstrap, so you have two hands to control the process. Beside ergonomic reasons (let’s just leave it like this, right?), it gives you more control and holds the last way better, than holding it between to legs.

This picture shows the dramatic angle at the shank. You can control the awl with your thumb – just be careful, that is a small, really sharp blade (or at least the ones we make).

Holes… punch holes. Not everybody is doing that in advance (especially if they are paid per piece), but I think it worth that few minutes. This pictures shows well how you should adjust the holes. You might want to calculate with the upper (+ stiffeners, when it is needed), then adjust the stitch length evenly – at the welt… which is not there yet, and don’t forget, that it’s not gonna be so close.. so around the toe you want to go closer, medial shank curve – well, that is a tricky part – use long ones.

-= TEASER =-

And a small teaser, what’s gonna happen next.. yeah.. lasting.

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