So, the simple solution is to make them myself, right? Right. But I've been on the lookout for cheap leather for some time, and it has consistently eluded me. I know you can buy leather scraps at a decent price, but I was nervous about taking the risk when I wasn't even sure if it would work.
And then, it happened.
A really-really-ugly long brown leather skirt showed up at our local thrift shop. I spent a whole dollar on it -- and I can only hope I didn't look too greedy as I snatched it up! Shortly after, my mother-in-law passed along an orange leather jacket that someone had passed along to her. It was in great shape -- but it was a necessary sacrifice.
I don't remember where I found the giraffe template, but I drew the lion myself.
Now, I did encounter a few slight problems while making these. First off, I decided to hand-sew the lion and giraffe onto the shoe tops. With a regular needle. Those of you who have tried that before are doubtless laughing wryly at my inexperienced optimism.
After a few days of that, I though I had permanently worn off the tips of my right-hand middle and index fingers! Leather is *not* easy to sew. And I was even using light-weight garment leather.
I also had a rather large scare -- after completing my shoe tops and attaching them to the soles, I realized that the shoes would be too small! They might fit Little Man for a short time, but I wanted something in the 12-18 months range. Fortunately, I was able to tweak the pattern and use the same shoe tops without having to adjust or re-do them. So I guess I should be sure on the sizing before I try hand-embroidering leather next time!
And the biggest thing I learned: to put these together, you simply must -- MUST! -- buy leather needles for your sewing machine. Regular needles skip horribly, and you really want as few holes in your leather as possible. Leather needles actually have a cutting tip (fingers beware), so they can't be used on woven fabrics. Once I bought leather needles, the shoes went together in a breeze. I do love that leather doesn't ravel, which makes it easy to work with.
I've barely put a dent in that skirt leather, and I still have a good bit from the jacket, too. At this rate I should have plenty of room for creative license!