Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Basic Turn Shoes

Shoes from the Museum of London's collection.

Paper and pencil for patterning
fabric pencil
1 foot square of thick veggie tan leather for sole- Mine are made of buffalo since I found a scrap to experiment with
1 foot square of thinner leather for shoe upper- I used goat skin
hole punch
exacto knife and cutting mat
leather needles
waxed thread

Step 1
First step to any of  project is having your plan, and in the case of  these shoes that is a pattern. My first step was tracing my foot onto a piece of paper and then drawing the shape of my shoe around it. Many of my friends who have tried to make their own shoes had toes that pinched, so my first pair are meant to have a wide toe as is seen on the examples from the Mary Rose. For the vamp and heel pieces I mocked them up with craft felt and paper to ensure I had the right shape.

Step 2
Cut out pieces of shoes. Remember to make mirror of the shoe. Now is a great time to use punches or knives to apply any decorative slashing and punching. Each one of my shoes has 2 rows of small slashes. While wearing them I have learned that the more slashing or punch work you do the looser the vamp will fit. Be careful of overdoing it on a pattern that fit well before you slashed.

Step 3
Use clips to join upper pieces to sole and punch out holds for leather needles to go through. Stitch through shoes using 2 running stitches or a cordwaining stitch. Weave string into stitches. I placed the suede side to be walked on in hopes of better traction, remembering my ballet slippers as a child. Also like those slippers the suede is becoming shiny and slick from wear.

Step 4
Flip your shoe right side out. If leather is stiff, apply a little water with a damp sponge.

And there you have it! I am surprised it took me so long to try this relatively simple process. Go make some shoes and dance!I've had a lot of fun showing these off and now have plans for several other pairs with different bits of slashing or dyes.

Slashed Vamp from 16th century. Currently at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Works consulted
Gardiner, Julie, Before the Mast: Life and Death aboard the Mary Rose, Oxbow Books,  2013.
Grew, Francis and Margrethe de Neergaard, Shoes and Pattens, Museum of London Books; 2001.
Museum of London Image # 002264. 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Accession # 29.158.893
Metropolitan Museum of Art Accession # 29.158.477

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