This post is about making a pair of shoes. Yup. That is a thing that I decided to do. I don’t know if I can really call them shoes, since they have the flexibility and appearance of slippers, but they were supposed to be shoes. And I don’t think they look too bad considering this is my first attempt at making a pair!
I needed shoes to wear with my Cotehardie ensemble (post about making the cotehardie is here). I looked around online and couldn’t find ones in my price range. Even the really inaccurate, modern boots from DSW were double what I wanted to spend. So I decided to make a pair from wool I had leftover from making the mantle (post about that should be up soon).
Before getting into this I feel I should mention that I had no idea what I was going. And that I know nothing about making shoes. I didn’t spend a lot of (read: any) time researching what the process should be. I made it up as I went along.
But I did find a really amazing resource for medieval footwear! This is the site. I didn’t read through their construction guide, or use any of their patterns, but found the images very helpful. It was a fantastic starting point for figuring out what my boots should look like. I ended up combing the Side Lacing Boot and the Peaked Shoe.
Now onto materials!
For the soles of the shoes I used some embossed pleather from my stash and the cheapest shoe inserts I could find at target. The blue fabric is leftover heavy wool coating. I ended up using some spandex, wool suiting, and embroidery floss as well but those things aren’t pictured.
For the pattern drafting process I used newsprint, cardboard, tape, and a plastic bag.
To figure out the shape of the sole I traced the outline of my foot onto the cardboard. Then I made the end super pointy. According to this article, in the 1300s the point was usually only extended by 10% of the foots length. But I have big feet. And I always stay away from pointed toe shoes since they make my already large feet look like clown feet.
And I didn’t want that to happen here. So I decided to make the point really long with hopes that it would look very exaggerated, instead of making my feet look huge. I think it worked. Kind of.
I cut out the sole pattern and traced it onto the fake leather.
And onto my cushion soles that I bought from target. Unfortunately these weren’t big enough to accommodate the pointy toe.
To combat that I fused felt weight interfacing onto the tip of the fake pleather, so the point would keep it’s shape.
All that was set aside for a bit while I focused on making the shoe pattern. The first step in doing this was taping the cardboard sole pattern onto the bottom of my foot. Then I taped crumpled plastic bags overtop of it so the exaggerated toe had to some shape to it instead of being completely flat.
Then another plastic bag went over my entire foot and I wrapped painters tape around everything until I had the shape I wanted.
I marked a seam line around the ankle, the centerline, where the sole ended, and the side line where I wanted the lacing to be. I also drew the shape I wanted the top of the shoe have. Then I cut the bag off my leg, fixed up the wonky guidelines, and cut it into two pieces.
I traced that onto paper and bam, a pattern! The only major change was that I added seam allowances.
I cut the shoes out from wool and sewed the pieces together.
Then sewed around each edge to create guidelines where the fabric should be turned under.
All the edges were turned under at the stitch line and sewn in place with a running stitch. I did this by hand so the stitching wouldn’t be too obvious.
Switching back to the soles, I placed the pleather layer beneath the cushion sole. Then covered them with a wool suiting, so the bottoms looked pretty.
I also cut out a layer of gold spandex, which will be used as a top layer for the soles. I figured this would wipe down well in case the shoes get sweaty inside.
I used basting stitches to sew the spandex on after the soles were covered with suiting.
Then I sewed eyelets into the sides of both shoes. I did this by hand with three strands of embroidery floss. The bottom inch of the side edge (that doesn’t have eyelets) was sewn shut by hand.
Then I pinned the top part of the shoes onto the soles and sewed them on by hand. And that was it! They are done!
Stuff I learned: The sole should be slightly more narrow than your foot. Mine ended up being a lot wider than they needed to be. But I would rather that be the case than them being too small! And using anything other than leather will probably result in the shoes looking like slippers. Oops.
Also – i’m fully aware these aren’t very practical. They definitely aren’t waterproof and have no traction. There also isn’t topstitching around where the top of the shoes meets the sole, so I doubt they will be very durable. I’m going to wear these for a few sets of photos, not to an event that requires a lot of walking so it isn’t a big issue for me.
But you could definitely use a similar process, with rubber soles and leather that would be more appropriate for heavy wear.
Here they are worn with the cotehardie and tights!
And the matching mantle.
A write up on making the mantle and a tutorial on the crown will be coming up soon. As for the leggings, I’ll include that info here because they were really easy to make. I used a pair of forever 21 leggings as a guide, then added several inches to the waist and ankles since my fabric was one way stretch (and the leggings I based them on were made from two way stretch knit).
Sewed up the crotch seams and side seams…
Folded the hem inward by a half inch, twice, and hand sewed it down.
Then turned the top edge inward by a half inch, then by two inches, and sewed across the bottom to create a channel for elastic. I sewed the elastic in and that was it! This fabric looks very flesh toned in the photos above but it has a pretty gold sheen to it which should come to life when I photograph this outdoors.
And that’s it for this blog post! Thanks for reading and I hope your New Year is off to a good start!