Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fancy Footwear: Spats

 For those of us living in temperate zones, the colder weather means one thing.....our girls need boots for their outfits. There are very few boots that fit my Barbies. And those created by independent designers, though gorgeous, tend to be pricey. I still have not mastered the art of making shoes for the 12-inch doll in spite of the wonderful tutorials provided byTarja's blog, fashiondollshoes. However, I have been able to come up with a quick and easily version of an ages old fashion accessory known as "Spats."
(Left) Stretch vinyl spats over platform mules; (Center) Embroidered plaid spats over black pumps; (Right) Shiny vinyl spats with straps & buckles over platform sandals.

Popular at the turn of the last century, spats were also all the rage in the 1940's. Short for "spatdashes," this classic foot accessory was designed to be worn over a shoe that can be made in an infinite variety of styles and materials. Instantly any pair of shoes or booties can be transformed into something that resembles matching boots! You can make them using a stretch material with a single back seam, however, the two-seam version will be more useful in that it can be cut from nearly any fabric.

Take the flocked plaid jacket featured in last week's post on fitted jackets (the photo at the top of this post). Using the same fabric, my doll now has a very haute couture ensemble. My Jean-Paul Gaultier inspired fringed dress (pictured below) now has matching stretch vinyl footwear. And the 1960's shiny vinyl mini-suit now (above) has matching boots thanks to the platform shoes the doll arrived in and the strappy, blue vinyl spats she wears over them.

Knee high boots are the best way to compliment Fall/Winter's best looks like this Gaultier inspired fringe dress.
The possibilities are limitless. You could do denim or canvas boots with miniscule studs. Add fringe, feathers, tassels or fur. Embroidered brocade or black lace with sequins or beads for glamorous evening. Here, I've made them knee length to correspond to this season's hottest trends. But feel free to play with the proportions, the materials, the trims and the detailing.

Okay, let's get started. The doll should be wearing shoes when you drape the patter. For the woven spat, cut a small rectangle of muslin or cheap cotton and draw a vertical line, placed against the center of the leg. As usual, you are only going to drape half a pattern. Lay the fabric against the side of the leg. tape the fabric to the front center of the leg (some dolls will have a center line running down their leg). You want the fabric to drape over the top of the shoe. Clip the material at the curved area of the leg (especially around the ankles).

Drape center front to center, clipping the curves as you work. Mark. Transfer to paper. Add seam allowance.
When you have finished draping the half-muslin. Mark the front and back center (respect the curve of the calf and the ankle) as well as the area that will fall onto the shoe.

Make your pattern. Smooth out the lines on the muslin. Transfer to paper and add seam allowance to create your pattern. Be sure to add a little bit of ease when drawing in the seams to accommodate the thickness of the seams and to ensure the doll will be able to get her foot and leg through the spat. 

Make a full muslin to check the fit first before cutting out the pattern in good fabric. Each spat requires 2 pattern pieces. (You will cut 4 in all.)

Here's the spat in all three views. Note how the bottom curves over the front of the shoe.

When you are ready, cut out your spat in fabric. Stitch down the center front seam. Clip the curve and press. Fold over and glue the top and foot edges (making sure to clip the curve of the foot edge), then sew or glue in place. Now stitch up the back seam and turn inside out.

After I finished, I added a bit of beading to add a real luxury "couture" finished to my spats.
You can also use stretch knits. Use a cheap knit (from an old T-shirt, for example) to drape the pattern. Stretch over the leg, draw in at the back of the leg. Pin and mark. Because you are using stretch, the fit can be more snug. You will have only 1 seam (at the back). This was the pattern used for the spats accessorizing the black, stretch vinyl dress inspired by Jean-Paul Gaultier shown above.

Drape the full spat with a single square of stretch knit. Pin, Mark. Make your pattern.

Left: 1-seam spat using knit. Right: The woven fabric spat.

Legwarmers are also a good choice for sporty looks. These are simple, form-fitting tubes of stretch knits. Because you must consider the hems, I prefer to use socks, cutting them so that there is no hemming necessary at the top edge.
A tube made from an old sock+a bit of faux fur equals a legwarmer with moon boot!!!

Pictured here, I've added a tuft of shaggy faux fur to give the illusion of....moon boots!!!! Perfect for the slopes!

Have fun!!!!

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