Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Drawing and designing shoes

I don't draw any of the shoes I make, I just picture them in my head and then make them. The reason is simple: I can't really draw and it would take too much time to get anything useful on paper. However, the shoemaker in the next video certainly knows how to draw.

The drawings are the best part of this video, although making a pattern using adhesive tape was also interesting. I might try that, but I think the plaster castings wouldn't like the cutting stage. Maybe if I removed the tape after drawing the lines and then cut the pattern.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wedge soles for Barbie

These shoes are a variation of one of the pairs I made for the Monster High doll. In the photo below, you can see the plaster castings of Silkstone Barbie's feet, a pair of wedge soles I have made using casting resin (these soles can be seen in the second row from left in the picture showing all cast soles), and a drawing of the insole. When the sole is ready before you start making the shoes, you need to draw the insole pattern using the sole, not the doll's foot as is normally the case.

Here are the insoles with the leather insoles glued in place and small pieces of leather glued underneath (but not yet trimmed) to guide the straps and make the toe part of the sole even. The crosses on the cardboard soles are there to help keep the right side down. As the wedge soles are uniform soles (right and left are the same), but not exactly symmetrical, it is important to make sure the cardboard soles won't turn over unnoticed before they get glued to the leather pieces. 

Here are the uppers, which are almost identical to the ones I used for the Monster High doll's shoes.

The next photo shows the uppers glued in place. All that is left now is to glue the wedge soles in place, paint them and glue leather outer soles in place.

Here are the finished shoes. The reason why I painted the sides of the soles last is that the edges of the leather pieces glued underneath the insoles need to be painted as well, so they will not stick out. The leather pieces at the bottom of the wedge soles are there to cover the unevenness of the surface. As the soles are cast so that this part is in the opening of the mould, the surface is different from the other surfaces. Another solution would be sanding, but it is much easier to just glue leather outer soles in place.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Black and white sandals for Barbie

I haven't made shoes for Barbie (except for California Girl Barbie), because her feet are so small, but I decided to try and see how hard it really is. I eliminated some steps from the process of making larger shoes, so these shoes don't have leather insoles, just three layers of cardboard glued in shape. The ribbon I used was the narrowest one from a set that had four different kinds of black and white ribbons.

I was making the shoes using the plaster castings for Silkstone Barbie feet, so I decided to add ankle straps. That way, the shoes can be used on other Barbies as well. The ring between the two pieces of strap is actually thin rubber band. On one piece of ribbon, I made a loop where the rubber band can move freely. On the other piece, the ends of the rubber band are glued in place and the end of the ribbon glued on top of them (so it is like another loop, only glued shut). I used rubber band so the strap would stretch a bit, if necessary, when putting the shoes on the doll's feet.

Here you can see all the straps glued in place. You can make the ankle strap a tight fit, but do not stretch the rubber band when gluing the straps in place.

The heels are tiny bits of balsa wood covered with leather.

Here are the finished shoes. The outer soles are made of the same leather I used for the heels.

I was surprised to find out that these were not as difficult to make as I had imagined. Leaving the separate insole out helped keeping the edges neat and it occurred to me later that using different colored cardboards for the different layers of the soles could be a good idea.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm making a book

I was looking at old photos, when I realized that the first pictures I have of doll shoes I have made are from August 2000. That's ten years ago.

I had been thinking of collecting photos of finished shoes in a photo book, which would have just the images. However, I thought it could be nicer to make a sort of "first ten years" book with a little more thought. So, I installed Blurb's BookSmart and started working.

The picture shows that the book has 26 pages, but that's just at the moment. I'm almost halfway through, but I don't really know how long it will be, except that it'll be under 80 pages due to the price categories. The cheapest option is 40 pages or less and the next level is 80 pages or less and that's what I aim at.

I'm not good at the layout stuff, so I'm using the ready made templates available in the program. I'm using a combination of chronological order and categorizing by the doll. The chapters have a short introduction of the doll and some other comments and then pictures of the shoes. There's one or two spreads per doll and boots will have a chapter of their own.

If I ever get this finished and if it turns out all right, I will probably make the book publicly available in Blurb in case anyone is interested.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Foot size comparison

My latest acquisition is Tonner's Jessica Rabbit and I just made plaster castings of her feet. Comparing her feet to the ones of Tonner's American Model prompted me to do some more comparisons. I used plaster castings for these as they were easier to photograph. The unit of measurement shown is cm.

The first photo shows the left foot of following dolls (from left to right): American Model (AM), Jessica Rabbit (Athletic Body, AB), Tyler Wentworth (TW). Considering that the TW body is 16" and the AB is 17", the difference in foot size is notable. However, what I found most interesting was that the feet of the AM and AB have exactly the same arch, only the AB feet are about 0.5 cm shorter, making it impossible to use AM shoes on Jessica.

The next photo shows the left foot of the following dolls: Tyler Wentworth (TW), Sybarite (SY), Monster High (MH), Silkstone Barbie (SB). I did this mainly to check how the MH feet differ from the other dolls. TW feet are a lot bigger, which I could see even without this comparison. SY feet are longer and wider, so no luck there either, although the arch is very similar to MH feet. The SB foot is there just to show you that Barbie shoes could not fit MH dolls. Unfortunately, I don't have plaster castings of Hi:Glam doll's feet, so I couldn't include one in this photo. However, at least their boots fit MH dolls.

The last photo is of smaller dolls' feet. The leftmost is of a playline Barbie, next is Silkstone Barbie, and the one on the right is Tonner's Tiny Kitty. All Barbie shoes fit playline Barbies, some fit Silkstones, and none fit Tiny Kitty.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A lot of rubber bands

I continued my experiments with rubber bands. The picture shows the middle layers of soles made of two layers of cardboard glued into the correct shape, and leather insoles with additional leather pieces glued under them to guide the straps. 

I put an insole against the doll's foot and wrapped rubber band around the foot and sole, gluing the band in place. The straps need to be a tight fit, but not stretched.

When the straps were in place, I took a piece of metallic thread, put it around the lower bunch of straps, made a knot, took both threads through a tubular bead and then around the next bunch of straps, and made another knot.

The last bunch of straps goes around the ankle and is glued to a narrow piece of leather behind the heel. I added another bead and then wrapped the threads around the third bunch of straps. Then I made a knot, took both threads back through the bead and used some glue to keep them hidden inside the bead. When the glue was dry, I cut off the extra length from the threads. The picture also shows the cardboard pieces glued in place. The soles would probably have been fine without those, but I didn't realize at this stage how thick the soles would finally be.

This picture shows better the leather strip behind the heel. The outer soles are made of leather and the heels are made of wood and covered with the same leather.

The sides of the soles didn't look very nice, so I painted them. The picture below shows the finished shoes. They are a bit tricky to put on because of the beads between the straps, but if you don't stretch the straps when gluing them, they will stretch enough and it is possible to get the shoes on the doll's feet.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pink fabric and leather

I've been making quite a lot of doll shoes lately. Here is a totally new design. I used the same fabric for CED doll pumps a long time ago, but as there wasn't much of it left, I had to figure out something else this time. And anyway, I don't like repeating myself.

The fabric was stretchy, so I needed to fix it with sealer first. That makes it a combination of fabric and plastic, so it will keep in shape and won't fray. The picture shows the fabric pieces cut to desired shape. The soles are made of two layers of cardboard with leather insole.

Here the fabric pieces are glued in place and the outer soles are waiting for gluing.

The finished shoes look like this. The laces are little pieces of thin rubber band. I used it because that way, you don't need to open the laces to get the shoes on. You could use thin thread, if you don't mind tying and untying the laces each time. The heels are carved from little pieces of wood and covered with leather.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Using rubber band as straps

I found thin rubber band in a craft supply shop and thought it might be good for doll shoes. As it's stretchy, you don't need buckles in straps.

I had a short piece of cardwoven band and I thought I wouldn't have any use for it as there was so little. However, there was enough for the vertical parts into which I glued the rubber band straps.

This photo shows how the straps were glued. First, I put glue to the underside of the vertical pieces, then placed the straps in place and let dry. When the glue was dry, I spread another layer of it on top of the straps to make sure they will stay in place. As this side won't show, it doesn't matter how it looks like.

Then I glued the ends of the straps under the insoles. I placed the insole against the doll's foot, placed the piece with straps in correct position on top of the foot and then glued the ends under the sole so that it was a tight fit, but without stretching the rubber bands.

Here is a picture of the finished shoes. The heels are made of balsa wood covered with leather.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shoes with cork soles

For these shoes, I used the cork soles I made earlier.

I put so much effort in the soles that I thought the uppers needed to be something special as well. So I made the straps from sewing thread and thin metallic thread using colors I think fit well together with the color of cork. Here is the card weaving in progress (the pin is there to show the scale):

After the long piece from which I would cut the straps was finished, I measured the length of the necessary pieces, cut them and treated the ends with Fray Stop to keep them from unraveling.

The round pieces are buckles, which I cut from a length of decorative band I once bought just because it looked so nice. I didn't have any idea then what I would use it for, but it was perfect for this purpose.

Next, I glued the straps in place. This time I had to do this before finishing the buckle. The shorter part of the ankle strap was the right length at this stage, but the longer one had some extra length as it could only be adjusted after the straps were in place because of the buckle mechanism.

The next photo shows closeup of the buckle. It is sewn in place with the ends of the thread glued to the inside of the strap to keep them out of sight. The other part, attached to the shorter ankle strap, is just a piece of gold plated metal wire bent to 90 degree angle in the middle. The wire goes through the strap and the other half is glued to the inside of the strap. To close the buckle, you just put the "spike" into one of the holes in the buckle.

Finally, here is a picture of the finished shoes: