Glossary of Footwear Terminology, W-Z

International Language Terminology Cross-Reference General Glossary of Footwear Types

Waist (Shank)
  1. The narrow part of a shoe sole or insole under the arch of the foot. (See also Shank)[Thornton/Swann, 1983][Webber, 1989]
  2. The narrow middle part of the last, the shoe or the sole, corresponding with the instep and the arch of the foot. [Goubitz, 2001]
  3. See Girths
Walled Toe
A shoe forepart which rises vertically from the sole margin and then turns sharply across to the opposite side; often found in conjunction with an apron front (q.v.). [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

When used this may refer to beeswax, or else it may refer to code.   See Shoemaker's Wax and Code

Waxed End (Tatched End)
The waxed end of the thread to which the Bristle is attached [Frommer]

A piece of leather thinned out to form a long triangular profile, inserted between sole layers or heel lifts. [Goubitz, 2001]

Wedge heel
A heel extending under the waist of the shoe to the forepart. [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Goubitz, 2001]

These objects, sometimes more specifically referred to as a Greater Wedge and a Lesser Wedge, are used with instep leathers,  shovers and a comb last are used to precisely adjust the girths. By inserting them under the shover. or instep leather the girth can be increased. When the wedge is removed, the shover can then be removed, and then the last is removed.  
These objects, referred to by Deloney are used with Shovers and a Comb Last are used to precisely adjust the Girths. When the wedge is removed, the shover can be removed, and then the last removed.   Holme shows these as: 
shover.gif (3340 bytes)

Welt (Other medieval spellings include: Waltys, Waltt, Walte  Latin: Intercucium, Intercutium,)
A welt is a strip of leather used in shoemaking.  Initially, it was used in single soled shoes to protect the thread, and to extend the useable sole out past the inseam.  This is incorrectly referred to by Archaeologists as a rand (See Rand).  In the mid 15th century, outer soles were being sewn to the Welt, and by the end of the 15th century, the position of the Welt had moved in the seam from between the overleather and sole, to outside the overleather so that the shoe could better be made right side out and still allow an outer sole to be attached.
There are three terms that cover essentially the same piece of a shoe that are used in different contexts. The definitions for The Bead, the Rand and the Welt should be examined carefully.

  1. The term Welt appears in a shoe context by 1425 and was probably used to refer to what Archaeologists now call the Rand (1).  The term derives from OE Wælt, and refers to the sinew part of the thigh [MED]
  2. For shoes made between about 1450 and about 1500, this term is used by Archaeologists and Curators for the flat welt sewn between the upper and the sole during Inseaming, which, after the shoe is turned, is wide enough to stitch an on Outer Sole (see Turn-Welt). The Medieval Latin term for this is Intercucium (v. intercuciare)[OED2, Oxford Latin Dictionary, Cassells Latin, Du Cange, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, Lathams revised medieval word list, John of Garland, Dictionarius].  Thomas Wright, in his commentary on Garland refers to Rives and Waltys.
  3. After about 1480, this refers to a narrow strip of leather placed outside the upper on a non-turned shoe [not inserted between like above with a turnshoe] and sewn simultaneously around the lasting margin (q.v.) of the upper during Inseaming [q.v.] joining it to the insole edge or to a "rib"(see "holdfast") raised on the flesh side of the insole near the edge. The sole is then stitched to this welt by a second seam. (see Welted Construction) [Thornton/Swann, 1983]. It is sometimes referred to as a "Rand"(2), when folded under after sewing, presenting a rolled edge. This continues into modern shoemaking where the welt refers to the strip that begins approximately at the heel-breast on one side and continues around the forepart, ending approximately at heel-breast on the other, and should not be confused with the Rand, the strip around the heel.
  4. About the time of the transition between definitions 2 & 3, the Medieval Latin term appears to change to Intercutius (v. Intercutiare) although it is not known why the change in spelling occurs [OED2, Oxford Latin Dictionary, Cassells Latin, Du Cange, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, Lathams revised medieval word list]. OED2 also seems to refer to the Welt as "Oureleure".
  5. A narrow strip of material inserted in seams, as in shoe uppers for reinforcement, later termed a "bead" or "bead-welt" [q.v.]
  6. A Bead Welt (see Bead (2))
  7. On some late 20th century shoes, there are mock (or false) welts, which give the impression of a welt.
  8. This strip of leather, an average of 24 inches (60 cm) long, four-fifths of an inch (2 em) wide, and one-eighth of an inch (3 mm) thick, is the foundation of the shoe. It holds the upper, insole, and sole together. [Vass]
  9. A strip of leather sewn along the outside of the upper's bottom edge together with the insole during inseaming, to which later the treadsole (outsole) is stitched. [Goubitz, 2001]
Welt, Closing
See Welt (5). [Devlin, 1840]

Welt, Making
See Welt. [Devlin, 1840]

Welt needles
Curved needles just over 3 inches long (8 cm). Two of them are needed for the welt-stitching process. [Vass]

Welt seam
The seam that holds the upper, insole, and welt together. [Vass]

Welt stitch
Used to stitch the treadsole (outsole) on; it goes straight through welt and sole, often lying concealed in a groove or channel on the tread side of the sole. [Goubitz, 2001]

Welt-stitched shoe
An elegant, handmade shoe. The welt seam that holds the upper and the insole together is not externally visible. The top-sole seam, which is visible, holds together the welt and the top sole (in a single-soled shoe); or the welt, the middle sole, and the top sole (in double-soled shoes). [Vass]

Welted Construction

  1. This term is used to describe the manufacture of an unturned modern “welted” shoe.  Developed in the 15th century, this technique formed the basis of most shoemaking well into the modern era, and, although no longer the mainstay of shoemaking in this era of exuded plastics and molds, this method is still preferred by traditional hand sewn shoemakers.
  2. This method of shoe construction appears to have been developed in Germany by around 1480 or so, and introduced to England by c.1500. These techniques formed the basis of all shoemaking well into the modern era, and, although no longer the mainstay of shoemaking in this era of exuded plastics and molds, this path is still followed by an impassioned minority.
    This type of construction takes place in three stages:
    1. The Upper is lasted, or placed on a last rightside out, and held in position temporarily by nails or bracing thread;
    2. The lasted upper is sewn together with a welt (q.v.) to the edge of the insole (early examples use the actual edge itself with an edge/flesh seam (q.v.) but later ones use an upstanding rib, or Holdfast, set in a short distance from the edge);
    3. The sole is then stitched to this welt. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

Wet (or Wetted)
This refers to soaking leather in water to make it pliable. [Devlin. 1840]

Wheston (also Whetstone Oilstones, honing stones, and sharpening stones. Latin: Acuperium, Cos)
These do not appear in the any of the medieval literature, but they do appear in illustrations of shoemakers, and are very important to keeping knives, shears, and awls sharp.
Used to keep awls, shears and knives sharp. They are also known as oilstones, honing stones, and sharpening stones.   Although these do not (at this time) to have been mentioned in the Medieval literature, these appear in several of the drawings
tool1.gif (801 bytes)

  1. Use a light lubricating oil, or water. Other forms of oil may have drawbacks for the unwary. Water produces a keener cut on the stone, as does oil mixed with paraffin. It should be noted that some stones require water, and oil will ruin them. Check any instructions your stone might come with.
  2. Don't be stingy with the oil, since it is not meant as a lubricant, but serves to keep the pits in the stone from becoming impregnated with metal as you sharpen. This is what forms the grime black slurry that forms as you sharpen, and what must be wiped away before it can clog the stone.
  3. Notice the bevel your blade forms, and try to keep this angle. You can get a sense of the bevel by lying the edge of the blade on the stone.
  4. Sharpen in smooth, firm strokes, as though you were trying to take a slice from the stone with each stroke, or else move the blade in firm, circular strokes (opinions vary). Often only a single pass with a stone is enough to produce a clean edge that can be resharpened by stropping.
  5. Keep doing this until you can't feel a burr and your knife cuts smoothly again.
  6. Be patient.
  7. After using a stone, you should probably finish with a final stropping.

Whip (also Overcast Stitch, Whip Stitch, Whipping Modern terms include: Binding Stitch)
This is a type of sewing stitch used for binding seams, attaching linings and edging, cording, and patching.  It was usually sewn with a split hold, that is, the needle or bristle and thread are passed partly through the leather, so that the stitch doesn’t appear on the outside of work; working around the edge of the applied piece, with an overcast stitch creating a series of angled holes and marks on the leather.  Sometimes the whipping will stab through the lining or even through the body of the work.  The term to whip, as in making an overcast stitch appears from the 16th century.  The term whip stitch appears in the 17th century.

  1. A kind of stitch used to hem. [Devlin, 1840]
  2. A seam sewn with a split hold on interior linings that don't show stitches to the outside of the work. [Saguto]
  3. A seam sewn with a stabbing stitch around the edge of a piece of leather. [Saguto]
  4. Whip stitch The overcast stitch used to sew on reinforcement pieces, edge bindings, and stand leathers. [Goubitz, 2001]

White Tawyer (Other medieval spellings include: White-Tawer, Whittawer)
Someone who makes tawed leather, or prepares white leather.

Width numbering
This system has 5 to 8 girth measurements. Given the shoe size and width number, the girth at the metatarsals, instep, heel, and ankle can be calculated. [Vass]

Wing cap
Heart-shaped toe cap. The elegant line extends along the vamp almost as far as the heel. [Vass]

Winged Box
Found in modern pointed shoes this describes a toe box with extra long stiff sides.[]

Winter Shoes
This term refers to a specific, non-ecclesiastical shoe with a cork filled sole.  There are a very few examples of these from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Wooden heel
A heel core made of wood and covered with leather or textile. [Goubitz, 2001]

Wrap-round Upper (also One Piece Upper)
A single piece overleather for a shoe or boot.  These are very common in medieval footwear.

  1. An upper, either all in one piece or a small insert (usually triangular) where required, in which the outside vamp wing (q.v.) continues backwards to become the outside quarter (q.v.) and then passes round the back of the foot to become the inside quarter; it then joins the inside vamp wing with a vertical or sloping seam. This is a typical feature of Medieval footwear. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  2. One-piece upper A shoe upper consisting of a single piece of leather. [Goubitz, 2001]

This refers to drawing your stitches tight, or to bind tightly.

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