Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Shoe Biz: Final Thoughts

Mission Accomplished! I can now make my own doll shoes! For those of you who think this came easy for me...well let me show you one my very early attempts at shoe making. (All the rest were tossed in the garbage years ago!)
Since mid-July, I have made 64 pairs of shoes and boots! And it was well worth it. If for no other reason, let me show you this.
On the upper left hand corner: A pair of FR Shoes selling on EBay for $24.99 plus 4.49 shipping. On the right....the ones I made for pennies!!! Over time, I have spent more than $650 on shoes! So I am really looking forward to saving money! Better yet, I have finally broken my addiction to shopping for doll shoes and, consequently, have removed both the Barbie and the Fashion Royal shoe search from my Ebay feed!

As far as that "expensive" jar of epoxy clay (roughly $22)... After 64 pairs of footwear I still have this much clay left! By my estimates I figure, there must be at least a couple hundred more pairs of sole making material left in the jars!

If you have different size dolls or dolls with feet of different sizes or shapes within the same doll family, like I do, there is no excuse for any of them to go barefoot.
In my collection, I have 16" Tonners, 13" IT Color Infusion dolls, Fashion Royalty with FR1, FR2 and FR13 feet as well as Barbie Model Muse, playline Barbies and one JamieShow Demi-Couture doll. While some can share shoes, others cannot. Now, everyone can have a basic shoe or boot.

Okay, so you might still continue to buy Barbie shoes. But there are still instances when you might want to make perhaps boots, which are hard to come by or a special pair of shoes to match a very special outfit!
For anyone who has Integrity Toys' Color Infusion dolls, you are quite familiar with the challenge of finding footwear for her. They are a half inch taller than the Fashion Royalty line with large hands and big, wide feet. It's nice to know I can now include these dolls in my posts now that I can make shoes for them! But before I close, let me offer a few final tips for creating successful 1/6 scale footwear.

Don't Get Unglued!
I can't emphasize enough...choosing the right glue for this project is so very important. I use rubber cement for gluing a lining onto the insole, for gluing the interfacing around the toe area of the upper and for adhering the upper's turned down edges to the underside of the insole. This glue allows you to re-position the edges as you stretch the upper over the doll's foot without having to commit. But this is the only point you can use rubber cement. Anywhere else...your shoe will fall apart. Use your extra strong glue (but never "crazy glue") for adhering the middle sole to your completed upper. Or...if you are still working with polymer clay, use it to adhere the completed upper to the outer sole. On the other hand...the outer sole created with epoxy clay has glue built in. So it will automatically adhere to the completed upper as it dries.

Ralph Rucci inspired over-the-knee boots with stiletto heels and back lacing

Be inspired
Chanel inspired vinyl boots.

First, teach yourself to make one or two basic styles really well. Those will become your "go-to" shoes when you need something fast. Then once your confidence and skills have grown, go on...look at photos of shoes you'd like to make. But have reasonable expectations. There's not that much real estate on a doll's foot!  If you see human shoes you like, capture the essence but keep it simple! Don't get bogged down with the details. Keep embellishments to a minimum. Look at your shoe and ask yourself....would I wear all that junk on my feet!?!

Valentino Haute Couture inspired chiffon wrapped shoes
Dior Haute Couture shoes inspired vinyl stillettos with leather toe and back quarters
As you clean up after making a pair of shoes, be mindful of every tiny scrap. Is it a discard or is it an interfacing?! Sure the boots can go into regular envelopes, but if you have shoe patterns, put each pattern in it's own separate plastic or cellophane bags so the pieces don't get jumbled up!

Inasmuch as my mission was to create simple high heeled shoes to compliment my dolls' wardrobes, I did not include wedgies, chunky heels or square toe pumps. I was not more creative with the uppers because my aim was to make easy-to-make simple shoes. So is this the end? Maybe not. From time to time, should I see something truly interesting, I'll explore the possibilities and propose a new session of Shoe Biz.

Oh my much has happened while we've been busy these past two months. Fashion Month is currently in session! We'll take a minute to catch our breath, reorganize and return with our first fashion report!

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All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2019. Please do not reproduce without prior permission and please always credit us.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Shoe Biz 7: PUMPED!

You really do not need this tutorial. Most of what you need to make a decent--or even a highly creative-- pair of footwear can be found in the previous five posts. But for the sake of consistency, I decided to include this last tutorial on the basic pump. I made LOTS of shoes in preparation... 14 pairs to be exact! And the one thing I learned in the process.. it is VERY difficult to make something so simple. After spending all of the necessary time and effort to get it just right, the end result is always the same...another boring pair of shoes. But who knows... perhaps someone out there has a valid reason for wanting to make this basic style. So for the three of you out there in dolly land, this tutorial is for you.

There are patterns galore on the internet for the classic pump. But after downloading and trying a few, I discovered copying someone else's patterns make little sense if there is no real connection to your own doll's foot. Let me explain.
With the sandals we made a few weeks ago, there were straps to hold the shoe to the doll's foot. We created mules soon after, but there again, we used straps to secure the shoe to the foot--unless of course, you lose the straps and instead, use a bit of double sided tape inside the shoe. With the classic pump, you now have to construct a shoe that hugs the curvature of the heel (blue), the bend of the toes (green) and supports its elevation (red), thus allowing the doll to stand in them.  In the beginning my soles were too wide (another reason for why shoes don't fit) and the back quarter (the part covering the doll's heel), did not fit the foot due to bulk and the fact the angle was wrong. (The back of shoe should be at a 45 degree angle!). So, for this final project, I tried two different ways of constructing the pump as well as a slingback and a two-piece shoe. This does not really give you different styles, but rather, several options for fit.

Construction of the Basic Pump

Simply copying a pattern you find on the internet and putting it on your doll's foot does not work. You really need to create a pattern made specifically to your doll's foot.

1. Begin by covering your doll's foot in paper tape. Draw the lines of the shoe directly on the tape! Be sure to include the bottom edges of the foot and around the toes. Include the center back and center front lines of the foot.
2. Carefully remove the tape and place on a sheet of paper. Try not to stretch the tape as you peel it away from the doll.
3. Using a piece of tracing paper, smooth out the lines. I often fold along the center front lines and redraw to make sure there is some symmetry from left to right.
4. Unless you are happy with a rounded toe, you should elongate your pattern at the toe. Add roughly 1/16-18" (2-3mm).
5. Create your final pattern. Add seam allowance around the bottom edges of the upper as well as at the back of the shoe.
1. Prepare everything you need to construct your shoe. We are creating the basic pump with a seam at the back as shown here.
2. You will need your pattern.
3. Cut out in your chosen material, sew along the back seam, turn right side out and be sure to glue on the interfacing.
4. Curve the upper around a pencil.
5. Cut the notches out along the lower edge of the shoe.
6. Line the inner soles.
7. Cut out mid soles
8. Cut out soles
 1. Turn the foot upside down and place the lined inner sole on the foot. (If need be you can apply a tiny piece of tape to the foot to help keep this in place while you work.)
2. After sewing together the upper, use a bit of rubber cement to the underside of the back seam and flatten. Cut notches out along the bottom edge of the shoe.
3. Using a sharpened pencil, curve the upper.
4. Apply rubber cement to the bottom of the inner sole as well as along the notched edges of your shoe.
5. Stretch the shoe over the foot and press the seam allowance onto the bottom of the inner sole.
6. The rubber cement allows you to play around with the edges as you work. You can always add a bit more should it no longer adhere. But take your time to get a good fit. Tip: Sometimes I use a needle and thread to help me pull both sides together. All of the stitches will be hidden under the middle sole.
7. Pinch the material around the toes as you bend it under a bit. 
8. When its just right, be sure everything is well glued in place. Use a dowel as a rolling pin to press the glued area in place. 
9. Add your strong glue (E6000 is a good choice) to the upper and cover with the middle sole.
10. Press well to be sure everything is covered and adhered.
11. Use your "rolling pin" to press everything together.
12. If there is extra peaking out from the sides, you can trim it away.
13. Now finish it off by adding on your soles and paint!

The challenge of using a pattern with the back seam is dealing with bulk. And if your chosen material is anything but super thin, this area at the back of the foot could look more like a giant boil. I noticed that Integrity Toys sometimes employs another type of pattern for its classic pumps where you do not have to deal with a back seam at all.
This is a "J" shaped pattern that stretches from one side and around the back to the original point. You can leave a gap or join the two edges. The interesting thing here is that you do not have to deal with sewing a back seam and all of the challenges surrounding it. 
The pattern is created on the doll's foot in the same way as the first shoe. The finished pattern resembles the letter J. I created an interfacing which is the same at the outer shoe but without the seam allowance. Be sure to cut it slightly smaller than the outer so that it does not peak out from the edges.
1. For this shoe, you need to line an insole and your main pattern piece which has an interface glued in.
2. Again, it is put together in the same fashion as the first pump. Rubber cement to the bottom of the insole and around the notched edges of my upper.
3. Press in the edges, stretching the shoe so that it fits snugly around the foot. Play with this until you get it just the way you want it. You can always trim away the excess at the inner side point unless you want the two sides to meet.
4. Press firmly into the rubber cemented sole to make sure everything remains together. Finish the shoe as usual.

The Slingback Shoe

There are a good reasons why you don't often see slingback shoes for 1/6 dolls except for the hard plastic shoes Mattel makes for their Model Muse Barbies. It's because they are very hard to make for such minuscule proportions. But here we go...

This pattern has the straps joined at back of the heel.
1. Again, this shoe begins by creating a pattern directly on the doll's foot. I covered the foot with paper tape and drew the lines of a slingback including the back strap that goes around the back.
2-5 Here's the pattern as it evolves from removing the tape and placing on paper to the addition of the seam allowance.
6. Create an interfacing by tracing off the area around the top of the shoe (minus the seam allowance.)
7. Glue the seam allowance (about 1/8" or 3mm) to the upper and complete your shoe.

Only half the shoe will be glued to the inner sole. The back turns into straps that wrap around the back of the doll's heel. The straps have to be quite slim in able for the shoe to really look like a sling back shoe. They will be too tiny at that back point to sew. So, I overlap and glue using a strong glue. 

But as in the case of the classic pump, you can divert the trouble spot to the outer side of the shoe. a point where many human shoes have closures.
The pattern (and the construction) is exactly the same except I have lengthened the one of the straps so that it can wrap around the heel and join the other on one side of the foot. For this shoe I used a very fine, very thin grade of leather.
I made a tiny buckle (the same as when we made belts) which I added to one strap. One strap wraps around that middle prong (you can tape in place while you work then glue at the end when you are happy with the results). The other is threaded in and out of the outer circle. The trick is to play around with the straps until the buckle ends up on the side just under the ankle. Clip away the excess. Glue down the strap holding the middle prong.
Honestly...I spent way too much time for....not a lot of joy! So I was determined to find a shortcut here. So I cut another pair of shoes....this time I cut out a very 1940's "toe hole" at the tip.  

I used the same pattern as I did for the white shoes. But instead of making a little buckle, I used a small eye ring which I slipped onto the strap. The two straps are overlapped on the side and glued together. The excess is removed and the eye ring is slid in place. It all boils down to convenience over...authenticity !?!

Still in my effort to make a more standout pair of pumps, I explored the two piece shoe. That consists of the toe and a back quarter. I've had shoes like this.
1. Paper tape on the back of the doll's foot. The pattern is drawn directly on the tape. 
2. The bottom edges of the foot should be noted as well.
3. Peel the tape off carefully and place on paper.
4. Create your pattern by adding on seam allowance along the bottom.
5. Make a test to make sure this fits. Make any adjustments. 
6. The toe is the same we created for our mules and sliders in the ShoeBiz 4. 

7. Here are all of the elements needed to create this shoe.
8. Turn the edges under. Add glue and cover with the middle sole.
9. The completed shoe is here.

 Personally, I didn't find this shoe all that flattering except as, perhaps, a shoe to be worn under trousers. Moreover, I had a very difficult time getting this shoe to fit the foot snugly. I became so frustrated, I looked for a way to cover all of this up and create something more exciting....which led me to the next one.

This is the exact same shoe, but created using silk for the base and strips of chiffon that wrap around the foot and ankles! I also added platform soles and killer stilettos.
1. Begin by making the 2-piece shoe as shown above.
2. Cut two strips of sheer fabric, roughly 3/4"x11" (3x27cm). Fold each edge towards the center and glue or sew in place.
3. Before added your middle sole, wrap around the shoe, criss-crossing over the foot and wrapping around the ankle.
4. Tie into a bow.
5. Glue the middle soles onto the uppers. Create and add the soles but without the heels.
6. I wanted a small platform shoe. So I began by rolling a small ball of clay.
7. Place on the bottom of your shoe.
8. Press down until you have the volume of platform you want.
9. You want to blend the addition of clay into the sole of the shoe by smoothing it out around the sides.
10. Continue to smooth the class all around the sides and the toe.
11. You will also need to make a smooth transition between the bottom of the shoe and the arch which has a thinner layer of clay. Cut away the excess and continue to smooth until everything is well blended together.
12. Now, determine the size of heel you will need by placing the shoe on a flat surface and measuring. For the size of my new shoe, the heel is about 1/8" taller than normal. Add the heel and complete the shoe.

You can also combine the one piece pump with the 2-piece shoe for a very sophisticated look. Inspired by a Dior shoe that appeared a couple years ago on their Haute Couture catwalk show, I came up with this design. The base of the shoe was cut from vinyl using the pattern for the classic pump with the back seam. Over it, I glued on pieces of thin leather using the technique for the 2-piece shoe, then completed the shoe by adding on the middle and outer soles.

Well folks...that's it for my dolly footwear tutorial series. It has been a great summer. And, this has been the most fun I've had since creating this blog. To make it easy for you to find these tutorials at a later date, I've added a side bar (look under Tutorials--upper right side of this page). I'll be back shortly with a few final thoughts while the girls put together their fashion reports from Fashion Month, now in progress!

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All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2019. Please do not reproduce without prior permission and please always credit us.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Shoe Biz 6: Giving Her the Boot

I will tell you right now... My girls don't believe in sticking their little plastic toes anywhere near snow, sleek, ice or rain... So if you've come here looking for Doc Martin's, snow boots or've in the wrong place! This post is all about high fashion boots using non-stretch materials. This can be anything from leather and vinyl to wool or silk.

Just like in the case of the last post, this footwear begins by creating a pattern right on the doll's leg. But instead of using T-shirt stretch fabric, we'll be using muslin or cotton. I am providing two options that you can make in any length--from ankle grazing to thigh-high. Think about the possibilities...any outfit dolly has can be accessorized with matching boots!!!

The first pattern is  a simple boot with a seam down the front and down the back. The advantage with this design is that it is super easy to make and conforms beautifully to the contour of the leg.
If you allow a bit of ease, the doll's foot slips right in without the need for zippers or other closures.
Moreover, you can create a plethora of looks and even work that center front seam into the design of the boot. Take my "jeans" boot for example. I added top stitching, tiny "jeans" pockets and even a chain!

1. We begin by creating the first pattern in cotton muslin. Use two small pieces and pin so that the leg is caught in the middle. That is to say, the two pieces of muslin is joined together by a row of pins placed along the center front of the leg. Then pin along the center back. Check to make sure the doll can remove her foot from the boot. Adjust the pins if necessary.
2. Mark both sides of the muslin from the top right down to around the sides of the foot.
3. Remove the pins and smooth the lines. Cut away the excess fabric, leaving a margin around the lines. Pin back together and put this on the doll's leg again.
4. Check the fit again. If there are discrepancies, use another colored pencil to make the corrections so that you know which line to respect for the pattern.
5. Remove from the doll again. Smooth out the lines.
6. Transfer to paper.
 7. You now have two sides for this pattern but what you want to do is to consolidate them into a single piece. Lay one side over the other and adjust any discrepancies by drawing a new line in the middle. You want each side to be equal without adding or subtracting volume.
8. Once you are satisfied with the results, complete your pattern by adding seam allowance.
9. We want to make sure this fits, because you will be using this pattern quite often. So using your new pattern, cut it out in muslin and baste together.
10. Turn right side out and press.
11. Just to give you an idea of what this could look like, I placed a sole against the bottom. Voila our boot! Note: You may have to make adjustments depending on the thickness of the material. If you use medium weight leather or a heavyweight canvas, for example, be prepared to expand the seams 1/16" (2mm). Add your soles and dolly's off to the races!
I've been so happy with my results, I decided to give a new life to some older footwear I created awhile ago for my previous footwear posts! .

Originally these taffeta boots started out as spats before I turned them into boots using soles I cut away from Barbie shoes. I removed those soles and added on my own.

What happens if you are working with a material that has a motif you don't want to break up with a seam? What happens if you want a sleeker, smoother look in the front? That's where the second option comes to play.

This design is cut in one piece but has a "vamp" (a wedge over the foot). Remember, you are working with a non stretch material and the foot will start to curve at the ankle to the toes. So we will need to slash the pattern at the top of the foot and add on a vamp.

We begin the way we did with the last boot. Only this time, we use a single swatch of muslin to start. Since I wanted to make some thigh high boots, I made my pattern as such. You can always cut it down later when you want to make a shorter boot.
1. Take the single swatch and make a vertical line which you will lay along the center front of the doll's leg. Pin the muslin down the center back of the leg, again, allowing for ease so that the doll can get her feet out of the boots. Where the foot curves away from the leg, cut a V-shape over the foot.
2. Cut a square out of muslin that will fit over the foot.
3. Drape it over the foot and pin together on the bottom.
4. I wanted my toe to come to a point so I planned for that.
5. Now, fold the top part of the boot over this foot piece. Pin in place.
6. Mark both the upper part and where it meets with the toe piece.
7. Transfer everything to paper and create your pattern. Take special care the toe piece blends with the seam allowance on the boot.

You have some options here. If you are really good at sewing and are working with a thin enough material, you can sew the vamp onto the boot. This means, of course, you know how to do 90 degree angle seams. If you do this, be sure to glue the seams up and iron flat (before you sew up the back leg seam). Just note there is the potential for bulk! I have added interfacing over the top of the foot to maintain structure since the boot is made of denim. This might not be necessary when working with thicker materials.
But you can simply lay the wedge on top of the boot and glue or stitch in place.
In this instance I treated the vamp as a sort of applique. This is flocked wool. (Note: I made this first as spats. For this project I decided to make another pair out of the same fabric as over-the-knee boots.) I added a bit of fray check (craft glue also works) to keep the edges from going awry. I laid the vamp over the bottom of the boot front then stitched it in place by hand before eventually adding on the sole.
Remember that fancy shawl we made earlier this summer. Now Helena has a pair of boots to match!
This is the type of footwear you'd find in fancy luxury shops all over the world. So feel free to use anything you'd like for boots! You might have to make a few adjustments, though...
This is "bejeweled" organdy. It is a sheer fabric but is so gorgeous, I couldn't help but make a pair of shoes from it. When working with sheer fabrics, you will need to use a lining. Here, the lining joins the top of the boot (so the top edge is perfectly finished). Turn the boot right side out and press. The top will be finished but the sides and bottom of the boot won't be. Baste along the side and bottom edges to hold everything in place so it stays in place as you work. Lining side up, fold the boots and stitch along the back center seam as usual. Press that seam then turn the boot right side out. Add the interfacing (I chose a tiny piece of black card stock). As for the vamp (that tiny wedge over the foot) too needs to be lined. Stitch it together along the two top edges. Turn right side out and baste long the lower two edges. Then place the vamp the bottom of the boot (right side up) and hand stitch in place. Add the soles. For these boots I used my 18 gauge silver wire for the stilettos. 
At some point you will try your hand at materials that require special handling. 

I found this piece of leather which is really too thick for 1/6 proportions. It had been hanging in my closet for awhile before I found a rather interesting sewing technique that was used to repair jeans by hand. It consists of sewing two lines of stitches together and then pulling it closed. The result is a perfectly closed seam. This allows you to finish the back of the boot when stitching and turning the boot right side out is not an option.

1. Make stitches down both sides of the boot pattern.
2. Apply rubber cement to inside edges of the boot then fold under close to the stitches..This is an important step because the seams need to lay flat and once the seam is stitched up, there is no way to do this.
3. Hold both edges close together then with a double threaded needle (knotted at the end), run the needle under and through each pair of stitches. You are literally stitching up the stitches, pulling them gently together as you make your way up.
4. The result is very clean, very professional.
5. Here's a back view of the finished boot. This is an interesting technique to use for "difficult" materials like medium weight leathers, suede and vinyl, plastics, velvet and chunky fabric that are hard to impossible to stitch and turn right side out.

I used the same technique to remake the Chanel boots I saw during the S/S 2018 catwalk shoe. (The original ones I made were disastrous.)  No matter how thin the material is, you cannot turn vinyl right side out when working on such a small scale. This is a material where you will want to close the back seam using this technique.

If you are tempted to work with clear vinyl, I recommend using "invisible" thread. This is really a thin plastic thread. It's not the easiest thing to work with but it does remain out of sight. I used the pattern without the center seam. I layered on the front toe wedge and slip stitched it in place. The toe is wrapped in mirror tape and I even cut little vamps that define the back of the foot. (We'll talk more about those in the next post.) For the stiletto heel, I used 1/2" (1cm) 18 gauge silver wire. 

If you want the boot to fit close to the leg, you will have to think about a closure. The FR footwear usually puts a zipper in the back seam, but they will sometimes create a side seam as well. I decided against this because it means you would have to create yet an extra seam in an already tiny item. Besides, there are other more creative solutions.
Lacing the boots up the back is an easy, not to mention sexy way to finish off a boot. Take a look at my hot pink suede boots I made for Samantha.

I decided against putting in metal eyelets because I felt they would distract from the beauty of the suede and of the design. I folded under the edges of both sides of the back seam then sliced small slashes along both sides. Then, I cut narrow strips of suede and threaded through an upholstery needle which I used to thread through the holes.

Before I show you what else you can do with that back seam, let's take a look at what you can do with the front seam. Here I've used a shorter length and a closure treatment that laces up the front.

 1. As I mentioned before, you can make a standard pattern then cut it down to the length of boot you want. Here I took the knee length (with center front seam) and cut it down to the midcalf. Stitch the back seam then, using rubber cement, glue the seam flat.
2. Apply rubber cement to the front edges of the boot. Turn the edges and hammer flat.
3. Mark where you want the eyelets on the wrong side of the boot then prepare the eyelets. I used the needle side of a compass. Place an eyelet on the needle.
4. Punch a hole in the leather, forcing the eyelet through the leather. You might have to use your fingers to help get it completely through.
5. Then take a pair of pliers and with a quick gesture, press the eyelet flat.
6. The finished eyelet should look like this.

7. Before you can even think of putting on a sole, the upper must be completed. I used kitchen string as shoelaces.
8. Prior to putting on the sole, tape the two edges together on the back side so that the toe remains closed as you glue it to the insole and sole.

Remember that fringed jacket we made earlier this summer.

After creating a row of fringe by slashing a strip of leather into strips, the fringe is basted to one side with the fringe facing inwards towards the center. 
If the leather is supple enough you can fold the piece over to encase the fringe and sew. Then turn right side up. If the leather is too thick, then you can use the technique of sewing the stitches closed we showed earlier in this post.

Okay, so I wanted to end with something that looks remotely like a winter boot! This was originally a leather spat that didn't get much action. I transformed them into real boots (hence, the wedge over the top of the foot) and added a fur trim. 

For the moment I haven't committed to the trim, so it is only taped to the inside of the boot. At any point, I can remove it and still have a really nice pair of brown leather boots.

Well folks, this has been a really fun summer project but all good things eventually come to an end. Up next: our last shoe tutorial of this series.... Shoe Biz 7: Pumped!

We will bring this series to a close on a quiet, conservative note. I left this rather plain shoe for last because for me, it is the most difficult shoe to make well. Personally, I don't plan to make many of this style of shoe. But I felt the series would not be complete without the classic pump. I will follow up with a few final thoughts before returning to our regularly scheduled fashion posts.... See you  back here very soon.

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