While watching an old video showing a shoemaker at work, I saw a solution to one of my biggest stitch-down shoemaking problems. It is very important that the sole has an evenly-distributed 1/4″ lip extending out from the bottom of the last. In other words, there needs to be 1/4″ of sole peeking out all around the edge of the last. One has to have very strong hands to center the sole, then holding the last and sole in place, flip it over without the sole shifting.
The solution to this problem is shown here. Shoemakers use a leather strap that goes under the foot, then around the last and sole, so these two are held together sufficiently tight that they won’t shift. Then the sole can be nailed to the bottom of the last in the correct position.
As you can see, I used a bicycle inner tube instead of a leather strap, cut and tied at the proper length for me. Making stitch-downs just got a whole lot easier!