Inclement Weather Shoe Covers2.0

The next generation of inclement weather shoe covers have been completed. This time around the process was both simplified and made more complicated (strangely enough), however this was to their benefit, as the features should now be more efficient, and the fit is better adapted. While the first generation of bootie has been a mostly successful venture, there were a few things that were done differently here. Rather than go through all the motions again, the latest developments will be highlighted only. If there are any questions regarding these issues, please refer to the initial posting at Inclement Weather Shoe Covers.

Starting with the fit. Although this is fairly obvious to some, it was hindsight here. The two panels of the upper bootie needed to be re-proportioned to accommodate a slightly different tolerance between the inside face of the bootie and the outside face. Using an expendable material, three sets of patterns were developed, slowly refining and scaling down the inside face from the outside (conversely – the outside face grew larger, it is hard to say which came first/going which way, the chicken or the egg?). The result is a similar shape between the two, but now the outside face has a longer dimension along the bottom seam, with accommodations made to fit the rest of the proportions into each other’s corresponding alternate edges. What this achieved was a more precise fit around the circumference of the sole, because the outside of the soles edge is longer than the inside edge – when measuring from the center of the toe to the center of the heel. That alteration cured the bunching around the zipper on the first pair, and also kept the heel area nicely compacted around the boot.

On the first pair, the heel area was a slight issue, because the inside face of the bootie had been pushed a little bit towards the front, which caused an excess of material almost exactly where the crank is closest to the heel and therefore rubbing commenced. Now that the heel is properly fitting, the need for the lower position second strap, which held the material tight in that area, is (should be) unnecessary.

The second adjustment to the design was to incorporate a strap along the span of the bootie, which would cross from the inside of the foot to the outside, approximately over the ball of the foot. This, like the heel, was also to cut down on any potential rubbing that occurred at the front inside quarter of the bootie against the crank. In order to keep this as low profile as possible a traditional over and back strap method was used. Essentially there is a small plastic 1″ loop that was sewn into place about an inch and a half up from the sole – on the inside, this created a place for a Velcro strap to come over the top of the toe from the outside and double back on itself to adhere the hook and loop of the Velcro together. This strap can be cinched down accordingly to either keep the bootie in position, or to relieve any rubbing that may occur between the crank and the bootie.

Next, the leather reinforcements on the bottom of the booties were cut slightly different to increase protection from the ground, and the edges were also skived to provide a better transition between the neoprene bootie sole, the glue, & then to the leather. The skiving should prevent any snagging as the profile has been reduced. Also, the leather reinforcement under the toes were stitched on with an “X” instead of around the arbitrary cleat opening*. This will help because instead of making a stitching pattern around the suggested cleat opening, which may just get cut off when opening the hole, to make it easier to “click in”; the “X” stitching will keep stitchesconsistently spread around (in the general area) the opening no matter how much it is scaled up, or down. Imagine cutting a square from a square – out of two sheets of wood stapled together, if the fasteners form an “X” between the two, leading from the corners, then no matter how big a hole you cut, the fasteners will always end up right at the newly cut corners – extending to the outside corners (no?).

As for any other upgrades, which there are a few, they are additions to the current design rather than refinements in the pattern. The first is a more dependable and consistent type of reflective webbing (made by 3M Scotchlite), which was stitched into place on the straps. The new reflective tape is a hardier version than the last, and has increased visibility due to size, and grain structure/properties. This ribbon “guarantees” visibility in low light at 700 feet or more. The tack at the end of the two straps (per boot) was also minimized to cut back on bulk. Lastly, on the very front section of the bootie’s sole (the pads of the “toes”) – where on the last pair we were beginning to see wear from the action of pushing off the ground right before clicking into the pedal to ride – an additional layer of Tough-Tek/Slip-Not Non Slip Fabric was placed to cut down on excess abrasion in that area and activate grip. Finally (?), the upper’s inside layer of nylon has been changed, now it is a 1.9 oz per square yard silicone coated rip-stop nylon (excellently bright blue). The coating in conjunction with the rip-stop prevents the likely hood of both fraying and tearing.

All of these improvements have made a big difference, thus far. The biggest accomplishment has been in the pattern, which by now can hopefully be sized up and down to accommodate other shoe sizes. However that may still be a challenge, as these booties are custom made to fit a very specific winter cycling boot. Probably, the pattern will always have to be made one-off, every-time. That should be for the better, and if anything will always ensure proper fit, scrutinous care in the early phases of production, and even more intense focus during the stitching. If this pattern were simply scaled up, or scaled down, it would not have the same affect size wise. These will always be slowly processed for the added quality. As for the Brother DB2-B791-015 it does very well in this application, even for a flat-bed machine. One thing that will be altered next time is to use a single-sided presser foot for sewing around the heel, this will allow the material to take that round shape more easily and hopefully further reduce any puckering in the pattern.

*The reason for using this “X” pattern when stitching on the leather pad at the cleat area, is mainly due to the Brother being a flat-bed machine. If it were a cylinder-bed, or post-bed, then the leather pad could be stitched around the cleat hole after the entire bootie is built, because the machine could actually get all the way up there towards the toe without the added material getting in the way and restricting this possibility. However, with a flat-bed machine, the pre-planning has to be a little more creative. So while almost any pattern can be stitched between the leather pad and the inner,mid, and outer soles before the sole is stitched to the upper, you can not add stitching later (once it is a complete bootie). The only way to insure that the cleat opening is correctly positioned, is to cut it after the bootie is complete, so that it can be on the boot, where everything is aligned as it will be from then on. Instead of guessing where the hole will be, and then end up cutting it larger later, thus loosing the stitching we put around this opening earlier, we have to devise a way around this. Obviously glueing the leather pad makes a huge difference, but if we want the added benefit of some stiching, a system had to be created that would take place in the early phases of construction that would provide that extra strength whether or not parts of it are cut off at the end. Certainly there are many patterns that would work, working the stiching in back and forth across the shape, moving in a circular motions until you reach the outer dimensions, or even tacking in miscellaneous places; but for simplicity and avoiding an abundance of unnecessary stitching, the thing that made the most sense, was to stitch across the shape from corner to corner. As was discussed earlier, this will distribute the stitching evenly across the plane of the leather pad and increase the potential strength of the left over stitches by them sharing equal amounts of stress. This is a hypothesis at least, these booties being the first pair to implement the test.

4 Comments so far

  1. BROTHER DB2-B791-015 » Walking Bag March 28th, 2008 3:01 am

    […] can see, the same “over the top, and back again” Velcro closure was used, as was in the Inclement Weather Shoe Covers2.0. However, this time instead of completely stitching down the Velcro (hook side) portion to the […]

  2. […] the other two sets with only minor tweaks in both hardware/materials, and in pattern. Unlike, the 2.0 version, the 3.0 version takes on the pattern like that of the first version: the two opposing sides of the […]

  3. val bourque August 7th, 2009 11:56 pm

    I’d love to purchase a couple of these. how do I contact you.

  4. admin August 10th, 2009 9:24 am

    We are available through the following email:

    needlefeed (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks, NFCO