Hand Stay Stitches And Merry Christmas

Hello, one and all. Welcome to the final blog post of 2012. It's been an amazing year and we thank every single one of you who has read our posts; commented on them; become a Follower (please more of you do it, pleeease!); or had any other kind of contact with us. With this in mind, Deborah (yes, it was all her own work) has created a Christmas greeting for all of you.

So, yes, merry Christmas and happy New Year to all of you. And let's hope 2013 is a fruitful and magical year for all of us.

And so to shoemaking. One of the things which mark out bespoke, handsewn shoes is the closing - both its quality and the hand work which is a feature of it.
One of the things which sets our saddle loafers apart is the stay stitches on the band.

There is a total of 16 on this pair which we had to do one by one. And here is how we did it.

You start with the thread which we made with two cords of the hemp thread we use. We used our light thread wax with a layer of tar on the top to make it black. Once it is burnished, the thread turns black.
Attach a bristle to each end.

Then you have to mark the holes on the upper with a silver pen. The upper is totally finished and the stay stitches will go through the upper and the lining.

To make the holes, you can use a straight pricking awl or a nail on a cutting board. I like the nail because it makes a small hole.

For the first stitch, put each bristle through each hole.

Then tie a tight double knot on the inside. Cut the threads and tie the ends in a knot with as little spare thread on the end of the knot.

From now on, you have to start each stay stitch on the inside. Put one bristle through a hole, across the top and in through the other hole. Tie the two ends of the thread together in a tight knot and cut the ends. Tie them together again and do exactly the same thing on the next stay stitch.

This is what the stitches should look like on the inside.

The last process is very important. The knots in the thread, even though they are small, could dig into the foot and irritate the wearer. So you have to hammer them flat. Take a lap iron or a cobbling jack. The surface must be flawlessly smooth. The hammer you use must also have a flawless head with no nicks or scratches. Hammer the knots flat.

And that is that. The uppers are ready to last.

Hand stitches look fantastic but they also have a function. They give strength to the shoe in places where they suffer the greatest stress while walking. For example, we use them on Derby/Gibson shoes to stop the facings opening too much.

Here are a couple of examples. Be inventive because people notice these small details.

And so we come to the end of 2012. Providing the world doesn't end today (it's looking good so far, although does the apocalypse respect our international time zones? If Australia makes it through today, are we all ok? ), we look forward to welcoming you back in January. Until then, with a well earned rest to enjoy - happy shoemaking!