Can You Resole Blake Stitched Shoes?
The way your shoes are constructed tells you a lot about the care and attention to details the manufacturer has put into the overall quality of the shoe. It’s not something you should overlook, but might not be something you’ve given a whole lot of thought to either.
Keep reading to understand more about this important subject, and to familiarize yourself with Blake stitching, one of the most common - if misunderstood - shoe construction methods you’ll see today.
What is Blake Stitch Construction?
As mentioned above, Blake stitching is one of the most common types of shoe construction used today. Before we discuss the methodology of Blake stitching, it’s important for you to understand the parts of a shoe involved:
Upper: The full-grain leather piece that covers your foot. The upper includes the vamp, the quarters and depending on the style, the eyelets for lacing.
Insole: The soft bottom layer of inside the shoe on which your foot rests. Leather insoles are very comfortable and will conform to the shape of your feet over time.
Outsole: The part on the outside of the shoe which comes into contact with the ground. Leather outsoles are elegant and flexible.
Welt: A strip of leather running along the perimeter of the outsole. The leather welt is also important as it increases the shoe’s water-resistance.
Blake stitching is done with what is called the “single stitch” method. The shoe’s upper is folded underneath the insole, and then stitched into place with a single thread connecting the insole, the upper, and the outsole on the inside of the shoe - as can be seen in the diagram above.
The shoemaker guides all of the components by hand through a special machine, called a McKay machine, which lock-stitches the thread to ensure it won’t come apart.
The result is a beautifully stitched leather sole with several pros and cons.
Pros & Cons Of Blake Stitching
Like with most things, Blake stitching comes with its pros and cons. Here we take a look at what they are:
- Less expensive than Goodyear welting (see below for more about this method)
- Sleeker appearance than the bulkier Goodyear welted shoes
- Stylish, versatile and fashion-forward
- Light weight
- The fewer layers makes the shoe more flexible
- Short break-in period
- Easy to resole
- Your cobbler will need a special machine for resoling Blake stitched shoes. However, many cobblers have invested in a Blake stitching machine so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
- Blake stitched shoes cannot be resoled too many times as (in general) new holes will need to be created every time the sole is sewn on. However, high-quality leather should be sturdy and won’t degrade quickly.
- Interior stitching can be uncomfortable if the lining is too thin.
What is Goodyear Welting?
In order to truly understand the nuances of Blake stitching better, you should also know about Goodyear welting, which was actually invented before, and is still widely used today. Using a double-stitching method, the welt wraps around the upper of the shoe and serves to hold the different layers together. It also reinforces the shoe for higher water-resistance.
Two separate stitches are made on the outside of the shoe. The first connects the upper, insole and the welt. The second stitch attaches the outsole to the top layer. Goodyear welting is known for its robustness. This construction tends to be stiff and heavy. The welt can also appear to be pronounced which can make the shoe look chunky. Goodyear welted shoes are usually more expensive than Blake stitched ones.
If the welt is kept in good shape, it will maintain the structure and shape of the shoe. A good cobbler can use the same holes for the new threading.
What is Blake Rapid Stitch?
Blake Rapid Stitch is a third construction technique which is like a hybrid between Blake stitching and Goodyear welting. A double sole is sewn to the upper. First, the traditional Blake stitch construction is completed, then a second sole is attached with an exterior seam. This results in a more solid construction that is still flexible and sleek.
How To Tell If A Shoe Is Blake Stitched?
Identifying a Blake stitched shoe is relatively easy. The stitching tends to be noticeably in from the sole’s edge, as you can see in the image at the top. Stitching should also be visible on the inside of the shoe around the insole. Of course, this part might be difficult to spot if there is additional padding.
How To Protect Your Leather Soles
Aside from practicing good shoe care habits, there are steps you can take to protect your leather soles and promote overall shoe health. This is vitally important to prolonging the life of your shoes, avoiding injury and lessening the spread of disease.
Depending on how you walk, the heel and toe areas of the soles will most likely wear down the most. It’s a good idea to have plastic “taps” attached by a cobbler to these areas to help protect and reinforce these areas. It’s easier and less-expensive to have the taps replaced than it is to replace the entire sole.
A Layer of Protection
If you’re looking for more robust protection, ask your cobbler to attach rubber sole protectors. Not only do these thin layers of covering protect the leather soles from normal wear and tear, protectors keep moisture away from the leather and provide some traction. Of course, you sacrifice the elegance and some of the flexibility of leather soles, but you need to decide if it’s worth the trade-off.
You can also slip shoe protectors over your shoes everytime you go out. This way you can be sure your shoes will be protected against the elements and that your soles won’t come into contact with harmful dirt and bacteria. All you have to do when you arrive at your destination is remove the covers, store them safely in a dedicated bag (or dispose of them) and show your beautiful shoes off to the world. Now, keep in mind, once your shoes are uncovered, they’ll pick up bacteria and require attention when you get back home.
Disinfect and Moisturize
Even before our current era of extra-diligence about potential infection, it was advisable to clean the soles of your shoes. Nowadays, it might be considered mandatory.
However, as effective as alcohol and disinfectant solutions are for killing bacteria, they can also be killers for your leather soles.
Remove your shoes either before, or immediately after, entering your home. Wearing gloves, wipe the edges and soles with alcohol or a disinfectant pad. Let them dry completely.
Once dry, apply a layer of clear polish and leather moisturizer to the soles to help safeguard against drying and cracking.
If possible, try not to wear the same pair of shoes every day. Rotating your footwear gives each pair time to rest and keeps them fresh. Be sure to insert cedar shoe trees after every wear to absorb any extra moisture and to help maintain the shape. Rotating shoes also helps with foot health by giving your feet the chance to enjoy fresh shoes as often as possible.
When To Get Shoes Resoled
Waiting too long to get your shoes resoled can not only damage your shoes, it can also cause you injury.
Here are a few tell-tale signs you should look out for if your soles are:
- Spongy or weak
- Worn thin
- Developing holes
- Detaching from the upper
Finding a Good Cobbler
Just like any skilled profession, cobblers should meet certain basic requirements. When looking around for a cobbler, check out reviews if you can and be sure to ask them some, or all, of the following questions:
- How long have they been repairing shoes?
- How much experience do they have replacing leather soles?
- How much experience do they have replacing Blake stitched soles?
- Do they have a Blake stitching machine?
- Is the machine in good condition?
- What type of leather soles do they use?
- How long will it take to replace the soles?
- Do they offer any type of guarantee?
- How do they recommend caring for the soles?
- Should the heels also be replaced?
Typically entirely new leather soles should cost between $60 to $100 depending on where you’re having it done. And, it can take up to a week for the work to be completed. Be wary of those quick-fix places; you’ll likely to get a shoddily done job that will cost you more later on.
If your cobbler tries to “upsell” you be sure to ask why the services are actually needed.
Here at Beckett Simonon we have opted to use Blake stitched construction for our collection because it allows us to create classic styles with a contemporary appeal. As mentioned above, you will get light-weight shoes with a sleek profile that are easy to resole, flexible and comfortable. A great example is a favorite style of our customers, the Dean Oxfords.
For an up-close look on how it’s done, take a look at this video from our workshop where you will see one the head of our workshop, Oscar, using the McKay stitching machine. It really is a fascinating process which not many people actually get to see.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts.
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