If you’re a lover of all things leather, you will enjoy this blog. Since the text is in Japanese, there wasn’t anything that I could read, but that wasn’t important because the photos are spectacular. I scanned for footwear and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, trying to imagine what the patterns for the unusual shoes would look like. I promised myself that I would attempt to make mock-ups someday. However, braiding leather so beautifully and making braided leather “bezels” to hold semi-precious stones in place, as this artist does so successfully, are things that I will never do.
Well, as I look closely at the sandal I see that the braiding is not simply decorative but is used to close a seam (Why is there a seam? – it does allow the soft leather to more closely take the shape of the foot – and also allows the maker to be able to stitch the upper pieces to the sole inside of the upper pieces – but are those the reasons?).
RUFUS PERRIMAN REMEMBERS THE DAY HE GOT HIS LAST PAIR OF SHOES. “I WOULD SAY IN MAY. MAY 17. I RECEIVED A PAIR OF SNEAKERS”.
HE REMEMBERS BECAUSE THOSE SNEAKERS AREN’T JUST ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES. RUFUS IS HOMELESS AND HAS RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS. HIS SHOES AND CANE ARE HIS MODE OF TRANSPORTATION AS HE MAKES HIS WAY TO ST. FRANCIS HOUSE.
“WHEN I HAD A HOLE IN MY SNEAKERS, AND I CAME HERE IN THE WINTERTIME. I WORE THE SHOES HERE. BECAUSE THAT WAS THE ONLY PAIR I HAD. AND I SHOWED THEM THE HOLES IN MY SHOES AND GAVE ME AN EMERGENCY CLOTHING TICKET. AND I RECEIVED A VERY NICE PAIR OF SHOES. I WAS THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD”.
RUFUS SAYS HIS LIFE CHANGED A FEW YEARS AGO AFTER HE GOT SICK, LOST HIS JOB. AND THEN LOST HIS APARTMENT IN A FIRE. HE NEVER THOUGHT HE WOULD BE IN A POSITION WHERE ONE PAIR, HIS ONLY PAIR OF SHOES WOULD MAKE HIM SO HAPPY.
“IN THE PAST I JUST THROW THEM DOWN. KICK THEM OFF MY FEET AND THROW THEM IN THE CORNER AND LEAVE THEM THERE UNTIL I NEEDED THEM. RIGHT NOW I’M NOT ABLE TO DO THAT BECAUSE I’M HOMELESS. I LEARN TO APPRECIATE. I LEARN TO VALUE THOSE LITTLE THINGS”.
HE GETS HIS SHOES AND CLOTHES FROM ST. FRANCIS HOUSE. A DAY SHELTER SERVING 800 HOMELESS MEN AND WOMEN IN BOSTON EVERY DAY. WE’VE BEEN HERE 30 YEARS. AND WE BEGAN AS A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE COULD COME DURING THE DAY. EVENTUALLY BE A CONSTRUCTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO BEING OUT ON THE STREETS.
DEMAND IS SO HIGH THAT BY THE END OF EACH SEASON, THE SHELVES ARE NEARLY BARE. WE’RE GIVING 3,000 PAIRS OF SHOES AWAY EVERY YEAR. AND IN SPITE OF THAT VOLUME OF SHOES THAT WE’RE GIVING, WE STILL HAVE TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF SHOES THAT PEOPLE CAN GET TO ONE PAIR OF SHOES EVERY THREE MONTHS.
AND THE NEED FOR PEOPLE TO DONATE SHOES TO US IS INCREDIBLE. THE NEED PARTLY MET BY THE SHOES CRUISE, AN ANNUAL FUNDRAISER FEATURING ENTERTAINMENT, SOCIALIZING AND BEAUTIFUL VIEWS OF BOSTON HARBOR. ADMISSION IS $30. AND A NEW PAIR OF SHOES. ALL TO BENEFIT ST. FRANCIS HOUSE. TIM NOLAN STARTED THE EVENT IN 2003. ONE OF THE MAJOR NEEDS WAS MEN’S SHOES, SIZE 9-13. THEY’RE COMING IN TO GET NEW FOOTWEAR. AND THEY HAD ALL SORTS OF PROBLEMS WITH THEIR SHOES. WHICH LEADS TO ALL SORTS OF OTHER, YOU KNOW, INFECTIONS AND WHAT NOT. SO AT THAT POINT I SAID, YOU GOT TO BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING TO RAISE FOOTWEAR AND RAISE AWARENESS AT THE SAME TIME.
The link to this video was on the facebook page Shoemaker’s Forum recentlyy. I have just begun to realize all the uses for this stitching technique. Thank you, Zacharias!
I’ve seen a lot of felt shoelaces, they’re always made from wool roving that is wet with soapy water, then rolled like you’re making a snake out of play-dough until they get long and skinny. They’re usually lumpy and irregular, at least when I’ve tried to make them. So the brilliance of chain-stitching, then felting wool yarn – with the same soapy water – No lumps! And so many color possibilities – they could even be multi-colored..make some for your shoes in need of a creative touch!
Here’s a shot of fisher sandals I have made my granddaughter at the ages of six months, a year and one-half, and now two and one-half years. My daughter loves these sandals, she says they stay on her daughter’s feet, are easy to get on after the first few times, are flexible so Millie’s feet operate naturally, and they’re made of real leather and are hand-made! She encourages me to make them for sale, but most of my time is used to finish another pattern book or to pick raspberries – but maybe you could make them!
They are simple to make, that’s why the patterns are in my book, How to Make the Simplest Sandals for Everyone with your own two hands!
Sandy Lonto purchased one of the first copies of How to Make the Simplest Shoes: Nomocs, Lomocs and Fomocs (I made up these names) with your own two hands, and quickly made a pair of fomocs! She created a sling-back-style, and “butt-stitched” her upper to the partial fomoc edge with the “baseball stitch”.
Fomocs are made by inserting a band between two layers of soling, that stands up and has holes punched along its top edge. I described her fomoc edge as “partial” because she only made the band on the front part of the shoe, as the sling area doesn’t need it.
The baseball stitch is a butt-stitch because the two pieces of leather being stitched don’t overlap: they butt up against each other. When I saw how she had butt-stitched the shoe, I realized that if you make a shoe with “tucked” stitches between the band and the upper, as is directed in the book, but find it is too tight, you can un-stitch it and remake with a butt-stitch! You’ll gain 1/4″ of extra space all around.
If you make a shoe by one of these techniques and it is too big, you can un-stitch it, cut off a strip around the bottom edge of the upper, punch a new set of holes, and re-stitch. Or, insert a thick insole and the shoe will fit more snugly.
So, how do you make the baseball stitch? As Sandy describes it, it’s just like you’re making a cross-stitch, except, when making a leg of the “X” you start out as usual, but after crossing the seam you take the thread to the back side of the band, then out through the next stitch hole in the band.
Of course you could use the cross-stitch as a butt stitch. Here you see a cross-stitch, an “X and bar” stitch, a box stitch, and the back side of the cross-stitch, that creates a two-thread bar, all butt-stitch options.
Recently a beautiful pair of tooled sandals was posted on Leather Crafters facebook page. They were made similarly to the pair shown above that a student made, except the two bands were connected to each other. Readers asked how the sandals were made, and since I have experience making similar sandals, here’s how I would make them.
I am not making “real” sandals in this tutorial, my goal is to show the process; therefore, I am using thin scrap leather. Some processes are not explained in detail, because this tutorial is being written for a leather-worker facebook page. Either of my sandal-making books, How to Make Simple Sandals for Women and How to Make the Simplest Sandals for Everyone offer more in-depth explanations.
Once you become familiar with this process, you might like to look at my Pinterest Board, https://www.pinterest.com/simpleshoemaker/sandals-and-other-things-to-inspire-the-making-of-/. You can see many styles of sandals that can be made by similar processes. You can extend the masking tape up your ankle to create some of the gladiator styles.
I think a pattern could be made using a process similar to the one that I use for making custom shoe uppers, which you can see at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8RMcXhw40c.
When this sandal was completed, it fit me perfectly, although the outside edge was stitched back further than I would like. Just a slight shift in the alignment of tabs on the inside can send the outside askew, so please keep this in mind and check alignment frequently throughout the process.
1. It is very helpful to have an assistant to help you with this procedure. Stand on a piece of paper and have the assistant draw around your foot. To make the sole pattern, straighten out the irregularities, add a small amount of toe room and make a nice shape in the toe area. Cut it out of thin cardboard. Cut another piece of cardboard bigger than the sole to work on.
2. You will be layering masking tape over your foot to create the pattern. Start by inserting the cardboard sole in a knee-high stocking, then place your foot inside the stocking, on top of the sole. Stand with your leg straight up and down. You will place masking tape strips over an area a little bigger than the area you want the sandal upper to cover, as you will eventually draw the sandal on the tape.
Begin placing masking tape strips diagonally across one side of your foot, extending them over the center line of your foot. Press the other end of the strip against the side of the sole you are standing on, with the excess tape continuing on to the second piece of cardboard. Overlap the strips about 1/4″. Cover the sandal area with tape.
You can’t complete the taping of the toe ring because the stocking is in the way, so just extend some tape straight out in that area, to fold down later.
3. Apply a second layer of tape going horizontally over this same area.
4. When two layers of tape have been applied, sketch your sandal upper on to the tape with a pencil, then go over it with a permanent marker. Also draw with a permanent marker along the bottom edge of your pattern, where the two pieces of cardboard meet. Mark the front and back edge of the sandal upper on the sole so you will know where to re-align it.
5. Now you should be able to slip your foot out. Cut the pattern off along the bottom edge where the two pieces of cardboard meet. Lay it out as best you can onto a piece of paper. There will be some distortion between the 3-D and 2-D patterns.
Note if you like the shapes of the edges of your pattern; you might want to fold one side of the instep edge over the other and redraw it, so both sides are the same.
6. With this upper, it would require lengthy slits along both sides of the topsole, so I would divide the sides up, into tabs. I decided to cut the inner bottom edge into three tabs, and the outer bottom edge into two tabs, all extending about one inch into the upper. Tabs will be added to the bottom edges of the upper that will pass through slits in the topsole, then will be secured to the bottom of the topsole.
Once the pattern is complete, check your pattern to see how it looks over your foot, by adding pieces of tape to the bottom edge of the sandal. Stand back on your sole, tape the pattern in place, and try it on. Bring the incomplete side of the toe ring down around your toe and mark where it touches the sole. Mark on the sole where the sides of the tabs are. Make any adjustments to the pattern that are needed.
7. To complete your pattern, extend the length of each tab 3/4 inch to fold under the topsole. Keep in mind that some of the length of the tabs will be taken up by its passing through the topsole.
8. Now that you have your pattern, use it to cut out your leather. Four-to-five ounce leather would be ideal, but other weights would work depending on the leather’s flexibility. If you plan to carve it, of course you would use vegetable-tanned leather. If not, chrome-tanned could also work, depending on its qualities.
9. Cut out the topsole – best cut from 9-to-ten ounce vegetable-tanned leather, using a utility knife.
10. Cut slits for tabs in the topsole, 3/8 inch from the edge, starting with the inside (you can insert the tabs and double-check the location of the outside tabs before cutting them). Use a pair of wing dividers set to this distance to make an indention in the leather. Punch out a small circle where the sides of the tabs would be. Use a utility knife to cut the slits between the circles.
11. I stitch all my upper pieces to the topsole, because I do not use shoe cements such as Barge. I use Ecoweld from Tandy Leather or Aquilim sg from http://sorrellnotionsandfindings.customboots.net/product/aquilim-sg/. I apply one of these cements to the bottom of the topsole and to the tabs. When the cement is dry, adhere the tabs on the inside of the sandal to the topsole.
If you like to pre-punch stitching holes even when using the stitching awl (I do) – use a round punch to make them or the three-prong 1/8″ thonging chisel to make slits, then use a stitching awl to stitch a line about 3/16″ inside the tab slits, that catches all the tabs.
12. Use the stitching awl, working from the bottom of the topsole, to stitch the tabs on the outside of the sandal to the topsole, including the other side of the toe piece.
Make a line for stitching the tabs of the shoe upper and a line for stitching the other toe tab, insert the tabs, and punch holes or slits 3/16″ inside the tab slits. Make as many holes or slits from the top of the sandal as you can, then turn it over and complete punching.
Stitch the tabs to the topsole.
13. To complete the sandal, add a bottom sole. I avoid petrol-based soling, so I use natural rubber, 12-14 ounce vegetable-tanned leather, or layers of car or truck inner tube for bottom soles. If using leather, see 14. before cementing sole layers together. Cut your bottom sole out, apply cement to the top of it – there’s already cement on the bottom of your topsole- let it dry, and cement it to the topsole.
Draw a line 1/4″ in from the edge w/ wing dividers , and stitch the two sole layers together.
14. If both of your sole layers are leather, rub beeswax or other edge finishing substance over the edge and buff, either with a buffer or a paper bag. If the bottom sole is natural rubber, finish the topsole edge before cementing the layers together. After buffing, your sandals are complete.
I recently came across an old proof sheet of sandals I used to make – before I learned the health problems associated with the use of shoe contact cement, and swore off the use of petrol-based soling. So these sandals have Vibram soles, that were attached to the sandal with Barge cement.
Some of them had a wax-resist band, with a touch of embroidery for extra color. Others had stars and stitching. A design I particularly like is the purple and black sandal with the flower on the vamp – I love the tie heel piece. I’m inspired to find a way to incorporate some of these designs into the ecological sandals I now make.