Glossary of Footwear Terminology, F

International Language Terminology Cross-Reference General Glossary of Footwear Types

  1. The lining of the front part of the quarters, the Tab, carrying the eyelets/lace holes. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  2. Eye stay - A piece of material to strengthen the upper at the tie holes which can be overlaid, underlain, or inserted between the upper and lining. [Webber]
  3. Lace-hole Reinforcement - A lining sewn on the inside of the shoe to reinforce the lace holes. [Grew/deNeergaard, 1988]
  4. For archaeological shoes, the pieces of thin leather sewn to the interior of the shoe that reinforce the area around lace holes. [Goubitz, 2001]
  5. Facing (Modern terms include: Eye stay, Lace-hole Reinforcement)
    A lining inside the shoe to help reinforce eyelets.  There is not a good term to describe these
Facing Stay
A reinforcement to the facing. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

The skived portion of the edge of the insole where it has been sewn to the upper leather. It is reduced by beating with the pane, or thin edge, of the hammer, or rubbed down with the long stick [Devlin, 1840], or actually skived with a knife [Rees, 1813]

Feather Line
The sharp edge on the bottom of the last. [Frommer]

Feathering Knife
(See Plough)

Feathering Plough
(See Plough)

Fender (Modern terms include: Paring Horn)
A flat, thin piece of horn placed between the welt and the overleather when trimming the welt, used to protect the shoe from the paring knife.  The term fender is a medieval one, referring to an item used to protect or defend another thing.  It is also a traditional shoemaking term.

See Pinking.  [No real source in my notes.  The OED does discuss fenestration in a medical and scientific sense, referring to being perforated with small holes like a window and dates this to the early /mid 19th century.  Fenestration-as in defenestration, the act of throwing a messenger, usually bearing bad news, out a window. Therefore, fenestration=windowing, i.e. cutting out windows in the leather.}

Substance used to fill the gap in a welt-stitched shoe, with a shock-absorbing and stabilizing effect on the sole when walking. [Vass]

Filling Pieces
  1. See Rounder (1).
  2. Of sole: A piece of leather used to fill up the space between the edges of the bracing margins or lasting margins and the treadsole (outsole). [Goubitz, 2001]
Findings (Traditional terms include:  The Grindery)
These are historical shoemaking terms for the materials that a shoemaker works with.  Findings is the term in the US, while the Grindery is used in Britain.

Fine copying

  1. Lastmaking method in which the measurements of the last form are precisely transferred to the new last by machine. [Vass]
  2. Lastmaking method in which a last that has been corrected by the addition method functions as a last form. [Vass]
Someone who does the finishing work on shoes. [Devlin, 1840]

This is the final work done on a shoe after it’s been made.  Examples of finishing work have historically been trimming the sole edges, rasping and scraping them with a bit of glass, inking, sleeking, washing, waxing, creaming, polishing the overleather, etc.

  1. The final process undergone by the shoe once its construction is complete, consisting of washing, creaming, and polishing the upper; and inking, heelballing, and polishing the edges of the sole and the heel. the edge of the sole is pressed with the edge iron and the edges of the heel smoothed with the dummy iron, and both are then individually patterned with the fancy wheels. The top piece and sole arc creamed or inked. [Vass]
Finishing wax
Type of wax, of which the shoemaker applies a thin coat to the upper surfaces of the shoe after inking. It is then pressed into the leather together with the ink using a warm iron. [Vass]

Firk (also Ferk)
To quickly prick the leather, hence “to firk and yerk” meaning to hole the leather and then draw the stitches tight.

Fitter's model (Fitter, Glass Slipper)
  1. A cheap, quick-made shoe intended to test the size and shape of the last, and how it will fit the foot. Corrections to the last can be indicated on it, then transferred to the last. It can also be used for adjusting or refining patterns. [Saguto]
  2. Glass slipper is a Western Bootmaker's term for the above, because it is made from clear plastic tape. [Frommer]
Fitting (Instab Leathers, Instep leathers, Shovers)

Any leather either single-layer patch, or laminate built from leather, whether stuck, pegged, tacked semi-permanently, or lashed temporarily with thread to any last, in any location, to alter its shape, size, increase its girth, etc.  Pins, instep leathers and shovers are each a kind of fitting.

  1. Attached to the last by a tack near the toe.  Leather attached to the last to adjust the girth, help improve the fit, and aide in removing the Last. [Rees, 1813]
  2. Any single-layer leather patch or laminated build-up of leather stuck, pegged, tacked semi-permanently, or lashed temporarily with thread to any last, in any location, to alter its shape, size, increase its girth, etc.  Also, specifically with comb lasts, to create a two-piece unit--last plus fitting--to bring the under-sized comb last up to measure in joint, waist, and instep girths, and removed first to facilitate the last's removal from the finished shoe or boot (See: Instep-leather).  [Saguto, 2004]
Flat Seam (Flat closed)
A butted edge sewn seam, done with a curved awl, showing on just one side of this finished seam. The hold is set far enough back from the edge that the leather remains flat. [Rees, 1813] [Saguto]


  1. The rough "inner" surface of a piece of leather, the side nearest to the animal's flesh; the loose fibers are usually prominent  [Thornton/Swann, 1983]. See Grain.   Note that this term, in this context can only be documented to 1839 although Flesh-side appears to 1630 (this latter source also suggests that Rim could be used as well) [OED 2d Ed.][Holme, 1688][Grew/deNeergaard, 1988]
  2. Flesh side The side of the leather formerly in contact with the flesh of the animal; in the case of archaeological shoes it is usually found tin the interior of the shoe. [Goubitz, 2001] [Note: This is true for medieval shoes, but after about 1600, the flesh side is frequently the outside]
  3. Flesh-side (Other medieval terms include: Rim.  Traditional terms include:  Flesh)  The inner surface of leather – the side with the loose fibers.
(See Edge-Flesh)

Flesh side [Holme, 1688] (see Flesh)

Fleshing cuts
Curved scrape marks on the flesh side of the leather made by the tanner when the hide was prepared for tanning. [Goubitz, 2001]

Folded Welt (See Rand)

  1. A sole-attaching welt that may be made of a piece of leather folded (e.g.18th century). [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  2. A welt strip made so broad that it is folded and braced under the insole; also known as randed stitching, but this term is avoided in order to prevent confusion with the rands in turnshoes. [Goubitz, 2001]
  3. Although this term has been mistakenly used to refer to a rand, it actually refers to a welt made of upper leather folded in half.  They have been found as early as the late 16th century.
Foot arch
The lengthwise and transverse arch of the foot. It bears the entire body weight when standing and walking. It acts as a shock absorber, reducing the impact on the head and spinal column of walking. [Vass]

Foot documentation
All the important information about the feet and their owner established in the measurement-taking process: the measurement record, foot imprint, draft drawings, and marked-up lasts. [Vass]

Foot elevation
The side and rear elevation of the foot transferred onto paper. [Vass]

Foot imprint
An imprint of the foot produced by the Pedagraph. It gives an exact picture of the arch of the foot, the intersection points of the arch curves, and the position of the toes. [Vass]

Foot Measure (Traditional terms include: Foote Mesure, Gage, Gauge, Measure, Size Stick, Sliding Rule. Latin: Pedale)
A measuring stick used for measuring the size of the foot.  It is not known whether the people in the Middle Ages used such a thing

Foot outline
The shoemaker makes an outline of the foot with a vertically held pencil on a sheet of paper, from which the length and width of the shoes are then measured. [Vass]

The strap on the forepart of a patten or sandal. [Goubitz, 2001]

Footing Block (Other medieval spellings include: Footynge Block, Fotyng-bloke, Heel Block)
  1. A small block, 3” or so, placed under the heel of the shoemaker using a stirrup. This elevates the leg slightly, and helps the tension of the stirrup. [Saguto]
  2. There is some supposition that since the term "heel block" appears before the common (Deloney (1599)) appearance of heels, the use of the term "heel block" might refer to a footing block.
Part of a pair of trousers which covers the foot. [Webber, 1989]

Originally the American term, now the generic term for foot covering, including shoes, boots, sandals, slippers, and overshoes, but excluding hosiery. See Shoe. [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Webber, 1989]

Forefoot (Forefooting)
v. To revamp a boot. The term dates from at least 1465.

Forefoot (Other medieval spellings and terms include: Avan-pie, Avant pied, Empeignes, Enpenyes, Vampet, Vampethe, Vampey, Vawmpe, Wampe, Waumpe, Vamp. Latin: Antepedale, Inpedias, Pedana, Pedium, Pedula. Modern terms include: Forepart)
The front section of a shoe's overleather covering the wearer's toes and part of the instep.  Note that while “vamp” is also derived from the French “avant pied”, in the Middle Ages it was usually used to refer to the front of a foot on hose, as was forefoot.  In archaeological terminology, forepart refers to the shoe, sole or insole in front of the instep.  In shoemaking parlance, forepart refers to the sole in front of the waist.

  1. The front of the shoe, sole, or insole forward of the instep (See Vamp). [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Grew/deNeergaard, 1988][Webber, 1989]
  2. The front of the sole forward of the Heel. [Devlin, 1840]
  3. It should be reserved for soles, insoles, and so on, and not used to describe the Vamp. [Saguto]
Forepart Stick
A type of stick, used for slickening sole edges.  See Bones and Sticks

Foxing refers to repairing shoes or boots by renewing the overleather leather; also to attack a strip of ornamental leather to the outside of the overleather.  It is not known if this is a medieval shoemaking term, although “foxing” is a medieval term for a “clever deceit”.

French Chalk
Talc, used as a lubricant for the last, to facilitate the removal of the last from a shoe or boot.  It is not known if this is a medieval practice.

Full Cast Stitch
A variation of the cast using a shoemaker's stitch, passing the bristles or needles though through the loops on both sides of the seam, making two half-hitch knots inside the leather – one on each side. This is usually only done on the final stitch in a row to secure the end of the seam. See also Casting Off and Half Cast Stitch.  [Saguto]

Full Lining
Uppers that are completly double thick, or two layers sewn or bound around all the edges. Not common until after 1650 for women's shoes and after 1800 for men's.

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Footwear of the Middle Ages - Glossary of Footwear Terminology F, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 I. Marc Carlson. 
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