Well, actually I made espadrilles rather than real shoes and I certainly don’t think I’m going to be the next Emma Hope but I’m really pleased with the result.
One of my favourite Ladybird books as a child was The Elves & The Shoemaker and, having made the first espadrille, I rather wished the elves would come and finish off the second one overnight!
I really just wanted an excuse to mention the book because these were fun to make and it was quite exciting to see the shoe shape coming together.
I ordered the soles from Guthrie & Ghani and followed the instructions available online here. You know how people say “make sure you read the question/recipe/pattern. properly before you start”. Well I didn’t and so failed to notice the sentence that said “Important: Mirror-invert the front section for the other shoe”. I didn’t do that but to be honest I don’t think it made too much of a difference in the end.
I also wish I’d read through Lauren’s blog more diligently and noted the reference to inserting elastic at the back. More about that later.
I used the fabric already mentioned in a previous post and 20cms of each was more than enough.
The paper pattern supplied with the soles only goes down to a Size 3 (36) so I added in an additional line (in red) for the next size down. If I make another pair I think I will grade down a bit further as they could do with being slightly tighter.
Both fabrics were quite sturdy so I didn’t bother with interfacing but I think I will probably do this next time as it would result in a sturdier finish.
Sewing the pieces together and pinning them to the sole is very straightforward. I never use these pins for dressmaking but they are ideal for this purpose as they are much easier to push in. Take Lauren’s advice and make sure the pins go right into the sole and don’t stick out the other side or they will jab you in the hand when you are sewing!
I spent some time identifying a needle that would be strong and sharp enough to go through the sole and the fabric easily. Lauren recommended a leather needle but the ones I found looked rather small so in the end I bought this set of five craft needles. I used the one on the far right which I believe is a sail needle and it did the job very well, although I do have slightly sore fingers today from pushing it through. I didn’t want the blanket stitching to be too obvious so I used an extra strong thread in a light colour rather than the thicker, yarn-like thread that was used in the instructions.
Everything went together really easily. I tried the first one on several times during construction and I did have to overlap the front and the back sections more than the 1.5 cms mentioned in the instructions to get a good fit, hence the plan to cut the two sections slightly smaller next time.
Having finished the first espadrille I realised that the insertion of some elastic between the two fabrics at the back would have made all the difference in terms of keeping it on your foot! In her blog post Lauren inserted this right at the beginning with the sewing machine but I made life difficult for myself by having to unpick the top of the back section after it had already been sewn to the sole and inserting it by hand. Not a particular neat finish but I knew I would never wear them if they kept falling off . I used the 9 mm wide elastic shown above. It was slightly easier for the second espadrille as I added the elastic before I sewed the back to the sole but still after the outer and inner fabrics had already been stitched together.
And here is the final result!
I’m pretty pleased with these although I don’t think I’d want to walk too far in them. The third picture looks like I am levitating off the ground but actually I was sitting down with my legs sticking out to get a better view of them!
W thought he might like a pair but I really don’t want to be sewing all the way round the soles for feet that fit a boot this size!
I’m thinking stripes for the next pair.