Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 10 July 2009

Dress Welt

Breaking news! We are now in Savile Row - very exciting. We have a presence in Stowers Bespoke, 13 Savile Row. From now on, we will have shoes on display there and will be available to meet clients to do consultations/fittings etc.

We met Ray Stowers a couple of years ago when he had the concession in Liberty. We have been in touch since and now that he has a shop on Savile Row, we have cemented the collaboration.
They are keen to offer a head-to-toe service for their clients, so bespoke shoes and belts are an obvious addition.
We are really thrilled about it.

And now back to the making of bespoke shoes. I have recently made 2 identical pairs for a client who wanted an elegant dressy shoe. So we agreed on a bare 3/16 sole (very thin) and a dress welt. A dress welt is a close welt with stitching between 18 and 20 to the inch. The average is 10, so this is very fine work. If you stitch that many to the inch normally, there is so much thread in the sole that it weakens the leather, so you need an alternative.

There are 2 available, so I tried both to make a comparison. The first is to channel the sole as normal; mark the stitches as normal; and then start stitching. But instead of stitching every mark, you stitch every third mark. Once done, you pass the fudge wheel over the stitches and it puts a line on them, giving the appearance of tiny stitches. It worked pretty well, but on close examination, it was not too tidy. If I did it again, I would use a slightly thinner thread.
The other more traditional method is to channel the sole as normal, and then channel the welt too.

Stitch as normal, then close down both channels.

Finally you pass the fudge wheel over the welt, which marks the stitches. This is very tidy, but you cannot see any thread if you look closely, which is not great. Sorry but I did not take any pics of the final results, oops.
It has left me undecided as to which I prefer. However, the lack of visible thread in the second version leaves me leaning towards the first one, because it looks as if the sole has been cemented rather than stitched. Any views on that?

So there you are, a challenging dilemma to ruminate on. Comments welcomed.

More next week.