Monday, January 7

A lap, an awl and wet leather

Aye! And a merry christmas... er, no it's happy new yerrr....
Ah well, time flies when you're not making shoes ;) My december was pretty much social media free, but right now we might as well get to business as usual: shoemaking. It's a flash from the spring/summer of 2012 with the pair of black western styled heels I made.
The whole project was filled with a lot of experimenting on different techniques and methods. That means I'm not yet very comfortable with them and I would've done a lot of them differently to get a nicer outcome. But it's all for the learning.

So here's where it's all happening: my lap. The shoe is tightly fixed between my knees with a leather belt which in turn can be tightened with my other foot.

Hmh, I didn't take any pictures of the needles. Oh well, the welt, the upper, the lining and the holdfast (?) is penetrated with a special curved awl to create a channel for the threads through the moistened leather.
A lockstitch is made. I can now see from this picture that I didn't do a proper job in waxing these threads.

Removing excess staples.

I had a dilemma for the tip, as it was very pointy, and I had quite an amount of material to push underneath the shoe for sewing.  So I cut most of the toe cap and lining away to allow the upper and welt some space. I managed to damage the holdfast while doing this. I know I'm not very experienced with this, so if you've any tips on how to make it better, I'm all ears :)

It's a handsewn welt. Well, atleast it looks like one. I've only ever seen the steadfast carved into the actual leather insole elsewhere , but my master taught me only this method, so I'll start from what I know the best. After all I've only sewn a few pairs until now.

And the welt looks like this upside down.

Next I decided to stead the rest of the welt with wooden nails. No glue here, just a punch with an awl and a punch with a wooden nail. The trick to wooden nails is to just hit them once, and you'll get the best result. whenever's there's moisture the wood swells and sticks tightly to the surrounding materials. It's a really strong method for fastening thick leather onto another. Surprisingly.

Like so.
And the shoe looks like this now.

Next, the cork fillings are cemented.

And applied.

I wanted to try to make this special kind of ridge for an added visual candy.

On which the actual sole leather is pressed with contact cement.
Next we'll sew the sole, attach the heel, decorate and finish the shoes.


  1. These pictures really remind me of Paulig's tv commercials :)

    1. Thanks Miia :) I guess there's some of that especially in the close ups.

  2. Hello, I have been going through your blog site just recently. I have from there got to know of Tuomi Kenka . Thanks for the information. Could you then give me more information on some companies that use leather. I will need lots of waste leather materials for my personal project.