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1  Custom Black Oxford in Shoes: Completed Projects by Cordwainer on: April 14, 2012 04:38:19 PM
I just finished a pair of very plain Black Oxfords for my oldest brother and am waiting to hear from him as to what he thinks of them.  He has some fitting problems that made these a bit of a special challenge.  His feet are curved quite a bit, in different places and are a size and a half different in length and one is a D width while the other is an E.  All in all it makes the shoes look a little off kilter in the pictures, but all of his shoes have the same appearance.  

These are made of 3 ounce bullhide with pigskin lining and have kangaroo laces.

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2  My Latest Footwear in Shoes: Completed Projects by Cordwainer on: December 02, 2011 04:22:00 PM
I just finished these a couple of days ago for my wife and after a little adjusting she's very happy with them.  I wanted to do something outside what I had learned in school and requiring a lot more challenge.  These delivered that in buckets.  If not for the books I got from one of my suppliers I would have been totally lost.  I now know how different bootmaking is from shoemaking.  The same basics, but only the basics.  I can see why so many in the trade tend to specialize in either boots or shoes and try not to cross over.  But now that I know what it's like I'm hooked on both.  Some of the stitching on this pair is off as my machines both had problems and needed new parts and a lot of adjustments to get them back to proper running condition, and now I have to get used to operating them running as they should.  It's astounding how far out of time a machine can be and still do a reasonable stitch until a part fails and you start fixing things.  Then it all has to be set right and you have to learn how to operate it all over again.  The difference in performance is unreal!

Anyway, here are the pics, starting with several of the assembly shots so you can get an idea of what is involved. 

This is the upper, lined and ready for trimming.

This is what the vamp looks like just before the lining is attached.....

This is the closed boot from the side.  Notice that the lining of the vamp is only glued a little past the stitches.

This is the closed boot from the front.

And from the bottom.

Here is a shot of the uppers soaking in warm water before being stretched over the lasts.

This pic shows the boot after the upper has been hand stitched to the inner sole, the welt stitched around the edge,
the center filled with cork and the rand piece tacked on the heel area.  It is still on the last.

This shows the sole applied just after shaping and just before hand stitching to the welt.

And these last views are of the finished boots after all the stitching, stacking the leather heels, adding the rubber top lifts
and the black inking of the edges and sole.  The last step is 2 coats of leather balm allowed to dry slightly before buffing. 
for a high gloss a premium soft shoe polish can be used after the leather balm.

Unfortunately the pictures don't do justice to the boots.  They are a deep blood red and black lizard skin print leather.  The black trim
is a perfect complement although it doesn't show well in the pictures.  My lights are on the fritz and the flash washes everything out.
Still you can more or less get the idea.  Even though these are not perfect, I'm happy with the result.  A little more practice with the
revamped machines and there will be no stopping me. 

Now if I can just find that box of jewelry pics and get them rescanned........
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3  Hand Made Shoes in Shoes: Completed Projects by Cordwainer on: November 09, 2011 11:31:06 AM
After years of struggling to find a dependable source for quality footwear that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg I finally gave up.  I also had a desire to learn how to reproduce accurate historical footwear and could find little information on the subject.  This last bit has changed radically in the last few years courtesy of the net, but is still a long way from where it could, and should, be.  Finding a school where I could learn traditional shoemaking techniques for a igh quality end result was almost aas frustrating as most in the U.S. either only teach glue lasting or are very expensive, or worse, both.  The alternative was bootmaking school which is even more expensive, but I kept searching and finally found the right place with the most amazing teacher I have ever encountered.  Below are the results of the 8 day intensive workshop I took last spring.  I couldn't fine the pics taken at the end of the class and had to reshoot so they have been worn a few times and have the creases to prove it.  They are amazingly comfortable as they were made using all the measurements from my feet and by modifying a standard shoe last accordingly.

They are made from french calfskin with rolled seams and edges.  This is a Derby style shoe cut to resemble an Oxford with hand stitched details.  The soles are heavy veg tan leather and the stacked leather heels are made of the same.  The toe piece does not overlay the vamp of the shoe as it would with brogueing (punch work) and the uppers consist of 7 pieces of leather.  8 if you include the tongue.  The lining is 2 pieces, the back piece of pigskin and the vamp piece of perforated calfskin to help keep the foot cooler in the hot months and warmer in the cold months.   The innersole is a softer version of the sole material, made so by sanding the grain side with a fine grit belt until it loses it's shine.  This greatly softens the top of the leather and eliminates the need for padded insoles.  To cover the marks from the lasting nails inside, an insert of kidskin is glued inside.  This also adds to the comfort.

Since school I have done a few more pairs, but only have one other available for pics at the present time.  This pair is one I started on while working at the local Renaissance Fair while working in my booth.  (A film crew for National Geographic shooting The Knights of Mayhem on the air this month got some footage of me putting them on the lasts, but I don't know if it will be on the air or not)  This is a pair of Elizabethan Slippers.  They are of green embossed cowhide and lined with pigskin. 

The most noticeable features of these are the high flap on the front of the shoe and the very low sides.  These are typical of slippers worn by both men and women of that time, but with heels.  This shoe ordinarily would have had no heel or a wedge of one or two layers of leather for a heel.  Only rarely would a heel such as I have on these appear, and again it would have been only one or two layers thick.  (about 3/8 inch)  The heel I put on is more to accomodate the lasts I have and I think complements the shoe nicely.
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