New shoes, again

Photo -- New leather shoes.

Photo -- The lining fabric, and a kitty face.

Amy’s new shoes (didn’t I just make those a few weeks ago?) are already sporting holes at the toes.

So, despite the Tandy fiasco, I decided to try again to buy a big piece of leather to use for her now and near future shoes. This time I ordered from the place I liked in the first place, but Tandy was cheaper — Brettuns Village. I chose the piece of tan suede in the middle right of this photo, the one with two square holes in it. It looks small in the picture, but it’s really about seven or eight square feet. It arrived the other day and I’m happy to report it looks like it’s described — there are two small holes that look pretty natural, unlike that Tandy piece that had been used as a cutting board or something.

This time Amy was happy to step on a piece of paper so I could measure her feet. (Last time she kept bringing her knees up as if she was afraid to stand on the paper or thought I was picking her up.) In fact, when I was done she continued to play putting her feet on the paper.

Two shoes ago I had altered the Tacky Living pattern (oooh, my previous shoes made it to the gallery!) to make the shoes more asymmetrical, matching the big toe to little toe slant of typical feet. Instead of scaling their pattern and trying to eyeball the same adjustments again, this time I scanned my altered pattern pieces, scaled that, and printed it out for the new size.

This time I wanted to make all the parts (not just the soles) from leather, in hopes that the shoes would last as long as they would fit, unlike the denim from last time. I used some lightweight light blue fabric for linings.

First I adhered the sole linings with iron-on adhesive, but only in the middle, just missing the seam lines, so that I wouldn’t have to sew through the adhesive. (The package says not to sew through it.)

Next I zigzagged the top edge of the vamp linings, then made the button holes to thread the elastic through, and sewed the linings to the vamps.

For the back linings, I cut them taller than needed, and folded and pressed down the top edge to make the elastic casing. I sewed the fold down, then sewed them to the backs.

Then sewed the vamps and backs to the soles. This is always the hardest and most annoying part. At some point the machine always skips — maybe one stitch, maybe a dozen, and maybe backing up fixes it, or maybe I go over the same place ten times and not one stitch catches. I don’t know why that happens or what to do about it, other than to keep trying and eventually something works. Also, at the points where the backs and vamps overlap, I was sewing through three thicknesses of 3-oz leather — I could see my size 16 (my heftiest) needle bending a bit and was afraid it was going to break.

I should mention I hand-crank the machine when sewing on leather — it just seems less likely to break a needle then, and it’s much easier to make smooth curves and maintain the 1/8 seam allowance. Sure does take a toll on my arm and hand, though.

Now I just need to buy some more 1/4-inch elastic, measure Amy’s ankles, and thread and stitch it through, and they’ll be ready to wear.

And meanwhile I’ve got that nice big piece of leather ready for the next pair, and several more. Maybe next time I’ll try embroidering something on the vamps.

One last thought: this leather is rather thick, which is great for the soles, but if I ever find any usable scraps of a thinner leather (i.e. maybe from a purse or clothing from the thrift store), I would like to try that for the uppers.


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