Making cowboy boots – part 3 – designing, clicking and closing the tops

I compressed 4 hours of the recorded video into 20 minutes. If you watch it to the end in one shot, you may feel like getting off a roller-coaster 🙂
I know it is running too fast for a step-by-step education, but you can get the idea. Ask your questions below and I will answer as best as I can.
Music: Sláinte

Тhe transcript (Closed Captions)
Cowboy boots are made of the 4 major parts.
Vamp (front bottom part of the boot), counter (back bottom) and 2 sides of the shaft – front and back.
Because the construction is so simple, we don’t need to tape the last and build the mean form, which is usually needed for shoes.
Mark 4 horizontal lines: Insole level, Horizontal seam level, Pass Line and the Top of the boot.
On the top line mark 1/4 of the calf size + seam allowance. From that point mark a line at the straight angle to the fold of our paper.
On the Pass Line mark the 1/4 SH measurement + seam allowance.
On the horizontal seam line mark 1/4 SH. Connect 3 points with 2 lines.
Mark and cut-off the vamp and scallop openings.
That completes the outer contour of the shaft. Repeat the process for another leg.
Check leather for imperfections (scars, cuts, holes, insect bites, brands).
Place templates vertically – from spine to belly, we do not want shafts to stretch in their diameter.
In case of a hair-on leather make sure the hair direction on the boot is from top down.
Direction of the template on the lining leather is not so important.
It helps later if you mark your pieces as Right and Left.
Skiving machine helps to make long nice skive on a chromium tanned leather.
But there are still some hard to reach places that need to be skived manually.
You can do it on a glass or polished stone (granite, marble) surface.
A glass ball helps to skive in really tight spots.
To make a traditional cowboy angle of the side seam we need to change the bottom part of the back template.
Its pass line to horizontal seam line doesn’t go straight like on the front template.
From the horizontal seam we mark a point at about 3″ down and 3/4″ outward.
We use the back template of a shaft to create the hard counter template.
The hard counter is cut off of a 5-6 oz vegetable tanned leather.
The hard counter is skived. Long skives are needed at its top and sides to prevent visible bumps on the finished boot.
A very sharp knife is the only secret of a successful skive.
The skived edge is treated with fire to remove smallest irregularities and also to slightly turn it from outside in.
A Heel Slide is another part of the cowboy boot. It is used to protect the lining at the Pass Line.
All glued parts are covered with 2 thin layers of a contact cement glue.
After the glue is fully dried, it is heat activated. Then the parts are hammered together.
Both tops leather and their lining chosen for these boots were too soft to hold the tops.
To compensate a leather stiffener was glued between the lining and the tops leather.
The Hill Slide is glued and sewn to the lining. All seams are hammered on a hard surface.
The Hard Counter is glued to the lining, then sewed.
Removing the glue, hammering seams.
A glue applicator helps to spread glue on large surfaces.
You don’t have to buy one, any plastic card works as a perfect glue applicator.
Tops leather glued to the lining.
And hammered with a mallet.
Design elements are cut off, glued to the tops and sewn.
These boots are not traditionally shaped at their top – they do not have scallops and also instead of the top bead a piece of leather covers the top edge.
This is an efficient way to cover few strips of leather with glue, when the glue should be applied at the same interval from the edge.
To sharpen an edge beveler, use a lace a bit wider than the cutting edge of the beveler.
An edge beveler can trim excess material very close to the thread. Sometimes too close…
That template helps to spread the glue only where it is needed.
A Soft Counter is glued and sewn to the shaft.
This is a dress boot ‘Triplex’ or ‘Triad’ style, and its construction is sightly different comparing to a standard cowboy boot style.
To make a seam visibly very close to the edge, the edge is beveled with an edge beveler.
Vamps and their linings are crimped (stretched) on a crimping board.
The vamps are trimmed as per their design, then glued to the shafts and sewn with one seam.
The lining is glued and sewn with 2 seams.
Now the front and back parts of the tops are ready to be trimmed per their exact size.
Side seam can be sewn on a walking foot sewing machine, but a hand made saddle stitch is stronger.
Punching holes in shafts with a diamond shaped punch.
Side welt creates a visual divider on the side seam and helps to hide the stitches.
Hand stitching with 2 dull harness needles and a waxed linen thread.
The seam has to be trimmed very close to the thread. Otherwise it will rub the leg.

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