Facing (Modern terms include: Eye stay, Lace-hole Reinforcement) A lining inside the shoe to help reinforce eyelets. There is not a good term to describe these
Fender (Modern terms include: Paring Horn) A flat, thin piece of horn placed between the welt and the overleather when trimming the welt, used to protect the shoe from the paring knife. The term fender is a medieval one, referring to an item used to protect or defend another thing. It is also a traditional shoemaking term.
Findings (Traditional terms include: The Grindery) These are historical shoemaking terms for the materials that a shoemaker works with. Findings is the term in the US, while the grindery is used in Britain.
Finishing This is the final work done on a shoe after it’s been made. Examples of finishing work have historically been trimming the sole edges, rasping and scraping them with a bit of glass, inking, sleeking, washing, waxing, creaming, polishing the overleather, etc.
Firk (also Ferk) To quickly prick the leather, hence “to firk and yerk” meaning to hole the leather and then draw the stitches tight.
Fitting Any leather either single-layer patch, or laminate built from leather, whether stuck, pegged, tacked semi-permanently, or lashed temporarily with thread to any last, in any location, to alter its shape, size, increase its girth, etc. Pins, instep leathers and shovers are each a kind of fitting.
Flesh-side (Other medieval terms include: Rim. Traditional terms include: Flesh) The inner surface of leather – the side with the loose fibers.
Folded Welt Although this term has been mistakenly used to refer to a rand, it actually refers to a welt made of upper leather folded in half. They have been found as early as the late 16th century.
Foot Measure (Traditional terms include: Foote Mesure, Gage, Gauge, Measure, Size Stick, Sliding Rule. Latin: Pedale) A measuring stick used for measuring the size of the foot. It is not known whether the people in the Middle Ages used such a thing
Footing Block (Other medieval spellings include: Footynge Block, Fotyng-bloke, Heel Block) A small block, 3” or so, placed under the heel of the shoemaker using a stirrup. This elevates the leg slightly, and helps the tension of the stirrup.
Forefoot (Other medieval spellings and terms include: Avan-pie, Avant pied, Empeignes, Enpenyes, Vampet, Vampethe, Vampey, Vawmpe, Wampe, Waumpe, Vamp. Latin: Antepedale, Inpedias, Pedana, Pedium, Pedula. Modern terms include: Forepart) The front section of a shoe’s overleather covering the wearer’s toes and part of the instep. Note that while “vamp” is also derived from the French “avant pied”, in the Middle Ages it was usually used to refer to the front of a foot on hose, as was forefoot. In archaeological terminology, forepart refers to the shoe, sole or insole in front of the instep. In shoemaking parlance, forepart refers to the sole in front of the waist.
Forepart Stick A type of stick, used for slickening sole edges.
Foxing Foxing refers to repairing shoes or boots by renewing the overleather leather; also to attack a strip of ornamental leather to the outside of the overleather. It is not known if this is a medieval shoemaking term, although “foxing” is a medieval term for a “clever deceit”.
French Chalk Talc, used as a lubricant for the last, to facilitate the removal of the last from a shoe or boot. It is not known if this is a medieval practice.
Full Cast Stitch A variation of the cast using a shoemaker’s stitch, passing the bristles or needles though through the loops on both sides of the seam, making two half-hitch knots inside the leather – one on each side. This is usually only done on the final stitch in a row to secure the end of the seam. See also Casting Off and Half Cast Stitch.
Gamashe (Other medieval spellings include: Gamash, Gamachio, Gamache) A kind of legging of cloth, worn to protect the legs from mud, dirt and wet.
Girth A measurement taken around the circumference of the foot at a specific point. The girths are traditionally most often taken are at the joints or ball of the foot (i.e., the widest part of the foot at the hinge where the metatarsal bones touch the ground level), the waist (which is about an inch behind the joints), which is sometimes referred to as the low instep (although some people place the low instep an inch behind the waist), the instep or high instep is the highest point of the instep, where the bump at the top of the instep protrudes. There is also a girth measurement called the “hass”, which is behind the high instep, and is the highest point of the foot, where it merges with the shin, but this is not universally used (and isn’t important for measuring for below the ankle shoes). Finally, there is the ankle, the short heel (the high instep to around the heel), and the long heel (the base of the heel to the high instep).
Grain The outer surface of a piece of leather.
Grease (Other medieval spellings include: Crawk, Grece, Gres Latin: Cremium) The rendered softened fat of some sort of animal (historically most commonly mutton tallow or “degras” (lanolin)), possibly used as some sort of lubricant or dressing by the shoemaker.
Grinning A seam that has gaps where threads can be seen or the seam can be seen through is said to be grinning. A seam that grins is weakly stitched, and dirt can get into the seam to fray and weaken the threads.
Half Cast Stitch A variation of the cast using a shoemaker’s stitch, passing the bristles or needles though through the loops on the weaker side of the seam, making an half-hitch knot inside the leather. In post-medieval shoes, the cast is made on the welt side of the inseaming, while on medieval shoes this would be the overleather side of the seam (in both cases it’s on the outside of the inseaming – as opposed to the last side. See also Casting Off and Full Cast Stitch.
Hand-Leather (Modern terms include: Shoemaker’s Mitten) A piece of leather wrapped around the left hand to protect the skin of the shoemakers hand from being cut by the thread when yerking the thread. Might be a medieval tool.
Heel (Other medieval spellings include: Hele) The rear quarters. In modern parlance the heel is the added part of a shoe or boot, under the quarters, but this is not a medieval usage.
Heel Liner (Modern terms include: Heel Stiffener Inside Counter, Counter) A piece of lining leather used as a stiffening or internal reinforcement in the rear quarters or heel area. It is most frequently sewn inside the shoe. In medieval shoes it is whipped in place, and is usually invisible from the outside. Please note that we have no idea what these were called in the Middle Ages, and the closest English shoemaking term, counter, has too many conflicting interpretations depending on who you ask.
Hem Using a whip stitch to attach linings.
Hide Hide refers to the pelt of the larger animals. See also Skin.
High Shoe (Other medieval spellings include: Heigh Scoh, Scoh, Unhege-Sceo Modern terms include: Ankle Boot, Ankle Shoe, Half boot) A shoe that extends to the ankle, or slightly higher. There is no way to be more specific between the high shoe and low boot, as the medieval meaning are not clear.
Hobnail A short nail with a large solid head, nailed into the sole to help protect the sole from wear.
Hold This concept is one of the most basic in sewing leather, but can a trick to describe. Inserting thread into leather, in order to grab that leather is making a stitch. Once it’s grabbed the leather and is gripping it, it and the leather being gripped make up a hold. The two terms are very similar, and may appear synonymous. They are not. The hold is determined in part by the thread, and how that thread is passed through the leather, but also by the amount of the leather captured within the stitch on each side of the seam, how far back from the edge the hole is made, how deeply the hole is made through the leather. Even though in traditional shoemaking, the term “hold” is only used regarding closing seams in the uppers, I maintain that there is no appreciable difference between the medieval edge-flesh stitches other than the size of leather and placement of the seam, therefore I use the term hold in describing the inseam as well – anticipating the term “hold fast” in later shoemaking.
Hole To make a hole, as for stitching. This term is apparently not a medieval shoemaking term, although its use is consistent with medieval use.
Hollin Sticks (also Helling Sticks, Shoulder Sticks) There are a number of types and shapes of these sticks, with various types of “shoulders”, or raised guides to help shape shoe soles.
Hueses (Hauses, Husseaus) A kind of legging or hose. Also possibly boots that reach the thigh. They can have pikes, and so may be footed hose with leather soles. They are possibly related to chaucers.
Inseam (also “the Sewing” Modern terms include: Internal seam) The seam connecting the insole and the overleather, and welt if there is one. Archaeologists sometimes refer to this seam as an internal seam on turn-shoes.
Insole (also Inner Sole, In-Soal, In Sole) The inner-most sole of a shoe, that the Overleather and Welt (if any) are attached to. For a single soled shoe, the Insole is also the Outer sole. Do not confuse the Insole with the Sock.
Instep The a vaguely defined area on top of the foot over the metatarsals up front of the ankle joint. Also the corresponding area on a shoe and on a Last.
Instep-leathers (also Instab-leathers) Laminated leather fittings routinely lashed temporarily on top of the instep of a comb-last with a thread ligature to bring it up full to girth measure, vary/adjust its girth measurements, and removed first to facilitate the last’s removal from the finished shoe or boot. These can then be adjusted to further increase the girth by the introduction of wedges. Instep leathers cover the instep of the last, while a shover reaches to the toe of the last, and are meant to help facilitate the removal of lasts in closed front, pull on boots, and so are after the medieval period. It is not known if instep leathers or shovers were used in the Middle Ages, although there is evidence to suggest they could have been.
Joints (also Ball of the foot) The joints are the widest part of the foot, corresponding with the treadline in the shoe sole.
Kit The shoemaker’s tools. In the 19th century, the definition becomes more specialized.
Lacing (Other Medieval spellings include: Laas, Lace, Laise Modern terms include: Drawstring) Some times called a “shoe-lace”, or a “boot lace” is a long strip of braid, cord, leather, line, ribbon, string, tape, etc. used to draw together and close an opening, and in modern shoes to adjust the tightness of the fit. For this work, lacing will refer to any sort of tie used to close footwear.
Last (Other Medieval spellings include Læste, Leste, Latin: Calepodia, Crepidam, Forma, Formes, Formipedia/um, Formula, Furmes) A wooden model that shoes and boots are made on. Their use has been a source of some debate; when they were invented, what they were used for.
Lasting This refers to actually forming the overleather to the last.
Lasting Margin The part of the overleather that is pulled under the last and attached to the insole or sole during lasting. It is trimmed or pared off later.
Latchet (Other Medieval spellings include: Langett, Languets, Languids, Languides Latin: Tenea. Also called: Tab C.f Latchet fastening) Straps, and latchets are formed by bringing tabs from the quarters forward over the instep for fastening the shoe. Straps are used to buckle or button the shoe; latchets are used to tie the shoes. Latchet fastening is a modern term that confuses the traditional meanings, as it refers to both ties and buckles. The term latchet is often incorrectly used to refer to strap.
Laying the Stitch (also Beating too the stitch, Bedding the Stitch) Whacking the finished seam with a hammer and slickening them to close the stitches tightly to the thread, and to flatten a seam.
Leather (Other Medieval spellings include: Barkyn, Leðer, Leðyr, Leder, Lider, Leer, Leyre Latin: Coreum, Frunio, tanno, tannio) The skin or hide of an animal that has been chemically rendered impervious to decomposition and resistant to change by water through tanning. Tanning also makes the skin stronger and more resistant to wear. Some skins are loosely referred to as leather, which have been treated in some other, less permanent fashion such as tawing, oil dressing, and so on. See Tanning and Tawed Leather.
Leggings There are many illustrations of leg coverings of leather or cloth stretching up from the feet, to the knee or the waist, with a strap passing under the shoe.
Lead (also Cisterne) A small pan of water, used to hold the balls of code in, and keep them cool so that they don’t soften too much in warm weather.
Lifts Leather pieces stitched between the welt and the outer sole. Use to make a spring heel.
Lingel (Ligneul, Lingle, Lignoul, Lygellys, Lingula, Lynyolf) Shoemaker’s thread, probably that’s been cered and bristled. (See End.)
Lining (Lyning, Internal strengthening) In medieval footwear, this refers to the material that has been attached to the inner side of the overleather to reinforce specific areas. These are usually whipped into place. Types of lining can include any of the following: facing, heel lining, side lining, toe lining. As a verb, lining refers to attaching such material.
Long Stick In unturned shoemaking, this tool is used for general slickening the outer sole after rounding and tacking it, but before cutting any riggott.