What is involved in making a pair of handmade welted shoes? Here is a photo of the hand-stitched seam binding a leather strip (the welt) to the insole through the leather “uppers”. A curved awl is used to punch the holes through this thick leather. The seam is sewn with one continuous waxed thread. Sewing in this way uses some strange inner shoulder muscles, as the pulls to get the seam nice and tight require a lot of strength.
This next photo shows the welt sticking out from under the bottom of the shoe, ready to have the sole attached and then sewn together. These shoes are custom-molded also, as the shoe forms are made of plaster casts of individual feet.
Finally, the finished shoes. Hand welted shoes are recognizable by the sole’s apparent double-thickness, length of the visible stitch on the welt, and the absence of stitching on the bottom of the sole. In actuality, the double-thick sole is the welt plus the sole. These shoes are easily repaired and maintained, and are very strong.These shoes are also custom-molded! Read about my first attempts at making custom-molded shoes from plaster foot casts here.