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.
As an intermissive and meditative jaunt, I’ve made these hand welted baby shoes. I’ve made them as a present for my infant niece, built to last a lifetime…
I’ve made an effort to construct these shoes as if I were making adult shoes. Wherever possible, I’ve used the same methods and techniques as I’d normally use for an adult shoe. Indeed, these baby shoes are hand welted.
I actually started with the intention to make a balmoral boot, and made a pattern with tape and flexible cardboard. While putting the uppers together, I decided to skip putting on the shafts – even though I had shafts cut out, dyed, lined and ready to go. I just really liked the way they looked as little lady shoes, without boot shafts.
Eager to keep the shoe lightweight and 100% veg tanned, I used the same 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf leather for uppers as well as lining. The uppers were dyed with Fiebing’s alcohol based leather dye.
Some tiny heel stiffeners were cut out of the same 2 oz baby calf as uppers and lining. The stiffeners were inserted at the heels with Hirschkleber craft paste. I should’ve included a match or something for reference in the image below, but these stiffeners were really tiny:
Toe puffs of the same leather were lasted with Hirschkleber underneath.
Lasted toe puff from above:
Once fully lasted, Natalia was starting to take shape:
I trimmed the edges and inserted some tiny wooden shanks for good measure, cut out from adult sized shanks. (Thanks again, Antoine!) Not because the shoes need shanks – just “because”.
Then I hand-welted the shoes. Due to the small size and rather thin insoles, I didn’t do an English welt (which is to say, I didn’t sew through a channel in the insoles). I used 4 oz veg tanned calf side for the welt and rand combo piece.
The footbeds were filled with cork. In this case, not because I expect the cork to form after the feet for long-lasting comfort, so much as because I needed to fill it up with something…
I stuck on some 9 oz veg tanned shoulder as outsoles and shaped a baby fiddle decoration with a bone folder. Then I made the outsole stitching with an open channel.
A view from above of the outsole stitch before finishing:
I then built the heels with 9 oz vegetable tanned shoulder, and finished Natalia like any other shoe I’ve done. I polished them like I would polish any shoe – with Saphir Medaille d’Or Renovateur, Créme 1925, and Pate de luxe.
Natalia was made to match Ericsberg, a pair of shoes I’ve previously made for myself:
The upper leather used is obviously much thinner on Natalia (though the lining is the same), but I’ve dyed Natalia in the same manner as Ericsberg. To further match the shoes, I’ve used the same thread for hand-sewing the uppers, and the same bright orange thread for the outsole stitch.
I look forward to be wearing Ericsberg next to Natalia when the recipient comes of age.
Construction: hand welted, hand sewn uppers.
Last: Vintage boot lasts
Uppers: 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf
Lining: 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf
Insoles: 9 oz vegetable tanned shoulder
Sockliner: 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf
Outsoles: 9 oz vegetable tanned shoulder
Toe/heel stiffeners: 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf
Rand/welt combo piece: 4 oz vegetable tanned calf
Heel lifts: 9 oz vegetable tanned shoulder
I am a cobbler