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Shoe Lacing Methods
Whilst mathematics tells us that there are more than 2 Trillion Methods of feeding a lace through the six pairs of eyelets on an average shoe, this section presents a (somewhat more realistic) typical cross-section of traditional and alternative lacing methods that I've either found or created or that have been sent to me by web site visitors.

The selection is limited to those methods that I considered worthy of devoting the time required to create instructions, either because they are widely used, have a particular feature or benefit, or just because I like the way they look. Stay tuned - the list is still growing!

31 Different Ways To Lace Shoes
My diagrams are all drawn as though looking from the front of the shoe, such that the lower part of the lacing is at the bottom of the diagram, and are colour-coded to make it easier to follow where the lace runs. Generally, the start of the lacing is grey, whilst the lace end that starts on the left side is blue and the end that starts on the right side is yellow. For colour-blind visitors, Blue=Dark=Left, Yellow=Light=Right.
Criss Cross Lacing diagram Criss Cross Lacing
This is probably the most common method of lacing normal shoes and boots. The laces simply criss-cross as they work their way up the shoe.
FEATURES:
Traditional
Simple to lace
Comfortable
Corrugates shoe
Over Under Lacing diagram Over Under Lacing
A variation of Criss Cross Lacing that alternates between running over and then under. It's my own preferred method for most of my shoes & runners.
FEATURES:
Ian's favourite!
Decorative
Faster & easier
Less wear & tear
Straight (European) Lacing diagram Straight (European) Lacing
This traditional method of Straight Lacing appears to be more common in Europe. The laces run straight across pairs of eyelets and diagonally underneath.
FEATURES:
Shortens ends
Neat on top
Messy underneath
Straight (Fashion) Lacing diagram Straight (Fashion) Lacing
Often referred to as "Bar Lacing" or "Lydiard Lacing", this variation of Straight Lacing eliminates the underlying diagonals, which looks neater plus relieves pressure on the top ridge of the foot.
FEATURES:
Neatest looking
Slightly difficult
Only for even pairs of eyelets (eg. 6, 8)
Straight (Lazy) Lacing diagram Straight (Lazy) Lacing
This is a "lazy" variation of Straight (Fashion) Lacing where one end runs straight from bottom to top whilst the other end steps through the eyelets.
FEATURES:
Neatest looking
End lengths shift
Only for even pairs of eyelets (eg. 6, 8)
Bushwalk Lacing diagram Bushwalk / Cycling Lacing
An inside-out version of Straight (Fashion) Lacing, which distributes pressure evenly plus keeps the knots & ends to the side, away from either snagging undergrowth or from bicycle chains & cranks.
FEATURES:
Evens out pressure
Reduces snagging
Looks messy
Sawtooth Lacing diagram Sawtooth Lacing
This variation of Straight Lacing has all of the angled underlying sections pulling the same way, which shifts the sides of the shoe out of alignment. Of dubious merit, perhaps only to correct an otherwise ill-fitting shoe.
FEATURES:
Easier to tighten
Mis-aligns sides
Modifies fit
Shoe Shop Lacing diagram Shoe Shop Lacing
Commonly used by shoe shop assistants because it's so fast to lace new shoes, this method is another "lazy" variation of traditional Straight Lacing.
FEATURES:
Lazy way of lacing
Shortens ends
End lengths shift
Display Shoe Lacing diagram Display Shoe Lacing
Shoe stores often use this reversed version of Criss Cross Lacing on their display shoes in order to end up with the lace ends neatly tucked away inside.
FEATURES:
Neat display shoe
Easier to loosen
Harder to tighten
Ladder Lacing diagram Ladder Lacing
This distinctive lacing, which looks just like a ladder, is also useful for "shortening" long lace ends. U.S. paratroopers and ceremonial guard units wear jump boots with white ladder lacing.
FEATURES:
Neat & distinctive
Shortens more
Harder to tighten
Double Back Lacing diagram Double Back Lacing
Although terribly awkward to tighten, this method looks interesting, holds very firmly, and can also be used if you're desperate to shorten long lace ends.
FEATURES:
Shortens more
Stays very tight
Terribly awkward
Bow Tie Lacing diagram Bow Tie Lacing
So named because the outline resembles the shape of a bow-tie, this method makes the most efficient use of lace and thus is useful for "lengthening" short lace ends.
FEATURES:
Lengthens ends
Comfort "zones"
Loose fit
Double Helix Lacing diagram Double Helix Lacing
This method was invented and patented by Monte Fisher for faster lacing of boots. See Monte's own beautifully animated web site: http://www.lukefisher.com/lacing
FEATURES:
Decorative
Fast & easy
Less wear & tear
Double Cross Lacing diagram Double Cross Lacing
This blend of Over Under Lacing and Hash Lacing creates overlapping "crosses", which can also be woven into the most intricate "macrame".
FEATURES:
Decorative
Harder to tighten
If woven, very tricky to tighten
Hash Lacing diagram Hash Lacing
When used on modern boots and runners with a wide gap and many eyelets, the result resembles a diagonal series of hash "#" symbols.
FEATURES:
Decorative
Shortens ends
Harder to tighten
Lattice Lacing diagram Lattice Lacing
Great for boots and runners with a wide gap, this very popular method forms a neat woven lattice in the middle of the lacing.
FEATURES:
Very popular!
Very decorative
Shortens more
Harder to tighten
Zipper Lacing diagram Zipper Lacing
Though awkward to tighten, this lacing holds very firmly, making it great for lacing skates tightly. It also looks interesting, a bit like a giant zipper.
FEATURES:
Decorative
Holds very firmly
Harder to tighten
Riding Boot Lacing diagram Riding Boot Lacing
Often referred to as "Bal-Lacing", this method is specifically for riding boots (motorbike or equestrian) in which the part that is tightened and loosened is at the middle of the boot (near the ankle). The laces zig-zag from both ends and fasten in the middle.
FEATURES:
Unusual layout
Neat appearance
Specific use only
One Handed Lacing diagram One Handed Lacing
As an alternative to the One Handed Shoelace Knot, this way of lacing eliminates the need to even tie a knot by leaving one end loose.
FEATURES:
Handicapped use
Surprisingly easy
Loose fit
Segmented Lacing diagram Segmented Lacing
This variation divides the lacing into two or more "segments", each of which can be laced up as tightly or loosely as necessary to achieve a comfortable yet secure fit for "difficult" shoes or feet.
FEATURES:
Customisable
Many uses
Looks messy
Knotted Segment Lacing diagram Knotted Segment Lacing
A more attractive though less flexible variation of Segmented Lacing in which a knot makes the lower segment of shoelace permanently tighter or looser.
FEATURES:
Customisable
Many uses
Harder to get foot into shoe
Hidden Knot Lacing diagram Hidden Knot Lacing
By hiding the knot underneath, the result is an uninterrupted series of straight "bars" that looks particularly distinctive on dress shoes or basketball shoes alike.
FEATURES:
Very distinctive
Tricky to tie knot
Slight discomfort
Bi-Colour Lacing diagram Bi-Colour Lacing
By popular request, here's a way of lacing to end up with two different colour laces alternating up the shoe, exactly like my bi-colour illustrations.
FEATURES:
Very decorative
Work required
Slight discomfort
Double Lacing diagram Double Lacing
Another way of ending up with two colours is to use two laces. These are interwoven up the shoe, ending up with four lace ends that can then be tied creatively.
FEATURES:
Very decorative
Creative options
Needs new laces
Checkerboard Lacing diagram Checkerboard Lacing
This interwoven lacing forms an attractive 2-colour checkerboard pattern that looks fantastic on today's wide fronted runners.
FEATURES:
Most popular!
Very decorative
Slip-on or off
(no knot required)
Loose fit
Loop Back Lacing diagram Loop Back Lacing
Each side loops back on itself down the middle, rather like when two springs become intertwined. However, those loop-backs tend to shift off-centre.
FEATURES:
Decorative
Laces wear more
Centreline shifts
Knotted Lacing diagram Knotted Lacing
Adding an overhand knot at each crossover increases friction and keeps the lacing much firmer. Ideal for tightening ice skates, rollerblades, etc.
FEATURES:
Keeps lacing tight
Assists tightening
Harder to loosen
Twistie Lacing diagram Twistie Lacing
Like a combination of Loop Back and Knotted Lacing, the laces are twisted together with a vertical overhand knot at each crossover before continuing to the other side.
FEATURES:
Decorative
Keeps lacing tight
Harder to loosen
Roman Lacing diagram Roman Lacing
Alternating X-I-X-I on top of the shoe, which looks a little like Roman numerals. It's most effective on dress shoes where the sides of the shoe meet in the middle.
FEATURES:
Decorative
Great on dress shoes
Harder to tighten
Footbag Lacing diagram Footbag Lacing
Footbag players use this lacing to open up the front of their shoes, making it easier to catch or otherwise control the footbag (or "Hacky Sack").
FEATURES:
Great for Footbag Freestyle
Less binding
Distorts shoes
Lock Lacing diagram Lock Lacing
Often referred to as "Lace Locks", this is not a lacing method as much as a technique for creating a super-tight finish. It's often recommended for lacing running shoes to help prevent heel slippage.
FEATURES:
Tightens firmly
Reduces slippage
Harder to loosen

For shoes with lugs instead of eyelets, see the Lug Lacing Methods

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This page last updated: 29-Jun-2006. Copyright 2005-2006 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.
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