I don’t talk about my job on here a lot – I may have only mentioned it once a while back but about a year and a half ago I quit my job at a medical software company and I bought a shoe repair business. The previous owner taught me how to repair shoes but up until this point I have just been repairing and never made my own shoes. I’ve wanted to make shoes for a long time but I’ve been working a lot and I haven’t necessarily wanted to spend more time at work. The other thing that has been holding me back is that while I have 90% of what I would need to make shoes I don’t have any shoe lasts. Lasts are shaped like feet and the leather upper is stretched around the last to help form the leather to the shape of the foot/last. The good news is that you don’t NEED shoe lasts in order to make sandals (although I do think it would have made the process slightly easier). I also just don’t know how to make shoes and I was putting off making them because I felt unqualified. I spent a lot of time on instagram looking at how other people were making shoes and I finally decided that the only way I was going to learn was to just start doing it. This pair of sandals is not perfect but I learned a lot while making them and that is kinda the point.
This is by no means going to be a “how to make sandals” instructional post. This is my first pair of sandals and I didn’t stop to document everything I did and unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures during the process. Also because of my job I have access to a lot of materials and machinery that most people do not have access to so what I did probably won’t help anyone trying to make a pair of sandals at home. To make these shoes I took a foam insole (mens size 11) and I traced around my foot. I then traced the insoles on to some insole board and glued the insole board to the insole. I took that over to my sander and smoothed out the edges and tried to get the right and left insole/board to be as close to each other as possible. I then traced the insoles on to some pigskin leather with about an inch of extra all the way around. I glued the leather to the insole. The bottom of the insole had a lot of extra leather. Once the glue dried I sanded the excess leather off to make the bottom flat. I’ll now refer to this as the “footbed.”
The next thing I did was to make my pattern. I cut some shapes out of construction paper and wrapped them around my foot to check them out. I used two long rectangles for the front straps and for the ankle strap I started with another straight line with two lines coming out perpendicular to the first strap. I then basically was using the tissue fitting method with the construction paper to figure out where I needed to take the strap in and contour it in some places.
I then cut my pattern pieces out of leather. I taped the straps in place and used a grease pencil to mark the location of the straps. I then adjusted the straps as needed until they felt comfortable. This was the most frustrating part because the tape I was using wasn’t very sticky. I was using painters tape from the hardware store to minimize any damage to the leather but basically any time I adjusted a strap I had to start with a new piece of tape because otherwise the tape just kept coming up.
Once I had the straps where I wanted them I went ahead and glued them in place. Once the glue was dry I went back over to my belt sander and I sanded the edges of the straps on the bottom of the footbed to taper them slightly. This is to help with the gluing process so that there aren’t little gaps where the sole can’t attach to the footbed.
I then picked out some buckles and sewed them on with a sewing machine at my work. I wasn’t able to put the sewing foot down but I basically did a zig zag stitch with no length across the bar in four different spots on each buckle to hold it in place. I punched some holes on the other side of the strap.
Then I was ready for soles! I wanted to use this sole material because it is very durable and I wanted my sandals to hold up over time. However, next time I think I’ll use a material that is softer for more comfort than durability. Once I glued the soles on they went back over to the sander where the soles got sanded down to match the footbeds, more or less. I then gave them a quick polish and they were done!
These are pretty good but next time I’ll do some things differently.
I already mentioned that next time I will use a different sole material to make them more comfortable.
I also made the straps a little too loose. The leather is pretty soft so the straps are definitely going to stretch out over time and become even looser (at which point I can shorten them). They already feel like they slide around a little while I’m wearing them and this is only going to get worse. the ankle strap is also a little saggy.
I might add a lining stitched to the outer next time. This will help the leather hold up better over time and also the nylon thread will help the leather to keep its shape and not stretch out as much over time.
I would make the leather that is behind the buckle a little bigger to fully cover the buckle. Because the strap is the same thickness the whole way across the buckle is slightly bigger than the strap behind it.
I might do something to burnish/seal the edges of the leather next time. I just left them raw this time but I think they’d look a little more polished/less homemade if the edges of the leather were finished.
Despite all of those notes about what I’d do differently I am really happy with these. They are definitely wearable! They are comfortable and I think they came out pretty cute!
This was my first time making a pattern by Sew House Seven and the instructions for these were just so good and sewing them was a thoroughly pleasant experience. I really enjoyed sewing these… except that I made some pretty big mistakes. At one point I was ready to throw these in the trash!
The first mistake I made was to size down too much in the legs. The back of the bibs have extra room and the ties pull in this extra fabric. I wanted to minimize the amount of bunching that happens above the butt so I decided to size down. I mistakenly thought that because the pattern didn’t include finished garment measurements for the hips but did for many other measurements that I would be safe to size down. It was not safe to size down.
The second mistake I made was with fabric choice. While I was committed to making light pink burnside bibs my fabric was a little on the sheer side. I was a little nervous about this at first but I found some examples of other people who made them out of the same fabric and I figured it would be fine. It was not fine.
This is a picture of the baste fit for my burnside bibs. They are definitely too tight in the hips but the part that I couldn’t get over was how sheer they were. While you couldn’t really see through them you could really see the seam allowance of the fabric underneath and it just really hated how they looked. I did some research and decided to underline them with cotton batiste. I didn’t want to use a rayon because I didn’t want the underlining to bag inside of the pants. There were a ton of options that contained polyester but I finally found a just cotton one! I then had to entirely take apart the bibs and start over. Technically I left the pockets on but otherwise it was a complete restart. I ended up sewing the legs at a slightly smaller seam allowance which gave me just enough room. Thank goodness they were so fun to sew!
Most projects I work on go relatively smoothly… I feel like this was the first time that I really had to go back and make some major changes to a project. Although it was really frustrating at the time I feel like I learned a lot more making these than I have with many of my other projects recently. I’m not sure how many pairs of overalls I need but I have seen some really cute shorts versions! I’m glad I didn’t end up throwing them in the trash because I really love them now!
This are the pants I started during Camp Workroom Social actually like 2 years ago now… My first year at camp I took the bra making class but last time I took pants fitting using the Palmer Pletch method of tissue fitting. It was a super interesting class and I learned a lot not only about tissue fitting but also a lot of little tips and tricks for finishing off garments.
My fabric is actually super stretchy. One of the things I learned in class that the grainline is not always parallel to the selvedge. If your fabric is very stretchy in the direction that is parallel to the selvedge then the grainline is actually perpendicular to the selvedge. It felt really strange to cut with the grainline perpendicular to the selvedge but it does make sense that you want the stretchiest direction to be going around your body. Overall these pants are super comfortable because they actually fit and because the fabric is so stretchy.
I don’t really wear a lot of trouser style pants but I’ve used the tissue fitting method on my lander shorts and it worked really well. I love not having to make a muslin which can feel like a waste of fabric! I don’t think I can use this method on pants where there is negative ease though unfortunately but now I can compare this pattern to other patterns to get an idea of what adjustments I may need to make even if I can’t tissue fit them.
I’m wearing these pants with my Nikko Top. The top of my pants actually don’t quite fit not because of the class but because its been about a year and a half since I took the class. If I make these pants again I’d probably raise the rise slightly and I’d also have to do some additional fitting at the waist. If I’m telling the truth I was kinda rushing through the actual sewing steps because I really wanted to be able to leave class with pants that were done. Some parts are a little sloppy on the inside but you really can’t tell from the outside. Otherwise I’m super happy with them and its really nice to have a pants option that isn’t either jeans or leggings! Overall though what I got out of the class was so much more than a pair of pants! I’m really glad I took this class because I learned so much!
I made this Hemlock Tee by Grainline Studios a while back with some black and white jersey striped fabric I got from Girl Charlee. I started by making no changes to the pattern since it is a one size fits all pattern and I wasn’t sure what to expect. After making it and trying it on I ended up shortening the hem of the shirt and the sleeves pretty significantly. Before I hemmed it I was feeling quite overwhelmed by the stripes. I still kinda think they make me look like a prisoner and/or a mime.
Other than that this was a pretty quick and easy make. I actually made this before I made my striped sweater knit version and my cloud knit version but because it isn’t as exciting I ended up posting about those other two versions first. After making this version I decided that I wanted long sleeves that were a bit slimmer so all of my subsequent versions have a modified sleeve and also are modified for the split hem. I think the split hem adds a bit of visual interest to an otherwise pretty basic pattern. The Hemlock is a great pattern for showcasing a really nice fabric (which this is not). I really love my sweater knit versions but its nice to have this as a lighter weight more casual (prison??) shirt.
This is my second time making the Nikko Top by True Bias. The first version I made I used a striped bamboo knit. This time I used a rib knit. I love the color – I don’t have anything else like it in my wardrobe. This is going to get a lot of wear this summer.
This top came together really quickly! Its always faster to make a pattern the second time around and since this pattern doesn’t have any zippers, buttons/button holes, etc. it really doesn’t take a lot of time to come together. I just finished the hem with a zigzag stitch instead of breaking out my coverstitch machine because I figured I’d mostly be wearing this tucked in anyway and it doesn’t really matter what the hem looks like.
I love the sleeveless version but next time I’m thinking about making either a long sleeve version or a dress version or maybe the long sleeve dress version?? Either way I probably won’t tackle that for a while because I have a lot of sewing planned before I would get to that so I have a long time to decide!
I don’t have a ton to add because it is fairly simple to make and I’ve made it before. I definitely recommend this pattern if you haven’t tried it yet! I was skeptical about the mock turtleneck since I hate having anything that close to my neck but it doesn’t bother me too much and definitely adds a little flare that a basic tank top wouldn’t!