HOW TO SEW LEATHER BOOTS AND SHOES
For these reasons, using a sewing machine will make your work much easier. If you plan to make simple sandals, you can do without using a sewing machine. We recommend drawing curved lines on some of the waste materials you will be quilting, just to be sure.
Traditionally, many shoe uppers are sewn on what is called a “bed sewing machine”. As the name suggests, here you are sewing on a post, not a flat surface, Google images “post cot sewing machine” for a better idea. Once you start stitching the upper of the shoe takes on the shape of the shoe, so it can be difficult to get/stitch certain areas of the upper on a flatbed machine (especially the shoe.
THE BEST MATERIALS FOR SEWING LEATHER BOOTS AND SHOES
Before we talk about the process, let’s talk about the tools. Sewing shoes requires a specialized machine that allows our artisans to rotate and move the shoe in ways that are impossible with a regular sewing machine. The first step in the sewing process is the quarters. The quarters are the parts of the skin around the leg. These pieces are sewn along the back seat and then hammered flat. Once the quarters are sewn, we add the top hem or collar of the shoe. After stitching this skin, the excess is cut off.
When sewing leather, we use multiple rows of stitches to join the pieces. If one row gets cut while working, you have several more before the shoes are repaired. Multiple rows of stitching also increase the safety of the shoe and help seal against moisture.
Waxed thread. Use DMC pearl cotton thread. Size 8 or 12, depending on the look you want.
Leather upper (thickness approx. 1.2mm but may vary). Feel free to replace it with vegan leather. You’ll want a small amount of stretch to allow the slippers to conform to your feet over time.
Lining material — use very thin leather, but you can also use textile here. If you are willing to use leather, the advantage would be that it doesn’t seem to pick up odors as much as synthetic materials.
Leather sole — you can either use one thicker layer of leather (8-9 oz. leather) or double the thinner leather. Also, don’t be afraid to improvise with the layering of fabrics to get the desired thickness.
Optional: foam sheets with adhesive backing – foam sheets for children. Surprisingly, this is EVA foam, which is also the same type of foam used in most athletic shoe soles. Use only one layer, but it will add a little more structure to the shoes.
HOW TO SEW THE BEST LEATHER BOOTS AND SHOES
Print the pattern in the desired size on card stock, single sided, 100% scale. It should be comfortable and designed to be worn barefoot. Preparatory pattern. Cut out the pattern pieces – right in the middle of the print line. Punch holes (circles) in each piece. Use the larger setting on the leather punch (2-2.5mm).
Trace pattern. Make sure the leather (or other material) is lying flat on a hard surface with the front (right) side down. Try not to stretch the skin. Feel free to use small weights to hold the pattern pieces in place as you trace and mark the holes. Use a pen to trace the pattern pieces on the back of the leather and mark all the stitch holes. Turn the pattern piece over and repeat. For each pattern piece you will need to trace side A and side B. Make sure you hold the pattern carefully. The paper will move easily over the skin as you trace.
Cut into pieces. Cut the upper and sole (anything but the lining) just inside the line. I recommend practicing cuts on a few cuttings first. It is a good idea to mark the center and side of each piece on the wrong sides of the pieces.
Punch all the holes using the second smallest hole setting on the hole punch. You can optionally use the smallest setting for the lining and the larger setting for the sole. First, try to pierce a section of skin to feel it and make sure the holes are not too big.
Connect the pieces. For each part of the shoe, match the upper of side A with the lining of side B (heel, instep, sole and vice versa. You will want the backs of the pieces to touch as you sew.
CUT AND CONSTRUCTION OF BOOTS AND SHOES
One thing that helps a lot with both machines’ ability to stitch leather is a process called skiving – basically shaving the edges of the back of a piece of leather to make them thinner. This is traditionally done with a fixed skiving blade held at a steep angle. It’s basically an average looking shaver with replaceable blades. It was very easy to learn to use, although my blade barely lasted until the end of the upper construction and it is a very difficult process with a dull blade.
The build was pretty straightforward – although I can’t imagine trying it for the first time without a mockup. The linings are sewn right side up with a 1cm seam allowance and then each seam is hammered flat and taped. Most of the seams on the upper are covered and stitched this way – this means less bulk and also creates a thicker seam.
Assembly basically went like this: attach the toe and tongue to the vamp, essentially assembling the front of the shoe, and then the two inner quarters zip together and on to the instep, then the back seam, the outer quarter, and finally the heel. That’s not the way the internet tells you how to do it. It was my zipper that complicated things again. Ideally, this area should be built last and the heel first, but that wasn’t possible because of the way the zipper had to go in.
Once the uppers and linings are made, the final sewing step is to sew them along the tongue and upper edge of the shoe (the top line) – the rest is left to hang alone, as during the permanent process you need to be able to separate the lining from the upper to add structural components to the inside.
The lining is designed to have a 3mm cut allowance – this makes it easier to line up (we’re still gluing here) and also means the machine feeds have a bit more to grab onto when sewing straight along the edge. Once all the stitches are done, the edges are cut off. Again they tell you to do it with a knife but that didn’t work for me. The scissors worked well.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE BEST QUALITY OF LEATHER FOR BOOTS AND SHOES
Understand the different types of leather: full grain, top, treated genuine, pull and side leather, as well as suede to determine quality and longevity.
Find out about the grain of the leather and opt for full leather shoes for superior quality and durability. Be on the lookout for lower quality skins commonly found in local stores and warehouses.
Choose boot makers that come from reputable tanneries like HELM Boots, who use full-grain cowhide in our 133-step boot making process.
Leather made from tanned animal hides is used worldwide for a variety of products, including belts, bags and shoes. While faux leather mimics real leather, it lacks durability. However, not all leather is created equal, as some types offer better quality than others.
We use leather all over the world, but primarily from Texas, USA, for products including belts, bags and shoes. As a durable, flexible material, leather is especially ideal for footwear. In fact, people have been making leather shoes for thousands of years – the oldest leather shoes are 5,500 years old.
Suede or smooth leather is often used in shoes. Your choice depends on the occasion and intended use. Smooth leather is common in shoemaking and includes natural colors such as teak, tan, black and brown. It can also be a stamped or coated chip. Smooth leather shoes are popular for professional or formal settings. Leather quality varies within smooth leather types such as modified leather, full grain, top, genuine, pull and side leather.
Known for its lower quality, treated full grain leather often requires some “fixing” before it meets production standards. As the name suggests, this leather must go through a “repair” process to achieve the desired smooth appearance.
Despite their humble origins, genuine leather shoes can mimic the look of real leather, especially when chemically treated to achieve a recognizable shine. However, compared to their whole grain counterparts, they fall short in terms of softness and elasticity. Additionally, the durability of genuine leather pales in comparison to higher quality leathers and offers a lifespan of only a year or two at best. Since leather uppers come from full-grain leather, our footwear can literally last for generations if well maintained.
Leather is such a fascinating material. Every pore and scratch tells a story about the animal’s life. Since the dawn of time, humans have used leather for a variety of applications, but one of the most common is shoemaking. In fact, different animals produce hides of different quality. That said, there are many types of shoe leather and it can be a bit confusing and confusing for most of us. Leather with a very firm structure and few imperfections is the perfect material for most high dress shoes. The grain in particular is very fine, but it is quite durable and pliable. This is because calves have a dense fiber structure that is stronger than regular cowhide or older animals.