Closing techniques

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Re: Closing techniques

#401 Post by dw » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:06 am

To reinforce what Lance was saying...and just for giggles...I made up some samples.

The 18spi looks a little tight but not unreasonable...perhaps on a nice firm kangaroo or calf. The 15spi and 16spi are just right for me, combining a finesse not apparent in longer stitch lengths and sufficient strength to inspire confidence. The 10spi is simply crude in my estimation, and 12spi (not pictured) is not much better.

click to enlarge
DSCF2629_sm.jpg
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Re: Closing techniques

#402 Post by Delormea » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:46 pm

All,
Thanks many times over for the time taken to respond so thoroughly (with pictures and all!)
What else could a guy ask for?
As I sit now I've been using a size 16 or 18 needle and 69 thread. Always ensuring that the needle slid smoothly as I learnt on this forum,
I'll source a lighter thread as well as needles and go for 14 spi. Likely a 14 needle too with corresponding thread. I can adjust and take it from there.
I feel this (along with practice) will hemp me fight the chunky stitching I've been having.
Aaron

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Re: Closing techniques

#403 Post by russell_c_cook » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:19 am

Hi everyone,

I'm hopefully gonna get some free time this week to head into town to get the tools I need to close the Derbys I'm making. I'm gonna sew them by hand, and was hoping to get some tips on buying the correct tools.

To my understanding, I need the following things:

>a fine saddler's (diamond-shaped) awl
>some thread
>some needles

Can anyone advise me what size thread and needles would be best? I'm planning to use pig skin in case that is important.

Also, does the awl in the attached picture look about right? This one is available to me here in China.

Any help would be great :)
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Re: Closing techniques

#404 Post by russell_c_cook » Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:37 pm

I've been having a try at skiving on some scraps of leather, and was hoping to chat about skiving a bit.

Thus, far, I've become able to skive off strips of a few few cm long, 3mm in from the edge, with decent control. If I then try to skive the next 3mm in from the edge, I find it much harder to control.

I was hoping to discuss 2 questions to begin with.

1) In my textbook it says "Raise the right hand section of the knife, so the point at the left rests on the glass". I tried to do this, but if I rest the tip on the glass with the knife at 140 degrees to the edge of the material, the cutting edge is floating in the air above the leather. Any tips on this?

2) For my Derby quarters, I need to skive to 10mm in from the edge. Should I achieve this by doing 3 x 3mm strips, or should I try to do 10mm in one fell swoop? Or something different to both?

Any ideas would be great :)

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Re: Closing techniques

#405 Post by dw » Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:33 pm

russell_c_cook wrote:I've been having a try at skiving on some scraps of leather, and was hoping to chat about skiving a bit.
Any ideas would be great :)

I don't skive like that but I think you just need to "twist" the blade so that the edge makes contact with the leather. It's all a question of angles. If that's not answering, lower the handle of the blade until the cutting edge makes contact.

As far as how much to take off...it's on you. If you have enough skill to take off 10mm with one pass and keep it even, more power to you. If not, do what you feel comfortable with and can control--everything in this game is about control.

What textbook is that, BTW?
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Re: Closing techniques

#406 Post by russell_c_cook » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:32 pm

Cheers, DW. The way you described it sounds like what I have been doing. I'm gonna carry on practicing a bit more on scraps, then have a try on my quarters.

The book I'm using is Tim Skyrme's "Bespoke Shoemaking".

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Re: Closing techniques

#407 Post by dw » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:16 am

russell_c_cook wrote:Cheers, DW. The way you described it sounds like what I have been doing.
Glad if that helped...I wasn't sure I was envisioning your technique correctly.

Just a thought..sometimes a photo can bring clarity.
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Re: Closing techniques

#408 Post by russell_c_cook » Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:07 am

Hi all,

I want to start practicing sewing leather by hand. At the moment I have some small needles, some thread that my shoemaker friend uses for his sewing machine for sewing uppers (he's not sure what it's made of)and a fine saddler's awl.

Next I believe I ought to wax the thread and taper the ends. Is that correct? If so, would anybody be able to point me in the direction of a 'how to wax and taper thread' tutorial? I had an impromptu try with a candle and it was a humbling experience.

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Re: Closing techniques

#409 Post by lancepryor » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:20 am

russell_c_cook wrote:Hi all,

I want to start practicing sewing leather by hand. At the moment I have some small needles, some thread that my shoemaker friend uses for his sewing machine for sewing uppers (he's not sure what it's made of)and a fine saddler's awl.

Next I believe I ought to wax the thread and taper the ends. Is that correct? If so, would anybody be able to point me in the direction of a 'how to wax and taper thread' tutorial? I had an impromptu try with a candle and it was a humbling experience.

Russell:

I have a few comments about this and also the skiving topic. Just one man's opinion, so take it for what it's worth.

First, about skiving, most important is to have a very sharp knife -- learning to sharpen effectively is a critical skill for shoemaking. Also, I prefer a single-bevel knife for skiving.

Now, on to hand-sewing. If you are truly keen to learn shoemaking -- and this may be heresy to many here -- I don't think spending hours hand-sewing uppers is a productive approach. There is so much to learn in custom shoemaking -- last fitting, pattern making, closing, making, finishing -- that investing the many hours in closing an upper by hand will take your time away from more important tasks. That is not to say that learning to hand sew is not a useful experience, but I just think the time could be better spent on other skills. If I were you, I would ask your shoemaker friend to let you borrow his sewing machine and learn to close the uppers on the machine. When I first got into shoemaking, I didn't have a post bed machine, so I closed an upper by hand. It took incredibly long, and then it turned out the pattern wasn't a good fit for the last, so all that effort didn't really advance my efforts very much. Once you have the upper closed, then you can move on to the skills you must master to make custom shoes -- pattern making, last fitting, lasting the uppers, blending the counter and toe puff to be invisible, building heels, finishing, etc. The basic challenge is that, to become competent at shoemaking (like almost any skill), it takes many iterations/repetitions, even when guided by someone. So, doing something which dramatically limits those iterations is, in my opinion, counterproductive.

However, if you are going to hand sew with needles, I don't think you need to taper the thread, particularly if it is a single thickness of the thread. You should be able to just thread it through the eye of the needle. The challenge may be to get it to stay on the needle -- usually, with thicker/multi-ply thread, the thread is locked onto the needle by piercing the thread with the needle and pulling it taut.

Waxing thread depends on the application. Around here, we usually discuss shoemakers wax/'hand wax'/'coad,' which is a very sticky wax which is used to adhere the thread to the bristles and also serves to 'lock' the stitch in the leather when in seaming. For traditional leather working (not shoemaking), I believe beeswax is used to lubricate the thread. Traditional leather working uses needles (e.g. harness needles) not bristles, so the sticky wax isn't needed. For closing uppers, if you are using a thread of nylon/poly/cotton, I don't think you will need to wax the thread. If using linen, then you will.

There are a number of books about leather work, any of which should cover the basics of sewing leather, though those usually address using thicker leathers and linen thread. I would think your thread will be nylon or polyester, or maybe one of those blended with cotton. I would think you could also find some basic guidance online. e.g. I think Francis Classe has a blog with some good information on hand sewing.

Good luck,
Lance

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Re: Closing techniques

#410 Post by fclasse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:10 am

Thanks for the shout out, Lance =) For my area of interest, closing uppers by hand is actually a key part of the process. However, I focus primarily on pre-industrial shoes where uppers were typically closed with the round seam (i.e. a butted seam where the double-running stitch is seen only on one side of the leather). My understanding for the thinner leathers of modern shoes is that stabbing with machine sewing is more common to layer on the different pieces of the upper, and I'm sure someone else will be able to comment to that.


Francis

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Re: Closing techniques

#411 Post by das » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:00 pm

Yes, overlapped stabbed uppers seams really come in with "dry" sewing machines in the 1850s, first the women's fabric uppers, then heavier leather men's uppers with "wet" sewing machines and chain stitchers. "Dry" lock-stitch machine like we use on light to medium leather uppers today were purring by 1880-90s in most forms (flat, cylinder, and post beds).

There are exceptions, but when you do see stabbing in uppers closing 17th, 18th, 19thc and earlier, the pieces are stabbed face-to-face and the seam turn inside to protect the stitching, rather like the side-seam on a cowboy boot, but without any welt in the middle.

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Re: Closing techniques

#412 Post by lancepryor » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:34 pm

I recently had a chance to visit a couple of bespoke makers' shops while in Florence, Italy. I had a very pleasant visit at the Stefano Bemer store, where I met one of their makers, was shown around, and got to inspect a number of their samples -- very nice work.

I also had the chance to visit the 'store' of Hidetaka Fukaya ('Il Micio'); alas, this was just a showroom, with some samples on display. However, one thing I did note was the extremely fine closing stitching -- I did not get a chance to do any measurement, but I would guess the closing was done at 20 spi, which is finer than I've seen on any other modern shoes (for comparison, the London firms seem to use 14 to 16 spi); the finest closing I've previously seen was on some Johnson & Murphy handmade shoes, which are stitched at 18, and the Fukaya shoes appeared more finely stitched.

Here are a few pics of his shoes I've found on the web, and a link to full sized versions.

Image

Image

Image

here is the album with the full size pictures:

http://s1185.photobucket.com/user/lance ... io%20shoes

Lance

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Re: Closing techniques

#413 Post by dw » Tue Jul 29, 2014 6:51 am

Lance,

I like the brogued oxford, in particular.

I do think that finer stitching (closer SPI) is a distinguishing characteristic of fine craftsmanship. And these photos sure give us something to think about. But I also think one has to be real careful about the leathers you choose to implement it on, esp. if you're doing it by machine. Many chrome leathers (and highly touted ones) won't stand for it without "postage stamping." Some very good chromes won't even stand ordinary, normally spaced broguing.

I suspect a somewhat firm veg crust or something like St. Crispin's Baby Calf would be ideal.
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Re: Closing techniques

#414 Post by lancepryor » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:36 am

DW:

I agree. I think the wingtip/full brogue has particularly tight stitching, and it looks to me like a firm leather. I would love to know what combination of needle and thread are used for these.

I don't necessarily suggest that this stitch density is a good idea, or even desirable per se, I just thought it was interesting. Might be worth trying sometime, though for me 16 spi is generally adequate. I did like the look of the small stitches, they reminded me of the hand stitched uppers I've seen, though obviously not as fine a stitch. As you indicate, at some point the leather may be weakened by the needle holes; I don't know how small a needle one can get for a machine for sewing leather.

Lance

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Re: Closing techniques

#415 Post by Delormea » Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:44 pm

craft on their own? For the life of me I can not close a pair of shoes I'm even a bit happy with. I'd really like to try my hand at shoemaking more but I've really only had one pair in the past years that I've been happy enough with to put any effort in to bottoming.

On to the problem- Following directions in Frank Jones' Pattern cutting for the oxford lining, when I get to closing I am faced with the problem that the lining doesnt fit the outer properly. Since the outer goes around a curve (the last) on the outside of the lining, it goes a further distance than the lining would. So, when I close them on a flatbed Singer they are sewn together flat and the lining and outer no longer line up how they are meant to. One layer extends further than the other.
It makes no difference if I clip and hold the lining and outer together, or start sewing from the back seam out towards the front of the facings, or from one facing around to the next, they will not fit proper and I end up with excess outer being pushed past the end of the facing area of the lining. I've wasted too much leather.
When I place them on the last, prior to sewing, I can get them to align proper. The proper allowances where they need to be and all. The problem comes with sewing it all on a flat bed. Is it just not possible on a flat bed? Does changing it to the flat cause all this excess in the outer that is the cause of my frustrations?
Thanks for the help,
Aaron

Ps, wasn't sure if this was a patterning or closing problem, let me know if I should move this to patterning thread.

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Re: Closing techniques

#416 Post by dw » Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:35 am

I suspect...no, I am sure...that you would be better off closing with a post machine or an arm machine.

There are places and portions of the closing work that benefit from using a flat bed, but my observation is that if the leather will not lie flat, naturally, it makes no sense to use a flat bed--you will always be introducing distortion to try and make it lie flat.
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Re: Closing techniques

#417 Post by Delormea » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:03 am

Thanks DW. I was afraid that would be the answer. A post machine is not any time in my future, unfortunately. Tough to find used around here, cost restrictive to ship due to size and weight, and new is out of reach as a student! Something may come along shortly though, who knows.
Thanks for the advice,
Aaron

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Re: Closing techniques

#418 Post by dw » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:29 am

Delormea » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:03 am wrote:Thanks DW. I was afraid that would be the answer. A post machine is not any time in my future, unfortunately. Tough to find used around here, cost restrictive to ship due to size and weight, and new is out of reach as a student! Something may come along shortly though, who knows.
Thanks for the advice,
Aaron
Where are you located?

FWIW, I can't think of an operation...esp. when it comes to shoes....that cannot be done as well with a post as with a flatbed. A flat bed is nice when you're doing decorative stitching on boot tops but shoes are not boots and generally don't want decorative stitching over a large expanse of leather.

What it comes down to is that a post machine would be far more useful...even essential...in a shoe making operation than a flatbed. IMO.
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Re: Closing techniques

#419 Post by romango » Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:09 am

Another idea is to do it by hand. Even though I have the machines, I'd like to be able to make shoes without any machines. To that end, I recently purchased these tools from "Fine Leatherworking" in Berkeley CA.
DSC_5243.JPG
I think you could get by without the stitch marker (that was the expensive tool!). Here is a stitching sample using .03 size white waxed thread (from Maine Thread) and .02 size in blue. punches are 9 spi (stitches per inch).
DSC_5242.JPG

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Re: Closing techniques

#420 Post by Delormea » Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:16 am

Yes, I've known that for a couple years a post bed is in order. On hand closing, I've actively emailed and asked Duncan questions as his hand closing is impeccable. Big thanks to Duncan for all the help and patience he's had with me, even going as far as creating a DVD and PDF document that he sent across the pond to me on his techniques. Invaluable, to say the least. I've made progress closing by hand certainly, though I'd really love a post bed. I've closed two pairs, and am still practicing on a third now. I just can't seem to get the fine work down solid. The fine stitches like you'd see on the top line of an oxford elude me by hand. With more practice, perhaps.
I've tried to make do without a post, and been increasingly frustrated. I've had my eye open and actively looking for two years and haven't found anything used locally. New is out of budget. I often see them listed out east in Maine, but that doesn't help me as the cost to have even just the head shipped I may as well buy one full priced locally. I'm in Souther Alberta, Canada. I do make trips a couple times a year to the west coast, specifically Vancouver, BC. I've had my eyes open for one there as well so I have family pick it up.
I'm afraid I'm not sure how much more I can move forward until I find myself a machine to make uppers with!
Thanks again,
Aaron

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Re: Closing techniques

#421 Post by tmattimore » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:57 pm

The young lady who works for me can sew an oxford or Gibson on a flat bed 31-15 What are you trying to sew?

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Re: Closing techniques

#422 Post by Delormea » Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:29 pm

An oxford, though I've struggled with the gibson as well. Specifically, sewing the outer and lining along the top line of either style. Since they are curved shapes, when sewn flat they get pushed out of alignment.

Does she make adjustments for sewing on a flat bed? Are her linings fully assembled before being hung in the upper and sewn along the top? Using a roller foot I presume? I find when I start at one facing and begin sewing, the excess of the outer gets pushed by the presser foot, and the outer and lining end up rotated out of alignment.

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Re: Closing techniques

#423 Post by dw » Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:51 pm

I assume you are using some sort of paste or cement or double-sided tape to hold everything in place before you begin stitching?
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Re: Closing techniques

#424 Post by Delormea » Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:57 pm

Ive tried with cement, and bull clips, but then wrinkles form. I'm going to try decreasing presser foot pressure and see if that will keep the layers from being misaligned. Thanks

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Re: Closing techniques

#425 Post by dw » Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:01 pm

romango » Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:09 am wrote:Another idea is to do it by hand. Even though I have the machines, I'd like to be able to make shoes without any machines. To that end, I recently purchased these tools from "Fine Leatherworking" in Berkeley CA.

I think you could get by without the stitch marker (that was the expensive tool!). Here is a stitching sample using .03 size white waxed thread (from Maine Thread) and .02 size in blue. punches are 9 spi (stitches per inch).
I like that idea as well...probably impractical but making shoes is impractical--it's a 19th century Trade in the 21st century and still getting paid like it was 1880.

That said, I think I would have to all but double up on the frequency of the stitches. My post machine is running about 16spi at the medium setting and 20spi at the finest. Even 12 looks coarse to my eye. (Look above at the first post on this page.)

If you look on Ebay regularly you can find stitchmarkers as antiques that are much finer than 9spi, probably for less money. I have two at 14spi...still seems a bit coarse...and one at 12spi. I've been looking for a 16. The 'tines' are very pointed and shaped...not at ll like contemporary stitchmarkers.

Then, of course, you have to find a good awl...probably a tiny square awl...and some way to bristle a fine thread. Maybe silk.

It's not the 50 spi of the yellow boots recently posted but it's at least the "tail of the bull." And that's what we're here for, isn't it?
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