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Craftmanship

A pair of Duggers shoes can take up to eight weeks to make. 
Some 130 skilled craftsmen, up to 75 shoe parts and over 200 different operations are involved...

The Duggers Way

1. Designing

  • Prior to production the design department produce the patterns for the last (the wooden form on which the shoes are made). From the pattern a prototype sample is made and test fitted. After any necessary adjustments to the patterns, a final sample pair is produced.

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2. Clicking, Cutting

  • In the Clicking Department at the 1st stage of production, the shoe uppers and linings are cut. The ‘Clicker’ is a highly skilled operative; named after the ‘click’ sound which the hand cutting knife makes as it is removed from the leather. The Clicker is responsible for examining the leather for any defects, scars or growth marks before each pair is cut by hand. A good clicker needs to be knowledgeable about the nature of leather, in order to maximise the usage whilst retaining the upmost quality.

 

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2. Closing

  • At the next stage of production the uppers are ‘closed’. Closing involves many different operations such as, punching holes for brogue styles, edge staining, hand sewing, machine stitching prepared sections together to form the shoe upper and fitting eyelets. The Closing Room machinists are highly skilled requiring excellent hand and eye coordination.

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4. Lasting

  • The lasting process is where the shoe begins to take shape. The upper of the shoe is tacked to the back of the last to ensure the back height is correct. It is then pulled over at the, before being side lasted by hand. It is vital for the toe to be latest to ensure that the shoe upper is fitted accurately to the last. The shoe upper is pulled over the “last” and attached to the insole at the toe, sides and seat. Before lasting, the uppers are “mulled” (conditioned) in a special room in order to impart sufficient moisture to allow the leather to mould to the shape of the last.

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5. Welt Sewing

  • An important process in this department is ‘Welt Sewing’ where the operative stitches the welt (a strip of leather) to the rib on the insoles. The welt is a key element in the Goodyear Welted process. The bottoms of the shoes are filled with cork and wooden shanks are inserted to provide support beneath the insoles. The soles are then stitched to the welt. This method allows for the soles to be removed for repair without affecting the uppers.

    The “welt” is a strip of leather that is stitched to the upper and the insole, and to which the sole will also be stitched. Because welted shoes are sewn together, rather than glued, skilled craftsmen can dismantle and repair them.

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6. Sole Stitching

  • The soles are then stitched to the welt. This method allows for the soles to be removed for repair without affecting the uppers.
    The “welt” is a strip of leather that is stitched to the upper and the insole, and to which the sole will also be stitched. Because welted shoes are sewn together, rather than glued, skilled craftsmen can dismantle and repair them.

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7. Edge trimming

  • DIn the Finishing Department the heels are attached, trimmed and then scoured with emery paper for a smooth finish. Edge trimming is a highly skilled and physical process, whereby the sole edges are trimmed to the specific shape of the last. This is done ‘free hand’ like many other operations in Goodyear Welted shoe making. The soles and heels are then stained and hot wax is applied to the edges to provide a waterproof seal and a good shine. Various decorative finishes are applied to the soles such as, wheeling and crowing before a final polish.

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8. Sole Taining

  • This is a highly skilled operation which is performed “freehand”. Later they will be waxed, ironed and polished. The sole bottoms are also stained and polished.

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9. Brushing/Finishing

  • The final burnishing, dressing and polishing operations are very time consuming and have to be done entirely by hand.

    In the Shoe Room the uppers of the shoes are hand polished to create the rich depth of colour in the leather. We call this ‘antiquing’ and ‘burnishing’. For some leathers this has to be repeated multiple times with the shoes being ‘mopped’ in between each coat of antique. This gives every pair of shoes their own uniqueness.

     Finally the shoes undergo a scrutinised check for quality before they can be passed for lacing and boxing.

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