|Article by Sue Comont, based on lecture notes from the Rushden Boot and Shoe School 1936 - 1936 and1948 - 1950|
Shoemaking - Closing
Traditionally, closing operatives were women.
The perfect seam is that which offers the same resistance as the original material. Seams join the various sections together and have to be strong enough to withstand the strain of lasting and abrasive friction during manufacture and wear. Different seams have different appearances and uses:
Seams can be stitched with silk, cotton or linen. Silk is elastic, strong and uniform. Its fine texture makes it suitable for high class work as its stitch appearance has a quality unobtainable by cotton. Cotton is also uniform and strong, and is capable of withstanding damp and fatigue.It makes a smooth, firm seam. Linen has a tendancy to be harsh and is used mainly for heavy leathers because of its strength and resistance to friction.
Two types of machines are used in the closing room:
The first sewing machines were developed in America in the 1830’s and by 1851 Singer sewing machines were being produced in bulk.
The tension must be correct and the stitch must bed down to the upper. The stitch must be in keeping with the style of the shoe, a light thread and stitch for ladies’ shoes, a medium thread and stitch for men’s while for heavy work the stitch must be longer and a stronger thread used. The number of rows of stitches necessary to balance the upper must be born in mind.
Cap rows must be evenly spaced and the cap attached to the vamp so it is in line with the throat. The stitch on caps should be 1/10” from the edge as this will give a good appearance. On perforated caps the stitch should be evenly balanced on each side of the perforation. On a peak wing cap the stitching should be carried well up into the peak so as to stop it lifting up.
Attaching the throat of an Oxford Shoe
The operative should start at the correct position on the stitchmarking line. The centre of the throat should be in alignment with the two quarters.
These should be evenly spaced and the same stitch used as on the caps and the vamps. Care must be taken on fancy facings where stitchmarking is a great benefit.
The most important thing is to get the lining tight on top and get it drafted well forward. In under edge trimming, keep the work round when feeding into the machine and always centralise the lining and outsides. The same trimming allowance should be maintained throughout the operation
Attaching the backstrap.
Incorrect placing of the backstrap puts it out of shape which is detrimental to the shoe.
Eyelets should be evenly spaced from both the top and the bottom
Run on the front lining 1/16” from the edge. The stitch size should not be less than 12 to an inch.
These should be well rubbed down and taped with a stitch 1/16” from the edge. The top gives an added strength to the seam.
All points used for colour and size should be very clear on all sections of the work not only to assist the closing operative but also for those in the lasting department.