It's been a while since my last re-fashioned shoes. As my dress for the Sveaborg Christmas ball was almost finished long before the event this year I had time to turn my attention to accessorizing. Black shoes would of course have been perfectly suitable with a grey dress trimmed with pink bows, but I sort of got it into my head that I absolutely needed pink 18th century shoes.
|I went through my
stash, and my first option for the covering material was
the leftover pink taffeta from my ancient pink Pet en l'air.
Happily I remembered very soon that even clean water left
it stained, so it would be hopelessly impractical material
for shoes, let alone tricky to get smooth.
Luckily I came up with a plan b, which was to use the leftovers from the cream cotton damask I had used for my Mom's corset, and use the pink dye kit I has had forever on it. The color printed on the box looked more magenta pink than the soft rose pink of my dress trimmings, but I hoped the cream base might soften the hue.
The dyed material was still a different pink, but at least it was even, and they would not be right next to each other so I thought it would do. Otherways the fabric seemed great, durable but not too thick.
|I had found these pumps
from UFF store some years ago, and now decided that the
time had come to sacrifice them for the shoe lab. Their
shape is not perfect, the toe is okay but the heel should
of course be more curved. It's not hopelessly too narrow,
though, or too boxy. A bit of epoxy putty plastering might
improve it, however, as I had experimented with my mule project. I have not
really worn the hopelessly impractical mules apart from
the photoshoot, so this would be a nice opportunity to
test how epoxy additions take wear.
|So, I began to rip the
pumps apart. Some staming and brutal force rid them of the
outer sole, and this time the heel tip gave in very easily
too. With steaming the red fabric cover also began to peel
off, so I removed it too to reveal the base fabric. On the
edges and seams I trimmed the remains of the red fabric
|I had already learned
with the mules that cutting a bit of the original front
edge away will prevent the thick seam showing through
covering. This also gives the material an opportunity to
stretch a little, which is a good thing if your feet need
more space (mine usually do).
|As I have wide feet, I
tried to get some more space for my poor toes by slashing
the top of the toe part. I glued a piece of thin leather
between the shoe fabric and the lining to create a wedge
that measured about 1cm at the top edge. Later I glued a
tiny leather wedge on the top to create an even surface.
It seems to me, by the way, that the period shoes have a higher profile at the top of the feet and only narrowed sharp towards the toe, while modern pumps tend to be very flat at the toe area. I guess it's because a open-cut pump has to be tight at the toe to stay on, while buckled shoes stay on better anyway. The profile of the shoe is also of course shaped by the shape of the sole, which is also different from what you get today. Anyway, a bit extra space at the ball of the foot rather more helps to achieve the period look than the opposite.
|Next came the heel. I
still had just enough epoxy putty from the mule project
for both heels. First I added the putty under the heel to
create a smoother curve, and then I tried also to add some
on the front edge of the heel. This would make the heel
look placed slightly frontwards, more under the arch of
the foot, which is a distinctive feature of period shoes,
aimed to make feet look shorter and more delicate. When
the putty had hardened I smoothed the surface with
|Then I was able to
begin on the pattern for the fabric covering. I pinned and
taped fabric over the shoe and marked the pattern edges.
The mock up fabric was cut on bias as the final covering
material would be too. This is essential at least for the
heel, but in my experience the toe should also be cut in
the bias for smooth fit, if possible.
|I also draped the toe
part with tongue and the back/side pieces continuing into
buckle flaps. I shaped them with the shoe on, and marked
the shoe opening line on my foot for further fitting.
I would use my "Dauphine" buckles from American Duchess, so I measured the buckle flaps to fit them. Unlike in period shoes I left the underside flap shorter to fit smoother in the shoe.
|After trying on the
shoes for the pattern drafting and taking a few steps on
them I noticed to my great annoyance that the epoxy
addition was breaking off at one of the heels. This was
rather dissappointing, as I has like the shape created by
them. Perhaps I had not shaped the heel bottom edge even
enough, which caused uneven pressure on the heel. Perhaps
the heels might have lasted if I could have kept them
intact until putting on the protective heel tips, but as
it was I thought it safer to file away the extra putty on
the front side of the heels, leaving only the upper part
which would not be as vulnerable in wear.
|Next I began to shape
the tongue based on my drafted pattern. First I glued
leather additions on the inside edge of the toe part and
shaped them to the final shape. Then I added another layer
of leather on the top, carefully shaped to match the edge
of the cut opening, to make the tongue more sturdy and
even the surface. On the picture you can also see se top
wedge insertion at the toe.
These patchwork additions with the new heel alone already gave the shoe a more historical look, changing the balance so that it looked less elongated.
|And then it was time to
whip out the pink fabric. As mentioned above, I cut all
the pieces in bias. As the fabric pattern was forgivingly
large and obscure it did not need any consideration in the
cutting. For the gluing I used again Tixo contact adhensive.
I did manage to blow up my first attempt. When applying the glue I noticed that it showed through on the right side, at some parts there were visible stains and at others the pretty fresh pink just got an ugly yellowish tone. So, my material had been too thin after all.
|I tried to add a heavy,
slightly napped iron-on interfacing on one piece and test
glue it on a scrap of leather. The glue stayed on the
interfacing, and the extra layer might also smooth out the
various material edges on the toe.
Happily I had not cut all the pieces yet, so I decided to iron the interlining on the whole fabric piece and cut new ones from that. While trying keep in mind I weould be cutting them on bias I somehow managed to iron the bias cut interlining on the straight of the material, thus eliminating the stretch that bias gives. I steamed the material furiously and ripped the interfacing away, and then cut the pieces individually and only added the interlining afterwards on each one.
I steamed and smoothed the heel covering into shape before applying glue. After adding the interfacing my material behaved very well and was nice to work with.
I sewed two rows of gathering stitches on the edge of the toe part, which helped a lot to turn it neatly under the sole.
|I tried the toe part
on, fastening it lightly with some pins at the sides and
with paper clips on the tongue. Then I steamed it lightly
and carefully pulled it to shape. Due to some mistake in
the drafting stage the toe piece was a bit small, and did
not reach the top edge of the tongue. In the end I had to
shorted the tongue a bit.
|After evening out the
tongue edges I finished them with cotton tape I had dyed
with the fabric. It fit over the curved parts much more
smoothly than the taffeta ribbon I had used in my previous
shoes, and the glue did not show through as badly either.
Glueing the binding needs care, and at some places there
are tiny glue stains visible next to the binding.
I sewed the center back seams and glued the seam allowances. I tried the pieces carefully on the shoe, marking the point where the heel ended underneath the shoe. Then I cut open the seam allowance at the marked point and glued the seam allowance to turn upwards at the heel area.
I had given some thought on how to finish the heel seam, as I did not want to cover it with a ribbon. As you can see, I ended up leaving the heel piece allowance continue over the seam and turn the allowance on back piece of the shoe instead, as the heel covering is tricky to get smooth without any extra matching.
|I applied the glue at
first only at the back of the shoe, leaving the buckle
flaps and their base at the sides free from glue at this
point. Then I applied glue on the corresponding area on
|It smoothed the back
part of the covering on, beginning at the center back and
going down the sides. The buckle flaps still hang free as
you can see.
The heel edge was a tricky part, as the glue should not go over the seam line on the shoe but the heavy folded edge still had to be fastened securely. I had to add some more glue at some parts.
On the picture you can also see the narrowly trimmed heel covering allowances turned under the heel and clipped at the most curved parts. The pencil line under the sole for matching the balance marks on the toe covering is also faintly visible.
|Before continuing with
the buckle flaps I had to make a design choise I had been
putting of: Whether to keep the shoes nice and simple or
go over the top by adding some blingy braid? At the
planning stage I had briefly entertained an idea of a
cloth-of-silver-esque panel at the top of the toe/tongue
with some additional braid edging, but then I realized
that this decoration would be too old fashioned for both
the shoe shape more reminiscent of later century and most
of my wardrobe.
| I didn't totally
abandon the braid idea, though. The cotton tape binding
had turned out quite neat, and the buckles alone would add
some bling, but then I happened to find a very nice narrow
silver braid and decided to go for the bling. So, I glued
the braid on the top of the cotton tape binding on the
tongue and then moved on to the buckle flaps.
|I marked the original
shoe edge on the side/flap pieces and glued leather pieces
up from this line to line and reinforce the buckle flaps.
As pieces never match quite perfectly in this world of
ours I left the top of the leather pieces unshaped, and
cut them to the final shape when the glue had dried. I
tried the shoes on to check that the edge was the right
shape and the buckle flaps folded neatly over each other.
I also marked the line where the bottom edge of the
back/side pieces would go, and the point where the buckle
flaps start at the sides of the tongue.
|I glued on the rest of
the edge binding tape. At the back of the shoe I had
stitched another piece of tape on the edge of the binding
tape down to the point where the buckle flaps begin to
curve upwards from the original shoe edge. The narrow
binding tape alone would not have been wide enough to
cover the thick reinforced back edge of the shoe, and it
might have began to peel off very easily in wear. The
additional tape reached far enough inside the shoe to be
hopefully more durable, and on the sides it continues to
cover the seam of the original shoe edge and the buckle
flaps, another part prone to fray in use.
|At last I could also
glue the ends of the back/side pieces down. I covered the
seam with the end of the binding tape. 18th century shoes
usually had an angled seam at the base of the buckle
flaps, but I had resorted to the easier straight seam once
again. It begins to appear later on the century too,
The braid coming on the top of the binding allowed me to reinforce the buckle flap base corner with a couple of heavy stitches. They also caught the end of the tape covering the seam inside the shoe.
|And then add some
bling! I used hot glue for putting on the braid, working
on tiny bits at a time to avoid the glue cooling. As you
can see on the picture, the glue leeked through the lacy
braid. I removed larger glue blobs with pins and sharp
scissors. The shoes have the advantage of not being
observed too close (usually), so I was not overly anxious
by the remaining extra glue.
Otherway the braid was very nice to work with, as the looped edge followed the curves smoothly, and only had to be folded slightly on the ends of the buckle flaps.
|The original black
plastic outer soles did not look very convincing
period-wise, and at some point I fancied replacing them
with leather soles. On the other hand I did want to use
the materials I already had (though I had already
succumbed to buying the braid), and at least the plastic
soles would be durable and save me the trouble of cutting
them to shape, not counting the few tiny snips needed at
the heel area. So, I glued the original soles back on,
from the toe towards the back, consoling myself with the
thought that they whould not show that much in use.
|As the re-shaping the
heel at the bottom had not worked out I was also able to
bang the original heel tips back on. They were, like the
soles too, in very good condition, almost not worn at all,
so in a way it was kinda sensible not to replace them after
|I'm fairly pleased with
how the shoe project turned out. They are not perfect 18th
century shoes, but nevertheless a very pretty pair of
shoes at a very low cost. As you can see in the pictures,
they have some imperfections: Some of the wrinkles at the
sides were already there in the original shoes, but some
others appeared at the top of the toe area after adding
the new covering. Both the center back seam and the heel
seam also stick out rather too much, and especially the
latter breaks the smooth back curve of the shoe quite
irritantingly. Let me still add, that the tongue should
have originally been a bit longer.
|The metal braid may
make the shoes a bit harder to match with many different
garments, and they might have turned very pretty even
without it. On the other hand the extra decoration catches
the eye and diverts attention from the few tiny glue
stains and the other stains that the shoes will probably
get sooner or later.
To my great delight the shoes survived the first ball I wore them to, including a lot of dancing and also some quantity of wine, without any damage to the heel and all the braid still securely on.
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||The buckles ordered