Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fancy Feet

Okay, this is what you've been waiting for!!!! This is a post that started in Paris and took me to a place far beyond my comfort zone. I am not a cobbler and frankly, I had to look at a lot of men's feet to get some ideas for this project. My recent purchases of FR Homme dolls necessitated this project. Like many of you, I rarely buy dolls brand new because of the cost factor. After acquiring Xavier, a nude, second-hand FR Homme doll, I was thrilled!  You can count on me to make clothes for him but then I had a real problem! He had no shoes!!!

The FR Homme dolls have bigger feet than those of Ken which meant there would be no sharing amongst the "men" in the house. I returned to Ebay to shop for shoes. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the prices of those FR Homme shoes. OMG!!! Sticker shock!!! I was quite anxious to put gorgeous Xavier to work, but did not feel like ordering then waiting for shoes from China (less expensive--but still). And, this being winter, I couldn't get away with sandals. After MUCH experimentation, (and a few tears) I've come up with a basic shoe which is fairly simple to make and can be modified to create a number of styles. And yes, you can also use this tutorial to make Ken shoes, as well.

Sock It To Me!
After crudely making the first pair of shoes for the quilted jacket project, I realized there was something missing. My guy needed socks. The FR Homme dolls all wear socks with their shoes! I cut off a small piece of my panty hose measuring 2-3/4 inches long (70mm) (or shorter for ankle length socks) by about 2 inches wide. Drape over the foot and leg, then stretch as you pin around the form.

Near the toe, there will be a wedge which you will trim away. Mark your pins before removing them and create your pattern.

Sew the seam, then turn inside out.

No Biz Like Shoe Biz!
Let's start with the easy part: sandals. All shoes begin with tracing the foot to create the sole. Depending on the type of shoe you want, you should extend the toe. For sandals, I add another 1/8-inch but for an enclosed shoe, I've added a full 1/4 inch because it has to accommodate the doll wearing socks.
The simple sandal is very easy. Take your sole shape, trace onto a piece of non-woven material then cut.
For my orange and black sandals, I took a rectangular scrap of leather, glued each side to the underside of the "upper sole." Then, I mounted this to the (lower) sole cut from a thicker leather scrap and added a heel cut from the same leather.
Variation: I added a heel to the back of the sandal. This is a dome shaped piece of leather. Again attach to the bottom of the upper sole then add the lower sole and heel.
The FR Homme has separated toes which made me anxious to make flip-flops for him. Here, I've used ultra-suede for the upper sole and cut then strips to go over the top of the foot.
 Again, for the sandal, I extend the length of the sole by 1/8 inch. I cut the upper sole out of my material. I created the lower sole and its heel out of a scrap of thick leather. You can also use rubber or create the sole out of oven-bake or air dried clay. Set aside. Place the doll's foot on top of the upper sole and place a pin in the space between the toes. Mark.

 I cut thin (1/16 inch) strips out of my ultra-suede. Using a very large needle (for sewing carpets) I thread one end of this strip through the eye of the needle. Pull to the other side. Remove needle. Thread the other side through the needle an push through the same hole. Pull to the under side to create a loop.
Now thread a longer strip through the loop. Again, thread the end of the strip through the needle then poke through the upper sole on the side of the foot, about 7/8-inch (23mm) down from the toe look. push through the bottom of the sole. Repeat on the other side.
Adjust the flip flops to the foot. Clip the excess and glue in place. Glue on the lower sole with its heel.
Now for a "real" shoe! The one I made for the quilted jacket project was cut from the same fabric. Personally, I was amazed at its outcome. The pattern is quite simple, consisting of the sole and heel, the top (vamp), the upper sole and the side/back panel.

1- Cut shape (out of cardboard) for the upper sole. The toe has been extended by 1/4 inch (7mm). I've also cut a lower sole out of thicker leather or rubber. The lower third part of the sole is traced off to create the heel.
2-The "vamp" or the top of the shoe is a dome shape measuring about 1-3/4 inch (35mm) long by 1/3/8 inch (37mm) wide.
3-The Side/Back piece I've cut in one piece. It measures 5/8 inch (18mm) long by 2-5/8 inch (68mm) wide. Round off the upper edges.

Putting it together is simple. HOWEVER...clip notches into the seam allowance that folds under the upper sole. AND...don't use craft glue. Instead, use a contact glue (rubber cement or neoprene). This is a glue whereby you glue each of the two edges. Allow to dry somewhat, then put the two edges together. Believe me, using the wrong type of glue or omitting the notches will make this project FAIL!
For the shoe that laces together, begin by attaching the top to the sole first. Next, attach the side/back. In this instance, you will NOT glue the side to the front. The sides are left open. I used carpet thread for shoe laces. Thread the big needle with the carpet thread and pull through each side "flap." Tie the thread into a bow. Cut away the excess.
For a "pull-on" or loafer type shoe, the procedure is the same only the side and back are attached and the doll slips into the shoe. You can add tassels, stickers or other detailing to make this shoe more special.
Making it is identical to the first shoe. Note how I've cut my notches into the vamp. Note how I've applied the glue to both sets of edges.
Use a little sandpaper to smooth out the edges of the soles. Also, sometimes the glue can make things messy. So I use a bit of acrylic pant to "clean" things up.

One Last Thing....
After using fabric, I immediately turned to leather without a lot of success. This is because I was using the wrong type of glue and the fact I was not cutting in enough notches. I then moved to vinyl which I found was easier to manipulate. I was quite happy with the result, but decided to attempt leather once more, this time with much success. This is to say, it doesn't matter what you use.
Once you get the knack of making prince charming's foot gear, you might want to create a "last." Traditionally, made in wood, I've made mine out of oven-back clay. This mimics the silhouette of the shoe and you build your creation over it.

The foot is essentially a triangular shape. I took a smooth ball of clay, shaped it into a triangle then tried to match it up with the doll's foot to get the same volume. I also use the sole to ensure it will be long enough for the shoe. When your last looks about right, pop it into the oven to harden. You can always sand it down if it's too big somewhere. I then build my shoe around it. The last was so easy to work with (without having to turn poor Xavier upside down and on his side), I've decided to make a second one for the other foot and use the pair instead of relying on the doll's feet. You can also make several lasts, each one with a different shoe or toe style. For example, instead of this rounded shaped shoe, you can create another with a squared toe, then drape your pattern around it.
Once again, here are the steps for this very basic shoe:
1) Make your sole by tracing off the foot, then adding allowance beyond the toe to accommodate the foot with the sock.
2) Cut out your pattern pieces and be sure to clip lots of notches around the edges that will fold under the sole. Apply a contact glue to those edges as well as those of the underside of the upper sole. Wait 10 minutes.
3) Starting with the back/side piece, fold the edges to the underside of the upper sole. Press.
4) For the loafer/slip-on shoe, put a spot of glue on the topside edges of the back/side piece (red marks). Attach the top to the upper sole. Place a spot of glue on the underside edges of the top piece. Press the front to the side. For the shoe with laces, omit this step.
5) Apply a layer of glue to the underside of the upper sole.
6) Also apply glue to the top of the under sole. Wait 10 minutes. Attached to the top.
7) Apply glue to the heel area of the underside of the lower sole as well as to the heel. Wait a few minutes. Press together.
8) Use a bit of acrylic paint to "clean up" any mess left by the glue.

Here are all the patterns I used, together. (My graph paper is using a 1/4" grid.)

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  1. See, this wasn't so difficult! I'm glad you decided (or were compelled...) to make shoes :) I hope you liked the process and the outcome and we'll soon see female shoes by April as well.
    I don't know if the flat toes in the last photo are on purpose, but when I tried making longer shoes for the first time I didn't like the effect and stuffed the toe with tiny bits of glue-soaked cotton wool. I used the doll's foot (wrapped in cling wrap) to push it further. The shoe was leather and it stretched into a nice rounded fuller shape. Anyway, you did a great job and the new guys look very stylish!

    1. Thank you, Black Kitty, for the kind words and encouragement. Getting to the point where I was happy with the results took awhile! That's why it took me so long to post this project. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, things went quite quickly and effortlessly. No, the flat shoes were not done on purpose. I assumed they turned out that way due to the thinness of the material. I realized when I finished them, however, that I should have made a shoe form first, then built the shoe around it. That's why I included the part about the lasts at the end. And that's how I'll approach this from now on. (My FR guys now number 3.) Still, your idea about how to do the toe is an excellent one. At some point, I'll attack the female shoes, but cannot promise when. At least I've gotten started! :-D Big hugs!!!

  2. Wow, I am impressed with your efforts to make shoes for you FR guys. It is a pain to find shoes that fit them. I am not brave enough to try this, but I also cannot afford the shoes made for the FR guys. You can find some more reasonably priced shoes that will fit in the action figure sources. I especially like shoes from Mini Barbie on eBay. Maybe some day I will follow your instructions and see if I can make them myself!

    1. Thank you, Phyllis. Once you get the knack of it, it really isn't that difficult. The more you make, the better they become. Since posting this project, I've made a couple more pair--including the one I made this morning in less than an hour!!! As soon as I get a moment, I'll post a video tutorial to compliment this post.

  3. Hi April, I can imagine that you had to go through some/a lot of frustration before the shoes looked like you wanted! The results are very impressive, and the idea of the feet in clay is great! Very well done, and thank you for sharing the patterns. Some day, if I'm feeling very courageous, I want to make an attempt to make sandals for my Lorifina dolls :-). Now I'm very curious about the FR guys shoe prices, I'm going to check them out! Hugs xxx

    1. So very true. I was so unhappy, I kept walking away from this project. The first pair (quilted) were sewn together. Of course! But when I went to materials better suited for shoes, that's when the frustration set in. Today, I made the right foot in clay and believe me, the shoe forms make this nearly effortless. I also discovered that by making the FR guys' shoes a tad bit smaller, my Ken dolls can wear their shoes. So now the possibilties are limitless. Now that I've gotten through this, hmmmmm.. perhaps I'll attack the girls' shoes during the holidays! Big hugs!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I prefer the male action figures and just broke one's fit trying to get one of his combat boots off. Now I'm going to use your instructions with the leather I have to make shoes. Can't wait! Again, thank you.

    1. You're more than welcome. I am sooooo glad I stuck with this. The more you make, the easier and better they get. I may never buy another male doll shoe ever again!

  5. Hello from Spain: fabulous creations. Very nice shoes. Keep in touch

  6. You did it April! (I'm catching up with my blog reading, sry) now I have to find the right fabrics and try!
    Thanks a lot for sharing

    1. Yes, Billa, YES!!!!! I did it. Moreover...once I got it right, I discovered they are not all that hard to make. The leather or faux leather works well as it has just the right amount of body. I am planning to make espadrilles for my guys out of canvas for next summer. And I'll next try to do two-toned shoes. In any case I am quite happy!

  7. I need a pattern for Converse-style shoes to fit Ken dolls. Any idea where I could get a pattern like that? I like the patterns you have here, and I may be able to adapt them for what I need. (Thanks for sharing them.) But it would be great if I could find Converse patterns.

    1. I have seen something similar to what you are looking for but can't remember exactly where. Do a Pinterest search for "doll sneakers." That should get you close to what you want.

    2. Not a pattern, but very easy instructions here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0iEwMEVxCs
      You can easily wing the pattern with some paper strips. I don't recommend the felt though, I tried it and it turned out much too hairy for my taste (but otherwise pretty). Maybe suede or some kind of non-fraying fabric.


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