Tag Archives: Shoes

Rubber-soled Turnshoe

Posted on  

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…..

Tall Ships & the Chemise a la Reine

Posted on  

For my birthday this year, I decided to attend “Tall Ships” in Philadelphia, PA. I have long followed other costumers on LiveJournal (did you know that still exists??), and someone posted that she was attending this event in costume the weekend after my birthday. I immediately requested to join, to which she agreed. I have been wanting to get to know some of the other non-SCA East Coast costumers I follow on LJ, as they have an annual Francaise Dinner that I hope to someday attend, and I’d like to know someone there already. This was the perfect opportunity.

But first, I had to do some work on my chemise a la reine before I could wear it to the event. A week prior, I dug out all the bits and bobs, looked at my previous pictures of this dress for improvements, and made a list of the things that needed to happen, as well as the nice to haves.

Tighten chemise a la reine neckline
Redo chemise binding so it’s not visible beneath dress
Wash and restyle wig

Re-cover shoes
Finish about 12 inches of binding on stays
Stiffen sash
Make a bumpad
Make a petticoat
Make drawers
Make stockings

The stays were first, since they had the least work to be done. I have drastically improved my sewing skills and learned many tricks in the two years since I started and nearly completed these stays. It hurts to see how awful the binding looks, the bones are loose in the channels, the tabs are poorly shaped… But it works! It’s effective and feels great. I donned the layers all together and the stays are totally visible above the back neckline. So I won’t be wearing them, but someday, they will work for my Robe a la Francaise.

Then I had to re-cover my shoes. The rubber cement I had genius-ly decided to use when I initially covered them failed miserably. The fabric peeled itself off half way through the day when I wore this outfit, so I used Aleene’s tacky glue this time. Still not the recommended fabric glue, but it was what was handy. I still have enough fabric to re-cover these shoes several more times, if needed.


In case you forgot what they looked like

I spray-starched my sash and hung it up to dry, then moved on to the bumpad. Though a “rump” was optional, I really wanted one because I am lacking in that area and the pictures of my dress showed this fault clearly. I based my bumpad on Kendra Van Cleve’s article about 18th century skirt supports, #7. I was unable to find a better picture of the rump because the Manchester Galleries’ website is undergoing revision. So I made something vaguely crescent shaped, but only reaching as far as my side, unlike a 16th century bumroll, which gives bulk all the way around the waist (what I used in my previous wear of the chemise a la reine). The cool part about this item is I got to use my new flex ruler, one of those lead-filled ones that hold the shape, to pattern my waist exactly. I cut two layers of muslin, stitched it, filled it, then sewed a 1″ grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the waist. One problem I had with my 16th century bumroll was lack of comfort, and some of the alternate constructions I later read about suggested this solution.

I then spent several evenings pleating and repleating a petticoat. My waist measurements dictated that each half of the petticoat (2 yards per side) should be pleated down to a 13″” twill tape. IMPOSSIBLE. After at least 6 hours of guessing, then measuring, and still not getting it to work, I decided to use math! But I couldn’t find a tutorial I remembered reading once upon a time about figuring the correct pleat and return and all the math. So I had to create it from scratch, using a spreadsheet. I’m not great at math, but I am great at spreadsheets… I figured I could manage this. Well, after about an hour of googling for the tutorial, then two hours of Excel and repeated tests, I think I may have gotten the math right, finally. At least, the final test seemed like it would work. One of the major problems I encountered was measuring the pleats accurately, since the fabric had a slight stretch, meaning if I spread it *too* smooth, it changed the measurements! But in the end, I had necessities I had to get finished, so I never got back to the underskirt. However, I *must* finish it in the coming days so I can put it away, ready for next time.

Then I finally tackled the wig. Oh how I was dreading this part. The wig, in its previous hedgehog-ish incarnation, had gotten destroyed between airline travel and moving. I made the decision to reuse the wig, rather than throwing the rat’s nest away (next time, I’ll buy a cheaper wig and dispose of it when it is beyond repair). I washed it in shampoo, then conditioned it to try to give the artificial fibers some “slip” from the tangles. That part didn’t actually help. I ended up using children’s detangler and a wide toothed “wet” comb. Lots and lots of detangler. Between breakage, and later trimming a couple inches off the ends, I had enough hair to make a beret sized hair rat for my mother’s natural poof. Fortunately, the wig had plenty of hair, and all the breakage probably made styling easier than the first time. Or maybe that was the trimming it received. Either way, it was too long and too thick initially.

After the detangling, I re-read Lauren of American Duchess’ tutorial and loosely followed the directions. However, I decided to start at the back this time. I realized I needed to plan ahead so I had enough hair for a few lovelocks. So I pinned all the hair upwards and curled sections at the back. I set my curling iron to low, but it still felt like it might be too hot, so I turned it off, then occasionally tested it. When I was no longer fearful of melting the wig, I curled heavily pomaded lock. No melting. Eventually, I found I didn’t need the iron to sit quite so long, and I could hold it for a 60 second count. Also, the locks seemed to curl better pomaded AND powdered. I then hair sprayed them to death, gently tucked them into a shower cap (pinned closed against the head form) and let down the rest of the hair down. I went all the way around the head and sectioned out a ring of hair. I then teased the center of the wig, then loosely smoothed the outer ring of hair over the rat’s nest, starting from the back, then the sides, then the front. I judiciously trimmed some length as I figured out what length was needed in which area. This solved the too-long problem that I, and Lauren, had with our long wigs. Everything was heavily pomaded and hair sprayed as I styled, holding it in place, but also allowing the baby powder to stick. Then a few more coats of hair spray were added. Prior to the final powder / hair spray steps, I freed the lovelocks, but for transport, I used flat hair styling clips to pin the curls up, then I put a shower cap over everything.

I also curled, powdered, sprayed and cut a lovelock from somewhere in the center to use for my mom’s hairstyle. It was transported the same as the ones on my wig, then bobby pinned into her natural hair, though it didn’t quite match. The loss from the wig was never noticeable!

The wig styling was accomplished the night before the event. I did not get to bind the chemise neckline, but it was under the gown anyway. I *did* attempt to gather the front edges of the gown neckline, but it did not make a significant enough difference in the near indecent way it revealed my cleavage. No point in trying again, as I will have to completely deconstruct and remake this dress if I am to wear it again due to problems with the initial construction, primarily the awful hems, from learning how to use a rolled hem presser foot on polyester voile.

Just before hitting the sack, I had to figure out what I was going to wear in place of the stays. My options were bra or breast binding. I believe I went with a strapless bra last time, and was displeased by the appearance of my large breasts. I tried on a product I had used once before as breast binding, Futuro Abdomen Support, size medium. I purchased it after researching my options prior to a 1920’s picnic where I wanted to minimize my DD as close to flat chested as possible. I bound the edges of the support with felt to prevent chafing, and wore it comfortably all day (under close supervision). It’s a stretchy elastic, but not the same material as an Ace bandage, which can cut off circulation because they are designed to tighten with movement. It’s actually similar to “breast binder” a post-op compression garment, in that it’s a stretch fabric with velcro at the end. Because the support is designed to be a certain measurement, it’s nearly impossible to tighten it past the max stretch of the elastic. If you managed to completely stretch the elastic out, you’d be past the velcro area for securing it. Anyway, I didn’t end up wearing that item, despite past success with it. I have a fresh belly piercing (also in celebration of my birthday) and it rubbed it uncomfortably.

So, another alternate method: I have a shapewear girdle (example) that I wear under dressy modern dresses. Inspiration struck and I slid it up so that the waist was around my chest. Success! It flattened without being too tight, and it was long enough to fully cover my piercing without rubbing. I wore it all day comfortably, though if it had been a *little* tighter, it would have had less slipping problems, but I will probably buy one especially for this purpose, instead of using one stretched out from proper use.

Finally, the fun part: pictures. We didn’t take many, and the group shots were taken after a couple people had left. I *hope* I remembered the names correctly.

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

Lunch was at City Tavern, which apparently has a cool history and delicious food.

Mandy and Robin

Mandy and Robin

Mom and Erin

Mom and Erin

Moms hat

It’s blurry, but I wanted to get a shot of Mom’s hat

All the girls!

All the girls!

Costumed girls

Just the costumed

We peeked in the Independence Seaport Museum, but weren’t particularly interested. We mostly needed cool air and bathrooms.

no comment

Uhh… no comment

Me and Erin

Me and Erin

Mom and I didn’t even make it onto a ship, as we got there after the others had their tour on the famous L’Hermione, but I wasn’t bothered. I came for the costumes and the friends!

Me and Erin

Also me and Erin

And for the 61 foot inflatable rubber ducky, who looked like this the entire time:

Mama Ducky

Mama Ducky – taken by Amanda

Sadness. After many efforts to fix her throughout the festival, she ended up with a 60 foot tear, and many bad puns in the news headlines. But I did get to see her baby, the 10 foot “Rocky the Baby Duck.”

Baby Ducky

Baby Ducky

So, I guess all was not lost.

18th Century-esque shoes

Posted on  

My efforts to purchase a pair of 18th century style shoes involved much unsatisfied web browsing and *one* trip to Payless Shoes. I swear I find perfect costuming shoes every time I go there (1920s, 16th century and now 18th century). Anyway, they are ivory colored, and my chemise a la reine is white with yellow sash and ties, but I already planned to cover them in fabric. A quick purview of Joann Fabrics’ quilting cottons found me a cheery print, though probably not period.

original shoes

I draped a muslin to get a rough pattern piece for each side and then the toe, which I cut from the fashion fabric and rubber cemented to the shoe. The fabric of the shoe had a tendency to absorb the rubber cement so multiple coats were sometimes necessary. Once all the pieces were securely in place I glued a piece of single fold bias tape down the back seam, then glued double fold bias tape all the way around the edge. To secure the inside of the bias tape, I wore the shoes around with my pajamas for 15 minutes. 😉

I tried to get a picture of the dress and shoe together, but you can’t really tell, so here are the two side by side.