I was so annoyed this March when I realized that my almost new ankle boots were busted; the zipper had separated from the leather of the boot. Although the boots themselves are pretty well-made, the zippers have been a problem from the start; they’re stiff, and especially once I put my own insoles in, the boots were a little tight, and I was doing a lot of tugging and jerking to get them closed. So I guess it’s not too surprising. But I looked more closely at the gap and realized that nothing was actually broken; the zipper still worked, and the leather didn’t have worn spots.
When I was in college I learned that not everyone took their busted-but-not-broken shoes to the cobbler; in much of the U.S. there just isn’t a cobbler, so people buy cheap shoes and then toss them. But in the cities I’ve always lived in, there’s always been an old Eastern European or Italian or Greek guy nearby with a little stuffy shop full of shoes in paper bags waiting to be picked up. Once we were old enough that we wore shoes down rather than just outgrowing them, we joined our parents in semi-annual trips to have shoes re-soled (I always wear out the edges of the heels), weatherized, re-stitched…. This time, though, I was in the middle of paying off my student debt and I didn’t want to spend money for the cobbler when I thought I could deal with it myself.
|tools of the trade|
I didn’t have the time to deal with it right then, though, and it was the end of winter; I was about ready to switch to sandals. So I just packed them up and moved them, but now, with fall coming on, it was time to get the job done.
Mending something like this needs one special tool: a leather needle. You can kind of see in the picture that, unlike a normal needle, which has a more or less round shaft, a leather needle is flat. They’re also razor-sharp. They work brilliantly; unless you’d used one, you wouldn’t believe how easily they slice through leather like it was butter.
I also used the other thing in that photo; it’s beeswax in a plastic container with a groove in it so you can drag your thread through the wax. It gives thread extra strength, and I’m also hoping for a little weather protection. I’d say that’s optional for something like this, but since I already had it, why not?
Anyway, the job itself took something like three minutes. I dunno if it’s exactly as good as new, but I definitely think it’ll hold up. I want at least another year out of these boots, hopefully two, so it had better!