Stretching


Unlike modern shoes, in which the leather is stretched in industrial processes (pulled between toggles on a pegboard) with the force of many tons before it is cut and assembled into shoes, medieval shoes are made of (relatively speaking) unstretched leather that still retains the bulk of its elasticity. This means that over time, your shoes may change their shape and stretch out of shape. Try to remember that leather always stretches when wet. If you take your shoes off wet, they will want to dry in the same form and shape you left them in (as something to remember, this is why shoe trees were invented - although stuffing them with newspaper works as well).

Methods of limiting any stretching including stitching linen thread, or lining the interior of the shoe with cloth. I was under the impression that there was evidence that both of these methods were used in some shoes as early as the Anglo-Saxon era, but this was due to a comment in Grew and de Neergaard, however this is becoming less likely as the evidence starts to pile up.

Should your shoes stretch out of shape, they can be adjusted by either pinching together a section of leather along the center of the vamp or, if it is needed to be even tighter, cut open the vamp and pull the two sides tightly together. This should cause them to resemble center-seam shoes (if they didn't already).

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Footwear of the Middle Ages - Stretching, Copyright 1996, 1999 I. Marc Carlson.
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