Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trying to Make Boots, Second Effort

It needs to be said that the class I took in no way taught us about boots.  I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing here. 
What I do know, is that I'm making an evening dress inspired by the armor of the Riders of Rohan, from the Lord of the Rings movies, sort of crossed with Elizabethan/Tudor.  And what that outfit needs, footwear-wise, is evening-dress appropriate riding boots. 
I've started boots before, but didn't get very far.  I taped, and made patterns, but I was having a really hard time figuring out what I wanted them to look like, and without a plan, everything kind of fell apart. 
So - starting out.  Again, not knowing the right way to measure the leg, I did the thing that made sense to me.  I wrapped my leg, from the knee down, in fabric, put my heel on a stack of coasters as tall as the heel would be, and taped over it with masking tape.  I marked my ankles, where my foot hit the floor (the feather line), the center back of my heel, and the spot I measure to for the high heel measurement.  Drew a line down the inside (where a zipper would go) and cut it off down that line. 
I taped that onto the last, taped up the last the rest of the way, and made a pattern.  Cut it out of fabric, and discovered that there was absolutely no way it would ever fit.  It was far too tight. 
Started over.  Did the exact same thing, but with one difference:  I wrapped the fabric over my jeans. A ways along in this project, it's clear that that's the way to go - when I try on the leather boot, it fits perfectly, with just the right amount of ease, around my bare or stocking-ed or yoga-pant-ed leg.
The design of the heel and vamp are inspired by a Jessica Simpson brand ankle boot, and a riding boot.   This photo shows the tape leg attached to the last, and the last taped, and the design lines marked out in tape and sharpie.
I have very large calves, so the boot leg is in four pieces - there just wasn't any other way.  Also, there's a shaping dart on the inside back piece, at the top, again to accommodate my freakishly large calves.  This is part of why I've never owned a pair of boots.  In making the pattern, I did quite a bit of adjusting to make the sides match.  I've never done a mean forme for shoes - I've read about it, and with my feet, it doesn't seem to be the way to go for the most part, but I wanted the vamp and counter to be *really* symmetrical.
I'm using the same 3-4 oz. tooling leather I used for the corset.  I'm afraid I don't have photos of lots of the process.  Given that I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm making it up as I go along, it feels kind of irresponsible to put my full-on making-of info out there into the world, when it's likely it's very wrong. 
At any rate, I cut out the pieces, skived the edges, and did a bit of tooling on the toe cap, vamp, and counter.  Dyed the leather with the same Oxblood dye and Mahogany glaze as the corset.  There's one line of decorative-only stitching, so it'll match the corset.  The split on the counter, and the dart on the calf, are both hand-stitched with a dark brown heavy-duty thread.  I'm also going to glue the insides, for extra strength along those seams, and maybe glue a piece of (non-stretchable, fabric) tape over the seam as well.  I hand-stitched the toe cap to the vamp. 
I used the sewing machine to stitch the front, back, and outside seams on the boot leg - a standard seam, which then had to be wet and pounded out flat.  The vamp and counter are hand-stitched on, using the orange thread, so it's both a decorative and functional stitch.  Then, I carefully hand-stitched the inside seam.  After all - the fabric mock-up slipped on over my foot just fine, but I couldn't get in there with the sewing machine, and the leather is too stiff to sew the seam with the boot leg inside out and then turn it. 
Oops.  It took two days to sew that damn seam, and totally trashed my fingertips.  And then, I couldn't get my foot through it.  So I'm opening it back up, and installing a zipper.  On the up side, I didn't sew *both* boots before I discovered that little hiccup.  At this point, I just have to put the zippers in to both boots, and the outsides will be ready.  I still have to make the linings, but that should go a lot faster, since all the stitching can be done on the sewing machine, and the parts will be floppy, and easier to manhandle.
In other news, I've cut the celtek and shank board for the insoles, and formed the shank board, and glued them together.  I still have to put on the shanks, and do the fiberglass and epoxy bit.  Also, I discovered that my glue pot wasn't as well sealed as it could have been, and it's been months since I've used it, so the glue had dried up.  There wasn't much in there, but I'm not sure if the glue pot is slavageable, which is a shame, since they're not cheap.  I ordered more glue (Duall 88), and it's on it's way from New York, delayed slightly by the blizzard.  (It has to go ground....)  So I'm waiting on the glue to finish up the insoles.
While I'm waiting for my glue to arrive, I'll be making the linings and the heel blocks.  Hopefully, I'll be lasting by next week!  Which is good - because I have a chemise, scale maille skirt, cloak and purse to make, as well as my husband's jacket (an Elizabethan-inspired tuxedo-ish jacket, in dark blue velvet) to do.  Yikes!  I'd better get sewing.  On the up side, we'll be able to wear these to three events just this year (with different people at each event, for the most part), so killing myself now to get them done will pay off later.