Glossary of Footwear Terminology, H

International Language Terminology Cross-Reference General Glossary of Footwear Types

Half Cast Stitch
A variation of the cast using a shoemaker's stitch, passing the bristles or needles though through the loops on the weaker side of the seam, making an half-hitch knot inside the leather.  In post-medieval shoes, the cast is made on the welt side of the inseaming, while on medieval shoes this would be the overleather side of the seam (in both cases it’s on the outside of the inseaming – as opposed to the last side. See also Casting Off and Full Cast Stitch.
The "half-cast" should be made on the weakest side of the seam. In a welted shoe, the "cast" is made on the welt-side. In a turned shoe, this would be on the Upper side (as opposed to the Sole Side). See Full Cast Stitch.  [Rees, 1813]

Half Moon Knife
  See Trenket

Half sole
A grafted shoe repair with a forepart sole cut away or added as a clump (q.v.) [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

Hand-Leather (Modern terms include: Shoemaker's Mitten)
A piece of leather wrapped around the left hand to protect the skin of the shoemakers hand from being cut by the thread when yerking the thread.  Might be a medieval tool.

Hand-stitched shoe
A shoe made by the traditional method. The two most important types of hand-stitched shoe are the welt-stitched and double stitched variants. [Vass]

A modern generic term for shoemaker's wax. Also called "hand".  This term doesn't seem to show up until after the introduction of the sewing machines in the 1860s. These machines used a different sort of wax to cere the threads.  It does not appear in Johnson 1755, Websters 1828, OED, OAD.

See Girths

Head Knife
See Trenket

  1. A component added to the rear (or seat) end of the sole.  This may have originally been developed for utility (e.g. helping to control stirrups) but were apparently spread as a  fashion. The heel may consist of separate "lifts" ("built heel") stacked and pinned or sewed together, or else be made from a single block of wood or cork, and covered with leather or other material. In either case the bottom section which rests on the ground is called the "top piece". See Raised Heels [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Webber, 1989] Heels are made of either wood or leather [Holme, 1688] This term dates from at least 1577 [OED 2d Ed.].
  2. The backmost part of the foot and the last, also the component under the heel seat of a shoe. [Goubitz, 2001]
  3. Heel (Other medieval spellings include: Hele)
    The rear quarters.  In modern parlance the heel is the added part of a shoe or boot, under the quarters, but this is not a medieval usage.
Heel Ball
A pigmented wax used to smooth and fill the surface of the heel. [Coliquy]

Heel Block (Footynge Block)
This three inch cube is the wooden piece that the shoemaker keeps his left heal on to tighten the stirrup, as needed. [Holme]

Heel Breast
  1. The front surface of a heel.  See Breast.
  2. The vertical front of the heel component, found under the arch of the shoe. [Goubitz, 2001]
Heel construction
  1. Several leather lifts, a top piece, and a quarter rubber are assembled to form the heel. [Vass]
  2. The method and material by which the heel component is built, joined together and attached to the shoe. [Goubitz, 2001]
Heel Counter
The device built onto the outside at the back of the shoe that helps support the wearer's heel as well as the entire foot. [] (See Counter)

Heel Cover

  1. The material (leather,cloth etc.) covering usually a wooden heel. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  2. The leather or textile covering of a heel's core; the core can be made of leather, wood or cork. [Goubitz, 2001]
Heel-cover seam
The seam running down the centre back of the heel component that joins the halves of a two-part heel cover. [Goubitz, 2001]

Heel cup
A piece of leather (part of the upper) on the outside of the back of the shoe covering the seam joining the quarters. It may be a narrow strip or a long, vertical piece of leather in line with the heel. [Vass]

Heel Cutter
A tool used to cut lifts [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel edge
The outer surface of the heel. Usually it is black, but sometimes it is colored to match the upper leather If it is not colored, the individual lifts are readily discernible. [Vass]

Heel Height
There are many trade methods for measuring this. For uniformity,it best to measure with a straight ruler from the edge where the top piece touches the ground to the sole seam at the center back. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

Heel lifts

  1. Two to four pieces of leather cut to the shape of the heel, which they jointly form. [Vass]

Heel Liner (Modern terms include: Heel Stiffener Inside Counter, Counter)
A piece of lining leather used as a stiffening or internal reinforcement in the rear quarters or heel area. It is most frequently sewn inside the shoe. In medieval shoes it is whipped in place, and is usually invisible from the outside.   Please note that we have no idea what these were called in the Middle Ages, and the closest English shoemaking term, counter, has too many conflicting interpretations depending on who you ask.  Any of the layers by which a heel is built (stacked), except for the cupping and the top piece. [Goubitz, 2001]

Heel Maker
A person who makes heels [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel Parer
A person who makes heels [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel pegs
Wooden nails or sharpened dowels used to fix the heel lifts together and to the shoe; they can be small to very large in size. [Goubitz, 2001]

Heel Plate
Anyone of a number of different devices, all of which are designed to extend the wear of the heel. In it's most modern form, it is a half moon shaped piece of nylon, adhesive backed that is placed on the heel at the point of maximum wear and nailed in place. Earlier (and sometimes still today) this plate was made of steel. Other variations include v-plates, quarter tips, circlettes, all of which are inset into the heel, and going back at least to the Civil War, horse shoe plates, which are mounted to the surface. [James Howell]

Heel profile
The shape of the heel seen from the rear, the side and the front. [Goubitz, 2001]

Heel quarters
The part of the shoe around the heel, the counters [Holme, 1688][OED 2d Ed.]

Heel Scourer
A person who makes heels [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel seam
Sometimes used (erroneously) to refer to the "Back seam" (q.v).   The Heel Seam refers to the seam running up the back of the shoe's heel, not the wearer's.

Heel seat (or Seat)
  1. The imprint of, or area covered by the heel of the foot. The rear end of insole or sole on which the heel of the foot rests. [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Webber, 1989][OED 2d Ed.]
  2. The area in the shoe or on the insole on which the heel of the foot rests. [Goubitz, 2001]
  3. Both sides of the back part of the sole or insole, or the area that would be covered by the heel, if there is one.
Heel-seat cover
A leather or textile cover of the heel seat, also known as a heel sock. [Goubitz, 2001]

Heel section
The back of the shoe. [Vass]

Heel Sewing
Sewing the heel [Holme, 1688]

Heel Shave
A type of spokeshave used to make heels [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel Spur
See Counter

See Counter

Heel Thread
See Leather Thread.

Heel Tip
A metal heel plate [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel trimmer
A machine used in making heels [OED 2d Ed.]

Heel wedge
Pieces of leather with a tapering profile inserted between the heel lifts to heighten the heel along the back. [Goubitz, 2001]

(Backstrap) Of a sandal: the strap which holds the rear part of the sandal to the foot. [Goubitz, 2001]

Helling Sticks
An 18th century term for Hollin Sticks. [Saguto]  See Polishing bone.

Using a whip stitch to attach linings. [Devlin, 1840]

Hidden stitch
A technique of sewing (See tunnel stitch). [Goubitz, 2001]

The pelt of the larger animals (cattle, horse, buffalo etc.) See Skin. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

High Instep
See Girths

High Shoe (Other medieval spellings include: Heigh Scoh, Scoh, Unhege-Sceo Modern terms include: Ankle Boot, Ankle Shoe, Half boot)
A shoe that extends to the ankle, or slightly higher.  There is no way to be more specific between the high shoe and low boot, as the medieval meaning are not clear.

A short nail with a large solid head, nailed into the sole to help protect the sole from wear. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

This concept is one of the most basic in sewing leather, but can a trick to describe.  Inserting thread into leather, in order to grab that leather is making a stitch.  Once it’s grabbed the leather and is gripping it, it and the leather being gripped make up a hold.  The two terms are very similar, and may appear synonymous.  They are not.  The hold is determined in part by the thread, and how that thread is passed through the leather, but also by the amount of the leather captured within the stitch on each side of the seam, how far back from the edge the hole is made, how deeply the hole is made through the leather. [Saguto]
Bite.jpg (2681 bytes)

Even though in traditional shoemaking, the term “hold” is only used regarding closing seams in the uppers, I maintain that there is no appreciable difference between the medieval edge-flesh stitches other than the size of leather and placement of the seam, therefore I use the term hold in describing the inseam as well – anticipating the term “hold fast” in later shoemaking.

The thickened border created along the edges of the insole by the inseam threads. [Goubitz, 2001]

Hole, Holed
v. To make a hole, as for stitching.  This term is apparently not a medieval shoemaking term, although its use is consistent with medieval use. [Devlin, 1840]

Pre-piercing the Insole before Inseaming.

Hollin Sticks (also Helling Sticks, Shoulder Sticks)
There are a number of types and shapes of these sticks, with various types of “shoulders”, or raised guides to help shape shoe soles. (See also Bones and Sticks)

Hooked Awl
A sewing machine needle used to make a chain stitch.

Hueses (Hauses, Husseaus)
A kind of legging or hose.  Also possibly boots that reach the thigh. They can have pikes, and so may be footed hose with leather soles.  They are possibly related to chaucers.

Return to Contents or [Next]

Footwear of the Middle Ages - Glossary of Footwear Terminology H, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 I. Marc Carlson. 
This page is given for the free exchange of information, provided the author's name is included in all future revisions, and no money change hands, other than as expressed in the Copyright Page.