Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 17 July 2009

Welted Seat

Ho hum, all washed out. Could it rain any harder? I think we had our summer already.

I have had a tiring week. The Other One is in Mallorca, so I am holding the fort. And in true Davey Crockett style, I have given it everything. The bespoke shoemaking course is looming, so I have been getting everything ready for that. I think it is all in hand. Looking forward to it.

Also had our first client from Stowers bespoke - fantastic.

And so to bespoke shoes. Seats. Important to all of us. That transition from sole to heel; needs to look neat.
Usually we make a bevelled waist, and less often a square waist. With both you get to this point where you have welted the shoe.

If you are doing a bevelled waist, you prepare the sole and stick it on; stitch it; and then build the heel; with the split lift glued and nailed on first. The split lift is a narrow piece of leather used to bring the curved surface of the heel area to a flat surface. You start with 2 pieces of leather like a welt but made from the same leather as the heel lifts.

You skive off about half way across down to nothing.

At this point, you cut five notches in to the skived side, to help curve it with the hammer. Bash it with the hammer to compress the leather and create a curve to match the heel shape.

With a square waist, you can follow the same sequence as with a bevelled waist. I think an alternative is to put the split lift on first. It improves the transition to the seat. Skive the split lift to match the skived welt end.

Glue it together and then glue and nail the split lift right round to the other end. Skive again to match the welt and glue it down. The trick is to match the ends well so that it looks like a seamless join. It is hard to see in this shot because I have done it so well, but the join is between the pen marks.

You end up with a similar looking seat as the other method, but I think it looks neater.

The final piece in the essay is the welted seat. This is quite similar to the last method, except that rather than glueing and nailing the split lift, you use a long welt and welt all the way round the seat.

This means that when the heel is built, the seat is stitched, giving a more robust look, suitable for boots or full brogues. It makes for a larger heel too.