Shaping the first layer
By now you should know that I don’t do much “normally”. I research, I see what others have done, I think a lot and I dive in. Here’s the first splash into serious shoe-making, sink or swim.
I had some cured leather (neither vegetable nor chrome tanned) I’ve cut to act as the form for the bottom of the shoe. Okay, maybe that’s the wrong way to say it. The last is actually the form for the shoe, but once the last’s taken out, I want there to be something that stabilizes the shoe lateral, a second stabilizing connection between the sole and the lining/upper.
If you’re wondering why all the cord instead of nice tidy row of finish nails to hold the leather in place . . . I neglected to get the right size finish nails on my last foray to town. Maybe next time, assuming I remember to put it on the shopping list. For now, I’ve had to settle for a couple horse shoe nails and bounteous amounts of cord. On the plus side, that seems to have worked pretty well. I think I could have done nearly the same thing with a cut up t-shirt in less time, something to try next time.
Sans cording and nails
Here’s what I have (tentatively) decided to try.
The leather you see wrapped around the bottom of the last is being shaped to the last. Once it has completely dried, I will trim and skive it so the top edge is a uniform height and the thickness graduates to nothing at that level. Once the trimming and skiving is done, I will set aside these pieces of leather to be added to the assembly later.
Next step is to start normal shoe construction with a leather layer on the bottom of the last that ends at the edge of the bottom. This layer is skived/rasped at the edge to graduate it to nothing as it comes around the corner from bottom to side of foot.
The upper will be constructed of two layers (outer and lining) with a welt (around ankle and lace opening) and tongue. The upper is then stretched over the top of last and the lining is pulled down over the bottom of the last where it is stretched, shaped, trimmed and rasped to a harmonious and flat meeting with the initial sole.
At this point I will insert the leather form I created at the beginning, gluing it into position. As well as stability, this will provide some base line waterproofing. Toe and heel counters are then added using judicious applications of Barge cement. Then the sole will be applied to the bottom of the assembly and the upper outer will be pulled down and stitched to the sole. I’m thinking I’m going to have to have one more layer of leather before the sole is applied. If I stitch this layer of leather to the previously formed shaper, then apply the shaper to the last, then apply the sole and attach the upper to the sole catching this additional piece of leather, the build will be ultra solid but hopefully not too stiff. The sole and upper outer will then be trimmed and finished and a sole bed liner will then be added to the inside of the shoe.
I can see a couple problems with this approach but I won’t know how it will wear until I try it. I am hoping to produce a shoe with a lot of lateral stabilizing support that isn’t too rigid. I’m a little concerned that I didn’t make the initial shaped leather tall enough at the sides and back. We’ll have to see how they wear.
So here we go . . . sink or swim.