"64 to the inch"

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#26 Post by dw » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:17 am

Paul,

Both. See June Swann's comments (as forwarded to us by Al Saguto) above:
1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhn: Gray Bros., Syracuse, NY exhibited 'welts' made by Sandy McCarthy, including 1 pr with 64 stitches to 1" round the forepart. Wore 2 pr spectacles to do them.


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Re: "64 to the inch"

#27 Post by marcell » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:54 pm

Well, it was a nice conversation guys, thanks for it!

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#28 Post by johnl » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:18 am

DW, you were trying to show on your computer just how fine a stitch 64 to an inch was, but were having resolution problems. Maybe an easier way would be to say that 64 to an inch would equal a stitch length of just .015625, or roughly 15 and 1/2 thousands of an inch. That would be just about the thickness of 5 sheets of newspaper put together. Stack 5 sheets of paper and look at the edge.
John Lewis

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#29 Post by dw » Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:23 am

John,

Puts things in perspective doesn't it?

Even if we discount the testimony of people who have spent their entire careers studying and preserving footwear, who are considered by their peers as the foremost authorities on historical footwear in the world; even if somehow they have been fooled or blinded (not like us, surely Image ); even if 40 to the inch is the finest that has ever been done...how's that compare to 12 to the inch?! Image Image


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Re: "64 to the inch"

#30 Post by das » Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:49 am

Thanks for that ardent defense DW--I blush.

As an added bit of "scientific" method here, when I count hand-stitches (per inch), I record the number in a given inch, or half-inch (if tiny stitches) then double it. If I count 6 stitches in a half inch, I record it as 12 per inch. But, hand stitches invariably vary a bit over the length of any seam made by-eye, so what's 64 in that inch may loosen out to 60 in another.

The double-gobsmacking-whammy here too, is, that this pitch of stitching was done by-eye--no marking wheels, maybe just a faint traced line to follow. Stitching 10 s.p.i. on a welt, following the marks made by a 10/" fudge wheel is a piece of cake compared to stitching 10/" purely by eye. And, I do not recall any evidence that shoe or bootmakers ever used any pre-marking wheels or devices for stitching pre c.1825-50s, and there was some fine damned stitching, well into the 30/" range done in the 1600 and 1700s too.

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#31 Post by holly » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:30 pm

All this got me thinking about the history of needle making, which is not terribly relevant, but I found this interesting:

"Up until the introduction of the automatic pointing machine, in around 1870, needle pointing was done by hand. This was the best paid job in the factory, but it was also the most dangerous. Slivers of metal could fly up and blind the pointer, or the grindstone itself could shatter and cause fatal injuries. Not only that, but the pointer was always inhaling dust from the needles and the grindstone, and would often contract a crippling lung disease called “Pointers Rot”. It is not surprising that the life expectancy of a pointer was no more than 35 years."

from:
freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~billburgoyne/needle_making.htm

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#32 Post by dmcharg » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:54 pm

I've downloaded this page so I can take it home and properly read it.
On modern qualities of leather, not my sewing.
A few years ago, after reading about this sort of thing,(including a rumor of 100spi to spice things up Image ), I got a piece of veg kangaroo and a builders steel square ,which among its various measurements has one inch at 100 div.; don't ask me why. Making sure the fibers of the hide were running,say, top to bottom of the page, I set the holes with a fine awl thus [[[[[[[[. Then I put a 2ply linen thread up one and down the next and pulled. It hurt. Afterwards that particular 'strip' of 'roo was stretched out of shape but hadn't broken.
A seam of that would be fun to do, in an 'ultimate challenge, but masochistic, insane and I realy have better things to do with my time without driving myself nuts' kind of way Image

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#33 Post by dmcharg » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:06 pm

OK Gang,
I went home yesterday, thinking about what I'd said, deciding (as it was a few years ago that I did the above test)to double check the stats. Couldn't find the builder's square so grabbed my foot long steel Rabone (up to 64ths). Trying it out on some 'roo in two directions ('horizontal' and 'vertical' for want of terminoligy) and hooking a 3-4ply thread through each set I was able to break through both, though one was slightly harder. It was a thicker thread than previously so maybe made it easier; maybe the other 'roo from years ago was an exceptional piece; or maybe I just wasn't game enough to keep pulling back then Image
Next I split a piece of 'roo down to approx. .3mm, with the grain running across, cut it lengthwise, dyed one half and stuck them together as an overlapping seam.
Using my glasses and a magnifing glass on a stand, I layed the ruler on a scored line and proceded to do an inch of 64ths. This proved to be easier if the ruler and leather were going up and down rather than across.
I made up a 1ply waxed end, and managed to sew the inch (just with glasses and a lamp. Pull the two thread ends backwards over the work after each stitch to make the next hole a *little* clearer and slide the awl tip from the last stitch till it hits the next hole). Time 50mins. for the sewing, which caught me by suprise as I thought it would be longer. Placing the work on our flatbed scanner, I have the results here (though it lookes much neater *not* magnified 10times Image )


/image{64, hand and awl}

This awl was made out of a sewing needle with a 1/32" cutting edge put on it.


/image{awl}


The work, showing the bristles.

/image{work and bristles}

Getting closer Image Also you can see a few stitch holes I did on their own for clarity.

/image{Closer}

The best half. I may have a go at another inch, hopefully with a better feel for tension, then test the first set for strength.


/image{the stitches}


The reverse side.

/image{reverse}

And a bit of scale


/image{scale}


I think if you were able to get the distances by eye/feel it would be easier and faster. At the above rate it would take me 10 hours to sew a throat onto an upper.
The finest I've done over any length, and by eye, is 18spi. In 'roo.


/image{vic-boot-18spi}


Over a shorter length I've managed 22spi on a heel cover ('roo), butted up cut edge to cut edge. And it took being stretched around the heel. Dunno about trying it on a welt/sole though Image

/image{17C-heel)


/image{17C heel 2]


Hope you like what I've put up. The '64' was fun, and exhilerating when finished.

Cheers
Duncan

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#34 Post by dmcharg » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:14 pm

AAAARRRRRRGGGGGG!

If your happy to pop up and down to the text we'll try again [img]http://www.thehcc.org/forum/images/old_smilies/sad.gif"%20ALT="sad[/img]

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10474.jpg (15.7 KiB) Viewed 1070 times

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#35 Post by dmcharg » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:19 pm

sorry about some of the pics being a bit large

Duncan

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#36 Post by danfreeman » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:36 pm

Duncan

Well done!

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#37 Post by romango » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:00 pm

Wow!

I have a new respect for fine sewing.

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#38 Post by dw » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:41 am

Duncan,

Very well done indeed!

Pardon me if I am asking something that is obvious...but just for claification and because it bears repeating: is the stitching that you did above at 64 to the inch?

I am sure you said it was but I am on a small laptop and scrolling on it is a pain.

I always thought that the way to do this...and Al said that it was done by eye (including the spacing)...was to make the hole with the finest awl (or sliver of steel) available and when the stitch was complete to take a bone and push/smooth the leather that had been displaced by the awl and thread back towards the previous stitch before making another hole with the awl.

I am so impressed that you tried this. I have never had the courage...nor the unflagging optimism...it has always been an article of faith (kind of like religion in a way) for me and while I believed, I did not wish to attempt it and fall short of my hope.

Good on you...now you will have to make it to AGM next year and show us how you did it. That would be the highlight of the whole meeting.

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#39 Post by dw » Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:18 am

BTW,

I tried to get in to see the shoes at the LA County Museum of Arts--I stopped in and talked to people in charge in person and I called and talked to the registrar. But no joy. They said they would call or email me here in LA but in retrospect, it seems as if they really has no intention of following up. I got the impression that the shoes were in an archive (deep in some subterranean grotto) and esp. during this holiday period they were unwillingto dig them out.

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#40 Post by janne_melkersson » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:39 pm

Duncan,
beautiful hand stitching, very well done!

Wow, I wouldn't even dream of trying to stitch 64 spi. I am glad you showed us doubter (I am sure I'm not the only one) that it is possible.

Janne

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#41 Post by jkrichard » Thu Nov 26, 2009 5:14 pm

Duncan,
Very inspiring! I'm glad you had the courage to 'give it the go!"

-Jeff

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#42 Post by dmcharg » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:15 pm

Um, Thanks everyone,
Yes DW, it was at 64 to the inch. I've got it here with me at the library, (he's taken it everywhere with him since he finished it-Sandra[wife]) (she's here too Image ). It's about the width of a fine (not sharp) pencil line, and is somewhat bizarre thinking I sewed that as it is really hard to see (especially without my glasses Image ).
I will try doing another inch and then 'test to destruction' the poorer of the two to find out tensile strength.
I would love to go to the AGM, but we'll just have to wait until I'm making for the 'rich and famous' Image

Give it a go

Cheers
Duncan

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#43 Post by das » Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:52 am

June Swann adds:

"For the doubters who have a job to do 10 - 1", Bective Shoemakers, N'ton, making women's in the 1960s were still doing 32 - 1", on machines, of course, for uppers - I seem to recall they said that was the most a machine could do then, though I was told in 1986 someone had a cylinder arm machine that could do 72 - 1", but better at 40; company had been bought by Singer whose machines then did 32.
And I'm very impressed that your lot realised they had to make special kit to do it: It took the Hermes man 3 attempts to find that out, and then he gave up without going any further.

What I measured in LA CMA was stitches on the welt, ie sole seam, which I thought was the easiest to count, and doing it some half dozen times on each, it could never have been in exactly the same place twice; i.e. the stitching was neater than McHarg's. (They were not on show when I was working on them). I don't know how many years he's been shoemaking, but I'd remind all HCC that kids started working very young through most of the 19th c (& before), in fact as soon as they were any use for 'helping Dad', 5 or 6; and of course longer hours spread over more days than any we do. So you were clever at various jobs a lot younger. Most of the prize men were not young. Your Hungarian has the right idea, a lot of lost skills and tricks: one 80+-year-old former apprentice I knew said it took him a year to spot the trick his master used to keep bristle on thread, never mind about the impossible problems.
I am not surprised it was kangaroo that the fine stitching worked on, nor that it doesn't work on most of the rubbish-leather generally around here, and in US as well, it seems.
[I think Charles Dickens was 7 when he went out to work, filling bottles with Day & Martins boot polish, sealing the tops, and terrified of getting home in the dark on winter nights.]

The woman I met who had sent pr of fancy boot uppers (women's) to Chicago for the 1893 World Exhn made 3 pr before one was perfect. I don't think/can't remember clearly if it was ever clear whether we got the perfect pr or one of the others - they were on show when I left, and pretty fantastic, covered in 'flowering'.

After counting the 44 - 1" 1873 boot stitches, I did the same for all the late 18th - early 19th c. prize work N'ton Museum had, and it's recorded on each catalogue card. I don't have details here, only: 1790-1870s 21 of NM's prize boots have more than 30 - 1". I gave you also the NM's c1830 D.81/1958-9 has 44-1".
W. Rowley's play 1609 & 1638 says: We'll teach you to.. "last to the 12." Which MAY be 12 - 1"???
1845/1851 The Boys Book of Trades p.237: boot closer, counter, "each inch of stitching taking about 20 stitches".
1851 Cordwainers College collection NN80a, Lifeguard's thigh boot (& you know what massive leather they are) 30-1" in welt, 40 in upper. I don't know if that's still on their website, but they were all supposed to be there.

I'd be interested to hear if DW got a good pic. Of course I took photos - slides, but impossible to hold boot, tape and camera steady enough for close-up on black leather, and the brown boot was no better. They'll be in the Prize file, paper clipped to the notes I made, which with my archive is a major excavation. But I do remember I didn't think they were good enough to use for lectures."

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#44 Post by janne_melkersson » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:52 am

Al,
I am afraid I missed the posting of the 16th where June Swann mentioned about all the fancy stuff she has seen over the years, if I had read that one I wouldn't doubt it.

So now when we know this is still possible to do even today is it something to strive for?

Personally, it is nothing for me but I would be interested to know what would be the average stitch lenght on men's footwear in the old days?

I have noticed that every time I found old fudge wheels the 8 and 10 are the one that is used the most. I have seen 12 and 14 that is from the same time period as the 8 and 10 but they are hardly used, still shining. Could that be an indication that on every days work they where stitching about the same spi as they still do in the London West End trade, which would be in between 8-12?


(Message edited by Janne_melkersson on November 27, 2009)

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#45 Post by marcell » Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:49 pm

Actually I don't think that over 12-14 they use fudge wheels. That must be something like a stitch marker.

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#46 Post by lancepryor » Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:49 pm

Marcell:

I have a fudge wheel with 18spi; it's clearly been used, though I can't say that it was used for welt stitching per se -- I guess it could have been used for marking the welt to look like it was sewn when it was just glued.

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#47 Post by dw » Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:41 pm

I was thinking about this the other day and it occured to me that shell cordovan might be dense enough to do 64-1. Thoughts anyone?

Also I wondered if the "split ends" from a boar's bristle would be fine enough to lead a taw of one strand of #20 linen yarn? Or maybe silk thread would be better?

And yet another thought...if a feller wore two pair of magnifying specs would that be strong enough?

Geeze...I'm starting to sound as if I'm working my way up to something. Image


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Re: "64 to the inch"

#48 Post by jkrichard » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:13 am

DW,
I was considering hard rolled horse butt, just NOC (North of Cordovan), it may take a mid-layer or midsole construction ...something like a really thin layer of roo to help distribute the pressures and provide some internal elasticity between the stitches....

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#49 Post by dmcharg » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:55 pm

Found an antique pocket magnifier yesterday (bought a year ago and subsequently mislaid) which has a 1/4" hole in the front and back covers so as to isolate the part of the lens that stays in focus the longest. Result: high magnification.

I have now done 3 inches of stitching, two pre-punched and one by eye, and though some of the stitches are at 64spi, there is a good smattering (I presume) at 32spi, due to the mental battle of "surely it can't be that close to the last stitch" and therefore ignoring that tiny mark where the stitch should have gone!

Results therefore are as follows:

The one posted previously approx.48spi total.

The second attempt (below) 45spi
10507.jpg


The third go, by eye, was much easier as the next hole is the one you have just made and therefore clear (used Al's comment about wiping back over the work each time to make the surface smooth), and was the highest total stitch count at 50spi; though not the neatest Image .
10506.jpg


Can understand June's comment about the historical superfine work being neater than mine Image . Dey's got years and years ahead 'o' me, and I probably value my eyes too much. Though it makes the regular work fly through by comparison.

Cheers
Duncan

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Re: "64 to the inch"

#50 Post by paul » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:03 am

Wow Duncan!

What a cool diversion that was for you.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

Paul

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