Archive for the ‘Lessons Learned’ Category

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.

The most adorable shoes ever

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Finished UGA Baby Booties

A really good co-worker friend of mine is having a baby … her first baby … and they have chosen not to learn the sex of the baby until it is born – because let’s face it, with modern technology there really are not many pleasant surprises in life anymore.  I wanted to surprise her with a pair of baby booties at her baby shower  (before the baby was born) so I was limited with what I could do not knowing the gender.

Thankfully, they are ridiculously loyal UGA fans, therefore I knew without a doubt that baby would be wearing red and black this football season.  (Real sacrifice too considering we are a Tech family – Go Jackets!)  ;)

Like every other endeavor I seem to take in my shoe-making journey, baby shoes were a first for me.  I went to Target and bought a pair of size 0-3 month  oxfords that I wanted to use as a pattern/measurement guide … then I destroyed them (all in the name of research so it’s justifiable).

Teeny Tiny Baby Shoe Pieces

Look at all of those teeny tiny pieces.  So adorable.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the entire construction of the shoes was sewn.  There were no harsh chemical glues used.  I was really worried about this for babies put EVERYTHING in their mouth, including their feet – no, especially their feet.

As with anything new I try there were several obstacles to overcome and unforeseen hiccups along the way, but regardless, I had so much fun making these.  All I request from the parents is one uber adorable picture of their bundle of joy in all it’s bulldog glory.

Click on the individual photos in the gallery to read more commentary on the entire process.

If the original concept is tricky, the reality will be nearly impossible.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I honestly do not remember when I came up with the idea, but all of a sudden I felt that the best use of my exotic scraps that I received for Christmas were to piece them together and make a multi-colored pair of heels out of them.  What was I thinking!?!?

I knew it would be tricky. . .I just didn’t realize it would be stupid tricky. . . .

This was my original sketch of the design:

Exotic heel sketch

Exotic heel sketch

And this was the madness that ensued after:

Puzzle pieces

Puzzle pieces

I taped the backside of my original sketch and cut out all of the pieces to use as tiny templates. . . .and then I used those pieces to outline the scraps and make sure the color choices I had selected would work (some did not and I had to improvise and move some of the colors around from my original design).

Puzzle pieces and scraps of exotics

Puzzle pieces and scraps of exotics

Stay tuned to see how it all came together. . . or didn’t quite turn out as expected. . . .

1st attempts are just that – 1st attempts!

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

One of the many lessons that apparently has not fully sunk in yet due to my unrealistic optimism when I start a new project followed by my heart crushing sunkeness when there ultimately are issues is that 1st attempts are just that. . . .1st ATTEMPTS!

Some great examples include:

1st attempt at making straps by hand

1st attempt at making straps by hand

Making straps seems simple, right?  WRONG!  Straps are so freakin’ hard to make by hand. The material must be skived ultra thin (but without cutting or damaging the material) and then cemented and folded over to the center seam being careful to keep the material flat and not bunch or fold any of it.  Again, seems simple right?  Except that cement immediately bonds to itself upon contact so the second one side of that material touches another side that also has been cemented, it’s there to stay.

Tape residue stuck to liner leather

Tape residue stuck to liner leather

The blue in this picture is the blue painter’s tape that I used to secure to inner sole to the bottom of the Last.  Typically, you would nail the inner sole to the Last to secure it in place but I had already lasted the cushion and liner leather to the sole and did not want to nail holes in the finished project.  I came up with the brilliant idea of taping the finished inner sole to the last instead of nailing it.  Unfortunately because it took several days to complete the shoes, the tape bonded to the leather.  I had to use a dull blade just to get the shoe off the Last.  Needless to say I will NOT be using that method again in the future.



Buckles are another one of those things that seem pretty straight-forward. . .and they are really. . .you’ve just got to remember to put them on right side up.  I didn’t get a picture of them, but I originally had to cut one of the first buckles for my red croco gladiator sandals off and reattach it because I accidentally put it on whereby the underside was the side being buckled.

I could give many more examples, but I’m sure you get the point.  Lesson learned: 1st attempts are just that. . . .1st attempts!