The Blake stitch was invented in 1856 by Lyman Reed Blake, an American inventor born in Massachusetts. Lyman grew up making shoes from a very young age, with his older brother. His older brother ran a small workshop. Shoes ran in his blood.
Blake went on to work for Singer sewing machines, and it was here he combined his knowledge of shoemaking and craftsmanship with the idea of a machine built to save time, effort and money. At the time his invention was revolutionary (and it came about 15 years before the Goodyear welt).
It was a revolutionary invention because it was the first construction method that seriously made it possible to industrialize shoe manufacturing. This invention meant shoes could be made much faster than hand stitching and presented huge opportunities to a growing industry during a time when many young men and shoemakers were going off to war.
With this machine, they not only revolutionized shoemaking but played a big part in industrialization and the mass production of shoes. Pretty incredible that the methods are still used today!
The Blake stitch usually has the one stitch going all the way around the sole and upper of the shoe. It produces a clean, flexible and lightweight shoe. The first Blake machines needed to be operated by hand, but eventually electric machines were developed, making the construction method very efficient.
The sole is often cut close to the shoe which gives it a very tidy and clean look. For those of us who like high quality, efficiency and appearance to work together (who doesn’t) to make something great - the Blake stitch is 150 years worth of human ingenuity we’re going to want to get behind.
There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular shoe construction methods, still today - all these years later. The Blake stitch is usually associated with a lightweight, elegant shoe and can offer a much closer fit with a lot more flexibility than almost any other method of construction.