Wingtips, Continued

Almost there!

With a combination of cement and nails, I attached each layer in turn around the last.

With a combination of cement and nails, I attached each layer around the last—first the lining, then the pale green, then the darker green. I don’t have a good photo from above, but it ends up looking like the crinkled toes and heels on the bottom of a ballet slipper. It’s kind of sweet.

Then I cemented in a metal shank, which will help keep the sole rigid.

After trimming off excess leather, I cemented in a metal shank, which will help keep the curvature in the sole (between the heel and the ball of the foot) rigid.

NOW it's looking like a shoe! Oh, god, I can't wait to finish these! We've got one day of class to go, and all I have left is to put on the soles and the heels and finish the edges. C'mon, c'mon!

NOW it’s looking like a shoe! Oh, god, I can’t wait to finish these! We’ve got one day of class to go, and all I have left is to put on the soles and the heels and finish the edges. C’mon, c’mon, get here, Saturday!

Wingtips for Spring

I can’t get over how lucky I am.

First, I decided I wanted to keep making sandals, and I managed to meet people who helped me find supplies and equipment. When I ordered my sewing machine, the motor, machine and table weighed 75 pounds and arrived flat in two boxes without instructions, but I just happen to have a husband who used to be a millwright and who knows how to assemble industrial stuff. Not only that, but instead of doing it for me, he sat in a chair nearby and coached me, which meant I learned something. (In fact, let me just say here that my hubs has built me a workbench, converted a drill press into a buffer for me, helped me find a crank cutter, and been a cheerleader every step of the way. It’s clearly fated that I should make sandals, otherwise I wouldn’t have met my man, right?! Giggle.)

And now, a young shoe maker has moved to town and is teaching! Here’s what I’ve been doing under Jessica Brommer‘s tutelage.

All the outer pieces of one wingtip

All the outer pieces of one wingtip

This is roughly how they'll go together

This is roughly how they’ll go together. A glossary of terms will be helpful, so going left to right in the photo, you see: the strip that covers the seam along the back of the shoe; the back half of the shoe–in this case, the two kelly green pieces that look like a saddle–is called the quarter, and I haven’t finished the broguing (the punched holes) on those pieces yet; the front of the shoe is called the vamp–mine consists of the distressed light green piece with the kelly green wingtip appliqued atop it.

I've finished the broguing, stitched the wingtip to the vamp, stitched both quarters to each other, and covered that back seam with the strip. I've also stitched the outside tongue to the lining. Finally, I've sandwiched one vamp between the quarter, near the lacing holes, and stitched the quarter to the vamp.

Big leap forward in time. I’ve finished the broguing on the quarters, stitched both quarters to each other at the back seam, and covered the back seam with the strip. I’ve stitched the wingtip to the vamp. I’ve also stitched the tongue to the lining. Finally, I’ve sandwiched one side of the vamp between one quarter (near the lacing holes) and stitched the quarter to the vamp.

I've sandwiched the other side of the vamp between the other quarter and stitched them.

I’ve sandwiched the other side of the vamp between the other quarter and stitched them. Sheesh, I look at this and it’s like some clown-shoe action. Buuuuut…

The next step will be to shape the upper around the last. Here's a taste of what the finished shoe will look like!

The next step will be to shape the upper around the last. Here’s a taste of what the finished shoe will look like! Eeee!

I Found a Crank Cutter in an Old Warehouse!

I won’t bore you with the details of my search for a 3-in-1. Back in 1973, my old friend Jonathon Erving said a used one went for about $25. Inflation, baby! You can’t find them at that price anymore. Since they’re not being manufactured anymore, Landis, Pilgrim and other shoe supply companies are buying up old models to refurbish and then selling them for top dollar…like between $600 and $900. Hey, it’s supply and demand.

Among other things, a 3-in-1 acts like a giant can opener and can cut through incredibly thick, hard vegetable-tanned leather and rubber soling. This makes it invaluable.

Suffice to say that for about a year, I hunted on ebay and on Craigs List, searched online  in both English and in French, asked my local shoe repair man if he knew where I could get one.Oh, I would see them on ebay, but paying more than $200 seemed outrageous to me, and they would get sniped for upwards of $300, and there was no telling what condition they were in. The saddle shop in town had one with a cracked base and wanted $600. Eventually, my mom-in-law introduced me to her shoe repair man, a cool old Greek guy, and he put me in touch with Landwerlen in Indianapolis, who happened to have two of them. They refurbished one for me.

$400. I don't care. I love my 3-in-1.

$400. I don’t care. I love my model 25 Landis 3-in-1.

 Fast forward a couple of years. While we’re visiting his parents, my husband suggests we go explore a number of old warehouses owned by his family. I’ve never been inside them. The buildings are perhaps 125, 150 years old, cavernous, in disrepair, used for storing old machinery from the Detroit assembly lines. We oggled enormous, mysterious equipment coated in grease and dust. Climbed rickety wooden stairs.Spotted a dessicated mummy of a pigeon or two. Checked out abandoned payroll offices with old punch cards spilled on the floor and 1980s phones. Skirted piles of snow let in by a rotted roof. Oh. What’s that, over there, on the floor?

Free!

My new crank cutter! Free—if you don’t count the elbow grease required to remove 50 years or more of dust and pigeon poop + $75 for a new blade. I’ll take it!

One Pair, Start to Finish

A clumsy-looking attempt, PSS (pre-shoe school!)

A clumsy-looking older attempt at making this model, PSS (pre-shoe school!) I made a number of prototypes before settling on what you see next.

Paper pattern, after a lot of adjustments

The paper pattern, after a lot of adjustments

Silver fashion leather roughly cut, cemented to pigskin (because the silver  lamskin is so thin, I wanted a thick lining material), and stitched. I usually cut first, then stitch, but roller foot on the sewing machine negotiates the angles better if there's extra material to grip.

The silver fashion leather roughly cut, cemented to pigskin (because the silver lambskin is so thin, I wanted a thick lining material), and stitched. I usually cut first then stitch, but the roller foot on the sewing machine negotiates the sharp angles better if there’s extra material to grip.

Cut out and stitched at the center

The completed upper, all pieces cut out and the halves  stitched together at the center

Formed around the last and taped to the sole, bottom view...

The upper formed around the last and taped to the top sole—bottom view…

...and seen from the side.

…and seen from the right side.

The straps cemented (at left) and then skived (at right)

The straps cemented (at left) and then skived (at right)

The soles, which I shaped after soaking in water.

The soles, which I shaped after soaking in water and then left to dry completely.

The uppers cemented to the soles.

The uppers and topsoles cemented to the soles

Still to do: trim the soles, finish their edges, cement on heels.

My Setup

I use a spare bedroom in the house we rent. I couldn’t have the basement because my husband needs it all for his many motorcycle projects! Kidding! I don’t actually want to work in the basement because my leather might mildew.

The workbench

The workbench. The oscillating sander at far left isn’t ideal for shaping the soles, but i like it better than the bench grinder I tried. At center (that is, on the corner closest to us), a pin for holding the last. My prized 5-in-1 is at far right. Oh, that was hard to find!

Skins hang from shower curtain hooks in the closet.

Skins hang from shower curtain hooks in the closet.

I sew with a Juki.

I sew with a Juki.

Rivets, hand-sewing supplies, various tools,  lasts, masking tape, cements and gloves

Rivets, various tools and supplies, lasts, masking tape, cements and gloves. I need to build an updraft table for when I cement.

My husband converted a variable-speed drill press into a buffing mechanism. I feel like I ought to be working with sanding and buffing wheels, but I'm still clueless about this aspect of finishing the soles.

My husband converted a variable-speed drill press into a buffing mechanism. I feel like I ought to be working with sanding and buffing wheels, but I’m still clueless about this aspect of finishing the soles.

After Shoe Class

I guess the biggest change at first was that I got a sewing machine. The stitching around the edges of the straps gives a very finished look.

More bells. The leather is too thin on these.

More bells. The fashion leather is thin, so a thicker lining would have been better.

blog--coral

My friend Sabine Lippert, beader extraordinaire, gave me a bracelet she made some time ago, and I owe her a trade. She had told me she loved the color of the robes Buddhist monks wear, and I thought this leather might do it for her, if not this style.

blog--copper gladiator

These button on.

Bridal sandals made for my friend Melissa. They were such a good match for her dress, a white one-shouldered Grecian column with a forest-green sash!

Bridal sandals made for my friend Melissa. They were such a good match for her dress, a white one-shouldered Grecian column with a forest-green sash!