Friday, January 27, 2017

Fancy Feet: Couture Footwear

With the Paris Couture Week having just wrapped up, I thought this would be the perfect time to make some fancy footwear for the girls. Underneath those fancy gowns, made-to-order power suits and luxurious fur coats exists some very fancy footwear in the world of Haute Couture. Not your ordinary off-the rack-stilettos, women fortunate enough to afford such expensive garb, will indulge in this most special footwear every bit as precious as Haute Couture itself.

Since my posts on Spats and Stocking Shoes, friends and followers have encouraged me to take that last step and  make "real" doll shoes. What has stopped me has been the difficulty in making suitable and symmetrical high heeled soles. I have even been all over the internet trying to find a source that sells those delicious FR soles to no avail. Recently, however, I received a tip suggesting I might try building shoes on top of existing soles....those cut from bottom of Barbie shoes! What a great idea! Full disclosure!  My shoes are not bad, but I still have a ways to go before they're as good as those created by the author of Fashion Doll Shoes! Nonetheless, I have approached this project in two stages: customization of the original structure and my own designed shoe with Barbie soles.

Get Inspired!

Forget about making ordinary pumps. If you're going to make your own doll shoes, they should be something special. But you'll need ideas and for that, Pinterest is a great source!

Getting to First Base

I have lots of different dolls with a wide variety of feet sizes. So when I went shopping for inexpensive generic shoes, I chose high heeled sandals that accommodate a variety of different foot shapes as shown in the above photos. (You can find these easily on eBay.) By clipping the ankle strap in the back of this shoe, most of my dolls can slip their feet inside. I was also able to cut away the ankle strap to create mules. Since this is a Barbie product, quite naturally, most Barbies fit this shoe perfectly. But I discovered, many of Integrity Toy's Fashion Royalty dolls also fit this shoe, although their feet are a bit long. This is okay because you can create uppers that disguise this. Still, whether you use this shoe, or something else, be sure to select a shoe with straps, so that you can cleanly clip them away.

Make It Your Own
I love what looks like chiffon covered shoes that tie around the ankles. For this shoe, I cut off the ankle straps to create mules. I took a long strip of sheer fabric about 1/2" (1cm) and folded it in half. With this, strip I simply threaded it through the shoe straps, wrapped it around the doll's ankles twice and tied it into a soft bow.
 You could use ribbon for a more simple look. It's simple, cheap and super easy.
Here, I selected a slightly different shoe. The ribbon is looped around the center strap, then again, wound around the leg, gladiator style.

I also love the shoe covered in flowers.
The concept behind this shoe is to make lots of tiny bows that give the illusion of tiny flowers.
I used the same organza used for my Christmas Centerpiece dress. Cut lots of small strips. Then one by one, tie them onto the straps of the shoe. As you add more ties, push them together to the side of the shoe. You can cut away the excess depending on the look your going for. Then press them down

Ok, it's time to make a real pair of footwear! To be perfectly honest, if you have made a pair of Spats (one of my most popular pins on Pinterest) you're practically there! The construction of shoe or boot uppers is the same, except that we will need to add more allowance under the top of the foot and we will need to make innersoles.

Sole Food

There are lots of doll shoe tutorials on the internet. What makes this one slightly different is that we are starting with a predesigned sole as opposed to designing something totally from scratch. So instead of conforming to the doll's foot, the insole must be traced off the shoe sole. Note: If you use only the dimension of the doll's foot without taking the shoe into consideration, there will be a gap between the finished shoe upper and the top of the sole. I've already made this mistake!)
Trace on a small piece of thin cardboard or thick paper. Fold this form where the foot bends at the toe bed and then at the top of the heel.

Normally, you would need to make a second set of insoles, however....I had problems with the plastic material used in the doll shoe soles which seems to resist rubber cement. Instead, I covered the soles with paper tape which resolved the problem.

The pattern for the footwear--a boot in this case--starts exactly in the same manner as that for the spats. If you are using a material that stretches--like knits, jersey or even leather--you can make your upper in one piece by stretching over the leg and forming a single seam down the back. Drape the fabric over the leg and pin. Mark the back seam and around the foot. Transfer to paper. Adjust so that both sides are symmetrical, then add seam allowance.

But if you are using a non-stretch material and you want a narrow boot that conforms to the curve of the leg, your boot will need seams in both the front and back.
My leopard patterned boots were cut from a vinyl square found at a local crafts store. It has a seam down the front and back. However since there is no zipper in the back, be sure to leave a tiny bit of extra space around the ankles so the doll's foot can get in and out. The pattern uses the latter pattern technique featured just above.

1. Originally I machine stitched the boot upper. However I couldn't turn it inside out. So, I stitched the boot just around the ankles for stability. I turn the boots right side out.
2. Then glued the rest of the back seam together using rubber cement.
3. Put a small piece of tape on the bottom of the foot to hold the inseam in place. Put the boot upper on the doll. Cut notches in the seams around the foot.
Apply rubber cement on the insole and then around the inside seam of the boot around the foot. Keep the two glued pieces separate until each one has dried and it slightly tacky.
4. Then fold the notched edge over the insole. Remove this from the doll. Apply rubber cement on the top of the sole. Apply rubber cement on the bottom of the upper.
5. When both are nearly dry, very carefully match the upper with the sole and press in place firmly. I painted the soles and heels brown.
This is the a very basic boot which can be embellished to create limitless looks.
This is an evening boot made from taffeta. Actually you can make it using a wide piece of taffeta ribbon!

The boot is made exactly as outlined above. I wrapped the top of the boot with a piece of crushed taffeta and stitched it in place. Working in fabric is quite easy! Sewing is a breeze and the boot easily turns right side out.

Here is a pair of boots I once owned, myself. They were inspired by a design created by Japanese designer, Issey Miyake. Essentially, this is a short, ankle boot with a strip of leather that wraps around the leg. I made these from ordinary leather.
1. This boot begins like the ones above.
2. Again, I used a tiny bit of tape to keep the insole in place while I drape the style.
3. With a single piece of material, I wrap it around the foot and ankle. Mark the back seam and around the foot to make the pattern. Transfer to paper and add seam allowance.
 4. The top of my shoe soles are covered with paper tape. I cut a 9" (22cm) long by 3/8 (22cm) wide strip. Clip around the toes of the foot (along the bottom) then cut out notches. Fold the sides over and glue in place. You can hammer the edges to flatten.
5. Find the midpoint of each piece and tape in place about half way down.
6. Machine stitch in place. Place this on the doll. Use a piece of tape or string to hold the upper on the doll while working.
7. Apply rubber cement to the insole and around the notched seam of the upper. Allow to dry. Surfaces will feel tacky to touch.
8, Then fold the notched bottom over and press firmly. Apply rubber cement to the this as well as to the sole. Again, allow to dry. Surfaces will feel tacky to touch. Carefully press the upper to the sole.
The top strip wraps around the doll's leg twice. Note how I have not stitched this boot up in the back. The ties will keep it in place and most of my dolls will be able to wear this boot!

This boot also uses the pattern where there is only a single seam down the back. Here again, it requires no sewing. I used a glove weight suede. Instead of stitching the boot down the back seam, I punched holes in it and threaded a narrow (1/16 inch 2mm) strip of the same suede. Note: I used a darning needle to thread the strip through the holes. I folded and glued in place both sides of the boot along the back seam. (Note: Cut the boot slightly smaller so that a small flash of flesh shows through for this sexy look.)
 The fun thing about this, is that you can get as fancy as you want with your footwear.

I had an idea for a delicate bejeweled boot using sparkling organdy.
I constructed the boot with the single back seam even though the fabric doesn't stretch. I ended up with a boot that is a little wide in the ankles. Still, I like the leg that peeks through the sheer. I painted the soles silver and added lots of glitter to the heel and the top of the toe. Under a cloud of twilight sparkled tulle.....Stunning!
All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.
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  1. Twoja fantazja nie zna granic! Uważam, że to wspaniałe mieć tyle pomysłów i je realizować! Buty prezentują się tak dobrze, że znani projektanci mogliby korzystać z Twoich projektów! Brawo!

    1. Olla wrote: Your imagination knows no boundaries! I think it's wonderful to have so many ideas and implement them! Shoes present themselves so well known that the designers could benefit from your projects! Bravo!
      Thank you for your very kind words, Olla. Over the years, I have been so very privileged to witness many fashion shows by iconic French designers. My past observations serve as fuel for what I do here in the world of dolls. It is quite rewarding for me to resurrect those beautiful images locked away in my mind that brought so much joy and amazement to me throughout my life.

  2. Hi April, you have a milion Ideas <3 I have no word how I admire you <3

    1. Hi Urszula. Thank you soooo much for your really sweet words. Happy to know you enjoyed this post!

  3. You always have such wonderful ideas. Even a simple thing like a ribbon to change the look of a shoe. I never would have thought of that. Thank you for always sharing your creativity.

    1. Thank you, Jaye. I'm very happy to hear that. Sometimes the idea is so simple, I do wonder if it is already too obvious to include. I really appreciate your comments.

  4. I am swept away by your creativity and designs!
    Your ideas are brilliant and gave me inspiration to try to enchance my dolly shoes so they will look like those from fashion runways. Thank you ^^

    1. Thank you so much Dollmino for your very sweet words. It really doesn't take much to keep our dolls in the height of chic-ness!!! I try to see the dolls as real models on the catwalk with "real" clothes, accessories and shoes. Thank you again for your visit.

  5. Those boots! Oh my! They are fabulous. The shoes are really nice, too. Especially the chiffon covered ones. I have run out of accolades for you. You continue to impress, inspire, and motivate me to try new things. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Vanessa. That means a lot coming from you because I also admire your work. If all of this is motivating you, then it makes me happy that I am pushing my own boundaries!

  6. Another awesome piece!!! April u are so creative! 👍👍

    1. Thank you sooo much. This was a lot of work, but I'm really happy with the outcome!

  7. Do u still have doll chat on twitter?

    1. Yes. Every Tuesday night starting at 9pm Eastern US time.

  8. I can't believe I hadn't seen this post (and the other January one with bags) - just so busy with work and still checking out your earlier stuff.

    Absolutely love the boots and bags - so many ideas! I have that several pink bags plastic bags that I was thinking of painting but fabric is so much nicer finish.
    I'm about to make a concerted effort to dress my charity girls (only 9 months to Christmas!)

    1. Thank you Stevi. Oh so happy you found these posts and that you found them useful! By using fabric instead of paint, you can practically create a whole new bag with a distinctive look. And've got 9 whole months to get those girls dressed! Big hugs.


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