Making a matching pair

Occasionally not everything goes right in the world of the shoemaker...we had an incident recently where we had finished a pair of low ankle boots for riding. They were looking lovely, but somewhere between them being finished and the trees being made one of the boots was damaged. It was just a few days before the client was due to collect them and we felt terrible having to disappoint her after her patience attending fittings and then waiting for the finished footwear.

We always believe that honesty is the best policy and emailed the client immediately. She did ask about putting a patch on the damage when she saw it, but we really take pride in our work and just couldn't let something leave our workshop that wasn't 100% excellent.

So we knew we had a remake on our hands. Remaking just one boot or shoe is quite difficult because it is imperative that it looks a pair with its partner when finished.

The first stage was to carefully remove the heel and to then cut the sole stitches so that it could be removed - along with the cork and shank - without damaging the insole too much. We then cut off the upper, soaked it and carefully removed the stiffener and toe puff. The patterns were sent off for a new upper to be made immediately and meanwhile we blocked a new insole.

Once the insole had dried we trimmed it as usual. To help to get this new boot as similar to the original as possible we used the original insole as a template. We copied across the heel marks, the holdfast markings and shaped the waist in the same way as before.

Fortunately the upper was turned around in super-quick time and, using the original stiffener and toe puff, we lasted it over to let the leather take the shape of the last making sure that the caps were straight and the same length. We also had to make sure the back height was the same and that the facings matched.

The boot was then welted and the welt trimmed to shape using the good boot as a model for the amount of welt showing and the position of the row of stitches.

Fitting the shank, cork and sole was plain sailing (again making sure the sole thickness was the same, in this case, 1/4"). The next step was getting the heels to match. Again we used the good boot as a guide for heel height and overall shape.

Then we sanded back the original boot heel and edges and refinished both boots together to ensure an exact match. And hey presto! A pair of boots.

 We are really looking forward to sending them off to the client next week...and we hope that the horses don't step on them too soon!

Until next week happy shoemaking!