Sunday, April 06, 2014

Leather in Bloom

I'm fed up. Despite my best efforts, finding shoes for Rosa has seemed an insurmountable task lately. Even the few brand new pairs I've purchased online have proven to be too large for her (which is fine, since she'll grow into them). The problem is that she has the shortest, fattest little feet you have ever seen. Adorable? Yes. Kissable? Absolutely (assuming they've been washed! Girl, we've got to do something about that foot odor...). Good at fitting in standard shoe sizes? Not a chance. The shoe may be the perfect length, but if it has even a hint of a strap (and let's face it, most toddler shoes won't stay on without one), there's no way to shove her tootsies inside. 

And thus, I turn once again to my trusty leather. Much as I love leather shoes, I've avoided making them for a while; the traditional Robeez look works well on boys, but it's not exactly feminine (though there are some seriously adorable pairs embellished with flowers, birds, etc.). Also, my early attempts at making leather shoes for Rosa were less than successful. Oh, and did I mention that sewing leather is a major pain -- both literally and figuratively? It's also quite time consuming (I can't cajole my machine into stitching it properly, so I'm stuck with hand sewing). But this time, armed with a good pattern and a large modicum of determination, I set to work.








The result, happily, was well worth the effort. Finally releasing myself from the burden of trying to create a pattern, I purchased the Ruffled Mary Jane pattern from Podsshoes on Etsy. Isn't it a delightful design? The pattern was quite satisfactory, too. This is actually my second pair -- I tried the size 4, a bit nervous that it was labeled as "9-12 months" despite the finished size being larger than her foot measurement. Turns out, the 4 was enormous, and I ended up making the "6-9 months/Size 3" for my almost-18-month-old! So definitely go by the measurements instead of the age, just to be safe.




I skipped the leather ruffle for this pair, and instead created a leather flower for each shoe -- I used this leather rose tutorial, though I was disappointed when I discovered the PDF download was no longer available. Fortunately, the blog's author photographed her templates, and from that I was able to recreate them.




I did alter the shoe pattern just a tad -- Besides omitting the ruffle, I extended the strap piece and left the edges square (rather than rounding them). This allowed me to simply sew the strap to the side of the shoe and stitch on a decorative button, rather than deal with snaps (which I don't have on hand, and can be a little pricey). The shoe slides right on, so I'll probably repeat this in the future. 


I did machine sew a little bit -- but since it involves hand-cranking my machine and re-stitching about 75% of
the stitches until they "take," I eventually gave up and pulled out my thimble.

 I'm finally making peace with hand-sewing leather, now that I'm getting the hang of it. Each time it gets a bit easier, sometimes due to an improvement in materials (yay for leather needles and a better thimble!), sometimes due to an improvement in technique (two rounds of running stitches -- first round with a leather needle, second with a regular needle -- is better than trying to back stitch, which will sometimes result in cut threads if you're using a leather needle). And quite honestly, the extra "manipulation" that's possible with hand sewing is a bonus when working with tiny shoes.

Total cost? $0.25 for the leather (I got 4 pairs of shoes out of a $1 garment), and $8 for the pattern -- but that cost will be lowered each time I use it. Actually, I've already used it twice, so I'm down to $4 per use! *wink*

These look so precious on Rosa, and they'll match just about everything in her wardrobe! I'll definitely be pulling this pattern out again (fortunately, she still has two sizes to work through, so it should keep us going for a while).

10 comments :

  1. These baby shoes turned out so well--they are beautifully hand-crafted! :) What a wonderful way to repurpose a leather garment (and a perfectly good excuse to go looking for one!).

    I bought a purse recently which is "Barbie Pink" leather--I bought it for the hardware, but the leather could be cut up to make something with. It feels luxurious, but it's so.....pink! :)

    Your little girl will look so sweet in her custom made dresses and shoes! Fun!

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    1. Thanks, MrsSM! They were fun to make (once I conquered my frustration :-).

      Wow, Barbie pink?! I'm actually keeping my eyes open for colored leather to use as accents and embellishments on shoes, since most of my finds so far have been in the brown/tan/orange/black range.

      Blessings,
      Shannon

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  2. Those came out so cute!! I love how you made leather shoes look feminine!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Hannah!

      Blessings,
      Shannon

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  3. Those are so cute! Must go take a look at that pattern for my granddaughter!!

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    1. Diane,

      Thanks! I thought about that pattern for the longest time, and am so glad I finally purchased it. I tend to try to design things myself (which usually requires a lot of time and produces less-than-ideal results ;-), but in this case it was so nice to work with a pattern.

      Blessings,
      Shannon

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  4. Oh wow, Shannon, those are simply adorable!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! I'm glad they're done... ;-)

      Blessings,
      Shannon

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  5. Those little rosettes are the sweetest! Great job! I have a hard time finding classic shoes in "non-girly" styles (i.e. not pink, purple, glittery, etc.). Just a simple, classic style would be great! I'm pretty sure I couldn't handle the hand-sewing or else I'd be tempted to give this a try... ;-)

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I agree -- someone needs to convince major companies that girls can wear colors other than neons and Barbie pink! ;-) I can find plenty of classic shoes that I like, but they all seem to cost around $60 to $100. More than I'm willing to pay for baby footwear!

      The sewing really is a beast, though it gets easier with practice. I just came across a leather stitching awl that both puzzles and intrigues me -- I'm hoping it might make things easier!

      Blessings,
      Shannon

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