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An ingenious machine folds over the edges of the upper in order to make a beaded edge and operators in the stitching or fitting room, where the inside and the outside of the shoe come together, put the various parts of the uppers together and attach the linings. Each operator has her special branch of the work; one sews in the facings, another the tips, another the button fly and still another stitches the vamp to the upper.
Cotton drills for linings are woven in the south and finished in Philadelphia. Bleaching is done largely in the east.
An eyeletting or punching machine punches the lace holes and sets the eyelets; a stud lacing machine sets the lacing studs or hooks. Shoe eyelets are made of brass by machines, whose operation is almost entirely automatic.
A button-hole machine, cuts button holes, works them and finishes the button-hole at one setting; a button sewing machine attaches the buttons to the uppers.
The button sewing machine is an ingenious labor saving contrivance. Buttons are placed in a hopper, and are automatically fed down a race way to the sewing device which attaches them to the shoe.
A barring or tacking machine tacks together the parts of the upper, holding them accurately in position while the vamp is being stitched. A lacing holds the shoe in proper position so that a standard measurement shall be maintained in a laced as well as in a buttoned shoe.
In the meanwhile the soles are being prepared to meet the uppers, Leather is brought into the stock room in sides or backs. It is first stripped in a stripping machine into the proper widths to allow for the length of sole it is desired to make. A "blocking out" machine blocks the strips with rapidly descending knives into pieces the desired size and shape for the soles. Dies are also used. Here all are sorted into different thicknesses and qualities and afterward selected to suit the special character of shoe being made; a splitting machine or sole evener makes then a uniform thickness. A rounding or sole cutting machine, cuts the sole in exact shape for the different shape of lasts or style of shoes desired.
The manufacturer of cutting dies, by the way, is an interesting process, although apparently simple to those engaged in the calling.
For McKay work, a channeling machine provides a channel on the grain side of the soles, enabling the sewer to put in the stitches and afterward to cover them up out of sight. At this point a slip-sole is added if one is required.
The soles are then moulded in a powerful moulding machine, which gives the sole the proper contour to fit the last. The channels
chine. The inner soles are suitably prepared in a rounding machine, which cuts them the proper shape for the sole; the featheredging machine feathers the edge, putting it in proper condition so as not to cut the upper, and to make a neater appearance on the edges.
Soles for Goodyear welts, upon being taken from the blocker, are put into proper temper, selected and sorted and put through the sole-evening machine the same as those for McKay sewed work. Goodyear soles are channeled, but on the reverse side from that of the sole for the McKay. The leather stiffenings are cut out with dies of different sizes and shapes as required. A sciving machine scives them to the proper thickness, a moulding machine having produced the desired shapé.
In preparing sole stock for turned shoes, soles are taken from blocking machine to the rounder, which rounds them up to the proper shape of the last. The sole is then tacked on to the last, flesh side up. The upper is placed on the last inside out and lasted, usually by hand. The Goodyear turn machine sews the sole to the upper.
The last is then taken out of the shoe and the shoe turned right side out, the last being replaced. After being laced or buttoned, the shoe is properly dressed and leveled. From this point the turned shoe takes practically the same course of making and finishing as McKay or welt shoes.
Single thicknesses of leather are cut out the shape and styles desired for heels. This dieing may be done by hand or machine. The single pieces are assembled and put one on top of another until the desired height is attained; a machine, which compresses the heels under severe pressure, makes the heel solid,
The various parts forming the sole or bottom of the shoe meet the uppers at this juncture in the lasting department. Here the uppers are pulled over the last and the soles are put to them by the aid of a very ingenious and highly improved machine.
It may be interesting to note here that the manufacture of lasts has attainted great perfection. Of the thousand and one details entering into the art of shoemaking, be it of the daintiest slipper or the commonest brogan, there is nothing which can make or mar it more quickly or more decidedly than the last. Many other portions of the work may be slighted or of poor quality and still the goods will sell. On the other hand, be the material and workmanship of the best, a poorly-made and ill-fitting last will condemn the shoes beyond all possible hope. In preparing lasts, a model from which to turn the lasts is made. It is of wood and is nailed all along the edges with gimp tacks, to prevent rounding off at the edges. Sole patterns, in sizes and half sizes, are also made to graded up and down on a machine for that purpose is cut and placed on the model.
Last blocks, which are made of hard persimmon or rock maple, thoroughly seasoned, are cut from logs and split. These are kiln or air dried, the former taking about six or eight weeks, the latter requiring several years to accomplish. Blocks are sawed the required length, allowing a couple sizes too long for a nubbin on each end, and then put on the lathe and turned according to the model. A frame moves forward and backward, slowly turning the block of wood, which is to be made into a last, according to the heights and depressions of the model and whirling knives carve the block in exact conformity with the model. After sawing off the “nubbins," a block is sawed out, taking instep and part of ball, so that this block may be removed when shoe is lasted. Lasts for McKay work have iron bottom plates; those for welts and turns generally have heel plates.
After being lasted, the McKay work is sewed—the soles to the upper-on the McKay sewing machine. The fair-stitch machine produces the stitching around the edge of the sole. The channel or cover being laid down, a leveling machine, working automatically, makes the outside or bottom of the shoe as well as the insole level or smooth.
After shoes are lasted on equally ingenious machines, as those used for McKay work, welt shoes are taken to welt stitching or inseaming machine which sews the insole upper and welt together, forming a seam practically the same as the hand method, but more regular and unvarying than hand work. In welt sewing, a thread passed through a heated wax pot; the welting is fed from a roll.
A history of the manufacture of threads used in shoemaking, makes an interesting story, but not altogether within the province of this article.
Welting is cut into long narrow strips from the length of a side of leather, after shoulders are cut off. It varies in width and in substance. The welt beater hammers the welt flat and close.
After the bottom filling has been inserted, soles are laid on and held there by adhesive cement, after which the rough rounding machine turns the sole to the shape of the last.
The channel opener opens the channel and turns it back, keeping it out of the way of the stitcher, which stitches the outersole to the welt forming the bottom of the shoe.
The leveling machine, working automatically, makes the bottoms perfectly smooth and to conform with the shape of the last, upon which shoe was made. One shoe is in press while another is being operated upon. A rolling pressure continues to roll over the shoe from heel to toe and again from toe heel, until the last