Meet Pixie a pointed-toe flat mule, created on a vintage 1980 last (Ah memories of my wanton youth). Pixie is my first foray into working with soling weight leather. What an experience. The leather I have is thick with a veg tan finish. I think it will make for a sturdy sole, but boy is it hard to cut. After using my scalpel (too weak), a 45mm rotary cutter and leather scissors (both hard to control on curves and often crushed rather than cut) and my regular utility knife, I was defeated. I couldn't imagine how I would be able to do it. My hands hurt and were a bit numb. I wallowed in self-doubt and self-pity for about a minute and then did what any self-respecting maker would do - I went took a tour on the internet to see what I could dig up. Someone suggested an Olfa Heavy Duty Utility knife with heavy duty break off blades. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I got my new knife/blades, a 60mm rotary cutter and blades for the 60mm and 45mm the next day. I also got an electric rotary cutter, but I haven't tried it yet. The rough edge gave me an opportunity to learn about edge finishing. The insole on this baby is another piece of lighter weight leather. Between the 2 pieces and the heel, I was able to learn to bevel edges, sand and burnish edges. I got to experiment with my Dremel tool which proved to be a life saver. This shoe is 4 component pieces and again I was working with all cement construction. I knew I wanted a nice finished edge to the upper so I got to incorporate topline tape and I repeated that folded edge that mimics a sewn edge with the construction. Here you can see the folded top edge and skived edges of the upper ready to be glued over the last to the French Beveled insole. ( Another tool in my tool kit!) Several wrappings and edge finishings later Pixie debuted. Even with a few warts (I need to get the upper flatter to connect more seamlessly with the sole), I love her shape, style and spunk. She's mine to test as we transition into Fall. I definitely need some more work on cutting veg tan sole material and finishing these edges. The only way to get better is to do it, so I carry on.
Elba is my first prototype. She's with a tester now to see how we she goes. Elba is a one-strap cement construction clog. The clog is a complete component made of wood with a rubber sole from Italy -very chic. I chose to use a padded insole, again using the cork. My goal was to align the fit of the insole better to the outsole and cover the insole in a cleaner manner than I had done on my recycled shoes. I even tried my hand at shaping the insole to the outsole (note the curve). I did a better job on the cover. You can see improvement in the edges and skiving. Sadly I didn't do too well on the size. In the end my insole is a bit too large. Lesson learned. Trim the insole before covering it. The decision to cut inside, outside or on a line can add or subtract a significant amount of area when several materials and components come together. Next I attacked the weight of the leather. I have a quantity of lightweight leather that I am using for much of my prototyping. Originally, I was going to secure the strap to the insole, but as my design developed, I decided on clog construction with decorative nails directly attaching the strap to the wood outsole. Either way, I thought the leather was too flimsy, so I backed it with cork to give it enough body. This was imperative for the nail method to work. You can see I glued my edges as if they were sewn. I skived the interior of the edges to try to get a smooth edge against the foot with partial success. I had given up on the flower before I backed my strap, but as you can see, I found a really great resolution. I merely cut the floral shape and balled up the leather to create a distressed and wrinkled effect. I attached the shapes to the strap with thin leather cord that acts as the pistils. In my next pair, this will happen before I back the strap. The nails were also a trip. A couple didn't nail in smoothly and making them symmetrical was a chore. If you look carefully at the side view you will see that I chose to use only 3 nails, my aesthetic preference. That might be a mistake. I'll have to see what my tester says about how they hold up.
I am surely ready for a breath of spring shoes. I survived over 18" of snow, most of which drifted towards my house and filled my back yard. I don't think I'll see the yard again until April or May. It will be a sore reminder of the storm and I sure hope it didn't kill my plants. On top of it all I now have a head cold. So as one big misery guts, I'm going to distract myself with some spring shoe trends. MUST HAVE Number 1: The nudes are back. Choose a pointed toe pump with a 3"-4" heel to really extend your leg line, elongating your line, making you look taller and thinner. Keep the color close to your skin tone for max advantage. These Charles David's come in 2", 3", and 4" models, so a heel height for everyone. As an aside, I think that women figure skaters should always choose skin tone skates or skin tone tights over skates as well. They get points for their body lines and longer lines are preferred. Lines will always look longer with skin tone to the toe than with white skates. Check out Akiko Suzuki of Japan competing in the Ladies Free Skating during of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2010/2011 Cup of Russia at Megasport Sport Palace on November 20, 2010 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images). She's only 5'2" and look at the length she gets visually from this choice. Designer Nick Verreos weighs in on the topic in this post. MUST HAVE Number 2: A fun flat. Practical and sassy, a pointed or rounded toe - your choice but make a statement with a colorful pattern. These will be your go to from spring into summer. You'll be spoiled for choice with both trends and best of all they are only a click away so you can dream from your armchair. Chicken soup, kleenex and shoe shopping - pretty good for a snow-fatigued, head cold kind of day.
Is your shoe wardrobe ready? Check out these hot shoe trends for Fall. First up a personal favorite for my bad ass and beautiful style. Studs. Whether round, square or pyramid in any color or texture, this trend adds edge to high heeled or flat shoes, booties and boots. Speaking of boots it's time to invest in the "over the knee" trend. From flat to stiletto, this trend is versatile and works oh so well with leggings and skinny jeans, especially when paired with a tunic. Match your leg and boot color to create a long leg line. Or choose a contrast to show off the boots. Your call. Quilting remains strong at retail, particularly in the moto inspired arena. It adds just that bit of femininity to tough girl styles. Last year's diamonds have grown into tighter pyramids, bars and wavy lines. Retro fringe is back for the boho. Suede especially harkens back to that 70's vibe. Not a boho bone in your body? Don't fret. This trend works for a more polished look with the tassel. If you are looking at these trends for a price, check out shoedazzle.com.