Wednesday, January 23

Handless sewn thoughts

Like I previously mentioned I already finished these shoes quite a while ago, but right now it's actually nice to notice how much I've developed since these and gained more understanding of shoemaking in general. I'm quite a newbie when it comes to the whole shoemaking process. Learning and process is what I'm in it for, and without it it's quite pointless to be a craft orientated person.

The recent six months have been a pause from actual doing, since I've still not got any shop to pursue my shoemaking passions in. Hence, I was joking with my colleagues: "Otso makes shoes only online, not for real". Well, if this blog is an extension of my persona in some weird way, the joke is actually not very far from the truth :)

Less conversation, more action.

Since the waist isn't going to be stitched, I decided to try and see how a pegged waist would look, as they're more or less done in authentic western boots.

I decided to give this special decorative stitchmarker a try. It's called a 'fudge wheel' in London and a 'roulette' in some other place. In the end I flunked the use of this, I really need someone to tell me how it's done properly.

Next on the 'let's try this technique while most propably ruining the shoe' - list was: channel cutting. When the sole is stitched, one way to hide and protect the stitch is to cut a channel like above and have it neatly hidden under the sole leather.

Well, it didn't go all too well. Either I cut too deep or made cuts to the surface. Lucky me for modern contact cements. Lucky me for not doing this a hundred years ago, my master would've made me immobile.

Well, it's something. Not a properly cut channel, but something. Something nasty.
Should I be telling you all this?
Shouldn't I just show myself in the light of a perfect shoemaker and call myself a master?


And let the sewing commense. The fudge wheel was number 12, so that's 12 stitches per inch.
That's 12 stitches per 2,5cm.
That's roughly one stitch in 2mm steps.
Needless to say, it took me ages. And ages.
Anyways, here you can see that for a very tight stitching one needs an curved awl with a vertical profile, in contrast to the horizontal blades with which the welt and more casual shoe soles are sewn with.

That's tight.

Whew! All done.
I decided to dye the stitches black after this. That's how great they looked.

After sewing, I closed the channel with contact cement. My favourite cement right now is Renia's Ortec. Wonderful stuff, if you happen to like such things.

After drying out, I gently skived the soles with a piece of glass to remove any marks made by previous handling.

After sanding the edges, I applied some water with a sponge and some high Ph soap (Ph above 7).

The moist edge pressed with a heated tool, and the nice stitchmarks from the fudgewheel are carelessly removed by using an improper tool for the job. Nice going. Well, I didn't have much to go with at the time.

"Yeah, as long as it shine's we're all good."


  1. Good on you for giving it a go... I've never done a stitched sole, or welt for that matter, and would be too scared to try without help!

    Looking forward to seeing the final result.

    1. I meant to say it looks great, too! I especially like the pegs in the waist, nice touch. I know that feeling only too well... where you kind of know what you're doing, but are still not sure it's right...

      Oh well, if we didn't experiment we'd never learn, right?!

    2. Hi Janine, thanks for your compliments! Great that you're giving comments, coz it's darn nice to get any kind of feedback, as you propably know ;) Anyways, I'm actually not all new to this technique as it's actually from my master that I've learned the most. He's not always too happy about my experiments as I usually just go way over the edge with them. But I'm keen on learning, and this pair really gave me a push in understanding different approaches. They might not be professionally satisfactory but the end product was ok, and let's be frank: they look a hell better than if they were just done with a cemented construct.