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.
At the time of writing, it was a while ago since I finished a pair of shoes for myself. (Gefle and Sigtuna were both made as gifts for close family.) The wheel of time has turned, and now it’s arrow points once more to my feet.
These shoes are named Wik (pronouced “veek”) after Wik castle in Uppsala county, Sweden. It will be a vegetable tanned, hand painted austerity brogue.
To my aid in this endeavor, I have ordered and recieved new lasts from Springline. They are in the same shape and size that had to be destroyed in the unlasting of Ericsberg, but with a scoop and screw feature… I love this last, and find that it’s the most comfortable last that I’ve worn. It’s also a real pleasure to work with.
I cut out the tape segments from the lasts, transferred them to cardboard patterns with usual margins (7 mm under seams, 35 mm lasting allowance), cut out some first grade 4 oz vegetable tanned leather using said patterns, skived the pieces thoroughly and burned them around the nap edges. Nothing new under the sun thus far.
Then I dyed them using Fiebing’s Pro Dye in chocolate. I’ve used pro dye to dye welts before, but this is the first time I’m trying it on uppers. I’m used to dye looking way dark before it’s dried thoroughly, but even after this dye had dried, it looked very dark and more gray than brown. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this would take a couple of days (while being able to work with it) to turn into a nice chocolate – but eventually it did. I also find that pro dye dries faster than regular Fiebing’s leather dye, doesn’t rub off color as easily, and that you can start working with it much sooner.
This was as said “chocolate” – they also do have a “dark chocolate” offering.
I tried to dye them as uniformly as possible, and applied several coats – too many if anything. (Dye started showing on the nap side, which I’m thinking it probably shouldn’t.)
The pieces were pricked and cemented together in two dimensions. (Or rather four, if you count the fact that any known object in the natural world is three dimensional, and that time passed during the existence of this object in particular.)
Renia Gummilösung was used to cement the pieces together. I first tried this adhesive with Gefle, and I am not looking to change… Then I punched out the sewing holes with hammer and awl as usual, but using a slightly more slender awl than before, to get smaller sewing holes. I sewed with two needles using bonded nylon thread.
Here’s a closeup of the hand stitching, before the uppers were cemented together into an (at least) three dimensional object.
I made two-piece linings with 1st grade 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf. To put lining and uppers together, I first lasted the lining alone with water. I lasted it rather crudely, but still more thoroughly than I’ve done before. When the lining was dry and snug against the last, I pulled the uppers down onto the lining and used Renia Gummilösung again – starting at the heel and working my way down the opening of the shoe. I found that having the lining lasted so tightly made this step much easier than in my previous attempts.
The dried up veg tanned lining retains it’s shape even when removed from the last. I think it looks nice, and helps to find the alignment on the last when lasting them again, although the lining did get in the way of the needle when sewing the lining and uppers together around the opening of the shoe.
I made insoles with 13 oz vegetable tanned calf butt, with the grain side sanded down and facing the interior of the shoe. I made the holdfasts ever so slightly wider than on previous shoes, and think that next time I will try adding even more holdfast width. I also positioned the holdfasts closer to the feather edge than on my previous pair, as to avoid any unwanted gap.
I still do not have a suitable awl for hand welting, which is why I did the holes in my home-made method; going from the outside of the holdfast and into the shoe with a straight awl. Next time, I hope to own a suitable awl to do it the traditional way.
I prepared the shoes for lasting, protected the facing with strips of veg tanned leather and tied the shoes tightly with 1 mm waxed polyester thread. Like on Gefle, I skipped top beading and instead slicked and dyed the veg tanned edges together, to look like it’s the same leather. I also gave the top edges a thin coat of Fiebing’s Resolene as an experiment. I put in some 3,6 mm YKK eyelets using a YKK multi pliers. The tongues were made made like the rest of the shoe, with the same uppers, lining and sewing.
I made sure to remember talcing up the lining and lasts before proceeding.
When the lining was lasted with water again (and dried up), I used first grade 5 oz vegetable tanned bull shoulder for stiffeners. Previously, I’ve used 5 oz latigo tanned calf shoulder, and while I have liked it, I wanted to try a pure veg tan for stiffeners. I pasted the lining at the toes with Hirschkleber and put in five small nails to secure the position of the puff. I made sure to allow a margin towards the skived edge of the puff, as not to rip the stiffener apart at the nails while lasting.
I was going to try making and putting in the heel counters like I was making a derby, but forgot about that. (When flipping the uppers up at the heel to last the heel counters, the veg tanned leather tends to create stretch marks that do not entirely disappear in the final lasting. It looks like it could be a nice desired effect, but I desired very smooth heels.) Here’s what it looked like with toe puff and heel counter lasted in place:
The stiffeners were left to dry, excess was cut off and sanded down.
And here they are, lasted for the final time with more Hirschkleber on top of the stiffeners. I moistened the uppers both before and after lasting, and they are still darkened by the warm water. Wik is taking shape.
Continue reading in Part 2 »