Archive for the ‘Womens’ Category

Skulls are for girls too

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I stumbled across these strands of colorful turquoise skulls beads at my local bead shop one day and immediately scooped up all they had.

I could easily design an entire collection around these beads.  I even made myself a necklace with them that I am always getting compliments on when I wear it.

First prototype

These sandals have been through many different designs and failed prototypes.  The first finished prototypes would slide off my feet as I wore them; the second, the wiring holding the beading together broke and skulls went everywhere in a parking lot on the way to a party (good thing I always carry a spare pair of flip flops in my car); the third had strap placement issues; the fourth are finally wearable but still need a little tweaking.


What about you?  Would you wear skulls on your feet?

Not your ordinary everyday espadrilles

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Finished Navy/Silver Espadrilles

I’ve had the material for these navy espadrilles for a long time and have wanted to make a pair of wedges since the day I got it.

My first thought was to build up a wedge with veg-tan, but the weight of the multiple layers was heavier than I had envisioned for this shoe.

Then I tried to build up a wedge with some rubber pieces that were left over from an exercise mat that my husband had purchased.  It was much lighter, but the structure was not firm and/or sturdy enough.

I also thought about using cork but in the end decided to experiment a different way.

The interior of the wedge is a standard plastic high heel with the steel rod reinforcement.  I cemented and screwed the plastic heel to the pre-fab inner sole as I normally would with a regular high heel model.  I then molded a thin piece of veg-tan around the heel to create the wedge shape I desired and cemented that piece around a pre-cut sole piece from cork that I designed.  Finally, I wrapped the wedge with the navy espadrille material.

I was originally just going to use a black rubber sole but felt that the design needed a little something more so I wrapped a piece of veg-tan in the metallic silver and then cemented a thin piece of black Vibram rubber to the bottom.

There are definitely some improvements that need to be made to this design, including the choice of the liner (it rubs a little more than expected) and the placements of the straps for a more comfortable fit.  It was also a little tricky getting the braided espadrille layers to fit perfectly without the veg-tan peeking through anywhere and to line up the braids themselves.  My cushioned inner sole piece ended up being slightly bigger than I anticipated after I wrapped the thick gray liner around it so the finished product is slightly too big for me.  Good thing I have enough material for another pair!


Handmade Colorful Sandals

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Handmade colorful sandals just in time for summer!

Handmade Colorful Sandals

I love flip flops and sandals in general so it is only natural that I have all kinds of ideas for different designs.  Many of my designs feature braids of some description.

The 5-braid strap on the yellow and black sandals was fun to construct and the wider strap provides additional comfort. The toe piece is also a narrow traditional 3-braid.

The natural-looking sandals are a leather that was stamped with a basket weave pattern. Initially, I was worried that the pattern would feel uncomfortable on a person’s foot but it’s actually quite nice. There are no sharp indentations on the leather so even though you can feel the basket weave pattern, it is very smooth.  The stamped pattern did provide difficulties when sewing the upper sandal vamp piece as the material was not smooth on the underside.  This caused the material to have a tendency to bunch up and curl when I would attempt to sew the varying groove thicknesses in a straight line.  I am still working on ideas to correct this going forward without adding unnecessary thickness to the piece.

The blue and brown braided flip flops are the same pattern from my previous post about the first flip flops that I made seen here (and still wear ALL the time) but with slight variations to the pattern and the placement of the straps.

These are just a few of my simpler designs.  I am working on many more that include beading, jewels, and/or other fun accessories that add just the right amount of flair.

Yellow platforms

Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Yellow platforms

Yellow platforms

This was my first attempt at building up my high heel last to incorporate a new toe shape and adding a platform for a higher heel.  My original intent was to have these shoes completed for New Year’s Eve.  That unfortunately did not happen.

Lessons Learned:

I skived the upper too thin, which is what I think caused the wrinkling in the lasting that I could not correct.  I must have re-lasted these shoes half a dozen times trying to solve the wrinkling problem.

The original design of the eyelets with the snakeskin showing through was supposed to be centered on the top of the vamp.  I did not calculate enough stretch into my design so when I lasted the upper, the design stretched more than I anticipated.  This also happened on the heel.  Next time I will use fiberglass tape to ensure the design does not stretch.

I currently only have one high heel last, which is a pointy toe shape. I wanted more of a round toe for these shoes, so I built up the last with veg-tan around the toe area.  I did not anticipate that with a more rounded toe, my foot would slide more forward therefore causing the shoe to be a half size too big.

I used my sewing machine for these uppers and just need to spend more time practicing on it.

When making dorsays, I need to figure out what method I want to use for blending the vamp and heel to the inner sole so that there is not a dip or a gap when I attach the finished sole.

I really struggle with the finishing touches, especially attaching the sole.  I have tried to pre-cut and finish the sole before cementing to the shoe and I have tried forming the sole to the shoe and cutting it down, then finishing the edges.  It’s just something that I know I need to work on.

*No, the mouse is not real.  :)

My very own Cinderella shoes

Saturday, November 20th, 2010
My magical wedding shoes

My magical wedding shoes

No, they are not glass slippers but they certainly are magical.  :)

The story begins in a Llorraine Neithardt’s ShoeFineArt high heel workshop in NYC in mid-August.  My original vision for these shoes was more of an extension of my custom-made wedding dress.  The vamp was to be a key-hole design that mimicked the beadwork on my gown (which was inspired by the filigree on my engagement ring) and the heel counter was to be a bustled design that matched the skirt of my gown.  The class met first at Leather, Suede and Skins to pick out our outer and liner leathers.  At Shindo, a Japanese ribbon shop, I was drawn to a pleated white satin ribbon that was partially over-layed with a sheer champagne fabric.  At that point, I had no idea what I was going to do with it but I knew it belonged on these shoes in some fashion.  Then, at MJ Trimming, Lorraine helped me find the perfect pre-beaded trim for the vamp.  Back at the workshop, I changed my original vamp design to incorporate the beaded trim and we finished most of the original construction of the shoe.

Back home, I immediately started working on the trim-work design.  I still had visions of bustling the heel counter with the extra dress fabric that I had received from my dressmaker, but kept feeling drawn to figuring out how to incorporate more of the ribbon into my design.  I had also originally intended to only have the beadwork on the vamp and then decided to wrap the heel as well.  The heel that I had chosen was slightly too high for my last, so I made a 1/4 inch platform out of veg-tan, wrapped it with the mesh fabric from the beaded trim, and hand-beaded it.

The beadwork was finally completed but I was still struggling with my final decision on what to do for the d’orsay heels.  I wanted to layer the pleated ribbon but only had 1 yard of it and I also knew it was the last of the spool so I couldn’t order more.  I also did not want the bottom white layer to show as I felt it was too much of a stark contrast to the rest of the gold and champagne hues.  After working through several different designs, I decided to stretch the second and third layers over the first in order to diminish the bulkiness.

The end result far exceeded my expectations.  Part of me wants to preserve these shoes in a glass case . . . but another part wants to dance the soles off . . .

*Click on the pictures in the gallery to see additional commentary and double click to view a larger image.

Ocean blue leather flip flops

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Ocean blue leather flip flops

I love flip flops!  I probably have more than a dozen pair in my closet right now.  If I’m not in heels, I’m either in flip flops or barefoot.  So it’s no surprise that as soon as I started dreaming of warm weather, I started the design concept for a custom pair of flip flops for myself.

I used the soles of my Havaianas for the sole pattern and toe thong placement as they fit my feet best.  I really like the look of a sole stitch on sandals, so since I do not have a post sewing machine as of yet I had to pound the holes and hand stitch these.  I also wanted to test out using a rough edge instead of lasting the leather to an inner sole.  I really like the look of the rough edge with this material.

Flip flop soles

The toe thong piece was trickier than I anticipated (imagine that).  For extra durability and longevity, I wanted the upper to be one solid piece instead of separate pieces sewn together.  I went through several different designs but this one worked and looked best.

One piece toe thong

I was a slacker this time and did not take any pictures of these sandals in progress, but as always you can click on the gallery photos for additional commentary.


Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Modeling the sandals in the kitchen1

I technically started these shoes around the time that I finished the *beading* for the gladiator sandals that I posted about here.  At the time, my future sister-in-law was talking about creating an Etsy shop for her pottery and using EZM as her signature (funny story, but you’ll have to ask her about it), hence the ‘EZM’ detail on the beading.  Unfortunately, I didn’t want to spill the beans on the shoes before they were completed because let’s face it, there’s no telling how long it was going to take me to finish any pair at this stage in the game, and I was slack about being sneaky and stealing a pair of her shoes one night during family dinner night at her place to use for measurement.  It all worked out in the end though for I completed the pair of flats for her sister and posted them to my blog here and she saw my post and called me out on not making her a pair, therefore it was all out in the open and I could *ask* for a pair of shoes to use as a measurement guide for these.

I knew that I wanted to make wedges for her, but I went through several different patterns for the straps before I settled on the final design.  Then at the last minute, I decided to incorporate the varying layers into the wedge and to make more of a chunky wedge heel than a full-fledged wedge shoe.

Close-up of chunky wedge heel

In doing so, I made the wedge slightly smaller than it should have been.  One of these days I will learn to stop trying to add more and more complexity to every pair of shoes I make.

I presented them to her as an “Unbirthday” gift at family dinner night this past week.  We had a shoe modeling photo shoot in the kitchen afterwards. Modeling the sandals in the kitchen4

Modeling the sandals in the kitchen3

I like the strap design of these so much that I have decided to make myself a pair. . . .but obviously with a different beadwork design.  :)

As usual,  see below for more pictures in progress and click on each one for additional commentary.

Exotic Kaleidoscope Heels

Saturday, April 17th, 2010
Exotic Kaleidoscope Heels

Exotic Kaleidoscope Heels

Not sure that I can top the raising of the bar of these heels. . .not sure that I ever want to even try.

To say this design was a lofty and ambitious undertaking is the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR!

. . . but so totally WORTH IT!

Santa stuffed my stocking last Christmas with two bags of exotic scraps.  The second I saw the brilliant pink/yellow/blue/etc. dyed exotic skins in those packages I knew that I wanted to make a pair of kaleidoscope heels (to match my kaleidoscope eyes – thanks RC).

The pattern alone was tricky to sketch.  Then I got the brilliant idea that I wanted the left and the right to be mirror images of one another so instead of cutting out two pieces of the same pattern on the same side, I had to remember to flip the pattern over for the opposite side.  I literally made my very own shoe pattern puzzle.

Shoe pattern puzzle

Shoe pattern puzzle

I did this for both the vamp (picture shown above) and the heel of the shoe.  From there I had to trace and cut out the patterns for each of the pieces from my selection of exotic scraps.  I ended up having to modify some of the placement of the pieces, as a few of my scraps were not large enough to accomodate the puzzle pieces that I had selected.

Once all of the pieces were cut, I barged each piece onto liner leather and hand-stitched each piece together and onto the liner leather.  Needless to say all that took me a while to complete.

Left vamp barged and prior to sewing

Left vamp barged and prior to sewing

I realize that these shoes are a bit out there for most but I think they’re pretty freakin’ cool.  I’ve never seen anything like them before and cannot wait to wear them to see the reactions that I get from strangers.  The complexity of the design and the act of piecing all of the different puzzle pieces together has given me many more ideas for designs yet to come.

*Click on the pictures for additional postings.

Purple People Eaters

Monday, January 25th, 2010
Purple People Eaters

Purple People Eaters

This design I created with my future sister-in-law in mind.  I wanted to do something cool and edgy for her.  I had originally intended on making her some sandals, but as she’s from the Great White North, I figured she’d get more wear out of a pair of shoes that actually covered her toes.

I purchased this fabulous purple suede leather a while back and knew that I wanted to use that for the liner.  I spent crazy amounts of time lining up the eyelets on the leather trying to decide what pattern I wanted to use.

Pattern design of eyelets

Pattern design of eyelets

This pair was the first time I made an attempt at sewing a smooth edge to the top line.  On the first one I had a little trouble piecing the two ends together but I figured it out for the other side.

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect

It was also the first time I used a different pattern for the liner than I did for the upper.  I did not want the heel portion of the liner to have the stitching down the back.

Inside view

Inside view

The sides are a little looser than I would have liked.  I was afraid to pull too tightly while lasting for fear of this resulting in the top line of the shoes too low on the foot for comfort.

Wide sides

Wide sides

These Purple People Eaters are the first pair of shoes that I have completed for someone other than myself or my fiance.  I’m excited to receive feedback from the recipient (both good and constructive).  I just hope she enjoys them half as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Beaded Gladiator Glory

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Beaded Gladiator Glory

Beaded Gladiator Glory

I REALLY need a skiving machine.  No seriously, the beadwork should have been the most time-consuming portion of making these sandals (thanks again Deb for all of your help with the beading).  Instead, I labored for several weekends hand skiving the straps. . . .only to accidentally slice the leather and have to start all over again with another piece of material.  Afterwards, I realized that the tops straps were STILL too thick to use the buckles that I had selected so a good majority of my previous work was all in vain.  <sigh>

Below were the remnants from just one strap. . . .ONE tiny strap!

Leather remnants from skiving straps

Leather remnants from skiving straps

My initial attempt at making straps: not so good.

In the end, I decided that rough edges were the only way to maintain my sanity.  I used a really thin liner leather as the inside lining so that the straps would not end up being too thick.  They are still almost too thick for the buckles but thankfully work.

These sandals are so comfortable (not to mention super cute).  I have worn them several times without any rubbing.  All my hard work has really paid off.  I LOVE these beaded gladiator sandals!!!

Click on the pictures in the gallery for additional descriptions.