Saturday, 8 February 2014

I CAN make shoes! And I did!

Hello folks, it's actually been a week since I did my one-day Ballet Pump making course with I CAN make shoes but the web's been down at my gaff all week so haven't had a chance to post about it yet. I've been so carried away with the DIY fashion bug (and inspired by this post from Tilly and The Buttons) that this course is what I asked for for my birthday this year, and I couldn't have been happier with my choice. 

Here's what I made!


I can't wait to be able to give them their debut and take them out on the town, but the weather is much too miserable for that at the moment. 

Some more images for you to admire my workmanship (although I had to cycle an hour home with these in my backpack so they don't look quite as crisp as they did straight off the last). 


Crumpling due to being carried in an overfull backpack! Should come out with wear.


Anyway, more on the course itself if you're interested. 

It was a lovely, chilled out day in a sunny studio near Hackney Downs. There were just four of us taking the course (and all lovely folk to spend a day with too) and two tutors, so we had a lot of hands-on help which was great. Tutors Amanda and Christina's teaching style was to emphasise that making mistakes and fixing them is the best way to learn, so that you'll be sure how to do it right the next time when you're on your own!

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures while doing the course (although you can get a good feel for what it's like from Tilly's photos from her sandal-making session)- I was far too busy creating and trying to retain the information as I do hope to make another pair for myself at some point. Amanda, creator of I CAN make shoes, said that it nows takes her just an hour to whip up a pair of ballet pumps if she's stumped for a pair of shoes to go with an outfit. 

We could choose from a couple of different basic patterns; a high front and a classic low front, and all but one went for a rounded toe (although one of the learners had also done a pattern-making course the previous day and made a beautiful pair of pointy pumps). Funnily enough we all seemed to go for similar materials; the lady with the pointy pumps and I went for gorgeous gold leather and the two other learners went for a sophisticated navy suede. 

At one point while we were waiting for the glue to dry I asked Amanda what she did with all the smaller scraps of leather.  As any too small to make insole socks from get thrown out she was more than happy to let me have a rummage and take home a few scraps to make nipple tassles for the Salacious Sirens with! It's going to be a treat working with such luxurious leather and I'll be sure to post the finished items! Here's my scrap haul:


I've already given Violet Empire and Lady Libertine the neon pink plastic and bright yellow leather to make a pair of pasties or tassles as costume for this routine:


My shoes didn't come out exactly symmetrical which is a little bit sad. I didn't notice when they first came off the lasts, but upon trying them on at home one of them has a slightly lower front line than the other. Very slight, but I'm debating whether to create some kind of decorative detail to disguise this. I may email Amanda for advice, as she was very open and approachable and even when she found out that I was getting started making my own clothes recommended me this book (which I promptly got my brother to buy me as a late bday present and am excited to get my teeth into).


My pumps also have a totally flat sole, which with my heavy tread will wear through very quickly, so again I'm wondering whether to take them to a cobbler's and have a heel put on to give them a longer life, or whether to get investing in the materials and build up more of a heel myself at home! After all, having spent all day making these with beautiful materials, it would be a real shame for them to wear through straightaway!

I would totally recommend this course as a fun, relaxing practical activity for somebody who was interested in DIY fashion. While the price isn't an inconsiderable amount to spend, the fact that you have an intensive day-long experience with two tutors on hand means you really get your money's worth, as well as a lovely finished product to show off. 

I feel like I could definitely make another pair myself at home, although I might be tempted to get one of the e-books on the I CAN make shoes site for guidance to be absolutely sure in case I got stuck at any point! The only thing holding me back right now is that the lasts are quite an investment, but are a vital part of the process, so I would need to realistically work out how many pairs of shoes I'd like to make for myself (as unfortunately for my friends none of them have the same sized feet!). 

I'll leave you now with a snippet of the African wax print horse fabric I bought to make my next Anna in (although still debating whether to keep the panelled skirt or try something different) and will hopefully have another finished piece to show you soon!


Until next time,

NorseOtter xxx



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