Disclaimer: This post contains an old attempt at shoemaking, during the 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.
Has your infant grown tired of factory made, goodyear welted shoes? Hand welted is the only way forward.
The adult shoes Augusta were finished early 2019, around winter’s end. These infant shoes are a baby version, made with the same deerskin upper and veg tanned baby calf lining.
The uppers are hand sewn, and the construction is English welted. The Outsole has a hidden outsole stitch and baby fiddleback decoration.
Here’s a family photo, together with Augusta Senior:
I made the baby shoe design on March 15th 2019:
The tape pattern was cut out and transferred to cardboard.
I used 3-4 oz deerskin in dark brown and white for the spectator uppers, and closed them by hand.
I attached some 2 oz veg tanned baby calf lining, also hand sewn using two needles.
With some tongues in place, here’s an prepared upper and last ready for lasting:
The 9-10 oz hard butt insoles were prepared with a hand carved holdfast to do an English welt, and so the shoes were English welted. I pre-cut a welting strip into shape from ca 5 oz veg tanned leather.
Once hand welted, I carved out and slid some wooden shanks in. Not because the shoes need shanks, but because I thought it was cool. Although difficult to see due to the lighting in the image below, the shoes had also been pegged in two rows prior to welting.
The footbeds were stuffed with cork filler, and I cemented on the leather outsoles. For outsoles, I used crust Tärnsjö leather that I baked at home in order to harden. The baking worked very well, and I will use this technique for making thin heel lifts for adult shoes.
- Cut out a bit of veg tanned leather that is no larger than your household baking tray. I used ca 8 oz leather.
- Soak the leather in warm water for ca 10 minutes.
- Let the leather dry until the leather is still moist but just not dripping wet. With crust leather this may take 1-2 hours.
- “Bake” the leather in your home oven, at ca 80 degrees Celcius (ca 180 degrees Farenheit), for the desired time. The longer the leather is baked, the harder it will get. In my convection oven, I’ve successfully baked leather between 14-24 minutes depending on the leather and the desired end result.
- When the leather is removed from the oven, it will be even more soggy than when it went in. If left on a tray until completely dry, it will scrunch itself into a distorted shape. I usually let the leather dry on its own for a bit, and then start flipping it over and moving around various weights on top of the leather as to keep it in place, while still allowing it to oxidize.
Anyway, I made a hidden outsole stitch at 10 stitches per inch.
Here’s the same shoe as above, but having rounded the toe and going for the finish line. Practice has made it much easier to stack the stitches nicely.
Construction: English welted, hand sewn uppers.
Last: Vintage, infant shoe last
Uppers: 3 oz deerskin in dark brown and white
Lining: 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf
Insoles: 9-10 oz veg tanned butt
Sockliner: 2 oz vegetable tanned baby calf
Stiffeners: Hirschkleber craft paste (no extra leather)
Outsoles: 8 oz home baked Tärnsjö crust leather
Rand/welt combo piece: 5 oz veg tann from Tärnsjö
Heels: 4 oz veg tanned calf side + Svig sheet rubber