Shoe Construction


The History of the Blake-stitched Construction Method

The Blake-stitched construction, or McKay as it’s also called, is the first construction method that seriously made it possible to industrialise shoe manufacturing. Here is the story of its emergence and development.

The declared genius Lyman Reed Blake grew up in Massachusetts, USA, and started making shoes at a very young age with his older brother, who ran a small independent workshop. When Blake was 16, he converted a pair of boots into roller skates and wowed people as he whizzed around the small town he lived in. As he grew older, he went to work for Isaac Singer and his company, the Singer Corporation, which successfully produced efficient sewing machines. Blake became a partner at Singer in 1856, working on developing and inventing new solutions for sewing machines. On July 6, 1858, Lyman R. Blake, then only 23 years old, was granted a patent for a machine that could sew together the insole, uppers and outsoles of shoes. He sold the patent to Gordon McKay the following year for $8,000 in cash and another $62,000 for future profits. Blake then worked for McKay until he retired, further developing the machine with McKay, who also had good ideas for making the sewing machine simpler and more efficient.

Blake-stitched shoes can be made very flexible and as there is no sole stitch running around the outside of the shoe, the sole can be cut close to the shoe for a neat appearance. In terms of quality footwear, the Blake construction is common in the crafting process of shoemakers from the United States, Italy and France.

The standard Blake construction is usually cited as a clear product of industrialisation, a method that can only be done by machine. This is because it is not possible to reach the inside of the shoe to sew by hand. However, there is actually a method that allows shoes with the same type of construction as a Blake-stitched shoe to be sewn by hand. This is done by pulling the thread inside the shoe by threading the needle straight through it before inserting the needle into the shoe from below.

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At SIXKINGS Shoemaker we proudly make use of our proprietary hand-stitched process.


At SIXKINGS Shoemaker we proudly make use of our proprietary hand-stitched process.

We do things our own way and have developed a unique way of constructing our Blake-stitch by hand. This method requires immense skill and experience from our master shoemakers.