motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
I'm going to draft the rest of this skirt pattern tonight. With my amazing willpower I will get up out of my seat and clean off the plaster of Paris from my sewing table and get cracking. WITH POCKETS.


I always regret not having POCKETS in my skirts or any garment, really, and always forget to put POCKETS in, so emphasis on POCKETS. POCKETSPOCKETSPOCKETS! I'm forgetting it even as I'm typing it! Geez.


The fabric is 100% cotton decorator fabric that gorthx gifted me a while ago. It was waiting for a decoupage project, because I thought I only had .5 yds, but it turns out it's 1.75 (yay organized stash!). And it fits in really well with my black and white themed collection. Thanks, gorthx! I hope I can piece it as drawn with the yardage I have. The back has slight variations I can't decide on.

The top will come later - a simple boat-neck sleeveless dealy I think I can draft from... something vintage.

Also, I'm debating on sewing this as part of the Fall For Cotton Sew-Along.

My custom lasts are drying in their negative molds. I'm highly suspicious they will not come out well in the toes.

motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
The negative molds used up 16 lbs of plaster. One 8 lb tub for each.  Two times what the instructions called for.  I used small boxes, too.

Filling the negative molds used the amount the instructions called for: 2 c water and 4 c plaster. Almost another 4 lbs.

I would be interested in trying casting high-density urethane resin in a mold. That would give me something machine-able (I could cut it into parts to make a hinged last?) and nail-able (for nailing the insole onto the last?). And a negative rubber mold would probably be a lot easier to get feet out of, and could take casting further up the foot.

Plus, the drying time is 15 min vs. a couple days, and the resin is much more liquid so it would flow into all the details without as much air getting trapped.

I am, however, concerned about the allergen and environmental qualities of said resin.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
They're done!  Putting on the soles was so difficult - getting them to a consistent thickness and edges looking smooth and placement despite the chalk line.

The glue did not hold at the edges, because it was not apparent when spreading the glue that it didn't go all the way to the edges.  It's rubber cement and so gets really stringy and threads of glue masquerade as glue soaked in to the fabric.

I also used almost all of the 2oz. tube of Barge's for these shoes, which is why I did not use even more to put in a fabric insole.  Enough glue already!  I would rather make shoes with minimal glue, or with glue that doesn't need to be used outside and kills brain cells.

If these weren't practice shoes, and if I didn't keep reminding myself of that, they'd be a little disappointing:

  • They're flimsy (The original shoes had another layer of thick insole material from the back of the shoe to the ball of the foot - this is where my shoes are flimsiest.)

  • The heels are indeed not centered

  • They are too large in the heel

  • The arch does not end where it should for my foot

  • Visible glue lines

On the plus side, they have enough toe room! And OMG, I made shoes!

Next, I will be casting my actual feet and attempting to fix old sandals.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
DSCN2191The heels are on, more or less. I'm not sure if they are centered, since you aren't supposed to try on your shoes at this point.  The chalk outline I used to line them up is still visible, as well as flecks of debris all over the shoes. I'll be happy to get to the point where I can clean them and see what they really look like.

Skiving is shaving the edge of the leather to a thin dimension in order to reduce bulk.  It can be done with a special skiving knife, or if you are on a budget, it can be done with a utility knife as explained here.

I chose the utility knife route since I had one, and practiced on scraps.  I thought I had it, but then, of course, gouged a chunk out of my sole on the first go. I think it's fixable, though.

I finally got the hang of it, and took a nice, long, smooth cut off one side, then immediately started having problems. The knife wasn't cutting anything and I realized it was dull.  My knife sharpener did a good job of bringing it back to working order and I had to sharpen it once more before I was done. Leather is hard.DSCN2190

I think I'm done for today because my hands are a little numb and I still need to play my harp!
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
RSCN2187Wow, Barge Cement is really... fragrant.  I read all the warnings in the book and on the tube, and worked outside, and I still had watery eyes.  Be warned.

You can also make the usual rubber cement snot balls. Be warned.

The padding and shanks are in. The heels are covered.  One extra step I thought I'd read, but now can't find, is to stick the outer fabric to the felt.  I feel I have to do this because the fabric is floppy and the sole and heel basically are only going to be adhered around the edges to the outer fabric.  This might be because I didn't understand the instructions for constructing the upper layers and they are in the wrong order.

I also tried to shape the heels a little bit with my Dremel sanding drum.  We'll see what they look like.  Heels would be another great thing to make with a 3D printer (and a 3D scanner?).
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
DSCN2182The insoles are in!  They really are cardboard.

Something that would make this process - cutting insoles, cutting off extra buckram, cutting outsoles - would be a table-top jigsaw.  I thought a Dremel would help, but trying to cut the buckram completely dulled my cutting blade and stopped the Dremel. I ended up sanding the bumps off with the Dremel and it even struggled doing that.

(Which reminds me that when the toe-area fabric is pulled into a bunch, it should really be well under the toe, not just at the end.)

My hands just cannot use scissors - because of my tendons I can't use them with any force, and that buckram gets rock hard! And actually, now that I'm trying to find an image of the machine I'm talking about, I realized I need a table top band saw, not jig saw.  Something sewing-machine-sized. Or maybe I need a scroll saw, but I'd want something with a continuous blade, not reciprocating.

I purchase the outsole leather yesterday, too, for a whopping $1.75. It's sold by the pound.  I'm now much less leery of resoling some sandals I've had sitting around for a few years because I knew someday I'd be able to fix them after the soles disintegrated while I was wearing them.  They were this gross, foam stuff with a plastic coating. Ew. But the straps and insoles are leather. I don't know why they didn't just go for all leather.

I plan to glue in the padding and cover the heels later today.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)

As I was trying to follow the instructions for forming the uppers, I realized my earlier confusion following the instructions to sew them was manifesting. There was no ball-point pen marking to follow and I wasn't sure where to stitch.  Because of that, maybe, the lining is rolling to the outside, so I tried topstitching the upper around the opening (I did this after back seam was sewn) to see if that would help in the end. It didn't. These are practice shoes, though.

The author's buckram is also sewn to the muslin in the back seam, and the buckram doesn't go to the very edge of the muslin. Mine does. This wasn't clear in the pattern drafting instructions. So I to cut it off, otherwise I'd never be able to press the seam open. Unless it was supposed to be wetted.I couldn't tell if the pattern was symmetrical. May have better luck using masking tape pattern, but tape doesn't stick to the lasts.  Then realized the pattern is asymmetrical because cutting up the center creates uneven seam allowances unless you're really precise. And that would be where the ball point pen marking comes in?


I sewed all back seams separately, contrary to the instructions (because my layer were in the wrong order?).  The back heel seam is super bulky, especially at the top where it's turned under. I think the wool should not be stitched into the foot opening seam, or the back seam.  Or, in the back seam, create a butted seam in the wool felt.

If sewing a butted seam in felt/lining, sew that seam first?

The instructions for inserting the counter into the upper have the fabrics listed in a different order than what was sewn.  It says to put the counter between the outer fabric/interlining (muslin) layer and the wool lining. There is no interlining of muslin, the muslin is the lining. If the counter were just between the outer fabric and  and the wool lining, the bumpiness would show through.

When forming the upper on the last, the muslin did roll to the outside, despite the topstitching. You're apparently supposed to cut the felt so it's even with the counter?


It seems on the next pair (if there is a next pair), it would be better to layer all the fabrics and just topstitch them in place. Or seam the outer fabric and the lining, and then construct the wool and buckram layers and sandwich them in, then topstitch.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
So far, my favorite part of shoemaking has been shaping the lasts.

Lovely lasts

After a brief hiatus, and while still designing my swimwear, I'm ready to start forming the uppers on the lasts1. Loomis indicates everything from here on out is hand work and can be done at your leisure. Here's everything I need. Oh, except the counters, which are mentioned in the list of materials for this next step, and instructions are in the appendix. So there's an extra step.


The original counters I took out of the shoes are of a stiff, non-woven interfacing material. This procedure has three layers of buckram cut on the bias, wetted and shaped around the heel, then stiffened with Aleene's Fabric Stiffener. Each layer is put on and allowed to dry. The actual shaping took 15 minutes, and dry time was about 5-7 hours each, so it's a good thing to do overnight, or when you have other projects going on.  Or at your leisure, as Loomis says. :)


You also use aluminum foil to cover the heels so the buckram doesn't stick to your lasts. I was concerned about the bumpiness of the foil causing bumpiness in the counters. We'll see what happens!  And they sure are stuck on the foil, so I think I'll be picking that off for a little while.

Then, I'll be ready to form the uppers.

1. This hiatus also gave my lasts time to fully dry, and I'm much more comfortable handling them now.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)

I hate blogging. Is it still blogging if I'm on LJ? Or is it journaling. Whatever, I hate being stuck in front of my computer for any amount of time (or any computer, as I found out from going back to school and interning, yay), so I usually do these posts in two shifts: photo work, then words.  I do like to have a record with pictures of what I do that works (and doesn't work), but still I'd rather be up and making things. Like SHOES! My award for finishing this leg (ahah) is to look at the sears 20s and 30s book and dream up a shoe design. *drool*

The last thing left on my list of Things To Learn is how to make shoes.  There are several schools within reasonable traveling distance to me, however, I don't think it's financially responsible of me do something like that right now. (And thinking about that opens up a whole 'nother can of worms/journal/blog post.) So I made up my own shoe school curriculum. I checked out Mary Loomis' book Make Your Own Shoes, as well as Handmade Shoes for Men by Lazlo Vass, and wrote up a schedule.

Thursday, I started. )


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