Archive for June 2015

Gathering dust in my closet for many years now are these old “Gunboats”. I purchased them back in my starving actor years at a Goodwill store, must have been in the previous millenium. I have not worn them in the last ten years, except for once shooting a period piece. The lining is worn out and at the vamp the creases are cracked but I never had the heart to throw them away. They still have something solid about them. A perfect candidate for a rejuvenation project.

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So, I take off the heels and out sole…

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…and carefully separate the upper from the insole and lining.

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Here is a good example of the infamous “Goodyear Welt”. I always crinch when some moron calls this the gold standard of shoe construction. Many people also confuse “Goodyear Welt” with a hand welted construction, where the welt is actually sewn straight onto the insole. Mr. Goodyears big contribution to the world of shoe making was not the invention of this construction – the machine was invented by a German shoemaker. He only marketed the new machine under his name. Since a Goodyear Welt can be stitched on by an unskilled worker (or now a child in the Far East) using heavy machinery in minutes, mass production of shoes became possible. Of course thousands of shoemakers got also screwed out of a job.

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Modern “Goodyear Construction” uses the process of “Gemming”, where the welt is attached to the insole via a fabric or synthetic material which is glued onto the insole. Most RTW shoes are constructed this way, to my knowledge even G&G, EG and John Lobb use it.

To be fair though, on these -probably 50 year old – shoes the construction held up nicely and was pretty hard to take apart. I just find it kind of questionable to charge a premium price and marvel about the quality of a shoe which is held together by glue and a piece of cloth to save a few nickels….

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Cutting out the cracked leather…

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and sewing in new lining and crokodile skin for the vamp using the existing holes.

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Lasting and welting the shoe is a bit of a challenge since there is not much excess material to work with and the leather is already a bit briddle in some areas. So I make the holes for welting not in advance but as I make the stitches, sometimes using the existing holes to avoid creating a big postage stamp.

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The shoes get dyed black, receive a shank and the stitching channel of the welt is being closed with the material I saved when I cut the channel.

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Leather for the back of the shoe, cork for the front.

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The front part of the outsole is sewn on with hidden stitching…

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…the waist and heel are being attached with wooden pegs.

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Finished!

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I like how the crokodile skin has a pretty similar pattern on both shoes.

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A comparison between old and new…

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…and the money shot.