Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Best Of Welts, The Worst Of Welts...

Another week, another week closer to Christmas. Yikes! Am I alone in having done no shopping yet? Am I alone in feeling a tad anxious about it? Pull your finger out, Ducker!


The Winkers stride on. They are now in Pickett (32-33 & 41 Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, W1J 0PZ), makers of handmade leather goods, made in England. From leather luggage to wallets, jewellery to cashmere, Pickett epitomises the qualities of English artisanal tradition - elegance, attention to detail, and craftsmanship. So where better to place the Winkers?
We visited the shop yesterday to find the charming Mr Trevor Pickett in the midst of a Christmas shopping frenzy at his invitation event. The tills were ringing; the sherry flowing; and the cashmere gloves flying out of the door. Bloomin marvelous!

And talking of retail, we have a very exciting new venture starting in February next year in Notting Hill. But more of that later (I am sworn to secrecy).

Now, welts. Very important little strips of leather in the sole of a bespoke shoe. Surprisingly important. You have 2 choices - the nasty bought stuff you buy by the metre, which saves you time and effort; or the skillfully crafted handmade variety favoured by the English bespoke shoe making traditon. Any guesses as to which one I prefer?
Pros and cons. The bought welt is quick and easy, but of an inferior quality, plus, it is glued together to make huge reels, with an inherent weakness. The handmade welt is stronger and of better quality materials, but takes a little longer to make. The other advantage is that if you know how to make a welt, you will always be able to make a shoe and not be reliant on a manufacturer making a product (or not, as the case may be).

This is an example of the bought welt.



So, on to the handmade welt, you soak it and mark it in half lengthways with a pair of dividers.







Then cut it in half along that line.



Place the welt on your cutting board or glass. Next with your dividers set at 5mm, mark a line along the edge on the flesh side.



With the very tip of the knife, score along this line. No more than 1mm deep.



Open this up with a screwdriver. Then do the same with the other welt.



Turn it over and mark the line again with the dividers on the skin side (again set at 5mm).




This time skive to the edge at an angle of 45 degrees, so you end up with a bevelled edge.




Do the same with the other welt and you are ready to roll. It does not take too long, once you have mastered it. Good luck.

8 comments:

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jimmyshoe said...

Hello ggbbgg123, I am afraid I cannot understand your post, or even know what language it is. But thank you for making it and I would like to know what you said. All the best, jimmyshoe

kris said...

unfortunately, jimmyshoe, its a spam posting. but you've detailed crafting welts quite simply. who wouldn't take the time? thanks for the great read.

jimmyshoe said...

Thank you kris. Glad you enjoy the blog content. Do you make shoes? jimmyshoe

kris said...

i took interest last year: lots of reading [your blog, a few books]. i'm in the middle of a slow and sorry attempt, but i learn best from watching and doing. seeking such, i hope to attend your nyc class this year! cheers and happy new year! >kris

Bronwyn said...

What sort of leather do you use to make the welts?

jimmyshoe said...

We buy ready prepared welts from Bakers of Colyton, Devon. They are pre cut. I am not sure which bit of the hide they are cut from (i will ask), but they must be of a very high quality because the whole integrity of the shoe relies on strong welting. Best, jimmyshoe

Bronwyn said...

Do you think you could use a vege tanned 32 mm wide belt length for welting leather?