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How to repair shoes.

Mary Gibson

Miles City, Montana

Ralph Eich of Shelton, Washington asked about shoe repair so here is what I have on the subject.

Ripped seams

You need a packet of hand sewing needles. The packet contains different shaped needles, each about 4 inches in length and designed for a specific purpose. You will need extra long thread, either carpet thread or polyester-cotton-wrapped thread.

1. Pull apart the seam until you meet resistance. Stop at this point. Remove all old stitching.

2. Choose the proper needle from the kit. If your hand will fit behind the seam, a straight needle will work. If the seam is located close to the shoe toe, select the curved needle.

3. To sew a fine seam, use single thread. Use double or even triple strands of thread when the original holes are large enough. For a more water resistant seam, first coat the thread with wax.

4. Close the seam by sewing through the original holes. Take care not to enlarge them. Make stitches taut.

5. Secure the finished seam by repeating the final stitch several times; a knot is unnecessary. To achieve a smooth finish pound or rub the stitching into the leather.

Attaching leather half-soles

Sewing on new half-soles will require a last, an item not easily come by. Search second hand stores, antique stores, etc. Made of metal, it resembles an inverted leg with a foot (for holding the shoe) and is attached to a wooden base. (See illustration.)

In addition to a last, you will need clinching nails and an awl for making new holes in leather. You can make one from a hardwood dowel of a size that fits your grip comfortably. Drive a long, heavy nail perpendicularly through the center of the dowel, allowing a portion of the point to extend beyond the wood. Hammer the extension flat against the wood to secure the spike in the dowel. Flatten the nail head with a hammer and grind it to a smooth point with a coarse file.

1. Buy precut half-soles, or purchase leather and cut your own.

2. Soak the half-sole or leather piece for 10 minutes in tepid water. This makes cutting and sewing easier. Then wrap newspaper around the leather to absorb excess water.

3. If you are making a sole, place the sole of the shoe on the leather and trace around it. Carefully cut along the outline with a sharp knife.

4. Place shoe on the last. With a pen knife or razor blade, cut the old threads on the original half sole. Lift the sole and separate it from the shoe with a somewhat diagonal cut at the arch.

5. Bevel the new half-sole so that it slightly extends over what remains of the old sole.

6. Clinching-shoe nails range from 3/8 to 7/8 inch in length. Choose one a half size larger than the total thickness of both new sole and shoe. Hammer in about 9 nails along the juncture of the new and old half-soles. Next nail down the tip and sides of the half-sole.

7. Using a sharp knife, trim the edge of the sole for neatness.

8. Cut a shallow depression or trough on the sole's bottom where the stitching will be. Having the stitches recessed protects them from wear.

9. With the old holes of the shoe welt (a strip of leather sewn in the seam between the upper of a shoe and the sole to reinforce their joining) to guide you, use the awl to make holes from the topside in the half-sole. Every other hole will be enough.

10. Take a waxed strand of thread 3 feet long and thread two needles, one at each end of the thread. Begin at the first hole closest to the arch. Run the needles consecutively through the same opening, one needle in one direction and the second needle in the other direction. Sew such opposing stitches all around the sole. To secure the final stitch, either sew the last stitch several times or make a knot. Cut excess thread.

11. Complete your work by pounding down the depression made for the stitches in the sole. Rub all the needle holes, stitches and cracks with wax or shoe polish.

Sewing needle for leather

Take the key" used to open sardine and ham cans. Straighten the handle end, and hammer and file, or grind it to a point. Thread sewing material through the slot at the opposite end.

Hope this info helps Countrysiders.

Related Article: Making tire tread shoes

Becca Haughn

1365 East Ave

Elyria OH 44035

This is in response to the request for possible shoes in the future when we'll need to make and repair our own.

To make tire tread shoes you'll need:

An old tire and inner tube

Carpet tacks

Chalk or soap

Mat knife



Trace each foot with chalk or soap on the tire. Mark your left foot as right and right foot as left as the pieces will be turned tread side down.

Cut out pieces with a mat knife. It will be tough to cut.

With your scissors cut two strips from the inner tube, 3-4 inches wide.

Put your foot on the tire cut out (tread side down). Lay inner tube strip across your foot and mark the point for attachment even with the bottom of the sole. Cut the strip on lines.

Fasten strip to sole with hammer and tacks. Repeat for other foot.

They should be ready to wear.

As you become comfortable with these perhaps you could come up with your own creations. Enclose it for winter-type wear, thong it for flip flops, or perhaps you could raise them to be boots.

I've heard that these treads can be applied to worn shoes, etc. to extend their life.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Gibson, Mary; Haughn, Becca
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1998
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