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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  1. Okay I've bookmarked this again- I WILL try shoes and boots at some point, but... do you happen to have an etsy shop ? :D

    1. Ha ha ha ha!!! For a number of different reasons, I do not have an Etsy shop at the moment. But if I can tweak the soles a bit and get faster at making these shoes, I might just reconsider. I just made shoes for my CI dolls who have big, funny looking feet. And I've just fished one of my Tonner dolls out of the cellar to see what I can do for her and her friends.

  2. Amazing!
    I love the trick with sewing leather boots. This is genius! THANK YOU!

    1. Thank you Kamelia. At first I didn't believe that trick with sewing up the back seam would work. With my early attempts of making boots, I either slip stitched or simply glued up the back. So when I tried this technique and found it to work....I was amazed! Apparently it is similar to the technique used for covering steering wheels with leather in cars as well!!!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. You're probably tired of hearing me saying this but....this has been a LOT of fun!!!

    2. Oh no i never get tired of that lol. I can see how its fun! Great job on all of your shoes , boots, fashions etc...

  4. Everyone of these boots/shoes is have really been cranking out the footwear!

    1. Thank you so much Sandi. Oh yes, I have been a veritable shoe making machine and there is still a long line of dolls outside of my door with demands each day!!! Oh come my Tonner dolls!!!!

  5. What wonderful boots! You never cease to amaze me with all of your creations. You are truly an artist.

    1. Thank you Phyllis. It's amazing how one single change of materials (epoxy clay) led to all of this. Once I had success with the first pair of shoes, everything else seemed possible.

  6. It's been a hot minute since I last wore boots myself, LOL. I think I like the ankle boots the best, because that's something I could see myself using aswell. I often prefer more casual styles over the more high fashion ones, but I do appreciate the creativity.
    Great post, as usual.

    1. Thank you, MC. I'm in an area of the world where there are serious winters so we need boots! LOL! In any case, these are just suggestions to show what is possible.

  7. Oszałamiające, fantastyczne, wspaniałe! Brak mi słów, aby opisać te buty! Trudno je sobie nawet wyobrazić a Ty je uszyłaś!
    Są naprawdę kapitalne!

    1. Olla wrote: Stunning, fantastic, wonderful! I have no words to describe these shoes! It's hard to even imagine them and you sew them!
      They are really fantastic!

      Thank you Olla. Once you get used to making the soles, it's no harder than making a dress!!!

  8. I love the trick about sewing thick leather, I'll try to remember that. I'm a bit surprised that the only kind of boots I ever consider, the lace-up ones with a separate toe and tongue, are conspicuously absent from your selection.

    1. Well.... In this series, I stuck to what I thought would be the easiest, simplest footwear to construct. I didn't do the front lace-up boot you mentioned because, the more pattern pieces, the more complicated to put together. On the other hand, I did a series of sneakers which incorporate the same basic look, but of course, they are shorter. Also, I felt that at any time, I could add to the series. I will most likely do something on men's boots in the near future which, of course, would include a toe and tongue. And I will probably revisit this series of basic shoes with chunkier heels at some point. But my real aim with these particular tutorials was to help everybody construct a simple shoe for any doll in their collection. (Even within the same doll company, my dolls have different sizes of feet. I was spending way too much money on footwear, whenever I could find what I liked.) And, I wanted to find a way to make stilettos--which, up until I did this series, I was never able to achieve. My sneaker series hasn't been as popular as the high heeled footwear. A couple people told me they thought it was way too difficult, even though I included a pair constructed with just two pattern pieces and scraps of leather! In any case, this is not the end!

    2. You have done a FANTASTIC job deconstructing all these patterns! Even though they are simple to create, it's the choice of materials and trims that make them very diverse. I'm happy to hear you are considering more styles. The ones I'm most curious about are Demonia-style footwear with a tall chunky toe. I know this isn't your vibe but hear me out. I wonder if there's a easy way to shape the toe like that. In my attempts, I stuffed a bit of PVA-soaked cotton wool inside the deflated leather toe and pushed the foot in to make sure it still fits. I have seen other people build a clay extension on the foot, stretch leather over it and incorporate the clay into each pair of shoes. I'm considering building a toe extension for each foot size I need, cover the foot and extension with cling wrap, soak the shoe toe in PVA and let it dry stretched. If this doesn't work, I would try a papier-mache base under the leather. The large selection of plastic Barbie shoes made me lazy so it will be a while before I test my ideas, but I'm curious if anyone reading this has some thoughts on the matter.

    3. Thank you again, so much BlackKitty. Your comment means a lot to me. One of the reasons I haven't yet attacked men's boots is because, in able to make one with the right amount of structure, you really need to build a "last" or shoe form. The shape of that form is not the foot, but rather, the outer shape and volume of the finished shoe. I still haven't made one that works for me yet. But the secret to creating all those types of groovy shapes really lies in that basic form. But in the meantime, you can either try to create the shape and stuff the toe or build a form and shape the leather over the hardened clay form. I would construct the shape as you would an article of clothing. Use cotton to create the pattern. You can later stuff the toe so it maintains the form. Anyway, that's my thoughts for the moment.


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