It has taken me ten days, but I think I am finally able to discuss the shoes. The combination of frustration, old shoe funk and the massive loss of brain cells from working with Shoe Goo had rendered me unable to rationally explain why and how I made these things and their deeper meaning (not really, they don’t have one).
I had been thumbing through the most recent issue of Craft Magazine a while back and noticed that there was an article on making shoes using an old pair of Chucks. Honestly, I thought this was pretty sweet, but wanted to go a step further, you know making my own toe instead of the rubber one and sewing the shoe into the sole instead of only gluing it (I would later regret the latter, greatly). I don’t have any old Chucks around that fit (this again is another incredibly whiny story about how sweet Chucks used to be and how I have worn the same size for many many years until buying my last pair which fit like clown shoes, errr) so instead I grabbed my lawn mowing shoes and went at them with a box cutter.
Making the pattern for the shoe was fairly easy, I skipped the gusset that the original shoe had and made one long piece that wrapped around the foot and another piece which was the toe and tongue piece. Off to a good start. I decided to make the shoes “super sweet” so I choose the left overs from Sarah’s lovely polka dot bag. I have worn shoes most of my life (and for a good portion of my adult life) so I am a fairly good judge of what fabric would make a sturdy shoe and obviously the cotton/linen blend of the Echino fabric was not going to cut it. As with every other project I start from scratch I grabbed some fusible fleece and some buckram (as US Weekly might say, “Shoes, they’re just like hats) and fused all three together to make a good solid shoe. As you can see I put three vertical stitches at the back of the shoe to force the buckram to curve and giving it shape and I added an extra layer of fleece on the heel for more padding. I used the same combination to make the tongue/toe piece with additional padding on the tongue bit. At this point things are going really well and amazingly quickly.
The next step was to line the shoes, again I used the leftover bag material and cut the shoe piece slightly longer that the pattern piece. I simply edge stitched the right sides together (leaving the bottom unsewn) and pulled it over the shoe. I used spray glue to hold the lining fabric down, this would be the first instance of trouble. I really should have used the Shoe Goo at this point instead of the spray adhesive. While the Elmer’s sticks, the inside of your shoe takes a serious beating that only a probably toxic glue can handle.
On the tongue I did roughly the same maneuver, except I only sewed the half way down the tongue rights sides together and then I stitched on the outside for the rest of the tongue/toe piece. I found that this was the way that my other shoes were constructed and the laces other part of the shoe hides any rough edges.
So, I have my shoe pieces finished and waiting to be inserted into the soles. You can see I used some old Puma soles that were originally white but had turned that color of brown only dirt, grass and grime can turn rubber. This would stand and I attacked with spray paint. Unfortunately, I went to Freddy’s (Fred Meyer, ya’ll) by myself to pick out the spray paint and grabbed what I thought was a really close match to the Cherry color of the fabric. (Let’s be honest if this would have worked it would have been sweet). I went out to the backyard, sprayed those soles down and realized that I had gotten a maroon color instead of anything close to red so it was back to Freddy’s and another can of spray paint in black (labeled, I probably would have bought navy if I was just looking at caps). The soles sat for a day and half and looked alright.
This is where I really start to get into trouble, the soles are off limits and I am wanting to finish. My mind starts to wander and it hits me, I am going to make a sole out of (one guess……) that’s right buckram and then I can just glue it right into the soles. I cut out the shape using the shoe insert and start going to town. I get the sides sewed on and I put the toe/tongue in and realize that I have made elf shoes. Because, as I now know you must shape for your toesies. I immediately lop off the toe part from the tongue and make a larger newer toe out of the lining fabric but with nothing to stabilize it. Failure, now have a pair of really ugly slipper with know shape. My next move is some stretchable pleather from the Despot (yes I drove across town for 1/8 of a yard of fabric). I rip of the second toe and try this. Now I have really ugly vinyl slippers.
Sarah suggests that we make a straight piece to provide a bumper and the space for the toe piece to go over the toes. This is bloody brilliant I think, and I try again. Slightly cooler slippers, but I think it will work. The soles have dried to a point where they are usable. I start jamming and trimming my complete “shoe” into the sole. Awful. It dawns on me (really it should have long ago) that I should just directly glue the shoes into the sole. Who needs the buckram footbed? Out comes the seam ripper and off come the shoes (and a large part of my thumb). I reattach the original toe piece to the tongue (the applique leopards are there to hide this) and start gluing.
It gets ugly, because the glue and the paint are having a chemical reaction that is stripping the paint from the soles and turning the glue black and maroon, plus I neglected to bandage my thumb (if it falls off I have a culprit), which burns. After lots of needless pinning (the goo sets up fast) the shoe actually takes shape and looks like shoes!
I added some eyelets and laced these bad boys up. While the aren’t the prettiest things they are unique. Unfortunately, I should have used a nicer pair of shoes to start because these weren’t that comfortable to begin with, so ripping out the inserts and reapplying them hasn’t done anything to improve that situation.
This was actually an incredibly fun project. It really doesn’t take that much time if you do it correctly, and you gotta love recycling old stuff to make nicer stuff.No related posts...
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