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04-01-2016, 04:09 PM #1
adventures in making and modifying shoes
So the craft adventure for this year is shoes. I am going to be trying making my own shoes. I will also dabble in modifying and/or embellishing shoes.
There will be sewing, and maybe painting, gluing and other stuff. This project cuts across many different types of crafting. I may do a bit of embroidery or add a pinch of lace crochet.
I may venture into slippers as well, since there is some overlap.
Why would I make shoes when cheap shoes can be easily had at Payless or Walmart? Well, it is because I am weird. Okay, it is mostly because I have odd shaped feet and it is really, really hard for me to find a pair of women’s dress shoes that fit. The last few times I went into a shoe store, I was not able to find a single pair of women’s dress shoes that fit my feet.
My hope is to create something that is both comfortable and fashionable looking. Or maybe I will make something that is comfortable and quirky looking. There is a bit of a blurry line between fashionable and quirky.
So come along with me and make some shoes. Or just poke your head in and look at the crazy lady.
The adventure starts next week.
This weekend is my first stab at pattern making. I have a pattern I bought. I just need to modify that into a pattern that actually fits my feet.KathyB
04-03-2016, 05:17 PM #2
I just traced my feet. When I compact them to the commercial pattern, it is pretty obvious why I need to craft my own pattern. My feet are wide, but only in front. And they are short.
Even comparing it to the soles of tennis shoes that fit, I can tell my shoes are not an ideal fit. And those shoes are a wide.
It is no wonder I slip my shoes off whenever I can.
04-03-2016, 09:01 PM #3
You are brave, lol I do not have an crafting bones in my body. I have weird feet too, wide, and wear a ten. However, some of them don't fit and I have feet issues. I am excited to follow your thread thru this adventurous idea.
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04-04-2016, 01:43 PM #4
~Cool! I've made slippers before but not shoes yet. Someday. I've already done a lot of research on this topic and the following three types seem the easiest and most practical to me.
Traditional moccasins/mukluks would work well for cool weather. I find them to be very comfortable and they are moderately easy to make. Without fur, beads, and fringe, they look like a pretty normal shoe. This is interesting: Of Dreams and Seams: Making Moccasins! With full How-To...
For warm weather, how about espadrilles? There are many more resources out there but this one had so many pictures: How to Make DIY Espadrilles with Dritz | Sew4Home
You can also make huarache sandals: DIY Huarache Sandals ~
04-05-2016, 04:57 PM #5
I have some pictures. Two of the these show why I am making my own shoes. I traced my foot and cut it out the shape. I compared it to the pattern I got when I bought the shoe making pattern. The shape with less detail is the one that came with the pattern. As you can see, they are nothing alike. I have also compared it to a tennis shoe that fits reasonably well. For me, fitting reasonably well means that it does not hurt to wear it. You can tell that I am shoving my foot into a shoe that does not quite fit. This tennis shoe is a wide, but still not quite wide enough for me. Also longer than it needs to be.
After tracing one foot I traced the other foot. With commercial shoes, the left and right are mirror images of each other. So if I flipped on side, it should be the same as the other. It is not. My feet are different shaped. I decided it would be easier if the shoes I make were mirror images of each other. So I traced a shape that would fit both feet. I also added a little bit to round the toe area. Then I remembered that when you sew clothing you need to add a little to your actual measurements. For example, if waist of the skirt you make is the same as your actually waist measurement, it will be to tight to wear. So I added about a quarter inch all around the pattern.
I made a pattern out of craft felt. I tried it on and it fits pretty good. It fits better than any shoe I have ever worn. The stiches are very loose because this is only a mock up to see if the pattern fits. This is the shape the shoe will be. The actual shoes will be fabric with a craft felt in the middle for stiffness.
I have not yet decided what to do for a sole. I found a role of fake leather at home. The fake leather is slick, like vinyl, so it would not be good for a sole. (I might work for the top of a shoe though.) I think I may have some bits of leather laying around somewhere. My husband was briefly into leatherworking, but lost interest. I am looking for a flexible, minimal sole. I read an interesting post about someone who coated the bottom of ballerina slippers with something called plastic dip (or maybe plastidip). This was someone from someone in the minimal footwear movement. This would be a thin sole, not like you have with commercial shoes.
04-05-2016, 05:21 PM #6
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This is way to cool!
I look forward to reading and seeing pictures of your progress..
I crocheted a pair of slippers 24 yrs ago..
I felt good about my accomplishment as that was the first thing I had ever made.
04-06-2016, 02:13 PM #7
I am thinking of minimal soles for inside, but I have mixed feelings about minimal soles outside. I am really drawn to the idea of minimal soles, but many of the streets where I work have a cobblestone type surface. I think that would be uncomfortable with a minimal sole.
It was interesting to see I can get enough vibram sole material for make a pair of shoes for about $18. this is both cheap and expensive. On the one hand, I have bought Payless shoes for less than $18. On the other hand, vibram shoes retail for around $80 to $120, so $18 for the soles seems like a deal.
The pattern I have uses two pattern pieces, the sole and the top. That is a big advantage for ease and simplicity. On the other hand, because the top is this big curved piece, it takes up about and 8 by 11 square of fabric - per shoe. This is just for one layer. Generally you would use a second piece to line them. The moccasins and espadrilles seem to take one long, kind of thin piece plus a small curved shape for the front. This opens up more possibilities for fabric. For example, I have some thick lace trim I could use. I am also thinking about the possibility of using recycled fabric. I would probably be more likely to be able to get material that would work for the espadrilles or moccasins. They may also be better for patterns that have a definite facing. For example, stripes would be facing the same direction instead of curving around.
Right now I am working with using fabric I have on hand. However, I am tempted by the fabric strip packs. These are strips than are 2 1/2 inches wide and 44 long. I think that would be wide enough for the moccasins and espadrilles. And I can get variety packs of them for less that $1 a strip. Buy Jelly Roll Fabric Strips Online | Keepsake QuiltingKathyB
04-08-2016, 11:56 AM #8
I can't wait to see the end result!!
04-11-2016, 03:51 PM #9
I have started on my first pair. The plan is to do one a month. This pair will be white. I plan to also do a green and a blue. I will do about 4 or 5 pairs. After that I will try my other big craft "goal" making jointed teddy bears. It occurs to me that the bears might have been easier to start with. After all, bears do not need to fit.
I thought about the three main types of soles to make. One is using some kind of spray or paint on rubber coating. I have decided to not do this type because most of the products used for this seem to have bad fumes. I am really sensitive to fumes, even in "safe" craft products and household cleaners. This leaves the other two choices: leather or rubber sheets specifically made for shoe soles. Both seem promising, but I already have the leather on hand so I am going with the leather. This is not the hard leather used on the bottom of dress shoes. I am going with a lightweight leather, more like what would be used for clothing. My husband tells me the scrap piece of leather I have picked out is goatskin.
Currently I am working on the sole, which is leather on the bottom, cloth on the top, and felt in the middle. It is thin enough to sew by hand. It does take a bit more effort than putting a needle through cloth. I am going to try using a new needle on the off chance the point will be a little bit sharper.
I have enough fabric, leather and felt to make at least six pairs. If I try the espadrille or moccasin pattern, I have more options of fabric I can use. Most of my fabric is scrappy bits, so a good portion of it is not big enough to use for the regular shoe pattern.
I have not gotten down my spring/summer wardrobe yet because it is been a cool spring so far. When I look at what I have, it will influence what fabric I use for the shoes.KathyB
04-12-2016, 01:35 PM #10
Long post warning. I am feeling very "writey" today.
More shoe thoughts
Another possibility is to use the soles off of an already existing pair of shoes. It would have to be a pretty cheap pair of shoes to make this a viable option. It would also need to be relatively easy to cut the soles of the shoes. The soles would need to be close to my size or something I could easily trim to size. I notice that with commercial shoes, the sides are often a little wider than the sole of the shoe. So it seems possible that I could use a sole from a pair of shoes that was too tight.
Another thing to keep in mind would be whether I would need to glue the soles on or whether they could be sewn. I prefer sewn because it is possible to modify something that is sewn.
Before this current attempt, I tried something with a pair of dollar store flip flops. These met the first three requirements. However, the shoes made an annoying sound when I walked over my kitchen floor. It would have made this noise before I modified it, but I did not think to check. Since I would be wearing these at work, it would be a problem. The halls are tile, so it would probably make the same annoying sound.
One possibility is a pair of croc style shoes. The actual crocs tend to be about $20 to $30, which is too much for me to buy to cut up. However, I have seen similar shoes on line from cheaper brands that were pretty cheap. Some people even say they found some at the dollar store. This weekend I will need to pick up a prescription. There is a dollar store and a Payless Shoes near the store, so I will check them out.
This is also one style of shoes I would consider getting from a thrift store. I do not usually get shoes from thrift stores because they cannot be washed. However, crocs style shoes could be put in a container of soapy water with a little disinfectant. I would not make a special trip to the thrift store to look for them, but if I was going to a thrift store anyway, I could check for them.
I have seen people on line use crocs to for soles of crochet slippers and boots. They punch holes in the base with an awl first. So I know it is possible to cut them up and sew things to them.
Another possibility is the cheap Chinese shoes. These are the traditional shoes that you see people wear in the martial arts films.
They are most commonly found in a plain black canvas, but you can get some in different colors. You can also get them in a velveteen/suede kind of texture. There are also fancy ones available in brocade fabric or with embroidery.
Actually, I might just get a few of them to wear as my work shoes. I think they would be good as is. They would also be a good shoe to modify without cutting up. The shoes could be painted with fabric paint. My understanding is that people have also used paint and markers not specifically designed for fabric on fabric shoes before. Since the top is fabric, it would also be easy to sew things to them. I may give embroidery a shot as well. This is something that has interested me, but I do not have the time to embroidery a large piece. However, a small little thing on shoes might be more doable.
I have worn this style of shoes before. I find them pretty comfortable.
Hmm…this might move from a shoe making thing to a shoe modifying/decorating thing.
This is meant as a challenge for me and an exercise in creativity. However, my main motivation is very practical. It is driven by my frustration going into shoes stores and not finding anything that fits that I like. Specifically, I have been looking for a replacement for my worn out white dress shoes for over a year.
I have also come to realize that many of the shoes I have that “fit” are not an ideal fit. I am smooshing my foot a tiny bit each time I put them on.
I am thinking of strapping the soles from a pair of dollar store thongs on my stepper machine. The foot pedals have this bumpy texture for traction. It makes the stepper too uncomfortable to use without shoes. With the soles from the flip flops strapped on, I may be able to use the machine barefoot or in socks.KathyB
04-14-2016, 01:16 PM #11
This morning I taped the bottom of some flip flops to my stepper. Now I can use it barefoot or in socks. More wiggle time for my toes.KathyB
04-15-2016, 03:47 PM #12
I was thinking of dropping my Payless on my way home from picking up a prescription.
But I stubbed my toe early today and it is a little red and puffy. When I have my shoes off, I do not even notice it anymore. But when I put on my shoes, it is still painful. On the other hand, I could try some open toes slip on sandals. I do not usually do open toe shoes though. Last time I tried a pair I felt like it did just not look right. Like my toes were not pretty enough to be showing. It is not like I have really ugly toes. Just not pretty toes like the ladies in the shoe commercials.
It any rate I have other shoe plans for the weekend:
Finish the pair of shoes I started last weekend.
Dig out the old Chinese shoes from my closet and double check what size they are and how they fit.
Order one or more pays of Chinese shoes on-line.
Order a pair of rubber shoes (like crocs, but cheaper).KathyB
04-19-2016, 04:07 PM #13
The pair of shoes I was sewing did not go smoothly. Previously I had sewed a single layer of the light leather to fabric. It took a bit more effort than sewing cloth together. It was slow going but doable. This weekend I go to a part where I had to tuck in the edges of the leather and sew. This meant I was sewing two layers of leather together. It really took a lot of effort for each stich. It was technically doable, but hard work and very un-fun. It was also very slow going. I also would pause between every few stiches and think: do I really want to do that. I persisted and got though the sole for one shoe.
But later in the day my fingers were in pain from this tough sewing. I decided not to finish the pair.
I ordered three pairs of shoes through Amazon. Less than $30 for all of them together. I have one pair of white croc style shoes. I plan to cut off the top and use the sole as a base to make a new shoe. This is kind of straddling the line between making shoes and modifying shoes. I have two pair of Chinese style shoes on order: a white and a green. I have ordered from two different companies to see if I notice a difference. The green pair I will probably use as is. The white I am undecided, but I will probably modify. If I like the shoes okay, I may order more white pairs. White would be the easiest to add paint, embroidery, etc. And I would not have to worry about the color showing through if I added fabric on top.
I went through and tossed some old shoes than did not feel comfortable or were worn out on the bottom. I found a surprise keeper. It was a pair of shoes with a non-adjustable strap that were a little tight. I cut the strap off and they felt like they fit good.
I was surprised to see the shoes are all scheduled to get here in a couple days. I thought the Chinese shoes might be shipping from China, but I guess they are shipping from the US.KathyB
04-19-2016, 04:44 PM #14
KathyB - interesting thread............i look forward to seeing your shoe collection as you get them done. hope your toe feel better soon
04-29-2016, 12:49 PM #15
This weekend I will give shoes another try. I think shoe making will be mostly an every other week thing for me. I work 9 hour days in exchange for having every other Monday off. A good chunk of the weekend is household chores, food prep for the week and socializing. I have about half a day to 3/4 of a day of unscheduled time on a typical weekend. But I do not have any scheduled activities or chores on my off Monday, so I have more time for crafting.
I got three pairs of shoes I ordered in. There is a green pair I will probably use as is. I have a white pair of Chinese style shoes I will probably do some decoration on. The current plan is to add bits of lace to them. A couple years ago, I ordered a bunch of lace remnants off of EBay. Most of them are white or off white. I have not made a serious dent in them. I have a pair of white croc style shoes I will be using for the soles. At first I thought that I might make these it a pair of white shoes. However, I am thinking of making them into orange shoes. I have several pair of orange skirts I wear in the summer. And orange shoes are kind of hard to find.
I hope to get these both done this weekend. However, since I have not really done this before, it is hard to guess how long it will take.KathyB
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