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Summer shoes


These shoes have been worn for about half an hour outside. And already, look at the scuffs at the toes! I think it’s because the sole leather is thick and stiff compared to the top leather — and maybe this top leather just isn’t very sturdy. Or maybe it’s partly because the tops aren’t lined like they usually are — I thought it would be easier not to have to line them, because of the holes. The backs and soles are lined with green yard sale linen leftover from another project.

I love the design — some holes for air, but not as floppy as last year’s attempt at sandals.

Not sure about the pattern. I used my usual pattern to make a first draft, a much floppier sandal, and it seemed too wide. So I revised it to make it narrower. That seems to have worked. But the back pieces seem to hit right around the ankle bones — should be higher or lower, I would think. And they’re a little tight — I’ll adjust the elastic and see if that helps.

I might make another pair — maybe the same, maybe not — with the black leather I used last fall. (Those shoes still fit but barely, and just have tiny holes in the toes.) I might try another pattern a friend has been using.

Latest shoes

A while back I bought a black leather skirt and some brown leather pants at the Salvation Army thrift store, to use for shoes. I finally got around to making a pair, and I am very pleased — this thin garment leather is so soft and easy to work with. I still used my thicker suede for the soles, for a little extra protection.

Photo -- Amy's latest shoes.

Photo -- Black leather with flowers.

At the park, plus some

Amy and I went to the park this morning, despite a chill and a chance of rain.

A guy was there with his three-year-old son, who would have loved it if Amy had been more interested in playing with him. As it was, they did play quite a bit next to each other — swings first, then the little play house, then the climby-slide thingy with the steering wheels. The two were quite nice, and it was nice to have a little company.

The dad reminded me of my friend Tamara’s husband — something similar in their facial features and expressions.

The kid’s name was Gaius — after Caesar. Curious. They call him Guy most of the time, it seems.

Then off we went to grab those leather pants I’d noticed at the Salvation Army and didn’t connect with shoe-making until over the weekend. They’re a lovely dark brown. And picked up a black leather skirt, too, for the same purpose. The leather I’ve been using for Amy’s shoes is rather thick — great for soles, but not so great for turning right side out and having nice smooth seams. Besides, garment leather will look nicer, a little more polished.

Then to Walmart and Kmart, neither of which had any english muffin cutters. The only cookie cutters were seasonal shapes, and the only biscuit cutters were a set of three, and the largest wasn’t big enough.

I saw on some site that tuna cans make good cutters, with both top and bottom removed, but I wonder if you can still find regular cans instead of the pop-top kind.


Photo -- Amy\'s new sandals.

Photo -- Empty close-up.

Photo -- The other one.

Amy had been occasionally wearing some sandals handed down from Tamara’s Chloe, but they were too small in the ankle and across the foot, even though her toes didn’t reach all the way up. So I thought I would try adapting my shoe pattern for sandals.

They are a little too big, but even though that makes them look a little silly they’re still wearable, and should last the summer.

If I did it again, I would make the heel piece connect with the sole all the way around. And maybe skip lining the uppers, since the edges are already fraying.

I tried something new I really like. On previous shoes, I’ve had a hard time making sure the center of the toe and the center of the heel land in the right places — the sides have always been a little uneven. This time I started in the center, went around one side, back to the center and around the other side, and back to center again. Nice and symmetrical that way.

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.