I am so happy that I have shoemaking students coming to my home to learn – it gives me a great reason to purchase materials – and books! that if they were only for me – well, I have so many design ideas already that I don’t think I have enough years left to experiment with them all. The latest book I purchased – for my students – is a 5″ x 8″ book from Trippen, the German shoemaking company. It shipped from Germany, is printed both in English and in German, has almost 600 pages of – inspiration. There is nothing I love more than taking an advant-garde shoe with all its chunky sole and industrial hardware, and tame it down into a great little “stitch-down”. But early-on in the book, I ran into “meander” – an actual stitch-down, rendered in softest-elk (as most Trippen shoes are) – I would hardly modify it at all. I have an elk hide, will be whipping up myself a “meandering pair” some day. Maybe you will too?

stitch-down from Trippen


Now that I look at it — this shoe is a little trickier to make than I had realized – where do all those tabs come from that make up the toe?

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  1. The shoes that I make for myself are hand stitched from top to bottom. Punching holes in the upper-topsole-rubber midsole is a task I don’t look forward to because of the wear and tear on my hands, shoulders and wrists. But I figured out a way to breeze through this! I used my husbands drill press. I put a small nail (brad) in the chuck of the press, clamped a scrap of a pine board to the table of the press so the brad would have something to go into after passing through the midsole. No need to turn the drill press on. I just used the up and down lever action of the press to make the holes. I just finished punching holes in a variation of your Fisherman Sandal in about a half hour. Works like a charm! Will send a photo when they are completed (if I can figure out how.)

  2. I recently finished a pair of “Ghillies” along the lines of the pair pictured above made of one piece of glove tanned leather (lined with pigskin) with 14 “fingers” wrapping the toe area and 3 more on each side of the arch. I stitched the entire piece to a midsole and then attached a thin rubber sole. Minimal sewing involved. The pattern was a bear to make but once I got that mastered the shoes are incredibly comfortable. While not everyone likes the look of the ‘bump toe’ effect I have found that the leather in the toe area has started to relax with each wearing

  3. The tabs in the toe come from cutting the leather either in a wide U shape, as theshoelady said, or perhaps even from a straight strip. The straighter the piece (that is, the wider the U), the more bulk in the toe. Imagine cutting roughly a rectangle, then putting slits across most of its width. The uncut edge gets stitched to the sole. This piece runs around the forefoot. This is a very old design–the Romans used something very similar to make the sandals their soldiers wore.

  4. Very neat shoe – good for feet that swell. To get the tabs at the toe, the pattern needs to be cut in a wide ‘U’ shape. The toe area can also be left uncut and pleated, and the lace passed through slots in the pleats. This would make the area less bulky.

    1. greetings, you haven’t seen anything yet – this book is full of amazing shoes – one that can be changed from a low-heeled shoe to a high-heeled one, another that adjusts for different sizes! I am thinking that the “meander” shoe is cut with a strip extending from the shoe in the toe area on both sides of the shoe; the ends then get turned back and cemented in place around the toe area, so there are two layers there…i’ve got to try it sometime, are you guessing construction like i am, or, as shoe lady, do you maybe have a pair?! I think if i wanted the look, i wouldn’t make it with so much going on in the toe area either, best wishes, sharon

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