Shoe Construction: Blake Stitch vs. Goodyear Welt

Shoe Construction: Blake Stitch vs. Goodyear Welt

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Unless you're passionate about shoes, the average person buys a pair they like or find comfortable. The beauty of the construction that went into shoes is lost on many people. So here are the parts that come together to make an entire shoe.

Your shoes communicate much about you and your fashion choices, but it's challenging to tell why one pair costs much more than another. The price point comprises many things, but shoe construction from a company like Palmer James Designs is critical. You'll likely choose between the Blake Stitch and Goodyear Welt construction, so let's look at both.

How Is a Shoe Constructed?

Unless you're passionate about shoes, the average person buys a pair they like or find comfortable. The beauty of the construction that went into shoes is lost on many people. So here are the parts that come together to make an entire shoe.

  • The Upper: This is the top part of a shoe that covers the tops and sides of your foot. It's anchored to the sole, creating the shape of the shoe.
  • Insole: This is the pad or surface where the sole of your foot rests on the inside of the shoe.
  • Outsole: The outsole is the exterior bottom of a shoe. It takes the brunt of what a foot puts it through daily and often needs replacing.
  • Welt: You'll find welts on well-made, carefully constructed shoes. This is a band of leather that sits between the insole and outsole.
  • Last: The Last is a bit like a mannequin foot. It's used to make the shape of the shoe during construction.

All the components that go into making a solid, high-quality shoe are essential, but the kind of stitching used can help you find the pair that works best for you. Contacting a designer like Palmer James can help you decide on the best construction for you.

Blake Stitch vs. Goodyear Welt

The method used when securing a sole to the upper is vital as this part of the shoe typically becomes worn before all others do. It can also determine whether or not you'll be able to replace the sole or have to invest in an entirely new pair of shoes. Let's take a look at the Blake Stitch first:

  • The Blake Stitch came about when Lyman Reed Blake, a shoemaker, came up with the first industrialized shoe stitch option. The inventor's history of working with the Singer Sewing Company gave him a unique look into how stitching machines worked. He constructed a machine that could stitch a shoe using a machine rather than by hand.
  • The Blake method doesn't use a welt. Instead, it stitches the entire upper and insole to the outsole. This makes the stitch unique as it goes through the insole, making it impossible to do by hand.
  • For over 100 years, the Blake method did an excellent job until a couple of men created a machine that did the Blake Stitch even faster than the original. It also lets manufacturers add an extra outsole to shoes, making this type of stitch more durable and able to handle harsh weather conditions. This is currently the preferred machine for many shoemakers today. 

It's worth noting that some people find the stitching irritating to the feet when they walk. The shoes are also better than they've ever been in bad weather before, but they can still break down quickly, even with the newer stitching method.

Now let's look at the Goodyear Welt:

  • While there is no verifiable name to credit for the original Goodyear Welt idea, it hasn't kept it from being embraced as part of shoe-making craftsmanship.
  • The Goodyear Welt wasn't a widely used method immediately after the technique was created. Many machines were created without much use and progress until around 1875 when Charles Goodyear Jr.'s mechanic made the machine that would be used and improved over the years. 
  • A machine isn't necessary to make shoes using the Goodyear Welt. It is time-consuming and requires precision and expertise, but people can and still implement this method by hand.
  • With the Goodyear Welt, a length of leather is sewn into the shoe's upper part. Then the leather is sewn into the sole. This creates a soft bumper between the insole and outsole, making it a good choice for anyone who finds the Blake Stitch irritating on their feet.
  • Goodyear Welt construction can help extend the life of a shoe. Once the sole is worn and needs replacing, it can be easily done by machine or hand.

Both the Blake Stitch and the Goodyear Welt methods make excellent shoes. When you factor in the materials used to make your shoes, how comfortable they are, and the price, you'll likely find the best shoe construction mastery for your needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Blake Stitch and Goodyear Welt

As with most purchases made, there are benefits and drawbacks with the type of shoe you buy. Here's a look at some of the positive attributes of both types of stitching:

Blake Stitch

  • More flexibility with movement
  • Fewer layers in construction
  • Typically less expensive

Goodyear Welt

  • Longer life with the ability to resole
  • Helps keep the elements from entering the shoe
  • More comfortable for those who feel the Blake Stitch in their shoes
  • A more flexible shoe can adapt to your foot

Now let's take a look at the potential negative qualities:

Blake Stitch

  • Not very weatherproof
  • Complicated and expensive to resole

Goodyear Welt

  • The high-quality materials and skill required make these shoes expensive
  • Decreased flexibility with more layers in the shoe construction

If you're unsure about which style is right for you, find a local shoe store where you can try these styles on. Pay attention to comfort, flexibility, and materials to learn what you prefer and want to avoid in your shoes. This process can help you get a good idea of feels good and works best with your feet. 

Both Blake Stitch and Goodyear Welt Are Great Methods in Shoe Construction

One size does not fit all regarding what's best for you. Consult Palmer James to help you find the best pair of shoes you'll have ever owned.


Now you know what to choose from when investing in your next pair of shoes. You don't have to do it alone when you contact us at Palmer James Designs. Anyone can look forward to their own specialized footwear that's perfect for any occasion, so get in touch to find your perfect shoes now.


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