I have long considered the possibility of modifying Champagne Faire’s German Turnshoe kit into a 16th century Italian style. I finally bit the bullet and it arrived today. I was so excited that I promptly got to work and finished the first shoe about 12 hours later. I’m so happy with the results and would highly recommend this kit to others. While the German pattern is nice as is, it’s also fairly easy to modify the upper into other styles.

After I oohed and aaahed and posted pictures to Facebook of the contents, I traced the pattern as is onto Swedish Tracing Paper and pinned the pattern to the sole to test the fit and determine where I wanted to make changes. I made a couple test patterns before I was happy. I ended up making the one piece upper into three pieces to accomodate the straps. The final pattern was traced onto clear vinyl for durability and ease of use.

Swedish tracing paper is a patterning paper that is sewable, sort of similar to interfacing in consistency. It’s great for sewing a pattern to test fit or construction. I ordered mine from Amazon by searching for Swedish tracing paper. The brand I purchased is sold out at this time, but here’s a link anyway.

The kit calls for leather uppers, but I was too excited to order leather and wait for it, so I decided to use some gold silk dupioni leftover from my elevation gown. I fused iron-on interfacing to the silk for stability and traced the pattern onto the interfacing with a pencil. I sewed the side backs to the front and overcast the edges together, pressed towards the back of the shoe. I cut bias tape from the same fabric and bound the upper edge, then layered white soutache over the binding for decoration. The soutache and binding both helped stabilize the edge and straps, which was helpful. I used the awesome eyelet function on my Bernina 550 sewing machine to do the eyelets. 

At that point, I wasted several hours trying to decide how to decorate the shoes. Slashing or pinking are most common in portraiture of 16th century Italian shoes, but I lack any pinking tools and was waffling about using a straight blade knife to cut small slashes. Ultimately, I gave in and traced a 1/4″ grid on the wrong side of the uppers, charted the slashes, and used my trusty knife to cut the tiny slashes. 

There’s actually a mistake in the charting, but I duplicated it on the second shoe so they’d look the same and no one will ever notice. 

I overcast the bottom raw edge and pinned the upper to the sole all the way around. At the back, I marked where the seam needed to go, test fit repeatedly to be sure I wasn’t screwing anything up, unpinned half the shoe and sewed the back seam. I pressed the seam open and overcast the edges, then repinned everything. Finally, I switched to a zipper foot and carefully stitched the upper to the sole.

After I checked that everything was secure, I trimmed the excess from the sole and flipped it right side out. I thought I was going to rip something while turning it, but I didn’t. I grabbed a velvet ribbon and stitched it in half, threaded it through the eyelets and TA-DA! 

I trimmed a gel insole down to fit and inserted it for comfort. The pictures make it look like my foot is squished in there, but they’re really not. It’s so comfortable! Now it’s time to sew the second shoe…..