These oxfords were made for a young woman who wanted a no-compromise scholarly classic shoe for all seasons. No hothouse flower, she wanted all the benefits of a full thickness leather sole, but didn’t want to expose it to the elements without some protection. Covering the sole of the forefoot is some thin but tough Vibram composite material. It has good grip and will minimize absorption of water from the street when there’s rain on the pavement. She’s tough on shoes, so I secured the Vibram under the heel to protect it since she is as likely wear loose with the pedals of her bike as scrape it off stepping on a shovel.
There is very little welt extending beyond the profile of the shoe as seen from above and yet it is full welt sewn construction. One small benefit of sewing the welt to the outsole by hand is the ability to place the stitches very close to the upper. Most machines need more clearance, thus the welt tends to be a bit wider when it is actually sewn.
I’m calling this a full brogue even though there are more opportunities to brogue this upper — like along the quarters and the top line. I thought it was enough brogueing already.
The client who requested this design also designs fabric herself. The footbed liner is covered with a fabric that she designed. The design itself came from a model she chose from a book I have called “Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930.” Women’s Shoes in America is really an outstanding resource. I have found it very useful. From the publisher:
In an engaging narrative history, the beautifully illustrated Women’s Shoes in America investigates an aspect of American material culture not previously examined and provides a detailed reference for dating women’s footwear.
In style from 1923-25, the design she chose was a T-Strap from autumn 1923. She was unable to wear a heel as high as the original design featured, so I made this low heel version just for her. The closure uses a button post. There was no hole in the strap yet when I took this picture because punching the hole is really a one shot deal. Using a button, there is no adjustment like you have with laces, or a buckle. To make a prefect fit, it needs to be marked while she is wearing them. With the strap on the post, it looks like this.
Last year while I was studying last making, orthopedic shoemaking and pattern techniques at the DHTA, I also had the good fortune to learn René van den Berg’s new shoemaking technique for the shoes he calls Makerszoon.
At first glance these shoes might seem kind of rough. After 30 years of precision work, however, there’s nothing rough about the design and workmanship of Rene van den Berg. The upper is very precisely drawn, punched and aligned. The embossing on the toe must be done to his exacting standards. The only thing rough about it is the cavalier cutting of the turned upper and sole edge with a knife by hand to give it a “hand finished” look.
The upper is hand sewn and the leather is all vegetable tanned. There is very little waste and hardly any trimmings. The lining is all one piece and the extra is left both for visual appeal and to soften the feel of the shoe around the ankles.
Please see René’s site for details on this fantastic new approach to making shoes.
Part of my travel to study in the Netherlands was made possible by a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission.
This derby shoe was made for instructional purposes. Plain old black upper leather with a pebble grain, basic lines with English quarters. The construction is welted and hand sewn to a vegetable tanned leather outsole. Natural finish leather heels. Straight outsole stitch on the welt. Depending on what you wear it with and your mood, I think it could be considered casual or formal.
The upper is hand dyed top finished vegetable tanned Italian leather. Blue quarters and tongue, black toe caps, vamps, and backstraps. This pair was built using cement construction. These shoes are unlined with sewn in heel counters and toe boxes. Leather sole and heels, Virbram rubber heel cap. I used this pair for my “All the Pieces” infographic.
I received a copy Kunst, Aufräumen, or “The Art of Cleanup” for my birthday some time ago. Check it out if you haven’t already. It featured all sorts of things “cleaned up” or deconstructed from their otherwise “messy” natural state. For example, organizing from a bowl of alphabet soup a an alphabetized and sorted grid of all the letters and carrot pieces. I really enjoyed the book and all of Ursus Wehrli’s clever images. When I made this pair of oxfords, I wanted to try something similar.
It wasn’t until I tried to make an organized image that I understood how much systematic thinking it takes to be as organized as Wehrli. I’ve got a long way to go. The image I made includes all all the parts that went into these shoes. There are at least two of everything. This pair was built using cement construction. These shoes are unlined, so they do not include the quarter, tongue and vamp liners. If they were welted, there would be a few more parts still. The upper is hand dyed top finished vegetable tanned Italian leather. Here’s the parts list from left to right:
- Wooden pegs (10)
- Tongue (2)
- Laces (2)
- Spring steel shank (2)
- Vamp (2)
- Toe cap (2), Toe box (2)
- Inside Quarter (2), Outside Quarter (2)
- Backstrap (2), Heel counters (2)
- Vibram rubber heel cap (2)
- Heel lifts (4, 2 per shoe)
- Leather Insole (2), Leather Sole (2)
It takes nice uppers to make nice shoes. Learn how to cut, trim, finish, assemble and sew uppers. This has traditionally been referred to as “clicking and closing.” Come learn how on May 23-24. Details on the Workshops page.
There is a new schedule of workshops and finally a mailing list to go with them. The Profiles and Patterns workshop will be held Saturday May 2 from 10am to 4pm. I hope to see you there.
The Portland Art Museum has invited me back for two more presentations as part of their “Italian Style” exhibit. These are special Member’s Night events. Look for me downstairs in the “Crafting Fashion” area from 5pm to 8pm.
I will be giving a presentation on Italian leather and teaching a free introduction to shoe design on February 7, the opening day of the Portland Art Museum’s new exhibit “Italian Style.” Look for me downstairs in the “Crafting Fashion” area from 1pm to 5pm.