Rahmengenähte Schuhe – Goodyear Welted Shoes

*Rahmengenähte Schuhe sind hoeherwertiger, da sie haltbarer und leichter wieder besohlbar sind. Ein Top rahmengenaehter Schuh kann für eine Neubesohlung oder sogar für eine General-Überholung in die Werkstatt zurückgesendet werden. Der Absatz kann entfernt werden, die Naht an der Sohle geöffnet und eine neue Sohle und Absatz angefuegt werden. Dann kann der Schuh….. über den Orginalleisten gespannt werden und sozusagen vollendet werden. Dieser Prozess kann viele Male wiederholt werden. Daher kann ein wirklich gut gearbeitetes Paar 20 Jahre und sogar länger getragen werden. Ich besitze Schuhe die älter als 50 Jahre sind (die Schuhe meines Vaters) und die sich noch immer perfekt tragen lassen.

*Goodyear Welted shoes are superior to other constructions because they are both very durable and more easily resoled. A top-quality welted shoe can be sent back to the maker for resoling, or even re-crafting. The heel can be removed, the sole stitching undone, and a new sole and heel can then be attached. In cases of more extreme wear the insole and welt can be removed as well. The shoe can then be stretched back over the original last and remade. These processes can be repeated many times. As a result, a truly great pair of shoes can be worn for 20 years or longer. I have shoes that are more than 50 years old (my fathers) and still perfectly wearable.

With Goodyear welting the upper is drawn over the wooden last (Leist) and a strip of leather (the welt) is stitched to the upper and inner sole. The outer sole is then sewn at its edge through the welt. The name Goodyear is taken from Charles Goodyear, the developer and patent-holder in 1871 and 1875 of the ancestor of the modern welting machine. This machine revolutionized and automated shoemaking and represented an improvement over the earlier Blake Stitching machine, patented in 1858 by Lyman Blake. In the Blake-stitched shoe –a process is still in use today- a row of stitching connects the inner sole directly to the outer sole and can act as a path for moisture to enter and is also a potential irritant to the wearer’s foot. Goodyear welted shoes avoid both these drawbacks and have the addition advantage of providing a mouldable cork foot-bed between the welts. This and the relative ease of repair make the Goodyear welted shoe a gentleman’s best choice.

Of course, lasting and welting can be done by hand in the time-honoured tradition, and this is the case with many bespoke shoes today. While this hand-sewing is not necessarily a functional improvement over the machine welted shoe, hand welting does allow for the narrower-waisted, more sculpted sole, characteristic of antique, vintage and the best of modern custom-made shoes. It is for you to decide if the beauty of the dramatically shaped sole justifies the extra time and cost that it necessarily involves.

Channeling and Skiving

In better Goodyear welted shoes, a shallow niche or groove is cut around the outer edge of the outsole to receive the stitching and to set it below the surface the leather to protect it from wear. In the very best construction the channel is skived into the sole, that is to say, a slit is opened in the leather without the removal of material and the after the sewing of sole to welt is accomplished, by hand or machine, the slit is closed or “healed” to conceal the twine beneath. This preserves the strength of sole, is both practical and elegant but also requires considerable skill even today when skiving by machine.

With very few exceptions, whether I have mentioned it or not in the texts, all the shoes and boots that you will find in my pages, including rubber soles and golf shoes, are either Goodyear welted, or welted by hand. The German term “rahmengenäht” –“edge-sewn” in English- encompasses both techniques.