London: Construction

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.

These shoes are made with the same pattern as Upsala and Aros, only this time, in a black variation. I couldn’t decide on the name for the longest time, so I just went with London.

For the third time, here’s an image of said pattern:

01 Uppsala Pattern

For insoles, I used my new favorite insole leather – a rather thick and slightly fatty veg tan from Tärnsjö Garveri. I soaked the insoles well and pinned them to the lasts like below, leaving them to dry entirely before drawing the holdfast with a scratch awl and carving it out.


With these shoes, the first specific improvement was how I did the heel stiffeners. Instagram user posted instructions from an old German shoemaking book on September 28th, on how to go about making a heel stiffener ‘the old way’. The olde book in turn was provided to said user by @allistercaine.

To use this method yourself, just read the instructions as linked above. When I had followed them (as well as winged it a little bit), I produced the following heel stiffeners, made with ca 3 mm veg tan crust from Tärnsjö Garveri. They were moistened and skived thoroughly, after which I made three small cuts to go in under the lasts.

01 Heel Stiffeners Skived.jpg

While still moist, I pinned the stiffeners to the lasts like below. (It was of course important to have the insoles in place while doing so, in order to ensure the fit.) Somehow, I find that it looks like a nun.

02 Heel Stiffeners pinned.jpg

A day or so later, the stiffeners were dry and could be removed from the lasts while retaining their new shape.

03 Heel stiffeners.jpg

When it was time to last the shoes for the final time, I painted the insides of the stiffeners in Hirschkleber using a toothbrush, and slid them into place onto the lining. Having dried into shape around the lasts, the stiffeners fit perfectly. (The veg tanned baby calf lining increased the volume ever so slightly compared to when the stiffeners were made, but only with less than a millimeter.).

I then painted Hirschkleber craft paste on top of the stiffener pieces (and on top of the small part of the stiffeners sticking in under the heel feather). I also applied an ever so slight amount of Hirschkleber on top of the lining right on top of the holdfast, as an experiment.

When the toe puffs were in place, I lasted the shoes. I was very content with the fit of the pattern, as shown below before trimming any excess.

04 Lasted heels.jpg

As visible below (if you look for it), I hadn’t trimmed the lining all around the shoe before lasting. Instead, I let the bulk of the lining protrude through the opening of the shoe, and pinned excess lining to the last. This made it much easier, in my limited experience, to align the shoes properly while lasting.

As usual, I used thick veg tan scraps to protect the facing while lasting.


I love me some welting leather from Leather & Grindery. This time, I used the last of my pre-dyed stock, to later move on to natural (which I will dye myself).

I left the pre-dyed welting leather in the bath for 12+ hours. This made the regular tap drinking water turn into a new shade of darkness, seen before only at the reactor core of the Chernobyl power plant.

10 welting water.jpg

I pegged and welted the shoes.

11 welted.jpg

Here’s a view of the welt from the side:

12 welted side

I then filled the footbed with tar felt. This would be major improvement #2.

The felt itself was generously donated to me as a sample, from a contact through the Footwear Makers Forum on facebook. Again: thanks a million! As can be read on Shoegazing here, a certain reigning world champion also tends to favor tar felt for bottom filler.

13 tarred felt.jpg

As for major improvement #3, I took big leaps forward with the outsole seam. Of course, there’s room for improvement still, but at the very least this is a big step forward. It was sewn at 9 spi.

14 awl outsole.jpg

Working from the welt side, I tried my best to get the awl through the pre-ground channel in the hidden flap.

15 outsole seam.jpg

One of the majorly important things while sewing the outsole seam, I’ve found, is to pre-mark where the stitching holes will go with a scratch awl.

16 outsole stitch.jpg

I stropped the awl regularly, and dipped it in fresh bees wax. Before trimming the edges and re-fudging, this is what it looked like.

17 outsole seaming.jpg

Then I went on to build the heels and finish the shoes.

Continue to the summary of the finished shoes »

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