Yahoo! I’ve been selected as a vendor for The Big Day indie wedding and celebrations fair! It takes place next Sunday, April 13. These are the sample sandals I’ve been madly working to finish. Now that they’re done, it’s on to business cards. Remind me why I thought it would be a good idea to make those myself instead of having them printed?

Oh, right…because I’m slightly nuts.

Sample sandals 1

Sample sandals 3

Wingtips for Spring

I can’t get over how lucky I am.

First, I decided I wanted to keep making sandals, and I managed to meet people who helped me find supplies and equipment. When I ordered my sewing machine, the motor, machine and table weighed 75 pounds and arrived flat in two boxes without instructions, but I just happen to have a husband who used to be a millwright and who knows how to assemble industrial stuff. Not only that, but instead of doing it for me, he sat in a chair nearby and coached me, which meant I learned something. (In fact, let me just say here that my hubs has built me a workbench, converted a drill press into a buffer for me, helped me find a crank cutter, and been a cheerleader every step of the way. It’s clearly fated that I should make sandals, otherwise I wouldn’t have met my man, right?! Giggle.)

And now, a young shoe maker has moved to town and is teaching! Here’s what I’ve been doing under Jessica Brommer‘s tutelage.

All the outer pieces of one wingtip

All the outer pieces of one wingtip

This is roughly how they'll go together

This is roughly how they’ll go together. A glossary of terms will be helpful, so going left to right in the photo, you see: the strip that covers the seam along the back of the shoe; the back half of the shoe–in this case, the two kelly green pieces that look like a saddle–is called the quarter, and I haven’t finished the broguing (the punched holes) on those pieces yet; the front of the shoe is called the vamp–mine consists of the distressed light green piece with the kelly green wingtip appliqued atop it.

I've finished the broguing, stitched the wingtip to the vamp, stitched both quarters to each other, and covered that back seam with the strip. I've also stitched the outside tongue to the lining. Finally, I've sandwiched one vamp between the quarter, near the lacing holes, and stitched the quarter to the vamp.

Big leap forward in time. I’ve finished the broguing on the quarters, stitched both quarters to each other at the back seam, and covered the back seam with the strip. I’ve stitched the wingtip to the vamp. I’ve also stitched the tongue to the lining. Finally, I’ve sandwiched one side of the vamp between one quarter (near the lacing holes) and stitched the quarter to the vamp.

I've sandwiched the other side of the vamp between the other quarter and stitched them.

I’ve sandwiched the other side of the vamp between the other quarter and stitched them. Sheesh, I look at this and it’s like some clown-shoe action. Buuuuut…

The next step will be to shape the upper around the last. Here's a taste of what the finished shoe will look like!

The next step will be to shape the upper around the last. Here’s a taste of what the finished shoe will look like! Eeee!

I Found a Crank Cutter in an Old Warehouse!

I won’t bore you with the details of my search for a 3-in-1. Back in 1973, my old friend Jonathon Erving said a used one went for about $25. Inflation, baby! You can’t find them at that price anymore. Since they’re not being manufactured anymore, Landis, Pilgrim and other shoe supply companies are buying up old models to refurbish and then selling them for top dollar…like between $600 and $900. Hey, it’s supply and demand.

Among other things, a 3-in-1 acts like a giant can opener and can cut through incredibly thick, hard vegetable-tanned leather and rubber soling. This makes it invaluable.

Suffice to say that for about a year, I hunted on ebay and on Craigs List, searched online  in both English and in French, asked my local shoe repair man if he knew where I could get one.Oh, I would see them on ebay, but paying more than $200 seemed outrageous to me, and they would get sniped for upwards of $300, and there was no telling what condition they were in. The saddle shop in town had one with a cracked base and wanted $600. Eventually, my mom-in-law introduced me to her shoe repair man, a cool old Greek guy, and he put me in touch with Landwerlen in Indianapolis, who happened to have two of them. They refurbished one for me.

$400. I don't care. I love my 3-in-1.

$400. I don’t care. I love my model 25 Landis 3-in-1.

 Fast forward a couple of years. While we’re visiting his parents, my husband suggests we go explore a number of old warehouses owned by his family. I’ve never been inside them. The buildings are perhaps 125, 150 years old, cavernous, in disrepair, used for storing old machinery from the Detroit assembly lines. We oggled enormous, mysterious equipment coated in grease and dust. Climbed rickety wooden stairs.Spotted a dessicated mummy of a pigeon or two. Checked out abandoned payroll offices with old punch cards spilled on the floor and 1980s phones. Skirted piles of snow let in by a rotted roof. Oh. What’s that, over there, on the floor?


My new crank cutter! Free—if you don’t count the elbow grease required to remove 50 years or more of dust and pigeon poop + $75 for a new blade. I’ll take it!