Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wear and Tear

Spending the better portion of 8 months in 18th century attire meant that I put a fair amount of wear on my shoes. Even the newer ones. I figured this would be a good time to show you how much abuse these shoes can take before needing repairs or retirement. Of course, this isn't really comparable to 18th century wear since they weren't walking on paved roads, brick sidewalks, and gravel everywhere they went.

We'll start with the oldest pair that was worn. Technically my second pair, but the first didn't fit well enough to be worn often. So, a reminder of where they started out:
 Fortunately for me (I can't say the same for the shoes), these were almost entirely worn during my evening programs job of walking a fairly consistent route down the street every night. I was able to add up the number of nights I worked with an idea of how much I walked every night. It came out to about 500 miles. On pavement. Also, they went through a massive flood more than once- puddles past my ankles.
The damage is almost entirely to the soles. The wool uppers are a little pilled and stiff, but the stiffness is because of the whittaw lining and the paste between the two layers got soaking wet. The only other damage is due to my choice of stitching method at the side seam, which I've since changed. The soles, however, are completely worn through. If I had decided to save them earlier I could have "clump soled" them, which you'll see later. I also could whiten the heels with pipe clay- the cleaner heel I simply washed off and burnished a bit to fix it as an experiment.

Same construction method, but with far less wear are my red shoes. They don't look much different from their start except for the soles. I've worn them a number of times, but they haven't been meant for long-distance walking in the same way. The cut you see on the sole isn't from wear, but a mistake in construction (common to start with, thankfully I've moved past that!). I'm almost done with a pair of overshoes to fit, so there won't be any more wear on these!

Now, the workhorse. Again, the uppers look just broken in. I've blacked them once to bring back some shine. The soles, however, have had numerous surgeries. The most common fix for shoes is to add on a new heel cap. You simply peg and paste this piece on top of the old rather than removing the stitched on cap. Sometimes I'll peg on a piece even before wearing so I don't have to worry about wearing down the leather too far. I don't know how many times I've replaced that cap on these- maybe 6? They're also clump soled. Meaning I wore down the sole really thin and stitched a second sole using the edge of the first as a sort of welt. It does make them a bit thick soled, but they're for wearing hard. And believe me, I have.

The most recent pair has seen it's share of walking around as well. You can see some pre-emptive heel caps on them. The sole is simply sueded at this point, no major wear. I'm only wearing them a couple times a month now, so they'll last a few years at this rate.

The last pair is a sort of control. The slippers have only been worn indoors (save one short trip that answered why you don't wear slippers outside). Though, that does still mean about 150 days of wearing for about 8 hours on pine floors. I'd wear them everyday if they dealt with carpet better. I haven't even sueded the soles completely and the ribbon wear is because it's antique silk ribbon, pretty but fragile.

Also, the Shoe Timeline print and digital file are up on the Etsy site now, along with a few markdowns:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Just a quick post to let you know that I've released a book about turn shoe construction. It's not meant to be instructional, but it covers the topic pretty well. I hope to eventually write a very in-depth book on the process, but the feedback on this will help to know what needs to go in it as well as knowing if there's any demand for it. Check it out and if you do purchase a book or download the PDF I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I'm still working on printing the Shoe Timeline image. Turns out, my *ancient* (four years old) printer doesn't communicate with Windows 7 very well. Shocking. Most things print fine, just not borderless or 13x19. Oh, wait, those are both what I'm trying to do.