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.

DIY: I put flowers on my feet

Over the weekend I sat down and devoted some hours to doing these DIY tapestry boots. I had the day to myself and the whole first season of The OC to watch (it was a great day). I had recently ordered a pair of boots and some tapestry fabric cheaply in order to recreate a pair of Jeffrey Campbells that aren’t available anymore. As an added bonus, with all the supplies, these boots only cost me about $50. It was my birthday present to me 🙂 Take a look at my DIY tapestry boots!

DIY tapestry boots

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Tapestry Boots

I can’t get enough of floral print. It’s the unashamed girly-girl in me who positively squeals over a good floral print on virtually anything, but mostly on shoes. A while ago I saw these on the Internet:

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by Jeffrey Campbell at Solestruck.

but they were sold out. Now I would revisit these beauties from time to time and sigh in exasperation and feel the pangs of unfulfilled love and know that there was a shoe-shaped hole in my heart (actually, two holes) that would never be filled. But then I remembered: I like DIY, and I never let anything go. 

So I decided to make them myself, yet again. (This is the fourth time I’ve done this.)

The charm of these boots is the shape of the heel and the height of the shaft. I scurried around the Internet for a while and found these on 6PM.com. I got the $79 shoes in Cognac for a measly $29 due to a serendipitous sale and an additional 10% off coupon.

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For the fabric, I found a floral tapestry with a black backdrop that I may like even better than the blue/cream combination pictured above, because the dark color will work well in winter paired with dark tights. The original pair is more of a spring boot, but it’s winter now and my feet are cold (and thoroughly un-floral).

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I can’t wait to put them together. Pictures of the process to come.

And yes, I am obsessed. Let’s move on.

DIY: Lisa Makes Shoes

Didn’t I promise pretty shoes? Apart from my book obsession, I also tend to like the shoes a little too much. A couple years ago, I found tapestry floral heels online but I was about a season too late and the shoes had sold out in my size. I looked everywhere, for weeks, to find lookalikes or even secondhand pairs. I haunted Polyvore, eBay, Poshmark, etc., all to no avail.

Finally, I got the idea that I should just make my own.

They’re tapestry, right? So all I have to do is buy the shoe, cut the fabric, and somehow fuse them together. I did some research and found this great article at BurdaStyle which walked me through the whole process. Luckily, my sister has an undergraduate degree in fashion design from FIT. So I knew what “seam allowance,” Modge Podge, and muslin were, and it also meant that I had most of the supplies just laying around the house.

For the fabric, I shopped at my local fabric stores but couldn’t find anything I liked. Instead, I chose to recycle an old floral skirt that I didn’t think I’d wear anymore. I buckled down one evening, slid in a disc of Gilmore Girls, and the things were finished in a couple sittings.IMG_1909

I began with a discounted pair of black heels I found at DSW. They’re JellyPop shoes and made of synthetic materials, which I found conducive to craft/fabric glue. I also had X-Acto knives lying around which was useful to cut away any gluey bits after the fabric was adhered. I also bought Matte sealer but found that the fabric turned dark and pill-y when I sprayed it on one shoe to test, so I had to redo that shoe.

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The shoes have this lovely scalloped trim on the edges that I chose to preserve, so I carefully covered the trim with some Scotch tape.

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Then I had to measure each portion of each shoe, from the side left and right, to the heel, and the toe, in order to make muslin patterns. I measured each shoe separately to make sure it was accurate and gave myself about a centimeter seam allowance to account for any mistakes and to make sure the edges were smooth after I glued.

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It took a while…

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Finally, I got the fabric pieces measured and cut to proper sizes, and I could start gluing. I folded down the seam allowance and used a clothing iron to flatten the edges to make the shoes look seamless.

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My sister said they’d fall apart but it’s been almost two years, and I’ve worn them dozens of times (though never in the rain) and they still look great!