Friday, August 30, 2019

Shoe Biz5: A Leg Up In Style!

At last, we return to our dressmaking skills! Stocking boots are super simple way to create near flawless footwear for the doll. It involves combining the stocking pattern with a shoe element and sole. But it is only for use with STRETCH fabrics! (The next project will address boots made with non-stretch materials.) If you don't want to buy lots of fabric, consider buying socks or knee length stockings! This tutorial is shorter than the others because, other than the length or the shape of the toe, there aren't any real modifications you can make. The design is as simple or complex as the choice of color, pattern or the material you use. But the possibilities are still limitless. You can create a multitude of looks from edgy vinyl to glamorous sequins so long as the fabric you choose stretches!

When I first started out with this project, I began by making soles for my existing stocking boots (made to be worn over existing Barbie shoes). My first thoughts were to simply glue soles onto the bottoms of these jersey stockings. Having owned this type footwear in my own wardrobe, I should have known better. With nothing to control their feet, the dolls feet slipped off the soles underneath the jersey. With my own boots, there was a vinyl structure, not only to maintain the shape of the toe, but also to hold the foot to the shoe! It's the same for the doll..

Begin by making a stocking pattern specifically modified for this project. Before you get started, be sure to prepare your insoles (2 sets) and an outer sole. 
1. Using cotton jersey (from an old T-shirt, for example), stretch a portion over and around the doll's leg, pinning it together along the center of the back.
2. Take a soft lead pencil and mark where the pins are on both sides.
3. Mark the front center line of the leg as well.
4. Remove this from the doll. Refine the lines then create your pattern. Fold it in half along the center line then refine the side edges so that your pattern is symmetrical.
5. Using the pattern from the previous post, place it over the toe of your pattern to change the toe to a point. You are not obliged to do this. You can leave this step out and opt for a more natural toe.
6. Add seam allowance to finish the pattern.
7. Be sure to make notes on the finished pattern as to what the pattern is and which type of doll it is for.

8. For this boot, I have used the material from a knee-length stocking (I bought at the Dollar Store). Cut out your pattern. Also cut out the interfacing we used in the last (backless shoe) project. (It's that tiny white triangle you see near the toes of my stockings. I have placed it at the same point I did on the shoe. Glue in place. Note: as long as your fabric is opaque, it doesn't matter what color the interfacing is. However, if you are using lace or a sheer, we have another suggestion further down in this post.
9. Curl the part of the toe with the interfacing around a sharpened pencil.
10. Sew the stocking down the back seam
11. Turn each stocking right side up and place them on the doll's legs.
12. You do not need to line the insoles for your boots. Put a layer of rubber cement on the bottom of of one set of insoles. Gently place the insole on the doll's foot with the glued side facing up.
13. Put a little rubber cement around the edges of the stockings. Try to keep from getting it onto the doll's feet. But don't worry if you do because rubber cement rolls off quite easily!
14. Get as much of the stocking onto the bottom of the sole. Gluing the uppers to the sole is simply to help keep the stocking in place while you secure it with the next step.
15. With needle and thread, gently pull the two sides together and sew. You want to adjust the fabric on the top of the foot so that everything is smooth and well fitting and the toe looks good.
16. Now take your super strong glue and add a generous amount to the bottom of the stocking and to one side of mid-sole. (Do not use rubber cement for this step because it will come apart later on!)
17. Glued edge to glued edge, place the mid-sole onto the bottom of the stocking. Press well and use your "rolling pin" to ensure the two sides are firmly glued in place
18. Set aside, and if you haven't made them yet, prepare your soles.
19. Voila, the finished shoe!
Here they are in stretch velvet. For this fabric, you don't have to turn down the edge at the top.
 And again, the same pattern in a silver metallic stretch fabric.
This pair of light silver stretch lurex was made early on, using the polymer clay for the soles. I created platform soles and because it is difficult to get the heels nice and smooth, I added a coat of silver glitter! If you are using polymer clay and not happy with the results, remember this....Glitter Is Your Friend!!!!
Here is the most recent version of the same boot I made in dark gold lurex using the epoxy clay for the soles. (I glittered the toes with a contrasting tone of gold.) With the epoxy clay I am able to get much finer results than those with the polymer clay.

Awhile back, I saw these stocking boots in an Italian fashion show. How pretty are these!!! I made them using a wide stretch lace trim. It is especially important to use interfacing around the toes because not only will the feet slip, the doll's toes will peak out in between the stitches. So you will have to decide whether you want the toe to be solid or sheer.

 If you want to maintain the sheerness of the stocking straight through to the toes, I recommend using clear vinyl. Instead of the triangle we have been using, I use the pattern we created in the previous post. This is because I don't want to glue this down. On the other hand, you can sew this in place with the same color thread as the stocking.

You can make any length boot you desire. I made knee-highs. Here, I used stretch sequins. I made the decision to glitter the soles and heels. (Again, these were made using polymer clay for the soles.)
 These dark silver stretch lurex knee high boots are a great compliment for both daywear and eveningwear.
I also glittered these soles and heels. Since the lurex is dark silver, I painted the heels and soles black then added silver glitter.

I wanted to do end this post with a spectacular pair of boots, but each piece of fabric I picked up was something other than stretch! You cannot use your stocking pattern for non-stretch fabrics because 1) it won't fit and 2) the doll wouldn't be able to get in and out of her footwear. So instead of dedicating the next tutorial to creating one-piece pumps, I decided we would make boots using non-stretch materials.

Coming up next: Shoe Biz 6-Giving Her the Boot! This begins with the pattern I made several years ago for spats and, instead of slipping it over an existing shoe, turning it into a real boot. Again, it is a simple pattern with a couple of options. While we work on getting the next tutorial up, have a good time making stocking boots. See you back here real soon!

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Shoe Biz 4: Backless Beauties (Toes Go Undercover)

I had planned to post this session sooner, but as anticipated...word has gotten out around the house regarding my newfound shoe making skills and as a result...every morning, I am surrounded by divas requesting shoes to match their outfits!!! However, summer will soon draw to a close and the girls will certainly want to cover their little toes. So for session, I show you how to make a simple, basic pattern for uppers. This is a simple, backless shoe that can be worn as is (usually with a little help from a bit of double stick tape), or with an ankle strap to hold the shoe to the foot. Inasmuch as my aim is to focus on a basic design that can be rendered with a wide variety of colors and materials, this project should serve you well in almost every wardrobe circumstance.

As with the last post....this project is all about the top of the foot. The soles remain the same. Since this shoe covers (part of) the foot, it requires e a pattern.

This is a shoe that has a straight, horizontal line around the top of the foot with a toe forming a point.
It is straightforward and easy to make.
1. Take a small piece of paper and wrap it around the doll's foot. Pin at the center of the bottom of the foot.
2. With a pencil, mark the edges of the foot from one side, across the toes to the other side.
3. Draw in the style line (point) at the toe.
4. Remove the pattern. Open the paper. Draw in seam allowance. Note how I have treated the area at the point of the toe. This is because, when the seam allowance is folded onto the insole, you will need space for the overlap.
5. Cut your pattern out. Try the paper pattern on the doll's foot, making any adjustments needed. Also, you will need to trace that triangle at the center of the shoe. This will serve as "interfacing" to provide structure to the shoe upper.

Now, let's assemble our shoe. Be sure you have your lined insoles prepared. And you should also have the mid-soles and the outer soles ready in advance as well.
1. Cut out the pattern onto your chosen material. If you use non-woven material such as the leather in my project, you won't need to turn down the edge. But if you choose fabric, you will need to create a tiny hem by turning the edge over and gluing in place. (We show you later in this post.) Notice how I have clipped notches into my seam allowance. That is because the leather is rather thick. If you are using a thin material or fabric, you do not need to clip in notches. Apply glue to the seam allowances of the upper.
2. Take the insole and line it up against the seam allowance of the upper. In this photo, I have lined up the left side of the insole to the right seam allowance edge of the upper. Fold this over and line up the seam allowance edge against the other side of the insole.
3. Take a sharpened pencil and slide it into the shoe. Make sure the upper firmly fits around the insole. If you are making shoes for a 1/4 scale doll, you will need to find a thicker dowel.
4. Press the upper to the insole firmly; bend the tip of the toe down just a bit (enough to close the hole it forms.
5. Once the glue as dried, apply more glue and attach the mid-sole to the bottom of the upper. Use a dowel as a rolling pin and really press the mid-sole against the bottom of the upper.
6. Prepare to finish the shoe. Repeat steps 1-5 to create the other shoe. Bend the outer sole to the form of the doll's foot. Cut the heel. For these two shoes, I have chosen a 1/2" length of 18 gauge silver wire.

7. Even though I have demonstrated how to make a heel in Shoe Biz 2, I am showing you once again, but this time, using wire. Whether you use a toothpick or wire, the process is exactly the same.
8. The heel is added to the bottom of the outer-sole. I remove excess clay or, add tiny bits on to fill in any gaps. Be sure to dip your utensil in water to smooth out the epoxy clay for a smooth finish.
9. Also, be careful to keep the heel straight up, perpendicular to the ground under the heel of the foot.

And here's my finished shoe. The material is something called "aluminum" or "mirror" tape. The sides of the soles are painted white.

I also made another pair using silver leather. The toe is dipped in silver glitter and the soles painted silver. But here's the problem... It's hard to keep these on the doll's feet! So I do what I do when I buy the same style of shoe from Integrity Toys or Mattel..... I use a little tape to secure the shoe to the doll's foot. can hold the shoe to the foot with a strap. There are a few possibilities

You can incorporate a strap on the bottom of the insole that criss-crosses the foot and/or ankle as I did with this pair of eggshell white leather shoes.

You can also create a loop at the back of the heel to thread ribbon or yarn through and wrap around the ankle.
1. The construction and assembly of the shoe remains the same. I have simply added a small loop at the back of the heel. This should be glued to the insole before the  mid-sole is added.
2. Be sure to use a generous amount of glue and press the two layers together well!
3. With that on, we simply add a ribbon, or in my case, embroidery yard through the loop and tied around the ankles. can get more "clean" with the ankle treatment and create an ankle strap.

The technique I used to create the ankle strap is the same as for making belt.

1. These shoes were made of white linen (to match dolly's white linen Donna Karan suit). Everything is prepared in advance.
2. Here's a closeup of the uppers. Because this is fabric, you will need to make the tiniest hem and glue down the edge.
3. The loop was added (in the same way as for the green shoes). I used a tiny bit of matching leather. The buckle is a tiny bit of 24 gauge wire. This solution is nice in that you can change up the ankle strap or even tuck the loop under the doll's foot should she decide she wants to wear mules!

I admit....I had to make these shoes twice before I got it right. With the first pair, I got a little sloppy and the line across one of the shoes cut across the foot on an angle. Moreover, the toes were a little banged up as well. Instead of throwing them out, I embellished!
Remember...there is not a lot of real estate on a doll's foot!! I cut out small pieces of lace and sewed them onto each shoe. Then I tacked on two tiny pearls on each she. The temptation is to add more, but resist! It's all about scale. Ask yourself...would I wear this much junk on my shoes?

Question: how do I make a more rounded shoe with a curve over the foot?
The pattern making is the same.
1. You can create a pattern by covering the foot with paper then drawing the style line you choose.
2. Or you can use tape.
3. Again, cover the foot then trace around the edge of the foot. Draw in the style line.
4. Transfer to paper and draw in the seam allowance.
5. Cut out and try the paper pattern on the foot to check for fit. You will need to clip in notches so that the pattern fits onto the bottom of the insole.
6. This becomes the definitive pattern.
With this pattern you need to use non woven material or...something thin enough to roll the exposed edge. And don't forget to create an interfacing (the pattern itself without the seam allowance).
Note: I have not made shoes with this particular style for this project. I'll make shoes with a natural toe for my post on classic pumps.

On the other hand, be as creative, inventive and fanciful as your heart desired. You can use not just solid tone leather (real or faux), you can use bits of fabric to create shoes that literally match dolly's dress. Again, don't forget to use "interfacing" to give the shoe upper the structure it needs.
Question: Can I line my shoes?
Yes you can. But here again, keep the layers light so that the bulk on the bottom of the insole (after the edges are turned) is kept to a minimum.
Don't throw out ribbon from gift packages! It's enough to make a pair of shoes. Just remember to add the "interfacing." It shouldn't be the typical iron-on variety. You really need to use paper or card stock. The idea is to give the necessary structure so that the shoe does not end up flat.
If you mess up a it by covering over the mistakes with tiny bows, beads, lace or even glitter.

My aim with these tutorial is to provide simple, easy ways to help you create 1/6 scale high heeled shoes. I had not planned to do anything complex or complicated. However.....I saw a photo of a shoe that tempted me to try something different. So let's go back to the beginning. Let's create a pattern for a design that might be floating around in your head.

1. Again, I used paper tape to cover the doll's foot. Establish the center of the foot by drawing a CF line. Draw your design directly on the tape. Be sure to mark the edges of the foot. Keep in mind, you cannot design straps or cut-outs too thin because they will break sooner or later!
2. Remove the tape with your pattern and flatten it against a piece of paper.
3. Add on seam allowance. Cut this out.
4. Place on the doll's foot to see if the pattern works. Make any necessary modifications, then make your definitive pattern.
5. Attach the prepared (lined) insole to the doll's foot with a piece of tape to hold it in place while you work. Cut the pattern out in the material of choice. Here, I am using a lightweight vinyl fabric that resembles leather. (I think real leather would have been stronger and better for this shoe.) Glue the bottom of the insole and attach the uppers.
6. If somehow (in my case) the soles are longer than the uppers (or the other way around), you can always cheat and add a little (epoxy) clay extension to fill in the area.
7. I was not really happy with how the toes turned out. (Serves me right for not using the magnifying glass.) So I covered up the mistake by taking a little aluminum tape (mylar also works), and wrapping it around the toes of the shoes BEFORE I added on the outer soles. I used silver wire for the heels.
8. I painted the soles black around the edges and the top of the heels were painted silver.

That should keep you busy for awhile! We'll be back soon with Shoe Biz 5, a short tutorial that combines this project with another we did a while ago to help you create Stocking Boots!!!!

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Shoe Biz 3: Strap One On!

By now you are probably anxious to make your first pair of shoes. I thought we'd start with high heeled gladiators because nothing could be more simple or stylish. Each pair I've made have come out successfully!

To begin this project you will need the insoles (2 pair) you made using the last tutorial.
We need to cover them, which you can do in one of three ways.

Thin Leather (real or faux)

All tutorials on covering the insole are pretty much standard. 
1. Place your insole in the middle of a bit of leather, cut in the notches. (I anchor it in place with a bit of glue. The margin depends on the size of the actual insole. 
2. Cut notches all around. The idea here is to make it easier to fold it inward without creating bulk or bumps. 
3. Add glue to the insole and fold the edges inward. 
4. When you flip it over, everything should lay flat and smooth--including around the edges. Personally, I have problems keeping the side edges as smooth as I think they should be. Therefore, when cutting in the notches, you want to cut close to the insole but not too close.

Thin Fabric
Most of the time for my sandals where I'm using fabric, ribbon or trim, I will use fabric or a bit of ribbon to line my insoles. You don't want to notch because the fabric will fray.
1. So again, I use a bit of glue to hold the lining in place.
2. Use your fingers to fold everything inward. If this is looking a bit too sloppy, you can make a running stitch around the edge close to the insole and pull the stitches in.
3. There may be lumps and bumps, but you can press them down with a cool iron.

Thicker Leather (real or faux)
This is an easy shortcut that really works. If you have a medium weight swatch of leather, you can use that as your insole. Cut the leather out, using the insole template. Make sure it fits the bottom of the doll's feet AND is the same size as the mid sole and outer sole!
For my black gladiators, I get everything measured, cut out and placed to the side.


1. For sandals, you really don't need to use a last (foot form). You can use your doll's foot as is. I place a tiny piece of tape, sticky side folded onto itself on the bottom of dolly's foot so that I can help hold the insole in place as I work.
2. For this pair of gladiators, I am using embroidery yarn. You can also use ribbon or string. Measure out about 17" (43cm) and place the midpoint of the string at the midpoint of the bottom of the doll's foot. Begin wrapping around the doll's foot.
3. For this shoe I wrapped it three times around. (For the ribbon gladiators, I criss-crossed twice.) Spread the yarn out a bit.
4. This is what the underside of my shoe looks like
5. I criss-cross the foot two more times.
6. I use a bit of tape to hold the yarn.ribbon in place as I work.
7. What I've done here is to construct the upper part of the sandal. When you are happy with the results, remove the shoe from the doll's foot and carefully remove the tape, being careful not to move the yarn/ribbon.
8. Add a generous layer of glue.
9. Add on the mid-sole (it is the same as the insole but used in between the insole and the outer sole. I find that not only does a mid sole provide a smooth, level  surface, but the epoxy clay seems to adhere better to the card stock.

If you have made an pair of out soles in advance, now is the time to pull them out and attached them to the uppers you have just made. If you have not yet made a pair, place the uppers to the side and create a pair of outer soles using the previous tutorial featured in Shoe Biz 2. 
If you are working with polymer (oven bake) clay, it is a simple question of gluing together the uppers onto the top of a pair of finished high heel soles. Be sure to use an extra strength, clear gel glue. Do NOT use rubber cement or all-purpose white glue. They will come apart! 

If you are working with epoxy clay, continue on with step 10.
10. Roll out a layer of epoxy clay and add it onto the top of the outer sole. Use a dowel as a rolling pin to roll out the excess and create a smooth, even layer. Cut away the excess from the sides and smooth.
11. In effect, you have now created a sandwich with the clay. The tin foil frame is covered with a layer of clay on the top and bottom. Be sure you smooth out the edges.
12. Take the sandal upper and press it into the soft clay on the top of the outer sole. I use my curved tool to help me do this. Make sure there are no gaps. The epoxy clay is essential glue so it will adhere to your upper and dry into a nice hard element! Be sure to smooth out the side edges and press in or fill any gaps. While the clay is still soft and pliable, you can use it to spackle any irregular surfaces or fill in (or out) any gaps or holes.
I made two pair: one for Barbie (left) using Polymer clay, the other for my FR girls out of epoxy clay.

In a slight variation of the black sandal, I used gold embroidery yarn and knotted it over the foot in two places.
Again, starting with the lined insole, I wrapped the yarn around the underside of the foot and knotted it over the top of the foot. I wrapped it a second time and knotted it. The rest of the yarn wraps around the back of the ankles and around a couple of times then tied into bow! You can try different systems of knots (even a bi of macrame!) to create your uppers!

Sandals 101
Probably the easiest shoe to make, feel free to make endless pairs of these, just as a way to ensure all your dolls have shoes on their feet in the colors they need! simply wrap the foot with a bit of ribbon or a strip of leather and glue on the sole. Go with one large piece or two "medium" straps.

But you can easily transform it into something a wee bit more interesting. Here are a few ideas:

The choice of materials is the easiest way to make these sandals your own. For my two silver sandals I used aluminum tape I found at a Dollar store. I cut it into two tiny strips and adhered them to a piece of ribbon then wrapped it around the doll's foot. For the outer sole, I used a 1/2" piece of silver wire (18 gauge) for the heels. The rest of the sole was painted using silver acrylic paint.
Here's the same shoe in gold with silver glitter added to the sides of the outer sole!

But you can do more than simply use one solid strip to wrap the foot. Try slashing for different looks.

This pattern is 3/8" long by 1-1/4" wide (1x3cm). Mark the center then cut horizontally into thirds, leaving the middle in tact. As you wrap this around the dolls foot, spread each strip slightly. Attach the upper to the sole. Paint. Tip: when you are painting your soles....listen to me. Leave that bottle of fingernail polish alone and step away. Again. Do not use fingernail polish to paint your shoes. It's thick, it's ugly and it will show up all of the faults! Instead, use light layers of diluted acrylic paint until you arrive at the proper coverage. If you want a shiny finish, you can always use one layer of  "top coat." I am guilty of making this mistake. I know what I'm talking.

Here's a variation.
1. Take a small strip of leather or non woven material. Using a blade, cut it into tiny strips starting at about 1/8" (4mm) from either side.
2. Glue the uncut side to the bottom of the lined insole.
3. Wrap around the foot, spreading the strips so they fan out from the apex point.
4. Tape in place to keep the strips from moving. Cut away the excess. Then carefully remove the take and add a generous layer of glue.
5. Attached the mid sole.
6. Add a layer of epoxy clay to the top of the sole and press the upper sandal in place.

One more.l...

I started out with a small piece of leather 3/8 x 2-1/8" (10 x 55mm), divided into thirds. The first third is cut down to a length of 1" (28mm), the second 1-3/8" (35 mm) and the last left at 2-1/8" (55mm). Again, attached to the underside of the insole and then drape over the foot at a slight diagonal. The last strip wraps over the foot, around the back of the ankle and is then tucked underneath itself on the side of the foot.  The orange shoes have regular sole and the white ones are platforms.

Feeling creative??!!!
With ribbons, trims and scraps, you can create some wonderful footwear for your divas. Just remember, there isn't much to a 1/6 doll's foot. It's best to try different things out directly on the doll's feet before you commit. Here, on the left, this is a 1/2" ribbon I tied into a knot over the foot. On the right, a piece of lace held onto the foot with a ribbon. Like that you can immediately see what does and does not work.

Before I wrap up this session, let me answer a few questions that might be on your minds. Again, this is from my own perspective based on the shoes I've made thus far.

What comes first, the uppers or the outer soles?
Personally, I like to start with the uppers. Over time, I've been able to make a pair a shoes from start to scratch relatively quickly. However, I have prepared the outer soles  for future use. With the polymer clay, you don't really have a choice. You can't really back the uppers onto the outer soles. You really must prepare each element separately and then, using a very strong product, glue the uppers with the soles. The epoxy clay allows you to make the two elements separately and then assemble them together. Unlike the polymer clay, you don't have to use a separate glue for assemblage. You "glue" the two together with a fresh layer of clay. What is most important is to verify that the soles (insole, mid sole and outer sole) are line up and continue to conform to the doll's foot throughout the process.

Can you make the heels separately and add them later (after they have hardened)? 

You can. Personally, I'd rather add them to the soles while the clay on both the soles and heels are still pliable. If you do decide to make the heels separately, letting them dry, be sure the top of the heel has the proper slant and try not to use too much clay.

What happens if the sole is a little too short or too narrow?
The epoxy clay allows you to "patch" after it has dried. So you can fill in gaps or whatever is missing, smooth, sand then paint. It works a little like spackle when you need to cover a hole on your walls.

Are there materials not suitable for making sandals?
In don't recommend elastic or rubber bands. Both degrade in a short period of time and all of your hard work will end up in the trash at some point. Years ago, I bought a few pairs of shoes for my Tonner dolls where they used elastic bands to criss-cross the feet. The elastic is shot and can no longer hold the shoe to the doll! Rubber also degrades pretty quickly. Beware of anything that unravels as well.

Scissors or blades for cutting?
Using a blade will give you a cleaner, more precise line which is particularly crucial when working on such a tiny scale. But for the moment, if you are comfortable with scissors...go for it. As you progress, you'll eventually move over to a blade and memory cutting board.

Have a great time making sandals for your ladies. We'll be back shortly with another installment: Shoe Biz 4 Undercover Toes. Sliders and Mules--our favorite backless shoes.

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