Test shoe - late 18th century (January 2005)

This was my first attempt at 18th century footwear.  This was based on a design from a re-enactor design book called Sketch '76, and ultimately derives from some work by the late Ernest Peterkin.  The design has some anachronistic detail errors, but for my purposes here it was sufficient.

As this is a test, it's got a lot of problems, but I share it as an educational effort.

Click on the thumbnails to see the full picture.


1. To start, I took the last and instep leathers and covered them in masking tape in order to build a pattern.

2.  The masking tape pattern.

3. The pattern transferred to cardboard.

4. The uppers pieces were cut from 5-6 ox. calf that I had stuffed with a cod liver oil/tallow mix and stored for 6 months to emulate the correct waxed calf.

5. The toe liners were sewn in place.  The fold is the result of trying to block the uppers and curve the tongue.  That it didn't work the way I wanted was a clue that the pattern I had come up with was flawed.

6.  The last and instep leather.

7. After soaking the insole, I put it on the last

8. The insole was beaten to the last to try to shape it.

9.  In an annoying attempt to better shape the insole to the last, I bound it up with some cord.  To the best of my knowledge this is not a technique used in this period.

10.  The shaped insole.

11.  A close-up of the heel to shoe the marked edge of the last in the leather.

12.  I trimmed the insole to create the hold-fast.  This particular pattern of holdfast is actually later than the period I was trying for.

13.  I blackened the uppers pieces

14. Closing.  The dog-leg seam on the sides is trickier than it looks.

15. The inside of the side seam

16. The closed upper.

17. Some more detail of the side seam

18.  The closed upper.

19.  The closed upper.

20.  Lasting the upper.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a shot that included the heel tack, which has the upper above the featherline of the last.

21.  Another shot missing the heel tack.  This technique is called back lasting.

22.  When the tacks in the forepart are secure, the heel tack is pulled and the quarters are pulled down into place, which makes the vamp more snug around the instep.

23.  Tacking the sole

24.  The lasted upper.

25.  The lasted upper.

26. Tacks all around the sole.

27.  The welt.

28. Sewing the welt

29. Sewing the welt

30. Sewing the welt

31. Sewing the welt

32. The fully sewn last.

33. The rand sewn into place.  The rand should be a single piece of leather

34. The rand folded and braced.  I'm fairly sure this is not quite correct.

35. The completed insole, welt and rand.

36.  The completed upper.

37.  I shaped the shank from hardened leather, as described in the original design.

38.  The leather shank pasted into place.  I filled the sewing channels with pasted in leather shavings.

39.  The outer sole forepart.

40.  Beating out the forepart sole.

41. The forepart sole pasted into place.
Ok, the sole should be longer and reach further back under the heel and the piece sole shorter.

42.  Marking the channel around the outer sole.

43.  Stitching the outer sole to the welt.

44.  The stitching.

45.  The outer sole.

46.  The outer sole.

47.  The first lift of the heel is shaped to allow it to cover the shank and still be relatively flat.

48. Stitching the rand to the heel lift.

49.  The attached heel lift

50.  The attached heel lift

51.  The attached heel lift

52.  The pegged heel.

52.  The pegged heel.

52.  Trimming the pegged heel.

53.  The finished basic shoe.  This shoe should be worn with a buckle.


54.  Since I needed the shoe worn and broken in I cut the straps and made it lacing, which was done - though really only the poor would have done this.