Tag Archives: photo glossary

Cowboy Boot Photo Glossary – Inlay


Shapes are cut out of a boot top, and layers of colorful leather are placed underneath. The inlays are held in place with one or more rows of stitching.

A simple, wonderful pair vintage boots. The the red hearts and the white flashes are inlay …bordered by 2 rows of yellow stitches.

Inlay can be crude, like it was pounded out with a cookie cutter. In the 1950’s, the factory makers of kids cowboy boots were clever at this—simple punchy shapes like pistols, stars, longhorns and ponies. Yee haw!

Inlay can be fancy. Here is a special “behind the scenes” look at leather inlay. The cowboy boots made by Texas Traditions (Austin, TX) have an undeniably elegant look… this photo essay teaches you a few of the shop secrets. Even their simple designs get a fine touch. The shapes are cut into the boot tops using a sharpened blade fashioned from a sewing machine needle. The leather inlay pieces are thinned down at their edges with a sharp knife (“skived.”) And, the rows of stitched are placed one at a time. Beautiful.

You can see more finished boots made by Lee Miller, here.
Unfortunately, the shop is no longer accepting new customers.

Photo by Marty Snortum.

Cowboy Boot Photo Glossary – Overlay


A decorative technique that adds layers of leather on top of a boot top. Overlay can be quite delicate, like filagree or scrolling, and is often combined with inlay.

Sometimes a bootmaker will place cotton batting or additional leather behind a piece of overlay in order to give it a raised or “puffed” quality. Overlay can be stitched using large or tiny pieces of leather.

Here… see how the thorny black leather is stitched onto the the red leather boot top? See how the petal of the yellow rose is  stitched layer upon layer? Overlay can give a cowboy boot a wonderful carved or sculpted texture.

Photo by Marty Snortum. Boot top by Dave Little’s Boot Company (San Antonio, TX.)

(This photo glossary is a new feature on my website. Let me know what you think! …using the comments below. And, you can send me an email suggesting which bootmaking terms I tackle next.)

Cowboy Boot Glossary: Variegated Thread

When I was working on my book, I struggled a bit defining the word “variegated” as in variegated thread. I wrote…

Variegated Thread: Thread that has been dyed with patches of multiple colors or with different shades of a single color.

I wrote this as if the reader would picture the thread on the spool or running through a sewing machine, just like I do.

Recently, I happened upon a fashion blog, called “The Coveted.” In her post, stylish Jennine writes about a pair of pink cowboy boots with “rainbow” stitching.

Rainbow! Rainbow really is the perfect word, because these boots are colorful… they have a kinda light-hearted airy quality.

Variegated thread around a butterfly inlay gives the design a kind of flutter …stitched row upon row gives the thread gives the look of broad brush strokes. At a distance, some stitch patterns look a little like watercolors.

Try this…flip through my book and look only at the thread colors used on each boot. Isn’t it interesting? I’ve used the comment section below to note the pages where I found variegated rainbow thread. Did I miss any pairs?

(EXTRA: How does a bootmaker line up the colors? …it’s a trade secret.)

Photos by Marty Snortum. This boot made by Paul Bond is one of the many many swell boots left on the “cutting room floor” while making my book.