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Queens Landsknechts-Shoes

Mai 2012

My initial idea was to build the pair of 16th century cowmouth shoes from stepping through time (P.276, Fig.2). My Queen Shoban plays Landsknecht, that qualifies her to be a good victim for these shoes :-) And it is an honor for me, that she accepted this present.
The Shoe on the drawing is symmetric, no difference between right and left shoe. In the meantime I found historic sources complaining about these type of shoes, there is documents saying the servants needed to wear new shoes for a month and hand them over to the Lords and Ladies after that. The modern shoemakers strictly warn to use symmetric shoes, they are uncomfortable and may cause injuries on the foot (if worn regularly).


So, do I really want to build my Queen a pair of symmetric shoes, knowing the above?

I decided to not do so. I tried to transport the look and type of making the onto a anatomic pair of shoes. Everything behind the bale-line will be foot-shaped, the part in front of it will be the cowmouth-look. This is a compromise, but I don’t want to waste more than 20h of work to build a uncomfortable shoe.

Note the Heel: different than the Turnshoes this one has the Seam at the very back. The curved Edges give the Heel a foot-fitting shape.

The Prototype

As I tend to do, I did build a Prototype to get an approval of the shape. This one was done without any decoration, no Treadsole, no closure. It did fit, only the front-edge should be moved more to the front, the current one presses on the foot. And obviously the leather close to the bales need to be flat.
All in all a good start.

The Upper

First thing was to adjust the pattern to avoid the “ears” at the front. That was straight forward, next was to cut the upper-leathers. Because of the A-Shape of the new Pattern (right picture), instead of the V-Shape of the Prototype (left), the Upper need to be made of two parts.
The most complicate piece I expected was the decoration of the Vamp, so I did this first.


The drawing shows a Vamp decorated with a longer, dagged edge reinforcement, a line of holes and a slit. A nice interpretation can be found here, Stepping Through Time shows a picture of a similar shoe, especially the slit not being a slit but having something (a piece of leather?) sewn in, is very feasible. A Slit there would reduce the stability of the shoe dramatically. shoe07-r.jpg

I was thinking about how to do this a while. I wanted to prevent distant seams on the inside, as seen in the example linked above. I expect, they will irritate the foot, which I want to prevent. So, thinking about this did cause lots of testing, the result of this does fulfill my requirement but is complicate to realize.

The edge reinforcement is a folded piece on thin leather attached to the edge of the Vamp. This one is connected using a flesh-edge whip-stitch, which was complicate because the thread needed to enter the edge (!) of the thin leather.
The piece is very long, the original had approx. 5mm I did 20mm. My idea behind was to keep the look. The original shoe did only cover the toes, the vamp was very small. My vamp is much longer, so I thought a longer piece there would pronounce it better.

The Holes are simply punched.
My interpretation of the sewn in piece of leather is this: Cut a slit in the Vamp. Wet, fold an hammer a piece of thin leather. Sew this in the vamp using a saddle-stitch. The result is a very flat and very robust seam, see the pictures. shoe07-u2.jpg
All in all this results a flat inside of the vamp, as meant to be. shoe07-u3.jpg shoe07-u4.jpg shoe07-u5.jpg

Edge Reinforcement

The Edge Reinforcement is always my personal challenge. I know they did it with a flesh-edge stitch, see the description in the Decoration-chapter. I can’t do this on a long distance, doing the holes in the thin leather takes me far too much time. So, on the shoes of my Lady I did the edges with a saddle-stitch at the upper-leather edge and a whip-stitch at the inside of the shoe. shoe06-01.jpg
Takes still much time, so I invented a special-method: Connect the thin leather on the edge of the upper leather with a usual saddle-stitch and use the same thread to connect the thin leather at the inside. Sound complicate and is complicate to do. But it is quicker than doing two seams. shoe07-e2.jpg shoe07-e3.jpg shoe07-e4.jpg

A very special challenge in this special challenge was the top-corner of the heel. Looks good from the outside, not too much from the inside and gives the heel additional robustness because of the asymmetric seam.

Heel Stiffener

I tried to support the shape of the heel with the Heel Stiffener. That means, it has the same shape as the Heel itself and is made of two pieces. shoe07-h1.jpg

The Soles

Inner Sole

As in my Ladies Shoes: Nicely carved. It shows Sven and Shiobans Plate of Arms on a background of Fleur de lis. Believe it or not: I took no picture, so see the completed shoe below.

Once that was finished, I nailed it onto the Last and sewed it as usual.shoe07-s1.jpg shoe07-s2.jpg shoe07-s3.jpg

The Tread Sole

To connect the Treat Sole under the shoe I used the same principal as at the First Pair, But now with a new tool to enlarge the cut slit to a ditch for the thread.shoe07-s4.jpgshoe07-s5.jpg
I still struggle with the Seam of the Treat Sole. This time one can see the result of the New Tool: The Thread itself is where it should be, in the ditch and covered by the lip of the Leather.shoe07-s6.jpg
But the Knots are terrible…. I tried a much bigger ditch, increased from three to two knots but only the combination of these two actions was successful. See the first knots on the left sole close to the Heel and at the left side (of the picture).

The Results on the right sole was much better, there are two knots right in front of the bales-Line (or below on the picture), who are really covered. This is how it should be. The Tread is glued, so I hope everything survives a while.


The Last Task was to cut the Slits into the Upper Leather. This was a hard job! I wanted to cut slits into this nice Leather? Really? REALLY?
Yes, I did it to stay close to the original. But this was a hard challenge for me.

The Last Job was to do my Makers Mark and hammer it for the last time to remove all the little spots from tools and fingernails. Now cutting the soles in a good shape and sanding the edges.

The really last job was to grease and polish them.


shoe07-f1.jpg shoe07-f2.jpg

Lessons learned

Not too bad… This is really a nice pair of shoes, a worthy present for my Queen.

I don’t want so sound arrogant, but that’s it.