With a Minor Tweak…

The other day, the back strap of these sandals got twisted up when I put them on.

cranberry sandal 1And I discovered a tweak that makes an old pattern look new!

gray sandal 1

The original pattern is shown at top, cut out of leather. To tweak the pattern, I moved the bottom part of the strap underneath the upper part of the strap and stitched to hold it permanently, as shown at bottom.

gray sandal 2

Straps cemented but not yet stitched.

gray sandal 3

Uppers cemented to the soles; all that remains to do is sand the soles, buff them, and add a heel.
Frankly, I like the way this looks, especially around the toe area…some day, I’m going to make some sandals where the edges of the topsole and sole don’t meet flush!

gray sandal 4

Finished. The same, but different!

gray sandal 5

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Gavin’s Sandals

These are for a colleague who has absolutely beautiful feet. Like she could be a foot model! They should’ve been finished weeks ago, but I dawdled on the last step and only completed them last night. I brought them to the office today, and do you think she’s here to admire them…and for me to shoot a picture of her wearing them?! No, dammit.

P1000645popo

popo

UPDATE: Gavin has the most beautiful feet. Here she is, wearing the sandals.

gavin wearing the sandals

Start of New Shoe Class

Our teacher, Jessica Brommer, said that we can make anything we like in Shoe 2. So I’m gonna produce some boots roughly patterned on these Remonte Dorndorfs, which I’ve worn into the ground.

the bootWe’re at week 3 of class, and here’s what we’ve done so far.

We chose our lasts, altered them to make them wider where necessary, then draped them to make a pattern. Finally, we cut the pattern out of ugly leather to make this hideous fitter. It's just to check that the last will make a shoe that fits. I was pleased to discover that it's a perfect fit!

Each student chose his or her lasts, altered them to make them wider where necessary, then draped them to make a pattern. Finally, I cut my pattern out of ugly leather to make this hideous fitter. It’s just to check that the last will make a shoe that fits. I was pleased to discover that it’s close to perfect!

We then altered the original pattern taken off the last into a pattern for the boot.

I then altered the original pattern taken off the last into a pattern for the boot. My finished boot will zip closed rather than lace up, but this pattern shows lace holes because we will first make a fitter to check that the overall shape is correct (see the photo below). The fitter is down and dirty (as if you hadn’t noticed with the pink monstrosity above!) so we’re not going to bother to put in an inside zipper–hence the laces. Without them, I can’t get the last out of the fitter, nor get my foot inside it to check the fit.

Here's the start to my glam-rock boot fitters. Dang it, we ran out of time, so since I still need to cement them to a sole before I can try them on, I can't report back whether my pattern is good, or if it will need adjusting!

Here’s my almost-finished glam-rock boot fitters. Dang it, we ran out of time. I still need to cement them to a sole before I can try them on–agh, I hate having to wait for next class! I therefore can’t report back whether my pattern is good, or if it will need adjusting. Visually, I think this flares out too much at the top, and I think it’s too snug at the ankle. I want a look that’s more slouchy…granted, this leather is pretty thick and stiff.

Bells on Her Toes

1

I recently bought this bee-yootiful raspberry metallic. Because the films are laminated to a cowhide dyed dark gray, the color looks deep, like claret.

I went looking for pigskin to line it with and couldn't get over the perfect match I found!

I went looking for pigskin to line it with and couldn’t get over the perfect match I found! (Cowhide at left, pigskin to the right.)

You've seen this design before. The pieces are cut out and I've stitched on a strip that attaches a series of split rings to the area that will go down the length of the foot.

The front and the lining have been cemented together, a pattern drawn on, the edges stitched, and the pieces then cut out. On the right, you can see that I’ve sewn on a strip that attaches a series of split rings to the area that will go down the length of the foot. After I finish making the sandals, I’ll slide tiny bells into the rings.

The topsole, nailed to the last. I've done an initial setup to mark where I should punch holes for the straps.

The topsole, nailed to the last. I’ve done an initial setup to mark where I should punch holes for the straps.

The holes have been punched for the straps. I've applied cement. Next step is to push the straps into the cement to hold them in place.

The holes have been punched for the straps. I’ve applied cement and am waiting for it to cure. Next step is to push the ends of the straps into the cement to hold them in place.

Removed from the last so as to...

Removed from the last so as to…

...cement on the soles.

…hand stitch the straps to the topsoles (for reinforcement), and then cement on the soles.

Trimmed off the extra sole and cemented on a rubber heel.

Trimmed off the extra sole and cemented on a rubber heel.

And finally, I added on the bells. Whoa, between the red leather and the silver bells appearing blindingly white,, these look like some kind of Christmas sandals.

And finally, I added on the bells. Whoa, between the red leather and the silver bells appearing blindingly white,, these look like some kind of Christmas sandals.

At Long Last!

Shoes are built over a form called a last. Since you first pull the leather/fabric tight over the top of the last and then attach it to the sole, the shape of the last directly informs the shape of the resulting shoe. If you want to create a pointy-toed, high-heeled shoe, you’ll need a pointy-toed last shaped for the desired heel height. And if you want to make a size 9 wide shoe, you have to use a size 9 last—a size 6 won’t fit—and you might have to modify it to make it wider than it is. As they say, the last comes first.

Built to last–there’s another little pun courtesy of shoe makers. One more: Lasting impressions. Groan.

Lasts are hinged so that when you’re finished making the shoe, you can get the last out from inside it.

 You can find lasts on ebay, of course, but that’s not the place to go if you want an entire run—every size in every width for a given model. I’ve bought new lasts from Jones & Vining, and used lasts from Shoedo.com and George Barta Hide Company. I haven’t yet gotten lasts from Dick Anderson, but I’m told he’ll let you get a pair on trial to see if they work for your needs. I’ve also come across Shoe Last Shop online; I haven’t ordered from them but via email they said they have many more styles available than are present on their website.

blog--lasts2

Lasts can be made of wood or of plastic. I don’t personally own any wooden ones, and all of mine are for making sandals, flats or very low heels.

I would consider these fairly narrow. Note the squared toe.

I would consider these 8 1/2 Bs fairly narrow. I would guess they’re fairly old, from when women were as a general rule more petite than nowadays. Note the squared toe.

Here's the same style but much wider. The one on the left was altered by adding some leather at the top to produce a shoe with a taller arch.

Here’s the same style but much wider, in a 9E. I’m a B width in contemporary shoes, but an E in this style, which is why I think it’s an old last.  The one on the right was altered by adding some leather at the top to produce a roomier shoe over the arch.

blog--lasts5

I’m told this style was designed for loafers or moccasins (I’m not sure why the latter would need to be lasted, so that might have been wrong). At any rate, these lasts are perfect for sandals to fit my own foot!

blog--lasts

Front view of a turquoise last that I think was developed for an athletic shoe of some type because (a) it’s unhinged, (b) it has a bulbous toe, and (c) I bought it from a small company in Colorado that designs athletic shoes or shoes for cyclists. The off-white last is designed specifically for sandals.

Viewed from above. The slit in the one at the top is for making flip-flops or other thong sandal styles.

Viewed from above. The slit in the one at the top is for making flip-flops or other thong sandal styles.

New Sandals, Step by Step

I started by covering the last with masking tape (just the areas I knew the sandal would cover--I'm lazy!) and "drawing" a rough outline of the location of the straps.

I started by covering the last with masking tape (just the areas I knew the sandal would cover–I’m lazy!) and “drawing” a rough outline of the location of the straps using a narrow black tape.

Other side.

Other side.

Carefully pull the masking tape off the last and stick it to stiff paper. To finish the pattern, draw the outlines of the straps and add allowances to their ends. I also drew a pattern for the sole.

I carefully pulled the masking tape off the last and stuck it to stiff paper. To finish the pattern, I drew the outlines of the straps and added allowances of 1 inch to their ends. At right, there’s also a pattern for the sole.

blog--peacock prototype cut and taped1

I cut out the paper pattern and traced it onto crappy leather so that I could check the fit without wasting nice material. After cutting out that leather, I shaped it around the last and taped it to the topsole.

It looked okay on the last, but the proof is in the pudding, and...

It looked okay on the last, but the proof is in the pudding, and…

blog--peacock prototype bad fit on pinkie

…the strap didn’t hold the pinkie in, dammit! Also, the fit over the toes was way too baggie. That was due to the bulbous shape of the toes on the last, so I changed to lasts with a flatter toe. (Kindly ignore my toenails-of-the-dead. I’ll get around to removing that flaking nail polish someday.)

I redrew a wider strap on the paper pattern and cut new leather for another prototype. After nailing the topsole to the bottom of the last...

I redrew a wider strap on the paper pattern and cut new leather for another prototype. After nailing the topsole to the bottom of the last…

...I centered the straps over the last and...

…I centered the straps over the last and…

...began taping the straps to the bottom of the topsole.

…began taping the straps to the bottom of the topsole.

I checked the placement/centering of the back straps, then taped those to the bottom of the topsole.

I checked the placement/centering of the back straps, then taped those to the bottom of the topsole.

It looked good. The next step was to try it on...

It looked good. The next step was to try it on…

Closer!

Closer!

So I made another adjustment to the paper pattern, as well as to the placement of the slit for the strap, and the resulting prototype kept that little piggie under wraps.

So I made another adjustment to the paper pattern, as well as to the placement of the slit for the strap, and the resulting prototype kept that little piggie under wraps.

I tried punching holes to embellish the straps. Thought the shape was wrong. No need to finalize that now.

I added a back strap held on with rivets and punched holes to embellish the straps. Circles were all wrong, but no need to finalize the shape of the cutouts now. My prototype work was finished. Time to move on to the real leather I wanted to use!

All that remains is to add the sole.

I made them in an iridescent purple-green and found a much more successful shape for the hole. Next time, I think that instead of a hole, I’ll try three brass spots in descending sizes. All that remains are the steps to add the sole and a wee heel.

finished

Finished.