SheltathaLore

Chronicling my adventures with non-lasted heels!

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I took a class on non-lasted shoemaking from Jason Hovatter at Laughing Crowe, and it gave me enough basics that I think I'm ready to try making something more challenging!  I'm working on a costume for a convention next spring, and I want to make these shoes (the refs are inconsistent - they're different between the anime and the game, but this is pretty nice, because I can mash them up and pick the design elements that are most feasible or most aesthetically pleasing).

This is what I'm going for:

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Conveniently, I found some heeled sandals with a wooden base that will save me a lot of trouble with messing around with shanks, so I decided to go with those; it's also pretty simple to paint them (in the following pics they're primed, ready to spray with acrylic).

The way I learned pattern making was to start with a sole pattern and then wrap the foot in several layers duct tape; from there you can draw on style lines and cut it apart to make your pattern.  In this case, it was pretty critical to do the casting while standing on the curved sole so that everything would fit together.

I just traced off the sole, cut it out of cardboard, covered it in duct tape, and stuck it to the sole with double stick tape, and did the casting from there.

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Next up, pattern drafting and prototyping!  There are a couple open questions that I'll need to figure out:

  • How to attach the upper to the sole - it's not like I can really stitch it to the wood, unless I want to drill a whole lot of holes (and detach the heel).  Some combination of glue and nails will probably do the job.  The shoes I've made before have had a heavy horse butt midsole, but I think for this, I'll go with a lighter weight (but still reasonably structural) midsole and try stitching it on the INSIDE of the upper, rather than the outside, and then stick the whole thing down.  Somehow.  The toe is going to be tricky; I might have to put the nails in at a slant with a setting tool or something.  This is why I'm prototyping in some cheap upholstery leather, though!  I welcome suggestions, if anyone has some.
  • The boots I made were of much heavier leather.  Even with a lining, I'm wondering if the kidskin I plan to use will be too floppy.  I can always try putting in an interlining of some description, although that might interfere with the squishability (technical term) of the leather when I need to shape it around the toe, and even with an extra layer of applique, I will almost certainly need to stiffen the counter in some manner.  We'll see how it goes.
  • Definitely want to wet-form the midsoles to fit the soles; I haven't done that before, but I don't think it'll be too problematic.

Expect updates as I keep experimenting!

 

Incidentally, posting pictures to imgur and then inserting a link and letting the forum load the image is a convenient way to get around the attachment size limits.  Made this post a lot easier to make!

 

Edited by SheltathaLore
typo

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5 hours ago, SheltathaLore said:

Incidentally, posting pictures to imgur and then inserting a link and letting the forum load the image is a convenient way to get around the attachment size limits.  Made this post a lot easier to make!

 

And when the image is moved, deleted, or permissions change, then all you have left in the post is the text and a bunch of error messages.  There are quite a number of "broken" photos on this site for these reasons.  I recommend that users resize photos to fit the size constraints of the forum.  800x600 pixel resolution is adequate and allows you to load many photos.  It also helps those that are on limited bandwidth internet connections, out in the fringes, to view the photos without waiting 2 hours!

And yes, we are interested in following your journey.  Thanks for posting.

Tom

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Ah, good point.  I never touch my imgur uploads once they're uploaded, but it could potentially be a problem.  Going through my folders and copying-resizing everything before adding attachments is such a pain, though :-/

 

I'll keep you posted!

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KIJbFjI.jpg

Style lines and stitch marks drawn

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Cut up, pattern in progress

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Pile O'Things

 

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Pattern complete!

 

Next up, wet-forming the midsoles to the shape of the wooden base soles, and sewing together a mockup.

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Soles:

 

dxSuKR0.jpg

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(Yeah, putting the stitch markings on that side was real dumb.  Thankfully, I had also marked them on the edge, so it was easy enough to keep track of where they were.)

OX1d9Qw.jpg

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Upper assembly (holy crap, it's starting to look like shoes!)

Note: I failed to take pictures of skiving.  But then again, it's skiving.  Probably not very interesting.

 

ge2EDkE.jpg

 

Outer upper assembled - tried a lapped seam, but it's not as tidy-looking as I'd hoped, so I might do a folded seam instead, like I did on the lining.  (Also, yes, my skiving went a little wonky.  But this is the prototype shoe, not the final version, so I don't have to be as perfectionist as usual.)

 

 

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Lining stitched, ready to glue down the seam allowances and hammer.

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Stitched and flipped, not yet glued.

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Stitched around the top and flipped, toe reinforcement glued in (yeah I should have done this before assembling the outer.  Derp.)

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Flipped, glued, hammered.  IT'S STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A SHOE OMG.  and I'm pretty pleased with how crisp the folded edges came out at the front - although the corners leave something to be desired.  It's difficult to skive in there; I'd love tips if anyone has one.

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Experiments with strap construction methods - front

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Experiments with strap construction methods - back

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Straps from the actual leather

I'm probably gonna be working on the applique and stitching to the sole on Christmas.  No better way to spend it in my opinion.

 

Edited by SheltathaLore

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Clipped on the straps and applique to get a feel for how it's going to look.

Yes, my applique is a mess... I suck at cutting things out by hand.  I might get it laser cut.  Thankfully, this is the prototype, so I'm free to make all the dumb mistakes I want.

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Starting to stitch it to the insole! 

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OH MY GOD IT'S STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A SHOE

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View from the inside

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Hammering down the bumps in the stitching

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Not bad for the prototype.  (They fit! And they don't hurt at all!! I can't remember the last time I had dress shoes that didn't hurt at all.) Still to be addressed:

  • Strap locations; I'm just going to glue them on the prototype to make it easier to test, but I'll stitch them on the final version
  • Attaching to the wooden outsole/heel
  • Tinker a bit with the seam allowance and stitch placement around the toe
  • These came out very soft and a bit wrinkly; I may need to choose a stiffer leather or add some reinforcement/stiffener of some sort.  More closely spaced stitches along the arch might help a bit too - or at least ensure that the wrinkles are distributed more evenly.
  • Less messy applique... I'm going to need a lot of practice.

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Those are looking great.

In you op you mentioned a conference in the spring. That wouldn't be the National Art Teacher Convention would it?

My wife is an art teacher and we considered going. But other trips are putting that one off.

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This is SO interesting! Please keep us posted!

Making a pair of shoes is not something I'd ever have the guts to tackle. I draw the line at moccasins, and even those aren't as easy as you'd think. 

I sometimes go to cons (am interested in writing sci/fi and fantasy) and I have some friends that are into cosplay/anime. Though it's not my thing, I love watching them show off their costumes! 

You have a machine for stitching the straps, right?

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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I used a Consew 227 for all the assembly, including the straps - although with this weight of leather, skived down, I could probably make a garment machine (or even domestic) work for a pair or two if I needed to.

The best thing about cosplay is that there's no guarantee the tihng you want to make is even physically possible.  The challenge is so much fun!

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Added on the straps, and temporarily stuck the upper to the outsole/heel with some incredibly tenacious doublestick tape to see how it all looked together. (I'm still not entirely sure how I plan to attach it permanently... some combination of glue and nails, I suppose.)

Surprisingly, once it's all together, the wrinkles don't look as bad as I thought - although I'm going to be doing the left foot next as Prototype #2, and then I'll have a pair to walk around in and test.  They're also about as comfy as heels can get; my toes don't pinch, for once.

Full list of things to change in next prototype:

  • use paste glue for toe and stiffeners (I'm too impatient to source Hirschkleber, but apparently this stuff is similar https://www.amazon.com/Gane-All-Purpose-Stik-Flat-1-Pint/dp/B000S10SNU)
  • add stiffener to applique
  • add side stiffener
  • more stitches in arch
  • move stitching slightly inward for toe (and heel?) and extend SA to compensate for increased takeup
  • try a slightly heavier leather (I got some nice retanned white chevre from a group order from the Hide Shop - looks like chrome, acts like chrome, has some extra formability like veg, and dries a little bit stiff.  Perfect for this.)

 

Will post pictures as soon as imgur is working again...

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2017-12-28 18.03.41-sm.jpg

2017-12-28 18.03.44 - Copy.jpg

Yes, I rubbed the excess glue off after I took this picture.  I was just too excited to see how it looked to stop and do that beforehand

Edited by SheltathaLore

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In UK primeministerial circles, I think those are referred to as "kitten heels"..what does your dog think about that ?

Full list of things to change in next prototype:

    use paste glue for toe and stiffeners (I'm too impatient to source Hirschkleber, but apparently this stuff is similar https://www.amazon.com/Gane-All-Purpose-Stik-Flat-1-Pint/dp/B000S10SNU)
    add stiffener to applique
    add side stiffener
    more stitches in arch
    move stitching slightly inward for toe (and heel?) and extend SA to compensate for increased takeup
    try a slightly heavier leather (I got some nice retanned white chevre from a group order from the Hide Shop - looks like chrome, acts like chrome, has some extra formability like veg, and dries a little bit stiff.  Perfect for this.)

 


You might want to add "waxing of legs" to that list..so as not to distract from the stitching...and ditch the socks..unless you are English...even then...ditch the socks...especially for the beach...

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Obviously it's going to be worn with a full costume; the reference pictures show tights.  In any case, your comment is rude.

Edited by SheltathaLore

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Also, I did rub the extra glue off after I took the pictures... I was too excited to see the whole thing put together to stop and do it beforehand.

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Prototype #2, stuck to the sole with tape again.  Looking surprisingly legit; I think I can move onto the final version.  Differences:

  • Used a somewhat thicker and stiffer leather, along with an extra side stiffener layer
  • Laser cut the applique and assembled it entirely with glue; I'll stick with the laser cutting, but if I can get the hang of leather applique I'd prefer to do that in addition.
  • Straps aren't stitched on the edges, but that was mostly just for speed of assembly of the test version.  I'll stitch the final version.
  • Added stiffener to applique layer, and ran the heel strap through a channel between the top of the applique and the lining.

The toe turned out a bit messy, but I think skiving more aggressively in that area should take care of things.

S32HIZW.jpg

5eOx2kO.jpg

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Wow Shelta...good job so far and you must have a lot of equipment (and money) to do a project such as that! :P I applaud your courage to tackle a project as daunting as that. I guess we all have our niches and that is not something I would ever even consider due to all the things/problems you have mentioned lol.

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It doesn't take as much equipment as you'd think. Stitch groover, 1/4 gouge, skiving knives, assorted hammers, jerk needle, awl... I do have a walking foot sewing machine, but honestly, with leather this light (particularly once it's skived) you could probably get away with a domestic machine just fine.  The laser cutter doesn't even belong to me - there's a guy in my neighborhood who cuts stuff for cheap. 

A lot of times, I use extra tools (milling machine, laser cutter, etc)  in order to get a cleaner or more consistent result; there's not much that couldn't be achieved just as well by hand, with skill and care. So don't count yourself out just yet! 

Edited by SheltathaLore

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13 hours ago, JMcC said:

that is not something I would ever even consider due to all the things/problems you have mentioned lol.

The problem solving is why I try these things.  I absolutely love figuring out how to take the skills I have and mash them up and make some guesses and try to figure out how to do something new.  I get such a rush out of it!

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These are coming along nicely - It's fun watching your progress!

- Bill

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SheltathaLore I'm impressed.  I would never have thought to take Jason's style of shoe making and couple that with heels.  I applaud your work so far and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished pair.

You might want to check out Mary Loomis' book on shoe making.  She decided to make her own shoes when she couldn't find what she wanted back in the 70's (?).  She reversed engineered heels that she had and came up with a method that works and its pretty low tech.  She uses a last of sorts, plaster of Paris casting of your feet  to work on.  It a bit different from what you're doing, but I'm sure that she covers some of the issues you are working through.  Well, I'm pretty sure she does.  Its been a while since I read it.  King County Library does have a copy if you want to check it out.

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Oh hey, I forgot I had this topic - I need to post finished pictures, thanks for hte reminder!

I'm going to try learning how to do a lasted version next, because I just couldn't get the toe as neat as I wanted it without some sort of form for shaping, but I'm pretty pleased that it worked out as well as it did.  I'll see if I can snag that book - it sounds handy.

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