While researching my trip to Spain, I really wanted to get to the heart of Spanish culture and traditions, and what better way to do that than to understand more about local crafts? Basket weaving in Thailand and leather making in Italy certainly whet my appetite for this sort of travel, and when a few of you mentioned traditional espadrilles in my Spain tips post (this was a lifesaver guys!), I knew it was something I would have to learn more about! Luckily we spent enough time in Spain for me to visit two famous Espadrille shops – Antigua Casa Crespo in Madrid and La Manual Alpargatera in Barcelona. I even got to spend a little more time in La Manual to understand more about the process. Traditional craft at its finest guys!
HOW ESPADRILLES ARE MADE
Traditionally espadrilles were made entirely by hand although these days many of the processes have been taken over by machines. It’s a little sad because there is definitely something romantic about the traditional espadrille making process – think gossiping grandmothers stitching on the street and craftsman secrets handed down through generations from father to son.
1. The rope used for the sole of the shoe is spun from jute threads and then braided to give it extra strength. Espadrilles were named after the Mediterranean grass they were originally made out of but today the rope is made out of jute, a much tougher natural fibre from India.
2. The braided rope is then spun into the shape of a sole using a metal turntable or a sole template in various shoe sizes.
3. To secure and create the hour glass shape of the shoe sole, the rope is sewn together using an oversized needle and more jute thread. It is a process that requires a lot of manual strength to get the needle through all those layers of rope.
4. The cotton canvas fabric for the shoe is then cut out into their respective pattern pieces using cutters that can slice through many layers of fabric at once.
5. Finally, the canvas fabric is attached to the sole by hand using blanket stitches which both embellish and secure the shoe to the sole, especially around the toe area where more blanket stitches are made to reinforce the area.
You can read and watch more about the process here.
Perfect crafty chaos!
Oh and in case you’re wondering, these were all around 20 – 50 euros, so well priced you can’t help but buy a few pairs! 🙂