Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 8 January 2010

Happy New Year

Well, here we are, back in the studio and making shoes. After a wonderful 2 week break and restful holiday, we are both raring to go. Had a fantastic Christmas and New year and hope you all did too.

My oldest little elf will no longer be helping with the shoemaking as it was her first day at school today. Momentous day! Maybe I can get her roped in at nights and weekends.

News. After a successful pre-Christmas placement at Pickett, we have placed the Winker Slip-ons and Limited Editons in a new concept store in Notting Hill called Wolf and Badger. It will be selling fashion, accessories, jewellery and homewares made by small luxury brands like ourselves. Located in the prime shopping area of Ledbury Road, it promises to be the place for cutting edge design and fashion. It is opening on February 1st and we are very excited about it.

We are also in the final stages of prototyping our new driving shoe in collaboration with Dashing Tweeds. The manufacturer is making the final design as we speak and we plan to launch it at London Fashion Week in February. Images when we get them.

I had the usual trouble this week getting back into making. Soft hands; head still on holiday; and terrible snow have all contributed to a lack of speed. I will be fine next week.

Just one small thing to share with you. It concerns welting. Have you ever had a particularly spongy insole where the stitches pull through? This can happen at any point around the toe where the inside gap between stitches is so small.
There is a little trick to help. It involves knotting the stitch as you pull it through. It's fairly straightforward.

Make your hole with awl as normal and put the tips of bristles through.

Pull the bristles through. It helps to hold them firmly and pull in a quick motion, snapping them through. It can be hard. If you struggle here, there is a trick. Hold one and pull it through on its own while holding the other one to stop you pulling it back out.

Then hold the remaining bristle and the other thread as if they were one thread and pull them back the other way. Then separate the threads and you are ready to pull both together as normal.

As the threads warm up, it becomes easier to pull them through at the same time. This is better and quicker.
Once they are through the threads have a normal position.

The trick to stop them pulling through the holdfast starts here. Take the middle thread (the bristle one) and wrap it around the back thread, over the top and then under and back to middle.

Pull the threads together using the awl handle.

When you get them near to the end you must stop and make sure the threads are in the correct position, so that when you tighten it, it sits right in the hole in the holdfast (see picture, I can't explain it in words!).

Pull the knot tight as normal.

You can do this on every hole around the toe or on every second one as the knot acts as a block on 2 holes because they are so close together. It really works and I recommend it because the welt must be strong, especially around the toe, as it is a place of stress for the construction. If you do it, you will see a little row of knots in the holdfast.

Hope this is of use. Someone asked about this and I am very happy to get requests for specific topics. Please feel free to comment and I will cover it.
Happy making!