DIY: Flapper Shoes

A few months ago, I got it into my head that I wanted a flapper birthday. Or, more specifically, a Gatsby-esque birthday, complete with cloches, bottomless champagne, and an attentive Leonardo DiCaprio. I told my sister my great idea, telling her that everyone can wear cute hairbands and glittery skirts with fringe and bob their hair (extreme, but still) and she says, “Um, isn’t that a little weird? Like, for all of us to go out dressed like flappers like it’s Halloween?”

And so, with her judgmental reaction, my dreams were crushed. But it had gotten me thinking about the outfit I wanted to wear on my birthday, and the shoes. In the Twenties, and even until the Forties, designer shoes were custom-made, and the heels were specially ordered by style. These heels were made from celluloid to create a marbled look and came in all colors, jewel-tone and pastel alike. Oh, and they were also bedazzled to the extreme. The amount of detail on these heels are so phenomenal that particular ones are featured in fashion-related museum exhibitions and carefully preserved.

I wanted them.

Here are some examples:



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So I collected all these pictures and prepared to make my very own flapper-inspired shoes. (Seriously, I need an intervention.)

I started with the heel:

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I found these for $25 at my local Easy Pickins (Modcloth had them for $40 + shipping!) and then I ordered two sample-size swatches of fabric from a fabric website. They were 3 x 5″ swatches, which was the perfect size for the back of the shoe.

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Then, I ordered a beaded appliqué piece from Etsy that I tore apart to reveal only the jeweled parts, along with some blue rhinestones from a craft store. I also picked up white paint.

Photo Oct 01, 5 54 28 PM Photo Oct 01, 1 15 18 AM (1)I started by making patterns of the back of the shoe with muslin, then cutting out the correct size fabric:

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Glued it on with simple fabric glue.

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Lovely! Now the heel…

I used white paint with a little shimmer in it to duplicate that shiny, celluloid effect. It’s not perfect, but I like the way it came out:

Photo Oct 02, 2 30 04 PM Photo Oct 02, 3 33 44 PMI put two coats and then cleaned up any “coloring outside the lines” with a toothpick. Then it was time to bedazzle!

Photo Oct 02, 11 23 08 PMI glued the appliqué on the heel with E-5000 glue, the strongest thing known to man. I also used it to attach little blue rhinestones to the outline of the heel, shown below!

Photo Oct 03, 1 05 09 AM (2)Here they are! My very own bespoke Twenties-inspired heels.

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