Saturday, March 29, 2014

Starting back up on that pair of shoes

First up, found another good shoe blog -  This is a guy who makes bespoke shoes, I think in New York.  Mostly men's. 
Tutu is at a good stopping place - the frills are all sewn on, and I've finished the waist band.  All that's left is the decorative fabric that goes on top.  I'll get going on that next week.
First, I wanted to get on top of that second pair of shoes - the lace-up, oxford/spectator inspired ones.  My black leather *finally* arrived, so I could start.
Here are the pieces cut out:

I still need to make the pattern for the lining, and cut the lining, obviously, as well as making the patterns for the counter and the heels. 

The jagged edge on the black pieces (which I think is called gimping) is typically done with a machine, as part of the cutting process.  You just run the cutting needle (like a sewing machine) along the cut line, and it gives you a nice, even, zig-zag edge.  I don't have one of those machines, so I cut all the little teeth by hand, with a pair of scissors.

The next step here is to get out the hole punches, and do the decorative holes along the edges, and also, to skive the edges of the light blue leather.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick tutu update

Have finished the basque, and put on 8 of the 12 frills.  Boy, do these suckers take a long time.  Each frill is 6 yards long, widths increase by 1" increments from 2" to 13".  Here's some progress photos:

That last one is upside down - it looks better that way.

The cats have been banished from the room while I work on this.  Kaylee can't resist shredding the tulle, Simon pulls the pins out, and both of them have a thing for shoving things off the table.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Belated Corset Update

Black leather *still* hasn't arrived, so still no progress on the next pair of shoes.

Corset hardware, however, arrived on Friday, and the corset is finished.  Here's how it happened:

First up, the beautiful black velvet with little white gems on it is a stretch velvet.  Stretch is not so good for corsets, so I added some heat-bond interfacing, and some ugly quilter's cotton I had lying around, for stability, to each individual piece, and stitched around the edges to hold it in place.

Sewed together the outside.

Added some mis-matched decorative diamonds on the front center panels.  Sorry about the washed out photos - the lighting in my workshop is great for working, but terrible for photography.

On the back sections, stitched the lining to the outside at the back edges, stitched a channel for some boning, added grommets, and added another channel for boning - one piece of boning on either side of the grommets.  (This also helps keep your grommets in a nice straight line.)

On the front, stitched the lining and fronts together along the center opening, leaving gaps for the loop side of the busk.  Inserted the loop side and stitched it down.  Poked holes with an awl for the studs, shoved them through, and stitched that down, too.

It's probably impossible to tell from these horrible pictures, but the busk I got has little diamonds in the studs.  

So, I stitched up the side seams, slipped the rest of the boning into the channels on the lining, laced it up and did a trial fitting.  It was a bit too loose (I've lost some weight since the pattern was drafted for me originally), so I took in the sides a little.

The fit was just about perfect, so I added binding to the top and bottom edges to finish it. 

And here's the finished corset.

I've started on the tutu to go with the corset - I've got the basque made (basically a crotch-length, high-waisted, very tight mini skirt), and have sewn on the first three rows of frills.  I'll try to remember to take some photos of it soon.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Corset Lining

Just a quick couple of notes on the corset lining:
Everyone who makes corsets, it seems, has a different technique.  My pieces are numbered (center front to center back, 1-6), and I mark the top of each piece with notches equalling it's pattern piece number.  Since the pieces are very similar to eachother, this keeps me from mixing them up, and it also keeps me from sewing in one of the pieces upside down. 
I also put a little notch at the waistline, to make sure that I'm lining them up correctly - not so much an issue if I'm making the same pattern as the original, but if I've done any modifications to the top or bottom line, it helps keep things square, so to speak. 
I use cotton duck for the lining, and I don't generally use a coutil layer.  The duck is strong enough, generally, given the use the corset will be getting.  If I'm using a particularly delicate fashion fabric, I'll line it with something with a little more heft - but usually just whatever I have laying around.  I'm not wearing this thing, daily, as underwear - I'm generally wearing it for a few hours at a time as a costume.  The cotton duck holds up just fine under the stress I put on my corsets.
Also, I use black cotton duck for a lot of things.  So, when there's that rare 60% off coupon at JoAnn, I buy a whole bolt of the stuff. 
Next step for me is to sew together the lining into two front panels and two back panels.  I iron the seam allowances flat.  Then, I stitch on channels for the boning - I use extra wide single fold bias tape.  It's the perfect size for the 1/2" steel boning I prefer.
The lady at the fabric store asked why I would purchase bias tape when it's so easy to make it yourself.  Why would I spend the time making it myself when it's just $2 for a package?

I don't put channels in the back along where the grommets go - those will be just the layers of the corset stitched together to create channels on both sides of the grommets. 
My order has shipped - from Philadelphia.  It should arrive during the week, and then I can get this thing wrapped up.  Today I think I'll get the outside done, so it's all ready for the hardware when it arrives.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Corset Patterns!

Norwescon is coming right up!  I've been invited to join a costume group (Skittles), and have almost finished my costume for this year.  Yes, I'll be wearing the shoes I made (the black and silver flats) with the costume. 

I've got a couple of weeks, still, and would really love to make their costume from last year:


Everyone has a color, and my color is black.  (I didn't want yellow.)

So, the two big items here are the corset and tutu.  I've been scouring the internet and pestering friends for info on making the tutu, but the corset I've got covered.

Here's a corset I made a few years ago:

It's not cinched tight, but it fits nicely (it's a tiny bit loose, because I've lost some weight, but the proportions are still good), mostly because the pattern was expertly drafted for me by Lori, a friend who teaches corsetry. 

So, any time I need a corset, I just modify the pattern I have.  In this case, I want the panels to be closer to the same size, so I can put diamonds on them easily.  I'll also need the bottom edge to be a little higher, and a little flatter, so as to not interfere with the tutu.  And this particular corset pokes me just a tiny bit under the arms, so I'm lowering that about a half inch, and making the front top line a slight upward curve.  Here's my corset pattern:

I had to make the pattern before I could order the busk and stays.  Luckily, I need an 11" busk, and that's one of the two sizes they carry in the diamond-stud busk.  (I do love me some sparkle!)

I got some gorgeous black velvet with little white crystals for the outside, and a selection of silver and grey fabrics (5" of each) for the diamonds.  I'll be able to put together the lining and the outside, but will have to wait for the busk and stays to arrive to do the finishing. 

So now, I have two project that are waiting for the mail to arrive.  *sigh*

Patterns - Lace-up Heeled Oxford

Now that the first pair of experimental, post-class shoes are done, it's time to move on to the next! 

Experiments in the previous pair of shoes included flats, leather soles, stacked leather heel, suede, asymmetrical design, straps, toggles, attaching straps with elastic, cutout/inset, and many more.

Experiments on this shoe:  wood heels, multi-piece pattern, laces, tongue, higher vamp, gimping, punching designs... and I'm sure there are more things I've never done that we'll find along the way.

Remember this design?

Time to get started.  I received my copy of Handmade Shoes for Men, one of the very few good shoemaking resources available.  It answered some questions I had about the relationship between the lining and the tongue/laces area of the shoe.  So, on to pattern making.

Many/most? shoe makers do something called a mean forme.  Basically, you design your shoe, then split the pattern down the center line, and find the average between the inside of the foot and the outside of the foot, and make a pattern that's symmetrical. 

With my super wide feet, and with my propensity for asymmetrical designs, I like the system I learned in class better:  just do the whole damn thing.  So, I drew the design I liked onto the masking tape, and cut carefully along the lines with an exacto knife.  Peeled off the pieces, and traced them onto manilla file folders.  Added allowances for seams and lasting.  Here are all the pieces that will be black:

And here's the piece that will be metallic silver/pale blue, before adding the tongue and allowances:

And here's the entire pattern.  I love the shapes of these pieces - especially the light blue one.  I think it looks kind of like concept art for a fast spaceship in a sci-fi tv show.

I've already got the insoles made, and the heels carved.  But I can't start on these until I receive my shipment of black kangaroo leather, which should be arriving soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

First pair of shoes - finished!

Just finished up my first pair of post-class, all-by-myself shoes!
Once the black suede was glued down, I took the shoes up to the belt sander and ground down the wrinkles, and cut away the excess material.  Filled in the gap(s) with cork (the kind you get in sheets from the craft store), and filed away the excess.
Cut the soles and two sets of heel lifts from some black scrap leather.  For pumps, in general, I'll be using a rubber soling material (which I have lots of now), but for this pair, I wanted to use leather.
I took the soles to work, and used a press there, and my new custom leather stamp, to stamp in my logo, which I filled with a little silver rub & buff.  Which may have been a bit of a mistake, as it didn't wipe off the surface as well as I had hoped:

Glued the soles and the lifts on to the shoes...
And removed them from the lasts.  Took out the foam sheets that were the placeholders for the comfort insole, and trimmed the elastic.

Popped in the insoles, and tried them on:

The longer straps were really loose, so I re-attached the elastic a little bit lower down.
Unfortunately, they're a bit loose.  And the heel point is a little low. They fit pretty well with a pair of socks on, however, so it's not a failed experiment. :)  Lessons learned.
I received in the mail today another pair of lasts - purchased for $20 off ebay (if only there was more selection available that way!).  They're a half size too big - 6 1/2 EE, and again with the square-ish toe (like these ones).  I think I might grind them down a little to an almond shaped toe.  They've got a nice 2 1/2" heel pitch, so I'm looking forward to finding out if I'll be able to use them for shoes for me. On to the next pair!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Counter, Toe Box, and Final Lasting

Time to get going on the structure.

I know - this first picture is a re-post, but it's in here to show different things.

I cut the counter out of the same orange suede I used on the insoles.  In class, we used split shoulder (tooling leather), but I don't have a splitter, and I'm thinking that the suede is about the same thickness.  I soaked it for a couple of hours in water, and then spread Hirschkleber (elk hoof glue) all over one side.  I applied the counter to the back of the last, on top of the lining, but under the outer leather, and lubed up the outside with the hirschkleber.  In the photo, the counter is the brown thing on the back of the shoe. 

The white, semi-circle piece is the toe box (also known as a toe puff) - it's a thermo-molding material.

You put glue on the white stuff and on the toe of the shoe, and let it dry.  Then heat it up in a toaster oven (I got one on clearance at Fred Meyer for $20!) until it's floppy, and quickly stretch it over the toe of the shoe.  While it's still warm, you can use scissors to trim off the excess material at the feather line.  

Then, I used a file to sand down the edges of the toe box, so there won't be a visible line on the outside of the shoe. 
I also took the shoes up to the belt sander and ground down the wrinkles in the lining (on the insole) and trimmed away the excess material there.
Time to finish lasting!  A quick swipe of glue on the insole and the black suede, and a generous application of shoe stretch, and it's ready for nails.

My ghetto lasting stand is working just fine. 
Here's how they're looking at the moment.  Next, I need to trim and sand down the wrinkles on the black suede, like I did on the liner, then fill in the bottom with some cork.  Then soles - which I'm going to make out of leather - yet something else I've never done.  These shoes have a lot of experiments in them.  Perhaps I should have started with a more standard pump...


These flats are supposed to go with my costume for Norwescon this year.  Since the costume is more or less Norse, I wanted to pay homage to the Norse shoe by using toggles to tie down the straps. 

It was somewhat problematic, since I had no clue when I was starting how exactly I was going to do that. 

Regardless, I made some toggles. I cut some triangles out of silver leather from the craft store - it was thicker and fluffier than I wanted to work with, but I don't have a splitter, so there wasn't much I could do about it. 

When I rolled them up, the tan colored edges showed, so I got some black leather dye and dyed the back sides:
Lesson learned here - don't touch this stuff until the dye is all the way dry - I started rolling up one of the toggles, and the silver was rubbing/sliding off of the front side.  Fortunately, once the dye was dry, that wasn't an issue. 
So - put some glue on them, rolled them up, then used the power drill to drill two little holes through, so I could sew them onto the straps.

I'm using elastic, inserted through the suede, to hold down the straps.  I don't have a better idea of how to do it at this point.  I guess we'll see if it works.  (I need to trim the ends of the elastic off from this photo.)