This footwear finds antique origins in the tradition and the daily life of the population in the Dolomite area of the Veneto, Friuli and Carnia from the 13ths century onwards. The major diffusion has been historically found in the 19th century.
In this period, the scarpets got even exported in a prefabricated version into areas of Austria and South Germany. It was light footwear, next to the wooden clogs, having been worn in summer and winter days for even heavy works, as long as the ground conditions were dry. The uppers have the shape of a low cut slipper or a court shoe.
The outside was mostly made out of black velvet, a cotton lining inside, and a strong fabric in between as a reinforcement. The three layers are quilted together in various ornamental designs of stitching with a thread of the same colour. A diagonally woven ribbon finishes the upper’s edge. Often, embroideries of floral designs are decorating the toe part. The embroidery motives and the upper’s patterns vary slightly from region to region.
The lasts, very simple carved wooden forms without any differentiation of right or left, also slightly change their shapes from valley to valley. All of them are the base for a flat shoe without any heel, just in some regions the toe spring is rather highly curved upward. The toe shape varies from square or round to very pointed, going with fashions influences.
The most interesting part of the scarpet’s construction is the sole: 20, even up to 40 layers of recycled fabric of various consistencies, first are loosely stitched together, and further, tightly compressed with very fine quilting stitches made with a strong hemp thread. The centre part of the sole is thicker than the toe part and the edges all around. The composition of the layers is so dense, that the sole’s flexibility is similar to leather. Also, the abrasion of it is getting close to the one of leather*. A buttonhole stitch all around the edge joins the upper to the sole.
This rather heavy work, once has been done by women, producing footwear for all the family members. For making one pair of scarpets of this kind, it took about 40 hours of labour. Usually, they were made in the winter months, but also during long walks of transporting materials. In the sixties of the 20th century, a range of industrial interpretations of this shoe type were launched. Today, just a few ladies of a rather advanced age still know how to handcraft these shoes
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