Sunday, April 18, 2021

Shoe Biz: FLAT Out Stylish

As you have probably guessed, I've been in a creative slump. So me and the girls got together and agreed that I should do a new installment for "Shoe Biz." Our fashion forecast where we tried to envision what a fashionista might want to wear post-pandemic, missed one element.... footwear. Admittedly I still love to see high heels with high fashion. But after more than a year of walking around in house slippers all day, we imagine that when the divas begin socializing again, it will probably be in flats! In my house, we're all still in love with high heels. And nothing is going to change that.  But some of you have let me know that you have girls who are looking for fashion flats. So this post is for you. 

Though I have a couple pair of flat footed legs for my FR ladies, the majority of my divas are content with their heels. I do have, however, two SIS Barbies who were rebodied onto older Poppy Parker bodies with feet that swivel from tippy toes to flats, and they were thrilled to have footwear made just for them. If you haven't already viewed our Shoe Biz series devoted to creating your own dolly footwear, you might want to look there first. Throughout this post, you will find references to tutorials in that series.

The shoe making process here is no different from that which we employed making stilettos except...we don't have to go through the delicate step of making and attaching high heels to the soles. Your choice of material for soles is up to you. For this project I used cardboard (from the backing of a notepad), a piece of fuzzy shoe leather I bought from a local crafts store and my favorite...self drying clay. The latter affords the opportunity to get just the shape I want that perfectly fits the bottom of the upper shoe perfectly. It also allows me to cover up any little imperfections. Please note: the one thing I do not address are shoes with built up toes. First of all, it is an aesthetic that does not come easy for me and technically it is a bit complicated without a shoe form. I'm working on a workaround solution and as soon as I make it work, I'll feature it in a post dedicated to boots. In the meantime, lets get started!

SOLE-ful Strut

Creating the sole for the flat shoe is pretty straight forward. 
1. With the doll's foot flat against a sheet of paper, draw an outline all the around. 
2. All of the style is in the toes! Draw an extension off the top of the foot. The sole (and the shoe) should be a little longer and more stylized than the actual foot. 
Note: At first I added a little clay to this area to keep the shoe from becoming too flat. But I later found that adding an interfacing to the top of the shoe over the toes yields the same result and is simpler.
3. If the style you want is something rounded, that's how you should finish it off. If it's pointed or somewhat squared, that's how you draw it as well. 
4. Cover the insole with your material. Here, I've used leather which means simply tracing off the silhouette of the sole onto my final material. But if you are using a fabric, you'll want to allow for a margin around the entire sole, clip around the edges then turn under and glue.

Prima Ballerina
When it has a heel, it's called a "pump." When it's flat it's called a "ballerine" or "ballerina." This shoe is a little more closed than than classic ballerine. With the added decoration, my shoe even looks a bit like a loafer. Granted, I was inspired by the color of the leather, which I call "Hermes" orange! 

1. If you don't have tracing paper, you can always use coffee filters! First tape the insole to the bottom of the doll's foot. Cut a horse shoe shape out of paper and slide it over the foot.
2. Join the two ends together at the center back of the foot and pin and mark with a pencil. Draw the style lines around the top of the foot. Trace around where the paper meets the sole of the shoe.
3. Clip around the edges.
4. Remove from the foot and clarify your lines to create the pattern. You might put the pattern this back on the foot to make sure it looks pretty much the way you want. Trace onto light cardboard stock and add seam allowance around the outer edge of the upper that will eventually fold over the insole.

5. Using your pattern, cut out the uppers in the material of choice. I like to trace the pattern on the wrong side of the material. 
6. Create "interfacing" out of lightweight card stock. This shape is the same as your uppers but without the seam allowance and it should fall a hair short of the edges. Because I've used a thick leather, I really don't need stiffening around the entire shoe. So I've cut the interfacing down to only cover the toes and glued it in place using rubber cement. But if, for example, you are using a thin leather or fabric, you will need a full interfacing that covers the entire upper. Use rubber cement to glue the interface to the upper.
7. Cut notches all along the edges of the uppers. Bend the toes around a sharpened pencil.
8. Here are my curved uppers and the covered insoles..
9. Once the insoles are covered, tape them to the doll's feet. 
10. Add rubber cement along the inside edges of the uppers as well as on the bottoms of the inner soles. When both surfaces have dried a bit, carefully assemble by curving the notched edges over the bottom of the soles and pressing them in place on the sole. Note: Since I am working in leather, I simply fold one edge over the other at the back of the foot and glue in place. If you are using fabric or a thinner leather, you can hand sew the center back seam by hand before you glue the upper to the sole.
I like to glue on a mid sole before attaching the final sole. It provides a nice smooth surface.
11. For these shoes, I decided to make leather soles. But if you make this from cardboard, the steps are exactly the same. My leather swatch is thick, so I needed a pair of very sharp scissors. Check your finished upper against the pattern you made for the sole. You may have to modify it a bit by making it slightly longer. For the heel, simply trace off the back end of the sole, cut out in leather or cardboard and glue to the sole.. Again, you want to check it against the form of the sole to ensure everything is well aligned around the side and back edges. 
12. Glue the heel to the sole, then sand the sides to smooth out any rough or uneven edges. 
13. You don't have to do this, but I added a little clear nail polish so that my edges would be more "finished." can always paint in the color of your choice. When finished, glue the sole to the upper using a strong gel glue. (I'm using E6000)
14. On the left is my finished shoe. On the right, I cut three tiny slivers of leather to form an "H" and tacked them onto the top of the shoe.

Take a Bow
Very 60's. Very Sunday. The classic ballerine in two pieces..... For this shoe I borrowed the pattern I used to make the 2-piece pump. It consists of a toe piece and a back quarter. In fact, many of the uppers we used to create out silhouettes styles can be adapted to flats!
1. Using a small piece of paper, wrap the top of the foot and shape the toe into the desired shape. Since this is a dress shoe, I've opted for a pointed toe.
2. Trace around the foot and we showed you above. 
3. Make your pattern by adding seam allowance to the edges that will fold under the sole.
4.Take another small piece of paper (or tape) and cover the sole of the foot.Trace the edges. Remove from the foot, Clarify the edges and create your pattern by adding seam allowance to the edge that will fold under the foot. Note: if you are using fabric, you will need to add seam allowance all around. That seam allowance on top of the shoe will either be turned under and glued can create a lining. If you are using fabric, I recommend using iron-on interfacing on this piece for added structure.)
5. The insoles have been covered with fabric. The toe upper has a card stock interfacing and after being curved over a pencil point, the edges are turned under and glued to the bottom of the insole. Same thing for the back quarter. 

6. Add glue on the sole using a super strong gel glue. Or, if you are using air dried clay, glue a second card stock sole over the existing one, then add a small ball of clay and form into the sole and heel.
7. You will really need to play with the proportion of the bow. You don't want it too big and floppy. Here, I took a tiny bit of the fabric, folded it in thirds and with needle and thread, drew it in at the center and stitched it in place. 
8. Because this is fabric, it can be sewn directly onto the top of the shoe. 
For this shoe, I used air dried clay to create my sole. 

Slide Right In
Slides...these are simple flats without the back quarters. Note: dolly will need a spot of double stick tape to keep these on her feet!
1. Here, I only needed the toe and the inner sole. This is the same toe pattern, but I've cut it so that it covers more of the foot than my 2-piece ballerine. I used a card stock interface over the toes. The edges are notched then glued under the inner sole using rubber cement. I covered this with an "inter sole."
2. I decided to make my soles using air dried clay. I put a small roll of clay on the bottom of the shoe. and shaped it in place.
3. Use a dowel as a "rolling pen" to smooth out the bottom
4. Form a tiny ball and add to the back of the sole. Shape into a heel. 
5. The completed shoe is here. But just a tad bit boring...
6. Using a hole punch, I created these three tiny disks. They are glued together then glued to the shoe.

But here, is the basic slide, created in brown suede. A good shoe for pants!

Spectator Sport
Again, you can always borrow the patterns we drafted for the sneakers and modify like what I've done below. 
Spectators, oxfords.....this is a modification version of a pattern I made for sneakers. 
This is a modification of a pattern of another shoe I made. It is in two pieces, the back quarter overlapping the front, each pattern with its own interfacing. I have used card stock for the interfacing and leather for the outer shoe.
1. The toe and the heel with interfacing glued in.
2. Notches are cut on the curved edges which will be tucked under the insole.
3. What is fun about starting out with a simple shoe is what you can do to customize the look. Using tiny scraps of leather, I have created a simple pattern on both the front and back pieces.
4. Curve the toe around a pencil point to shape.
5. Rubber cement the edges of the uppers and the bottom of the insoles.
6-7. Once the glue has dried on both surfaces, fold the edges over and press in place. Start out with the toe, then overlap with the back. I made the shoelaces by cutting a sliver of leather. Punch a hole in the side, then thread a needle with a large hole with the leather laces and slide them through.

I used craft leather for the soles.

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  1. Hello April, It's all a delicate and meticulous job .... I also have to admit that it's been a long time since I created shoes. The model I made was a men's moccasin because none of the shoes I had fit my new character. My female models are smaller and more delicate to make. The big advantage is that they can be matched with our clothes.
    I really like your sport model.
    Well done for this new post.

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Shasarignis. Indeed it is a delicate job, creating shoes this tiny. And to complicate things, I really don't have an feeling for flat shoes. I wear them with pants, but never as "fashion" with dresses. The other challenge here had to do with the dolls' feet which were wide and flat. So trying to make them stylish was a bit of a task! Thank you again for your kind words.

  2. Your imagination and creativity have no limits. I am delighted with each model of shoes that you have made. They are absolutely unique and unique.
    I just made a few simple pairs of shoes for barbie curvy and action figures. This is difficult due to the small foot size.

    1. Oh Thank you, Dlubaniny for your very kind words. Happy you enjoyed this tutorial. And yes...working on such a tiny scale is a huge challenge. everything else, the more you make, the better you get at making these tiny shoes. did just the right this scale...keep things SIMPLE! I saw some shoes with flowers on them, but when I tried to do something similar, the flower over-powered the shoe and I had a difficult time keeping the flower attached to the shoe. It was a mess! That's when I decided to get the hole punch out and make something much more simple!!!

  3. Yay! More shoes tutorials! I like the ones with the bow as well as the ones with the "punch hole" detail. It's just a nice way to add a pop of something different. I also find admirable that you can work with such tiny details and make so many of them, I would start seeing blurry after making the first pair.

    1. Thank you so much MC. It is VERY challenging to make such tiny objects and a few of them ended up in the trash! with most anything else..the more you make the better they get. Also...what a visor with a built-in magnifying glass! Unfortunately there's nothing I can do to reduce the scale of my fingers scale (LOL).

  4. Wonderful work April!

    The pointy slippers are indeed perfect to wear with wide or skinny pants! The bow shoes are cute too! And I love the little disks detail that you used, it's special and chic.

    The other shoes, like the cute "Hermes orange" ballerinas I wouldn't dare to start on, but the slippers would, maybe, be possible to make for me, but in a bigger size.

    Ah, your girls, they are so lucky to have you as their personal designer! Can't wait to see the 3 new ladies (or boys) by the way. :)

    1. Thank you, Linda. The secret to making these teeny weeny shoes (you know Poppy Parker feet are particularly small) is to keep it simple. As usual, I downloaded a slew of photos. But when I tried to replicate them....disaster. Too little real estate on the doll's foot! That said...I think if I had been working on a larger foot, I might have been able to do something more creative. HOWEVER...most of the readers who see and will try to make these shoes have Curvy Barbies. And those dolls really have tiny feet! crew is very lucky! I think my name is scrawled on some dolly bathroom wall with the inscription...for a great time and lots of clothes & shoes, head over to April's.
      P.S. I'm expecting the new arrivals (all girls) sometime this summer.

  5. Every pair is beautiful. I know if I try to make them I will have to take a deep breath first! LOL!

    1. Thank you so much. If you attempt to make them (I can hear your dolls pleading with you from here LOL) start out with a simple pair...the sliders. You will need a little piece of tape to hold them to the bottom of the doll's foot, but in time you'll get better. You can also use a bit of ribbon to act as a tie to hold them in place at mid foot. Put the ribbon on before you add on the definitive outer soles!

  6. So detailed, I don't think I would have the patience...but there are dolls that need footwear, because of big or flat feet. Wonderful tutorial, I think that is how I first found you---a shoe tutorial! I have a great Idea for some Roman sandals I have wanted to try. Hugs, Sandi

    1. Thank you, Sandi. And yes, there are lots of dolls, especially those curvy Barbies with flat feet. Plus, on the FR forums, there are lots of collectors who are asking for shoes for those flat foot legs they can now get for their high heeled divas. All of them need shoes. Plus this is a perfect time to make your own shoes. Have you seen those prices on Ebay?!!! Big hugs, April.

  7. Podziwiam u Ciebie, ale nie mam dość cierpliwości, aby podjąć próbę wykonania butów dla Barbie! To są tak małe elementy, że nie potrafiłabym ich odpowiednio modelować.
    Jestem pod wielkim wrażeniem różnorodności fasonów! Brawo! Wspaniała praca!

  8. Olla wrote: I admire you, but I don't have the patience to try to make shoes for Barbie! These are so small that I wouldn't be able to model them properly.
    I am very impressed with the variety of styles! Bravo! Amazing work!

    Thank you so much Olla. But I am so surprised to hear you say that you don't have patience to make such tiny objects. I am surprised because you create knit and crocheted dresses for your dolls and I have no patience for that craft! I suppose each of us have our strengths and limitations. That's what makes our community so very interesting!!!

  9. How inspiring! It’s not easy to make high heel shoes so I broke down and ordered a pack of 50 pairs online. But I still have flat feet that need shoes! I've been watching how espadrilles are made full size and was wanting to try tiny ones. But yours are adorable! Are they for the smaller dolls or bjd 28” ones? I imagine it’s a tad easier for the bjds?

    1. All of my shoes are 1/6 scale (Fashion Royalty, Barbie). Many of the dolls in my collection have different sized feet...even within the same doll families. I found myself spending hundreds of dollars on doll shoes, so I decided to teach myself to make my own for both the girl and the boy dolls. Another advantage to making my own footwear is that I can make it to suit the outfits I create. If I need more gold shoes, it's as simple as making more shoes in that color. What I have learned is even when you spend a lot of money on doll shoes (such as those gorgeous ones created by Integrity Toys), there is still the likelihood they will "wear out." Those tiny straps break. The faux leather peels... I've had my heart broken. But now I have complete control over the footwear and unless the footwear is really special, I've stopped buying shoes.


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