Custom-made footwear ~ Trimmings to order

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Basic product catalogue >> Classic Castilian shoe >> How it's made

In olden days, all one had to do was glance down at the feet of passers-by to know what social class they belonged to, as given away by the footwear they had on.  People of humble circumstances, for example, generally used the footwear called "buskins" (boots reaching half way up to the knee), while the better-off folk could put their feet into more elaborate footwear, such as the "Castilian shoe".  It was Julián Rodríguez Navas who, in 1957, brought this shoe back to life; ever since that time it's been produced in the Taller ARTESANÍA DEL CALZADO / FOOTWEAR CRAFTSMANSHIP Workshop, and all the while it has spread throughout Spain and also to France, England and Holland, where we have some customers.  This shoe's comfortableness and quality, and the skill with which it has been promoted, together with the certainty that it has been made using the same materials and craft techniques as were used in the olden days, give this product the best possible publicity.  This publicity is none other than the satisfaction of those who try out this shoe; and this, in the end, is the best award for our workshop.

Method of making the shoe

From the patterns the pieces are cut by hand from semi-dressed calf leather.  The grainy side of the leather skin – the shiny outer side as opposed to the inner side, which is the meat side – will be outermost on the shoes.  Following this, a very fine hole punch is used to perform the second step, which is none other than the hand pricking of the leather pieces.  The process continues with joining the pieces together with two very fine parallel rows of stitching, sewing on the leather strips and putting in the goat skin lining.  This whole process is called "Trimming the shoeupper of the Castilian Shoe".

Once the shoeuppers have been prepared, the inner soles and heel reinforcements – which will always be of outsole leather – are set on "low-waisted" lasts to be fitted to the shoeuppers.  It's then that the "Welting" technique is employed, consisting of stitching together the shoeupper of the shoe, the insole and the welt with cord impregnated with pitch and virgin wax using one awl and two needles, all three curved.  This stitching is extremely laborious and difficult and calls for a considerable effort; however, it's not only the most secure form of stitching, it's also the only one which, performable only by the master craftsmen of this workshop, preserves for posterity the knowledge of this "Welting" technique handed down from father to son since 1830.

The awling technique

Once the shoes have been welted, the soles of the shoe are cut from 5 mm. pure outsole leather.  A slit 1 cm. wide and 2 mm. deep is opened around the outsole.  In between the inner and outer sole a layer of cork insulation called a "core" is placed.  Later on, using a straight awl and two needles as tools, the outer sole and welt will be stitched together with hemp cord, the slit finally being sealed up to cover up the stitching.

The heels will be built up heelplate by heelplate using outsole leather, to a height of 2.5 cm.  A line of stitching will also be done around the heels.  Now all that remains to be done, to complete the making process, is to burnish and polish the sole and heel, after which the shoe may be pronounced finished and ready for sale.


 San Antón, 11 - 47100 Tordesillas (Valladolid), Spain ~ Tlfs.: (+34) 983 77 08 65 - (+34) 658 85 61 24 ~