Saturday, 25 March 2017

Shoes for summer!

I have been thinking about warmer weather and my long lasting RTW sandals have finally bitten the dust! I normally eek out sandals for a fair few years by getting them re-soled etc, but alas their time was up! I do have other warm weather shoes, but just not a really good comfy flat pair.


I have not made any more shoes since my first and last pair here, but I have been thinking about it and forming ideas for construction during that time. I find that the time in between is really important for me to assess what I learnt from a task. What I did and didn't like and how I what lessons I would like to carry forward.

One of the things that has really struck me since my first pair is how I can fit this new skill into my life without it causing too much disruption. The tools and glue traditionally required for shoe making is not at all child friendly and seeing's as I'm with children for the majority of time I needed to find a way to make this more suitable. First off the glue! This is the worst bit, because although I know you can get friendlier less fumey glues the one I have is pretty noxious. I decided to be done with glue altogether as it seems too grim and I read somewhere that one of the reasons that shoes can't be easily recycled is because the components can't be separated easily. I am now using the power of the needle and thread and nails in it's place (with one tiny exception that I shall confess to later). I have also kept the tools as basic as possible and easy to store at my design/sewing space up high.

Another thing I find useful with many skills I've learnt is to research as much as possible about how to do things properly, try a few different methods out and then try and forget about what you've learnt in order to formulate a method that suits you and your style of working. Without going into the ins and outs of how I made each shoe, I basically adjusted my designs to suit my growing skills and constructed them in the easiest and most solid way I am personally capable of doing. I believe it took quite some time to figure out how I could achieve my end goal, but I am really happy with the results!

Here is the first pair I finished and these are my dino sandals ;-) The uppers and soles are all stitched together, which I was able to do easily by having the feature top 'spike' design. I sewed this seam last leaving the whole shoe open until the end. The stacked heels and rubber heel tip are nailed in place. The main shoe sole rubber is glued, which was the only bit I compromised on really. I hate that I did and I have since sourced some short shoe nails to be able to nail the sole in future. I have no idea how well these will hold up without glue, so the testing will be in the wearing, but they do feel pretty solid! The straight angles on the sole unit are an aesthetic I like, but are also much easier to cut satisfactorily neat, so serves a double purpose! The leather uppers are small pieces from a discontinued sample book (hence the non-matchiness) and the thick, whiter pieces of the sole and heel are some unknown leather scraps I bought off ebay. It is a large box of weird shaped offcuts that are probably of no use to anyone other than me! The yellow is not reclaimed in any way, but the thick leather is perfect for sturdy shoe parts and it is proving to be a great investment! The crepe rubber for the sole is from here.






The next pair I am making (not finished yet) are my favourite so far and definitely the most practical. All stitched so far and they will have a crepe sole nailed on at the end. The design is inspired by historical shoes with an unfussy fit and fastening. The back has been elasticated for a snug fit and the thick yellow leather from before is used as a heel counter. I am just finishing up the second one ready for the soles.






So that is me so far. Really enjoying my shoe journey and I am enjoying the breaks as well as the practice as this is a long term development of a skill. I can only really put my ideas into practice when I need or want a new pair of shoes, so it is fairly meditative in a way.

Anyway, that is all from me for now. Byeeeeeee x

14 comments:

SewJillian said...

Really so marvellous Marilla! That last pair is inspired. Are you hand stitching or machine stitching? Also if you need to succumb to glue I can highly recommend Renia Aquilim. It's non-toxic, water-based and completely smell free. I am yet to test its long term grip, but it comes recommended by a number of shoe makers I've come across. Power on!

Marilla Walker said...

I have heard of that glue and I may give it a go if my construction doesn't hold up! The uppers are a machine stitched construction and anything after is hand stitched as it gets too thick. Hard on the hands, but also quite satisfying. I reckon between you and your talented husband you guys have got the knowledge and the skills to make all the leather things! ;-)

Meg said...

You have me totally inspired to keep trying making shoes! Hopefully this summer I will find the time!

Marilla Walker said...

You will be totally in the zone meg when the time is right! I find my enthusiasm grows when I actually need 'the thing' ;-) x

Bellbird said...

Amazing, Marilla! Really enjoying following along with your shoe making. Your aesthetic really shines through.

Marilla Walker said...

Ah thanks Bella, that's really great to hear! It's funny when you start thinking about designing something different to your normal practice. You realise all these preferences you never knew existed! ;-)

Fabrickated said...

I love the wonderful designs, especially the shape of your soles. So inspiring and beautiful. You are very talented and increasingly well shod.

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks Kate, I forgot to touch upon the fact that I am learning a lot about the shape of my feet in this process and this shape is more flattering for me. Thanks for your lovely comment xxx

Katie said...

They're fantastic! I would totally buy the dino pair if i saw them for sale!

Elizabeth Made This said...

There's so much learning here! It's amazing to see how far you've come in being able to fit your unique foot. It's interesting to think that this craft of shoemaking used to be accomplished with nails and needles and thread and muscles. I'm with you on finding alternatives to glues! I just finished a pair of espadrilles, and it was gratifying to be able to make a pair of shoes that don't have gross creepy glues holding them together. For all the chemicals running around the world these days, it's always nice to cut some out when you can!

Marilla Walker said...

Aw, thanks Katie! x

Marilla Walker said...

Absolutely with you on that Elizabeth! I'm becoming increasingly aware and concerned by the amount of chemicals and plastics in our lives, so if I can just cut out a little but then I am happy to ;-) As far as fitting to my foot goes, it is so brilliant I can't even tell you. Good luck on your future shoe making journey!

Mum said...

Absolutely love the Dino shoes, they are such fun! You are talented, clever and very funny....

Kathryn said...

These are brilliant Marilla! I'm so excited to see this second pair finished. I really enjoy reading about all your learning journeys, it's so inspiring! I'm hoping to make some espadrilles this summer, like Elizabeth has.