Crafting a High-quality Hand-Welted shoes remains very labor-intensive process, where some of the best skilled craftsmen at Blkbrd Shoemaker carry out more than 140 steps. Our topmost priority remains same - to let the world know of process and the craftsmen who meticulously execute all these steps with utmost perfection.
BLKBRD SHOEMAKER | CRAFTING A HAND WELTED SHOE
SELECTING THE PERFECT LAST
Last is what imparts a shoe its shape, for any new shoe design it becomes first to select a last. Hence in shoemaking, it’s rightly said that a “Last Comes First”. For which we either select an existing last from our range of the Last library or for any new designs or a bespoke shoe-fitting, our skilled Last Makers craft a shoe last, either using wood or PVC material.
DESIGNING AND PATTERN CUTTING
Our expert Pattern Designer draws the desired shape and design over the paper taped over it. An adhesive paper taped onto the last is later transformed into Two Dimensional Paper Patterns which are then used for cutting and marking leather components for shoemaking.
This is one of the more important stages in footwear making, and more so a defining one, since the leather quality and its characteristics are evaluated. Our master clickers, carefully inspect the leather to be cut before cutting various shoe components. These are the components that in the later Upper Making stage are stitched to form the overall leather upper of a shoe.
SHOE UPPER MAKING
In the preparation stage, the leather components are strengthened by pasting a cotton textile to the components. This process makes the leather retain its shape for a longer period and further increases the wear resistance of the leather.
SHOE UPPER MAKING
It is after these pre-stitch preparations, the leather components are arranged and stitched together to form a complete upper.
It is also in the upper making the inner lining of the shoe is made and the upper and lining are stitched together to form a complete upper. The components of our upper and lining are made such that there is no major thickness at any place where the components are joint. Making the whole surface of the upper very smooth and devoid of any protrusions that might hurt the wearers feet.
It is in the preparation stage, the cut leather components are also worked for all the pre-stitch detailing like Gimping or Folding of the Edge, Brogues & Medallion hole punching.
After going through a quality check, the sewed upper is forwarded to the Lasting stage. The process of Lasting is where the leather upper is pulled over and stretched onto the Last that we had initially chosen. After lasting, the lasted upper is left to rest on the last for another 24 – 30 hours to ensure it further molds to the shape of a last and takes a firm shape. Once the upper is firmly molded on the last, the signature process of our distinctive hand-welted construction happens.
A welt is a thin strip of leather mostly 8-10mm wide and 3-3.5 mm thick, and the process of sewing this leather strip to the shoe upper via the rib on the Holdfast is called Welting.
After welting a metal shank plate is attached to the waist of the insole, which provides support to the arch of the wearer's feet during the walk and wears. The leather out-sole is then hand-stitched to this welt, unlike a regular shoe where the outer sole is just attached to the upper using adhesives.
The welting process creates a cavity on the bottom of the shoe which is then filled with a thick layer of natural lightweight Cork sheet. This Cork layer over time forms to the shape of the wearer's feet making Hand welted shoe one of the most comfortable shoes anyone can own. Above the cork layer and shank, an Outer Sole is attached to almost finishing the core assembly of a shoe bottom. The outsole can be of the wearer's choice of leather or any other material like Rubber, etc.
After pasting the outer sole, the outsole is stitched to the welt via a channel created on the outsole. This channel creates a cavity to accommodate the thread and prevent threads contact with the ground while walking. A stacked leather heel is then attached to the outsole to form a complete sole.
After final trimming and smoothing the edges of the sole, the edges and sole bottom are dyed using special leather finish dyes. For the dyes to penetrate leather and attain consistency, the edges and sole surface are hot ironed using flame heated iron tools. The sole is finally finished with hard wax-based polish to make the leather sole water-resistant and create a high shine finish.
The shoe upper is then dyed, polished and burnished to give it a distinctive color, shine and luster. Sometimes the shoes are given a mirror shine on the toe and heel of the shoe using natural waxes by hand.