Les chaussures d’Antoine

Antoine1What, these old things? Oh, you know, just some shoes I made, no big deal…

Yep, I MADE SHOES!!! SHOES I CAN WALK WITH AND EVERYTHING!!!

Antoine5The first assignment of the schoolyear was to make a pair of men’s shoes. Since I was less than thrilled at the idea of spending so much time on my first pair of shoes and then having to give it away to a [shudder] man, my first question was “can I make those men’s shoes my size?”. And the answer was yes, woohoo!

Antoine6We were asked to take inspiration from a couple (real or fictional) for this first pair of men’s shoes and a second pair of women’s shoes to come. My choice of inspiration was the couple formed by Antoine Doinel and Christine Darbon in Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board and Love on the Run.

So these are Antoine’s shoes: I wanted them to reflect his very classical 1960s/1970s sartorial style, which is why I chose this very conventional colour of leather and kept things very simple regarding ornementation.

Antoine4I didn’t think to calculate the number of hours it took me to complete this first pair of shoes, all I can tell you is it was a very long process with about a billion steps. I also know I messed up a lot of things (fortunately none of them too tragic), the worse of them being choosing a too thin leather for the lining, so brittle that it wouldn’t stop tearing when I was trying to last it. The bright side is, now I know what to check for when buying leather for my next shoes!

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Is it lame that my favourite part is the “real leather” stamp on the insole?

On another bright side, none of my mistakes were unredeemable, and I MADE SHOES!

I was VERY proud to wear them for the first time last Wednesday and I had to refrain from telling everyone I met that I was wearing shoes I made myself!

Antoine2I’m probably not the least bit objective, but I feel like they go with everything. And they didn’t even fall apart when I wore them! 😀 The fit of the left foot is perfect, and the only problem of the right one is that I have a hammer toe on the right foot that has a tendency to rub against some shoes, which can sometimes become uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to adjust that in future shoes I make?

Phew, I’m already exhausted even thinking about starting the next pair!

Leather Bag Refashion

Bag1Looks like I’m on a refashion roll! I’ve had this leather bag for about fifteen years and I’ve been carrying it everywhere since. It was my mother’s in the eighties: she used it a lot, too, even on her wedding day! Oh, and she bought it second hand of course, so it has lived at least three lives… which explains why it was so damaged.

Bag2The front was completely scratched and the leather bias binding was crumbling in a lot of places. I knew I could use leather polish to restore the front, but I still had to find a solution for the bias binding.

Bag3Oh, and the strap loop had been missing for years, too. I had replaced it with a hair elastic. Very chic.

The bag began looking so beaten up I stopped using it altogether a few months ago. But I couldn’t resign myself to getting rid of it, not only because it used to be such a nice, practical bag, but also because of its history.

Bag4I didn’t see myself sewing leather bias, so I decided to change the look of the bag by using a liberty(-ish) bias binding instead. It’s bound to be less durable than leather, of course, but I like the look of the blue flowers with the leather of the bag, and I can replace it later if I ever feel like sewing leather.

Bag5At first I hesitated replacing the binding of the pocket because it was much less damaged than the outside one, but it wasn’t perfect either and the bag looked kind of weird with two different bindings, so I decided to replace it anyway. And I must say I love the way it looks now.

Bag6I sewed the bias binding by hand… because at first I didn’t realise I could sew it by machine. I thought about it after sewing the first part, but all in all I also thought the hand would give me more control to sew through the already existing holes in order not to damade the bag and to be able to change the binding more easily in the future. I used a green metallic thread that perfectly matched the green of the fabric.

As you can see I made a new strap loop with the same fabric bias  to replace the old elastic.

The principle of this refashion is so simple I even hesitated using the term refashion, but let me tell you that I finished it yesterday and my fingers still hurt from sewing by hand through leather, even though I mostly used the pre-existing holes. I used a thimble of course, but the thimble itself gave me a blister because my fingers were swollen from the heat and the effort…

But all is well that ends well, and I love my new old bag which I already used yesterday as soon as it was finished. Now let’s hope I won’t forgot to break out the shoe polish more often in order to keep the leather in good condition.

In any case, I’m really happy to have found back my favourite bag!

Magpie Shoe

Magpie1I made a shoe!!! Yes, a shoe, as in one shoe, not two, but hey, I MADE A SHOE! 😀

We’re only doing single shoes for the moment, no pairs yet (that’s for next year!), and this is my second shoe ever! The first one was this ugly burgundy ballet flat (which I will cherish for the rest of my life because, you know, first shoe ever and all that) that I didn’t really get to design: I only followed the instructions of the teacher, not really understanding what was going on and being kind of amazed when I got what looked like a shoe in the end.

Project4This time we had to design the shoe (it had to be a court shoe) ourselves, based on a black and white animal. I chose the magpie, as you can guess, if not from the shoe itself, at least from the title of this article. And look, my shoe even looks like my final drawing! I only omitted the jewel because, can you believe it, I completely forgot about it! The jewel was there because magpies are alledgedly jewellery thieves.

There were a few preliminary drawings before the final one (these are pages from my sketchbook by the way, not Photoshop collages – but I did edit the contrast after scanning them):

Project1

We were advised to first draw what came to our mind in order to get some ideas, so I drew a few models without thinking about it too much, just to see how the magpie could translate as a shoe.

Project2Then I tried to be a little more precise, which is when I got the idea of the black feathers on a white background. I quite liked the design of the shoe at the top, but not its shape. I wanted something that would reflect my style a little more, with a feminine and retro touch.

Project3I was happy with these two drawings, but the teacher found that the top of the shoe was too high. I did not agree at first, but when I drew my design on the shoe last I chose, which allowed me to see how it would look on a foot, I could see how wrong I was! So I made the final drawings, which you saw above, where I lowered the top of the shoe and gave the shoe a more delicate heel.

Magpie2Putting this shoe together was a lot of work. I’m kind of sad I didn’t think to document the different steps, but I will try to do that for a future (pair of) shoe(s). It’s not perfect by any means, and I’m (really!) not fishing for compliments, but I don’t want to focus on the negative details, which are not that obvious when you don’t look at the shoe from too close and are quite normal for a second shoe ever! I just wanted to point out that I’m not under the delusion that my shoe is perfect nor hiding its (many) defects to pretend that they don’t exist.

Magpie3

The other side, with a simpler design because it’s less visible.

The shoe is made from black and white leather, the inside is lined with thinner black leather. The heel is also covered by leather, the same I used for the lining if I remember correctly, because the other one was too thick, but you really can’t tell the difference. The sole is a thick brown leather, which I had to paint black.

Magpie4The shoe is a size too small for me, so I couldn’t really try it (though I did manage to squeeze my foot into it – not a pretty sight!). The first ballet flat I made was a size too big, so I made sure to chose a last in my size for my third shoe (which I won’t finish before next (school) year, it’s on pause during summer vacation).

The sole, painted black.

I’ll leave you with some detail shots of the shoe. You can see the sole above and the heel and topstitching below. Once again, let me remind you that I spared you from more unsightly close-ups!

Have a nice weekend! I think I’ll spend mine admiring my shoe! 😀

Magpie6