Sole assembled – Rib sewn in place

Rib

This shows the “rib” – the white ridge on to which the welt will be sewn. If the rib isn’t in the right place, the welt won’t be in the right place and the shoe won’t work! So – rib-sewing is not a complex craft, but it has to be accurate.

This a task that requires accuracy, attention to detail and a steady hand, but no aesthetic judgement. The outside of the insole (a cut of vegetable-tanned leather) has a fabric rib stitched to it – on to which the welt will soon be sewn. The rib stitcher does require a good understanding of and feel for the rest of the shoemaking process, however, as the “perfect” rib, that will create the “perfect” welt is not the same distance from the edge of the sole all the way around. This apparently-simple task also illustrates a simple shoemaking fact. Each procedure is only as good as those that have preceded it. If the rib is wonky, the welt is wonky. If the welt is wonky, the shoe is, at best, wonky. At worst, the welt stitches may miss the welt altogether, whereupon the shoe will fall apart. We will meet the rib again soon, when the welt is sewn on to it.