Hand Sewn Shoes | Made in Maine | A Continuous Lean.

Hand Sewn Shoes | Made in Maine

Jul 13th, 2009 | Categories: Factory Tour, Footwear, Made in the USA, Maine, Style | by Michael Williams

Good things come to those who wait. Back in April I went up to Maine on a top secret mission that I am finally ready to reveal (in two parts) today and tomorrow. As you would guess my mission was shoe based, to go to a factory specializing in hand sewn shoes and document everything while my friend worked out the details for a very special collection of shoes that I will reveal for the first time tomorrow.

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I have gone to lengths to show as much of the play-by-play as I could without giving away what brands were being manufactured. (Out of respect for the factory owners who were gracious enough to allow me to poke around.) It was my first time in a shoe factory in Maine and the workers seemed either curious as to my presence or decidedly ambivalent. The shoe making process from start to finish seems fairly straight-forward, workers prepare the leather and operate the pneumatic press to cut the various components. Those pieces and parts are shuttled down the line on wooden racks to a series of people who assemble sections until the shoes start to take shape. Eventually the leather parts make their way to a group of hand sewers who work diligently and skillfully to guide their three-inch needle back and forth until the signature moccasin toe is complete. After the hand sewers are finished, the shoes are attached to their soles — either with adhesive or sewn on — touched up, inspected and packaged. It looks fairly simple, but the process requires a great deal of skill and leather experience. Photos of the shop and some seriously good looking shoes after the jump.

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Maine_Hand_Sewn_57

The process of making hand sewn leather shoes is a tradition in Maine.
Comments: 53

53 Comments to “Hand Sewn Shoes | Made in Maine”

  1. russell kelly
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 8:45 AM

    I happen to love my quoddys…since I got them this summer, I haven’t given any of my other shoes the time o’ day!

  2. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 9:06 AM

    That is not Quoddy!

  3. Joe
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 9:10 AM

    I don’t know what factory you were in, but I’ll take one each 9.5 D of every pair shown in the photos!

    What a wonderful visual testament to the few American factories turning out quality footwear.

  4. mitchell
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 9:50 AM

    Snooping around I figured out who a few pairs of those beautiful shoes were made for. I am shocked to find out that they’re actually made in Maine. Needless to say, thanks for the photo essay. I can’t wait until tomorrow for another set of pictures.

  5. johnny
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:12 AM

    i dont know about you but made in america isn’t all that great. sure its patriotic and stuff, but made in america =/= quality.

    i purchased a pair of jeans made by crate (who boasts it’s american made) through farinellis (a store in va) and the workmanship of the denim was HORRIBLE. uneven stitching, the stitching was coming off after a hour’s worth of wear.

    worst purchase EVER.

  6. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:19 AM

    Johnny,

    Seriously? Your comment does not equal quality thinking.

    ACL

  7. david
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:30 AM

    i cant believe its not quoddy!

  8. Amit
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:43 AM

    Those red, white and blue jams are killin it!

  9. Rover
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:45 AM

    Really guys? Really? Study up….Its Russell Moc….

  10. Rover
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:47 AM

    F…I’m man enough to admit I got it wrong…its not Russell. I know this one…..its the same place that does private label for Beams….

  11. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:48 AM

    Ha ha! You are right on second try Rover. It is not a name brand factory like Quoddy or Russell.

    ACL

  12. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 10:58 AM

    WOW! A HAND-SEWN FACTORY TOUR IN MAINE!?

    sounds like someone is a bit jealous of plaid out!

    get more original ACL C’mon! You’re supposed to set the trend not follow it!

  13. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:02 AM

    I was going to factories before All Plaid Out was even around!

    http://acontinuouslean.com/2008/04/11/rocco-ciccarelli/

    I’m not going to approve comments naming the brands in the photos, so don’t waste your time. I’m fine with you knowing what is what, but don’t share that info here.

    ACL

  14. Greg
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:10 AM

    Alright, you’ve piqued my interest sufficiently to wait until tomorrow to order a pair of Quoddys… Good work.

  15. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:11 AM

    true i will give you credit on roccos

    but c’mon maine hand-sewns? we’ve seen this kind of thing before

    michael i look to your blog for new and fresh things, i admire your blog and you’ve done phenomenal posts but i’m just getting worried as they’ve been losing a bit of luster. please come back to the bar you set.

  16. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:13 AM

    Thanks for giving me credit Alex. I’m hanging by a thread over here.

    ACL

  17. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:16 AM

    trust me i’m still one of your biggest fans i always get excited when i see new posts of yours on my rss feed. you havn’t let me down yet.

  18. jay
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:42 AM

    probably arrow….

  19. Russell Sprouts
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:47 AM

    Alex,

    How does that foot taste?

  20. yuko
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:49 AM

    what ever brand/maker they are, i hope you (or your friend) ordered some in small/women’s sizes?

  21. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:54 AM

    you should ask acl, i think he might be really tied up waiting for the nytimes to name drop him again

  22. Ryan
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:56 AM

    oh shit…this is going to be funny, and hopefully provide me with some joy throughout the workday today…

  23. Russell Sprouts
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:18 PM

    Awww wittle boy get his feewings hurt?

    And it’s not big secret that ACL secretly runs plaidout.

    Same links – check
    Same wordpress theme – check
    Same content – check
    Same d-bag commentors like you – check

    Alex, it’s OK if your parents didn’t hug you enough as a child but internet anger is not the key! Just…let…go. Take a walk today, tell a stranger they look pretty, look up at the clouds and say to yourself “God I wish John Travolta would take me for a ride in his jet.” You’ll feel better.

    You’ll thank me in the morning.

    Love,
    RS

  24. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:23 PM

    i think the funniest thing about your comment sprouts is that its coming from the EXACT same IP as ACL’s so maybe something bigger is going on.

    Michael is that you under there?

    I know you have a reputation to uphold and all but…

  25. james fox
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:24 PM

    picture 20 (empty desk, clip light, kilties box, detriot jacket hanging) one of my faves… or the box of laces… can never have too many docksiders/mocassins/factory tour posts…

  26. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:28 PM

    I am not Russell Sprouts actually. Anyone that knows me would know that I don’t need to comment under a fake name to say what I want to say.

    ACL

  27. Ryan W.
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:29 PM

    ^^^A ride in Travolta’s plane? Lol

    Alex, you do sound like a bit of a fool. Going to factories isn’t trendsetting, but it’s interesting and like Max and Michael, a few people actually just do it because they really enjoy it, not just to set a new blog trend.

    Thanks for the great shots. I’m looking forward to seeing the collection quite a bit.

  28. Russell Sprouts
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:36 PM

    Alex,

    How about you give us a little tutorial on how you are getting IP addresses through the comment section? Because I’m calling bullshit on that one. I’ll even give you mine – 24.193.13.82 – that’s Brooklyn Bill Nye.

    And I would love to be ACL! He’s dreamy.

  29. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:37 PM

    read the fine print of wordpress dumbass

  30. Russell Sprouts
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:40 PM

    That’s not a very good tutorial Mr. Menvendes.

  31. Michael Williams
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 12:45 PM

    I’m done approving comments from Russell and Alex. Let’s move on fellas.

    ACL

  32. Clint
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:06 PM

    Gents- give the dick measuring a break…I can assure you that ACL does not run Plaidout. And who gives a shit if they are both doing factory tours? I agree with Ryan W – great shots Michael.

  33. Ryan
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:09 PM

    how exactly do we go from hand-made shoes to hacking IP’s…and blocked comments…it’s a blog, chill the fuck out…

  34. dude
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:24 PM

    So, whose shoes are these? The Company, I mean.

  35. dude
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:25 PM

    Yuketen ?

  36. Mack
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:29 PM

    couldn’t help but notice all the comments. Using my inner Sherlock Holmes, I noted the leather maker marked on the box in one of the photos. it’s not hard to surmise what manufacturers use this leather for their shoes and determine who the labels are.

  37. Damion
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:31 PM

    To break away from top-siders for a moment, can anyone recommend a classic black dress shoe for under $200? I know I can just go to a store and look around, but I want to get some opinions. I’d like a sturdy heel and spacious toe box, but can be a little rough on shoes so paying $400+ doesn’t suit me well.

  38. alex menvendes
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 1:33 PM

    the bass penny loafers are great and those are less than 100. i would also check out allen edmonds. allen edmonds are made in the usa and pretty darn good. they are around the 200 mark with the right deals.

  39. kaygee
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 2:17 PM

    I agree with Mack. I think you can figure it out by scouting the labels on the boxes in a few of the photo backgrounds. Google is quite the helpful tool to figure out the rest…

  40. andrew
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 2:20 PM

    the picture of the canvas bin nails it…

  41. KC
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 2:36 PM

    great post. those boat shoes look amazing.

  42. jsc
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 4:23 PM

    if u dont want people to know what company this is, u should remove the picture of the shell cordovan box with #8 on it. #8 is a brand name specific cordovan color for the most well know usa company.

  43. Eric
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 4:37 PM

    Who do I have to fuck to get a pair of these shoes? Or can one just go to a store and buy them?
    Please let me know, since I would like to avoid unnecessary whoring.

  44. david
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 5:55 PM

    dont like the soles on those boat shoes…too thick. and those red laces are strange…if its the company i think, im surprised they arent using leather…

  45. CraftLA
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 6:20 PM

    Actually #8 is a color code that Horween leather uses to describe its burgundy shell cordovan. It is not proprietary to any shoe brand.

  46. Abe
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 9:25 PM

    JSC is right Michael. How could you POSSIBLY have been so GODDAMN CARELESS.

  47. Jake
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:31 PM

    Atlantic Works is the company who produces with/for Beams. It would be great it if it were them. I’ve been searching intently for a pair of their cordovan penny loafers with boat soles. They’re almost identical to the Visvim Fabros, but w/o the Visvim mark-up. Say it’s so, Michael?

  48. John Lugg
    on Jul 13th, 2009
    @ 11:36 PM

    These are gorgeous shots but the shoes are missing something… Oh yeah, salt marks from insisting on wearing them during the winter. Duh.

  49. R4
    on Jul 16th, 2009
    @ 10:06 PM

    Q?- did my country club comment touch a nerve, gone baby gone?

  50. Michael Williams
    on Jul 16th, 2009
    @ 10:54 PM

    Hey R4,

    I know weed is semi-legal in CA, but try to remember where you leave your snarky comments. Might want to look at the McNairy Weejun post first…

    ACL

  51. R4
    on Jul 16th, 2009
    @ 11:07 PM

    my weed/my bad/will keep better track/thanks

  52. Ryan
    on Jul 25th, 2009
    @ 10:36 AM

    you are all out of your minds

  53. josep
    on Aug 13th, 2009
    @ 6:14 AM

    I am interested in knowing the web site of the factory manufacturing “Atlanticworks” shoes.

    I have seen some nice shoes from them, and would like to contact