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27 . 1 . 2022

Handcrafted Shoes

Blake Stitch

Blake stitch is a construction system widely used for quality shoemaking. Alongside the Goodyear Welt, it is one of the few methods that enable us to handcraft beautiful designer shoes.

You can tell a lot about the detail and passion that goes into a shoe just by understanding how it was constructed. This is a process many might never have thought about but that does not mean it should be overlooked. Quite to the contrary.

Take any common pair of shoes, for example. Certainly, they were not constructed under the Blake Stitch system. Most probably, the sole of the shoe was simply glued – what is called “cemented” – directly onto the bottom of the upper. 

That fact alone speaks volumes on their quality. With Blake Stitch, the upper of the shoe is sewn to its sole, from the inside. As you will see, this comes with a few advantages and, truth be told, one disadvantage: they tend to be less resistant to harsh weather effects, such as pouring rain.

If you are interested in knowing everything you need to know about the Blake Stitch construction system, then read on as we explain exactly what it is, how it’s made, and all the advantages you can be expecting.

 

What is Blake Stitch

The Blake Stitch construction system is one of the two most recognized shoe constructing methods. The other is the Goodyear Welt.

When a pair of quality shoes are Blake stitched, the upper is sewn to the sole from the inside. Therefore, most of the work is hidden from the outside world.

However, looking at the edge of the sole is one way of telling if a shoe was indeed Blake stitched.

This is the part where the stitching tends to be more apparent. Another way is to look inside of the shoe and check if it is possible to notice the sewing all around the insole. Sometimes this cannot be done, as there might be one more layer of padding.

As stitching is done on the inside, the outsole is usually cut very close to the upper. So if you are looking for a close-cut, this could be the answer. But how exactly can it be done from the inside?

 

How is Blake Stitch made?

The Blake Stitch method is made with what is known as a “single stitch”.

This means the same thread you might see on the outside (the sole’s edge) is what you will see on the inside. The outsole, the insole, and the upper are stitched together by this thread.

To reach all these layers is also the reason why the stitching needs to be further in than in other construction systems.

This is done by folding the upper underneath the insole and then sewing it together with the outsole from the inside. As it is handcrafted, the shoemaker plays an important part during the Blake Stitch system.

His or her hands are what guide the special machine used to keep every layer together and prevent them from falling apart.

Blake Stitch allows us to create beautiful luxurious shoes, with many advantages.

Advantages of Blake Stitch

There are four key advantages of Blake Stitch that are important to understand. The first is associated with design.

 

Design

Blake stitched shoes have their uppers closer to their soles. Sometimes, they can even go beyond it. This offers the possibility of designing shoes with a slimmer, more elegant look, which focuses solely on the upper.

Without the Blake Stitch, many classic European shoe designs (especially Italian) would never have come to be, if not for this construction system.

 

Ease of Break-In

Another advantage of this construction system is its ease of break-in.

With the outsole mainly being one single piece of leather, there are fewer layers between the user’s foot and the ground, Blake Stitch shoes are easier to break-in than other types of footwear.

But this advantage comes with a cost: it also means Blake stitched shoes tend to be less water-resistant than other construction methods.

 

Resoling

One of the most common questions concerning Blake Stitch shoes is yet one more advantage: resoling. Can you resole Blake stitched shoes?

In short, yes. As long as your cobbler is equipped with the special machinery necessary, resoling Blake Stitch shoes is perfectly possible. But fear not. Over the years, many cobblers have done so, and finding one should not be much of a problem.

However, these cannot be resoled forever. There is a limit to the number of times one can resole Blake stitched shoes. Every time you resole, new holes must be made for the sole to be sewn.

But as long as the materials used are of high quality, the longer they will withstand degradation and, therefore, resoling.

This takes us to the fourth main advantage: durability. High-end luxury shoes are handcrafted from superior materials.

This alone offers any pair of quality shoes more resilience, but coupled with the Blake Stitch construction system, this means they will last longer, particularly due to resoling.

 

History of the Blake Stitch

As a curiosity, we would like to end this blog post with a brief history of the Blake Stitch. This way, we make sure you really know everything there is to know about this construction system.

It was invented in the mid-1850s, by Lyman Reed Blake, towards the end of the Industrial Revolution period. A few years later, the machine was improved upon by engineer Gordon McKay, who bought the patent from Lyman in 1862.

Technology has also perfected it and the McKay machine was inevitably updated to what is known today as the Langhorn machine, with which the Blake Stitch construction system is done. 

At Carlos Santos online store, you will find many high-end shoes under the Blake Stitch.

From lace-ups to loafers and monk straps, all that is left now is for you to choose your absolute favorite design from Carlos Santos.