Sunday 22 November 2015

I tried to come up with a witty project title, I really did. But seriously... I MADE SHOES!

Real shoes.

Out of leather.

That fit.

And look awesome.

These sandals were made up using the Silvers Sands Sandal pattern by Atelier Louise.

And they are good. Really good. As is the pattern and its accompanying instructions.

With a little patience, some clever leatherworking and a great deal of excitement you too can have your very own me-made pair of sandals.

You do need an array of tools that may not always be terribly cheap to invest in. It helps that I had the bulk of what I needed since myself and hubby have undertaken quite a few previous leather projects.

A small selection of the tools I used
The shoes are entirely glued, there is no stitching required. This is new to me as those previous projects have been sewn either by hand or machine. And let me tell you - get yourself a fume protection mask. Ask me how I know... being vaguely and unpleasantly stoned off the incredibly horrid and toxic glue fumes and with an awfully bad headache is not the way you want to end up. Trust me. I got me a mask after that first gluing incident. And it's my own fault - the pattern tells you clearly to WEAR A DAMN MASK, IDIOT!!! Or words to that effect.

You carefully craft slots to assigned parts of your insole and then feed previously cut and glued, butter soft self-lined straps through to form your top straps. I had to use pliers to pull mine through as it's hard to get a perfect fitting slot based on the thickness of your straps (the pattern calls for specific leather thicknesses, but I worked from my stash, I'm a renegade like that). The straps are then wrapped under the insole and glued to the underside. Tada! Like magic.

That's the best part: being able to try them on as you go and deciding exactly how tight you want those straps and the angle at which they should sit for comfort before gluing. So fabulous.

And you definitely need awesome friends like Jodie who insisted on being my outsole materials provider. In this case TOPY rubber soling. The pattern calls for a resin soling, but I was finding it seriously hard to get my hands on some and rubber is AOK with me (Peta Louise has let me know you can get resin soling from Leffler Leather in Melbourne) (and you need to check out Jodie's ridiculous shoe making. Ridiculously amazing!!)

The outsoling did present some problems. The side of the soling you stick to the underside of the insole is smooth. It stuck beautifully to my insoles. But, as you can see from the photo above, the outer side of the rubber soling is finished with little "knobs" that help to provide grip on the ground and are naturally very hardwearing.

But that heel piece you see above? It's not going to be staying put for very long. You have to stick the smooth side of the heel piece to the knobbly part of the outsole. Yeah, that doesn't create a great gluing result. Peta Louise has suggested I leave off the heel piece in this scenario, or try a belt sander to remove the knobs from the heel area to create a smooth gluing surface. I will definitely be trying one or the other of these options. As you can tell Peta Louise is incredibly responsive and helpful.

In terms of fit, I'm pretty happy. They are certainly comfy, that's for sure. I made a straight size 9 (I'm usually a size 8 AUS, but my foot measures size 9 according to the pattern) and you can probably see from the shot below that the forefoot might not be quite wide enough for my foot, with a little toe peeping over the edge on both feet.

This certainly can't be felt when I'm wearing them, but it would be an easy pattern adjustment to broaden that part of the sole. And I'm certainly considering another pair with that alteration in mind.

Oh! And be super careful with your gluing. I swear I took as much care as a first time mother with a newborn, yet I have an annoying array of little bits of glue residue on the outer of my straps. And no, I can't get it off. You only see it from up really close anyway. So if you stay up here, and my feet stay down there, I'm looking the goods.

I really wasn't sure what info you all would like so please do feel free to ask away in the comment section and I'll gladly get back you. But in the meantime I think it's best to finish with a further shot of adoration.  I know, I know, I've taken more shots than could ever be called reasonably necessary. But peeps... SHOES!!!

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