Ericsberg: Part 2

Disclaimer: This post contains a very old attempt at shoemaking, during the very beginning of my journey. I really didn’t know what I was doing at this time, and the post is left online for archive purposes only. Please do not “learn” anything from it, as the post is certainly riddled with mistakes. It’s just a documentation on some of my thoughts as a beginner in this venture. For a more updated view of my shoemaking, please see my latest posts instead.

When Ericsberg was dry from the final lasting, excess was cut off from around the shoe. As usual, I left a good margin around the heel for pegging the first rand. I was careful as not to cut the stitches in the center heel.


Like with Gripsholm, I made a combination piece of rand and welt in the same cut of 5 oz shoulder leather. Around the footbed, I cut off more excess than usual, as to make the holdfast of the insole clearly visible. Welting the holdfast was tricky and very time consuming, but it worked. I used a 40 mm blade Vergez Blanchard awl, two of the smallest size Prym curved needles and 1mm waxed polyester thread in black.

awl insole

Penetrating the welt (5 oz), uppers (4 oz) and lining (2 oz) before you reach the holdfast is a lot of leather to go through. Once there, finding the hole in the holdfast with the tip of the awl reminds me of Luke Skywalker aiming for the thermal exhaust port of the death star.

It’s always important to never aim for valuable organs when working with knives and awls – at this step it’s crucial. It was very tempting to hold the shoe in such a way that I would be aiming towards my abdomen, but I had to find other angles and ways. When the awl found its way through all the layers as well as the holdfast, I held the layers fixed in their position as I withdrew the awl. Then, the curved needle was guided through the same path.

hand welting insole

Going back through the same hole with the other needle turned out to be impossible. I just couldn’t find the angle with the curved needle on the way back, from holdfast to welt. Hence, I had to constantly remove the needles from the thread, push them in backwards (eye first) through the hole, and attach the other end of the thread back onto the needle before I pulled it out again in the right direction. This was tedious work, but it did the job. Here’s the result:

hand welted

I slid a plastic shank in, removed a little more excess around the footbed and filled it with three layers of 2 mm sheet cork.


The shank was covered with 4 oz vegetable tanned leather (the same as used for uppers) – two slim strips on the side of the shank, and then one big one to cover the whole area and create a nice curvature for the outsole. I decided at this stage that Ericsberg will get a nicely bevelled waist, but not a fiddleback.

shank covered.jpg

I also added a 4 oz leather layer to the toe, and a 5 oz tip to the waist for added curvature. At this stage, Ericsberg was ready for outsoles:

foot beds

The outsoles were cemented on, excess was cut off, and I opened a channel to make way for closed stitching. I did this as described in my post The Outsole. I used 1 mm waxed polyester thread in the color ‘Flash jacinth‘, emphasizing the feeling that these shoes are on fire.

hand welting outsole

There is much beauty in a handmade shoe that is usually seen only by the shoemaker, before being perpetually sealed on the insides of the shoe.

hand welted complete

As an experiment, I made the heel lifts from two layers of 12-13 oz calf butt – a leather I otherwise use to make insoles and outsoles. I imagine this leather will be easier to finish nicely, in comparison to my previous heels made with multiple layers of 5 oz leather.

I tried pegging the heels but with no success – the awl got stuck in the leather badly as I was trying to make the first hole. Once I got the awl out, I simply nailed the heel lifts on instead, leaving room for the nails that will go around top lift.

heel lifts.jpg

With the top lifts in place, all that remains now is the finishing process and some polish.


Continue reading how the lasts wouldn’t come out »

Continue to the summary of the finished shoes »


  1. Hello,
    Congratulations for the nice work with the holdfast and the welting..
    I am glad to see that you finaly gave it a try !!
    Welting the rand is a tricky part, but it will get easier with some experience…
    Next time you coulf try to use waxed linen thread.. I usually use 7 cord barbour linen thread. It’s really strong and long lasting…
    Regarding to the needles, it would be better to use metal bristles, as you can curve them and give them any shape you need. Hence it’s really easier to go back through the same hole…
    I bought some from a cobbler supply shop. I you are interested, contact me by email, and I will send you some for free (amateur cobblers solidarity… &😊 )
    Best regards from France,


    • Hello again Antoine, and thanks for the kind feedback! I hope you noticed that I gave credit to you in the Part 1 post, when I actually made the holdfasts! 🙂 I’m really glad I gave it a go, and will certainly continue to do it this way. I didn’t even think about welting the rand – maybe I should try that for my next project. It feels like it shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how I use a single piece for welt and rand, and it shouldn’t be much harder than welting the toe…?

      Would you say waxed linen thread is more durable than waxed polyester, or is it mostly more traditional? How thick is 7 cord barboiur linen thread, and do you know where I can buy some?

      I would really like to give bristles a try and have sent you an email! 🙂


      • Hello again,
        You can try to welt the rand. In french we call it «baraquette»… it gives a more «rustic» style to the shoe, so it’s perfect for derby shoes.
        Waxed linen thread is more traditional and in my opinion it’s stronger than polyester ( in fact, top level shoemakers actually make their own linen thread, but I think it’ s a little bit too tedious)..
        You can easily find barbour linen thread on ebay (another possible choice is campbell linen thread, wich is just as good in term of quality). 7 cords (~ 1 mm) will be suitable for the welt, and 5 cords (0,8 mm) for the outsole…
        I’m loking forward to see the final result of this new pair of shoes !!


  2. In welting, I find that curved needles work well. Slide needle #2 into the hole from the other side while the first needle is still in the hole. It will be guided by the first needle and there is less risk of splitting the first thread. Then pull both needles through.


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