Posts Tagged ‘Completed shoes’


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.

Blue Suede Shoes (take 2)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
Completed shoes

Completed shoes

After I had completed the first pair of practice shoes for my bf fiance (a lot has happened since I last posted), I was really excited to get started on the real thing.

As mentioned in my previous post, the top cap of the practice pair got smooshed in while sanding and it rubbed the tops of his toes when he wore them.  For this pair, I decided to test out my super strong ‘military grade” toe caps. . .not quite steel toe but close enough. . .on the real thing.

As usual, there were lessons learned in trying something new.  The ‘military grade’ toe caps are soaked in acetone to soften the material and activate the bonding agent therefore they must be nailed in place and left to harden overnight.  (The regular toe cap material is heat activated and hardens quickly as it cools).  I made the unfortunate mistake of keeping the shoes on the lasting jack overnight as it hardened which caused the toe cap to somewhat take the shape of the cushion of the lasting jack.

Another lesson learned from this pair (and practically all others before it) is the importance of making sure your pattern remains centered on the Last when lasting the liner leather to the inner sole.  Otherwise, you will end up with a slightly off-centered shoe.

Top view of completed shoes

Top view of completed shoes

A first for me on this shoe was the “sole stitch” piece around the base of the shoe.  As I do not have a sole stitcher, I did not actually stitch the material to the sole.  It is barged on.  I really like the look of it though.

Inside view

Inside view

I’m so glad my fiance has a pair of my shoes that he can wear out, are comfortable, and that he loves.  I look forward to starting my next pair for him. . .I already have a new design picked out.  :)

Click on the pictures for additional descriptions.

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.

Red croco ballet flats

Monday, September 14th, 2009

As my previous posts have outlined, I have not yet mastered the art of making the ballet flat. . . . .so why not try new materials and add new layers of complexity on to this new pair?

All of my previous pairs have had rough edges. . . .ones where the edges of the materials are just cut and barged/sewn together.  For this pair I wanted to try my hand at a smooth edge.

Red croco ballet flats ready for lasting

Red croco ballet flats ready for lasting

Another first for me on this pair was the toe cap.  I originally had no intention of putting a toe cap on this design, but the red croco leather did not play nice when I lasted the toe.  It looked too stretched and gathered so at the last minute I decided to add the toe cap.

Toe caps on red croco leather ballet flats

Toe caps on red croco leather ballet flats

The right shoe is not as centered as I would have liked for it to be.  It’s so hard to keep the pattern from moving on the Last before you barge the liner firmly in place.

Top view of red croco leather ballet flats

Top view of red croco leather ballet flats

All in all I am pretty pleased with this pair. . . .especially because they fit so I can actually wear them and show them off!

Finished red croco ballet flats (top view)

Finished red croco ballet flats (top view)

Gladiator glory – Red Croco style

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

There’s a story behind pair #6. One day at my day job (I work in Accounting), a co-worker of mine was showing us a pair of Jeffrey Campbell beaded gladiator sandals that Kate Hudson was photographed wearing in her “People Style” magazine. We immediately Googled them and to our dismay learned that they are no longer available for purchase. Although she jokingly said I could make them for her, her comment stayed in the back of my mind all day. I printed out a copy of the shoes that I found online and decided why not, I’ll try it. If nothing else it would be a new style to attempt with lots more lessons learned along the way (can you see a recurring theme here?). Without going into all of the details, I quickly learned that beading is quite complicated.

Therefore, I decided that for my first attempt I would use the super fabulous red croco leather I purchased a while back and make just a standard pair of gladiator sandals using a similar design but without the beading. What I thought was going to be my simplest pair of shoes thus far, once again turns out to have all kinds of new complexities that I had not yet encountered.

I did not want the layers of straps to look bulky so I decided wherever the straps crossed one another I would layer them within each other (ex. the strap underneath would be placed between the top strap’s upper and liner layers, thereby giving the look that they are woven together vs on top of one another). This is not so easy to do. It requires careful measuring and attention to detail. Plus, it’s fine and dandy if you are affixing the layers together permanently but not so easy as pie if you need the straps to be adjustable.

I am happy to report that I have actually worn these shoes to work and received numerous compliments on them and even a request for a custom made pair. They are super comfortable, except for where the layering in the back is a tad too thick and slightly rubs against the back of my ankle. Next time I will do a better job of skiving the straps thinner.

Into the world of heels

Saturday, July 4th, 2009


Pair #5 was my first attempt at heels and at using my new sewing machine. . . .new lesson learned – it’s not smart to try something new on a fixed (tight!) time-frame (I was making them for my father’s wedding in two weeks).And again I learned another valuable materials lesson – satin does not play nice.

Heels are *much* more complicated than what I had previously worked with.Did you know that it’s not just the heel that sets off metal detectors?The heel is typically plastic with a steel rod inserted down the middle for support but the inner sole of heels also have a metal shank to keep their form.The inner soles of heels actually keep their form without the support of the heel. Inner sole heel shank

Therefore, I had to drill through the metal shank to affix the heel to the sole of the shoe.Regardless of the many complications I encountered along the way, they still turned out pretty well for my first pair and thankfully held up during the wedding.


Below are some more pictures that I took of these heels in progress:

Blue suede shoes (take 1)

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Since my bf has been invaluable to me throughout this whole process (my entire workshop resides in his basement as I live in a one bedroom condo in the city, he built me a Lasting jack and my beautiful workbench, he’s wiped away many tears of frustration, offered limitless support and encouragement, helped me assembly my newly acquired industrial tools as they do not come pre-assembled. . .I could go on and on), I wanted to thank him with his very own custom pair of shoes.

We met way back in high school and one of the things that I remember most about him was his blue suede Doc Martens (I always thought they were purple but he later corrected me). I researched them on the web and found these to copy my design pattern from.

Navy blue Doc Martens

As these were not for me, nor were they just a practice lesson, I was more careful in my approach.  The Lasts that I had originally purchased I learned (from my fit test) were a size too big. Thankfully, I found this great website where I could purchase used/antique Lasts. I was able to take his measurements and order two more pair of Lasts in two different styles.  One is called the “Freddie” and the other “Chamonoix”.  I chose the “Freddie” and made another ‘fit test’ model using this Last. Fit test #1 and #2From that ‘fit test’ I discovered I needed to build the Last up on the side to widen it slightly for a more comfortable fit but otherwise the new Lasts fit his foot perfectly.

built up Freddie Size 9 lasts

I did not want to have a repeat of some of my prior frustrations and waste expensive materials, so I chose to make his first pair out of some of the practice material I had purchased. Then if those fit well, I have the intention to recreate them with the cool blue leather and nicer materials I had purchased specifically for him. Before I could finish his inaugural pair of shoes, I decided that I wanted to make the shoes that I was going to wear to my father’s wedding so even though his pair started out as pair #4, they ended up actually being pair #5. I am super proud of these shoes though. No, they are nowhere near perfect but I’m a proud momma regardless. I thought it would be cool if he could say that he helped make them so I let him sand the soles and the heels.

Here’s what the shoes looked like *before* they were sanded.

Oxfords before sandingThe blue stuff that you see inside the soles was yet another lesson learned.  I wanted to try out taping the sole to the Last instead of nailing it (so that I would not have nail holes in the inner sole) and the result was not pretty.  It was so hard trying to get the shoe off the Last.  I had to use some of my tools to reach inside and break the tape – thereby ripping some of the leather in the process.

Below is the finished product. OxfordsThe toe caps got smooshed in while we were sanding the soles so they rub his toes a tiny bit but otherwise he says they are comfortable.  Now I get to start work on the real thing with my nicer materials.  Wish me luck!


Pictures from Shoe School – Sept08

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Everyone has been asking for more pictures of my shoes in progress but unfortunately the first couple of pairs that I made on my own I did not thoroughly document.  I did, however, take several pictures while I was at shoe school so here are some of the ones of my original oxfords in progress:

My starter shoe-making tool setThis was my workstation at shoe school.  All of the tools and notebooks shown were included in my tuition.  After shoe school, they boxed them up and FedExed them home for us.  The black material shown was the start of my “toolbelt” that we were instructed to make for our tools during any downtime we may have.

My oxfords in progressI was so excited to get started that I totally forgot to document the first steps.  This is a picture of my shoes after the liner has been barged to the inner sole and the heel counter barged onto the liner.

Heel counters and whip stitchingThis is a photo of the heel counters and the underside of the outer leather before I barged the two together.

Toe CapThe material at the edge of the shoe where the toes are called toe caps.  They are a type of material that is stretchy when heated and coated in barge.  The heat activates the barge, you stretch it and then form it over the toe area of the last as shown.  Once it cools it hardens and is what maintains the shape of the shoe at the toes.

Me bargingHere is a picture of me barging the liner leather where I will soon heat and shape the toe cap over this area.

Me lasting my first pair of shoes at shoe school.Here’s a picture of me lasting the outer leather of  my first pair of shoes.  The instructor made it look so easy.  It took forever for me to get the hang of it.  There are so many variables that you have to keep in mind at all times including pulling the leather taunt but keeping the material centered on the last, making sure the edges are smooth, etc.

Sanded bottom of shoeThis is what the bottom of the shoe looks like before the sole is attached.  Once you have lasted the outer leather to the bottom of the inner sole, you cut off the excess leather, trace the hole that is left behind, cut out a piece of cork from the trace, barge the cork onto the inner sole and sand the entire bottom smooth.

My shoes right before soles are attachedHere are my shoes after they have been lasted and sanded and right before the soles are attached.


Picture of my shoe on the lasting jack after I had barged the sole on.

taking-my-shoe-off-the-lastThis is me taking my shoe off the lasting jack.  They are almost complete!

me-wearing-my-shoesMe wearing my shoes that *I* made!

My completed shoes.My completed shoes!