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shoe repair

Put a spring back in your shoes and your step

Put a spring back in your shoes and your step

Julie Derrick, from JD Shoe Repair, shares how to get your shoes ready for warmer weather.

The weather has tossed us about this spring, but summer is on the way. Along with planting flowers and vegetables, long-awaited projects at home, and the prospect of outdoor fun, it’s time to think about your shoes!

When we switch out wool sweaters for breezy summer fabrics, it’s the perfect opportunity to switch your shoe and boot wardrobe for the season as well. Here are some tips for making that transition go smoothly.

  1. Store shoes in good condition. Look over all the shoes and boots you’ve worn most during the heavy weather. If they are basically in good shape, you can clean them yourself or take them to your local cobbler for a professional clean/shine/conditioning treatment.
  2. Seek professional help. Some things your cobbler can help you assess and repair include run-down heels, water or salt marks, holes in soles, edges coming unglued, stitches unraveled, torn linings or broken zippers.
  3. Get ready for summer. For shoes that are about to get their day in the sun: Are your elastics and Velcro closures intact? Are the foot beds in place and complete? Are you missing a buckle or rivet? Are your heels worn down on the corners? Again, your cobbler can help.
  4. Shine those sneakers. Sneakers of all types can be cleaned at home or in a shop. One tip to keep sole edges bright; try using Shout! brand spray cleaner and a nailbrush or toothbrush. Mild detergent solutions can work well for uppers.
  5. Protect your delicate shoes. Suede and light color palettes are popular for summer; keep them protected with a spray waterproofing treatment you can do at home or have a professional do for you.
  6. Prep your bags, too. Purses, backpacks, and bags should be ready for day trips and longer journeys. Make sure your hardware, like snaps and rivets, is functional. Get those items cleaned professionally by a cobbler; we recommend making a few phone calls to make sure your cobbler does this, as not everyone provides these services (JD Shoe Repair does!).

The goal is to incorporate shoe care into your seasonal patterns, like any other home projects you do two or three times a year.

In the springtime, pull out all your summer gear and go through it as you prepare your winter goods for storage. While it is spring, get all your winter boots repaired and refreshed while you’re wearing your sandals and sneakers. Then in the autumn when the rains return, you are ready to greet the wetter season with dry feet in restored shoes and boots.

It’s a healthy cycle for your wardrobe, and you will be continually in touch with your shoes, boots and bags. Your local cobbler will appreciate you for spreading out the workload too, as our trade tends to be flooded in the fall and quieter in the summer. You can likely work out bulk pricing rates and expedited turnaround times too, as cobblers want to encourage this seasonal cleanup momentum.

Most shoe repair shops sell products they recommend for care of leathers and fabrics, as well as providing the services. Feel free to ask questions and request tutorials from professionals.

And remember to have a lot of fun in the sun!


With a little TLC, your shoes will love you back

With a little TLC, your shoes will love you back

With the change in seasons, now is a great time to get your shoes tuned up so they're ready for fall and winter weather. And if you're shopping for new shoes, part of maintaining items we love includes choosing better made stuff up front. It may cost you more, but lasts longer.

Alicia Polacok, from Resourceful PDX partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, stopped by JD’s Shoe Repair in North Portland and spoke with owner Julie Derrick about fixing and maintaining shoes.

"Julie, or JD, has been in the shoe repair business for nine years. She sought out a different career and transitioned to life as a cobbler by working with others in the shoe business to learn her trade. Not only does JD’s Shoe Repair fix shoes, but they refurbish and sell shoes of all kinds in the shop.

There are many variations in construction and use of materials, all of which affect repairability. Customers can ask their retailer if something is repairable before you buy. When in doubt, ask a cobbler about a pair of shoes while you still have the option to return them in case they do not meet your specifications.

Tips on what to look for

When looking for shoes that can be repaired, the main areas to consider are the heels and soles. Look for shoes or boots constructed from layers of materials such as leather and hard rubber. Steer away from molded soles that are all one big cushy piece; generally speaking, once these are worn through, they are finished.

Heel blocks made from hard plastics and stacked leather are best suited to repair, regardless of heel height or shape.

Welted construction means that the shoe uppers and outsoles are both stitched to the welt (the edge that goes all the way around). This is the sturdiest construction for long wear and multiple repairs. Dress shoes, work boots and western boots are generally built this way. Beware fake welting! Many shoes are built to look like they are strongly put together, but are really a molded piece of rubber or plastic.

Leather uppers can be sewn, patched and stretched, which makes them last longer, especially if you care for the leather by keeping it clean and conditioned.

Generally, harder shoes and boots are going to last longer. While many people like the comfort of molded soles, they are not built for repair. Some softer shoes, such as Dansko shoes, Timberland boots and shoes, and Birkenstock shoes, can be re-heeled and sometimes re-soled.

Some makers whose shoes and boots are often brought in for repair are Frye, Red Wing, Born, nearly all western boots, Danner, Bed Stu, Steve Madden, Cydwoq, and most wood-heeled/soled clogs and platforms.

Maintain shoes to make them last

Look for heels wearing down and get the bottom layer replaced before you run into your heel block if at all possible.

Try to get new soles on before you wear holes in the old ones. Even rubbery softer materials can often sustain a repair or two if they are not worn down to the insoles.

If your uppers begin to crack or tear, get them patched on the inside or outside.

Keep your shoes clean and conditioned. Even in storage, leather will get dry and begin to crack if not conditioned regularly.

Store shoes in a dry place with something inside them to hold their shape. This prevents cracking of the uppers. If you do not have shoe forms, you can use folded up t-shirts, socks, skeins of yarn, newspaper or other materials to hold them in place.

If your shoes come unglued, repair them! There are a lot of minor glue jobs you can do yourself  Shoe Goo actually works! A shoe repair shop can handle the projects that seem beyond your skill or interest levels. 

Take stock of your own shoes and find your favorites that can be repaired. Portland has many options for local shoe repair businesses. Search online to locate cobblers in your neighborhood."