Shoe Biz 4: Backless Beauties (Toes Go Undercover)



I had planned to post this session sooner, but as anticipated...word has gotten out around the house regarding my newfound shoe making skills and as a result...every morning, I am surrounded by divas requesting shoes to match their outfits!!! However, summer will soon draw to a close and the girls will certainly want to cover their little toes. So for session, I show you how to make a simple, basic pattern for uppers. This is a simple, backless shoe that can be worn as is (usually with a little help from a bit of double stick tape), or with an ankle strap to hold the shoe to the foot. Inasmuch as my aim is to focus on a basic design that can be rendered with a wide variety of colors and materials, this project should serve you well in almost every wardrobe circumstance.

As with the last post....this project is all about the top of the foot. The soles remain the same. Since this shoe covers (part of) the foot, it requires e a pattern.

This is a shoe that has a straight, horizontal line around the top of the foot with a toe forming a point.
It is straightforward and easy to make.
1. Take a small piece of paper and wrap it around the doll's foot. Pin at the center of the bottom of the foot.
2. With a pencil, mark the edges of the foot from one side, across the toes to the other side.
3. Draw in the style line (point) at the toe.
4. Remove the pattern. Open the paper. Draw in seam allowance. Note how I have treated the area at the point of the toe. This is because, when the seam allowance is folded onto the insole, you will need space for the overlap.
5. Cut your pattern out. Try the paper pattern on the doll's foot, making any adjustments needed. Also, you will need to trace that triangle at the center of the shoe. This will serve as "interfacing" to provide structure to the shoe upper.

Now, let's assemble our shoe. Be sure you have your lined insoles prepared. And you should also have the mid-soles and the outer soles ready in advance as well.
1. Cut out the pattern onto your chosen material. If you use non-woven material such as the leather in my project, you won't need to turn down the edge. But if you choose fabric, you will need to create a tiny hem by turning the edge over and gluing in place. (We show you later in this post.) Notice how I have clipped notches into my seam allowance. That is because the leather is rather thick. If you are using a thin material or fabric, you do not need to clip in notches. Apply glue to the seam allowances of the upper.
2. Take the insole and line it up against the seam allowance of the upper. In this photo, I have lined up the left side of the insole to the right seam allowance edge of the upper. Fold this over and line up the seam allowance edge against the other side of the insole.
3. Take a sharpened pencil and slide it into the shoe. Make sure the upper firmly fits around the insole. If you are making shoes for a 1/4 scale doll, you will need to find a thicker dowel.
4. Press the upper to the insole firmly; bend the tip of the toe down just a bit (enough to close the hole it forms.
5. Once the glue as dried, apply more glue and attach the mid-sole to the bottom of the upper. Use a dowel as a rolling pin and really press the mid-sole against the bottom of the upper.
6. Prepare to finish the shoe. Repeat steps 1-5 to create the other shoe. Bend the outer sole to the form of the doll's foot. Cut the heel. For these two shoes, I have chosen a 1/2" length of 18 gauge silver wire.

7. Even though I have demonstrated how to make a heel in Shoe Biz 2, I am showing you once again, but this time, using wire. Whether you use a toothpick or wire, the process is exactly the same.
8. The heel is added to the bottom of the outer-sole. I remove excess clay or, add tiny bits on to fill in any gaps. Be sure to dip your utensil in water to smooth out the epoxy clay for a smooth finish.
9. Also, be careful to keep the heel straight up, perpendicular to the ground under the heel of the foot.

And here's my finished shoe. The material is something called "aluminum" or "mirror" tape. The sides of the soles are painted white.

I also made another pair using silver leather. The toe is dipped in silver glitter and the soles painted silver. But here's the problem... It's hard to keep these on the doll's feet! So I do what I do when I buy the same style of shoe from Integrity Toys or Mattel..... I use a little tape to secure the shoe to the doll's foot. Or.....you can hold the shoe to the foot with a strap. There are a few possibilities


You can incorporate a strap on the bottom of the insole that criss-crosses the foot and/or ankle as I did with this pair of eggshell white leather shoes.

You can also create a loop at the back of the heel to thread ribbon or yarn through and wrap around the ankle.
1. The construction and assembly of the shoe remains the same. I have simply added a small loop at the back of the heel. This should be glued to the insole before the  mid-sole is added.
2. Be sure to use a generous amount of glue and press the two layers together well!
3. With that on, we simply add a ribbon, or in my case, embroidery yard through the loop and tied around the ankles.


Or...you can get more "clean" with the ankle treatment and create an ankle strap.

The technique I used to create the ankle strap is the same as for making belt.

1. These shoes were made of white linen (to match dolly's white linen Donna Karan suit). Everything is prepared in advance.
2. Here's a closeup of the uppers. Because this is fabric, you will need to make the tiniest hem and glue down the edge.
3. The loop was added (in the same way as for the green shoes). I used a tiny bit of matching leather. The buckle is a tiny bit of 24 gauge wire. This solution is nice in that you can change up the ankle strap or even tuck the loop under the doll's foot should she decide she wants to wear mules!

I admit....I had to make these shoes twice before I got it right. With the first pair, I got a little sloppy and the line across one of the shoes cut across the foot on an angle. Moreover, the toes were a little banged up as well. Instead of throwing them out, I embellished!
Remember...there is not a lot of real estate on a doll's foot!! I cut out small pieces of lace and sewed them onto each shoe. Then I tacked on two tiny pearls on each she. The temptation is to add more, but resist! It's all about scale. Ask yourself...would I wear this much junk on my shoes?

Question: how do I make a more rounded shoe with a curve over the foot?
The pattern making is the same.
1. You can create a pattern by covering the foot with paper then drawing the style line you choose.
2. Or you can use tape.
3. Again, cover the foot then trace around the edge of the foot. Draw in the style line.
4. Transfer to paper and draw in the seam allowance.
5. Cut out and try the paper pattern on the foot to check for fit. You will need to clip in notches so that the pattern fits onto the bottom of the insole.
6. This becomes the definitive pattern.
With this pattern you need to use non woven material or...something thin enough to roll the exposed edge. And don't forget to create an interfacing (the pattern itself without the seam allowance).
Note: I have not made shoes with this particular style for this project. I'll make shoes with a natural toe for my post on classic pumps.

On the other hand, be as creative, inventive and fanciful as your heart desired. You can use not just solid tone leather (real or faux), you can use bits of fabric to create shoes that literally match dolly's dress. Again, don't forget to use "interfacing" to give the shoe upper the structure it needs.
Question: Can I line my shoes?
Yes you can. But here again, keep the layers light so that the bulk on the bottom of the insole (after the edges are turned) is kept to a minimum.
Don't throw out ribbon from gift packages! It's enough to make a pair of shoes. Just remember to add the "interfacing." It shouldn't be the typical iron-on variety. You really need to use paper or card stock. The idea is to give the necessary structure so that the shoe does not end up flat.
If you mess up a shoe....save it by covering over the mistakes with tiny bows, beads, lace or even glitter.

My aim with these tutorial is to provide simple, easy ways to help you create 1/6 scale high heeled shoes. I had not planned to do anything complex or complicated. However.....I saw a photo of a shoe that tempted me to try something different. So let's go back to the beginning. Let's create a pattern for a design that might be floating around in your head.

1. Again, I used paper tape to cover the doll's foot. Establish the center of the foot by drawing a CF line. Draw your design directly on the tape. Be sure to mark the edges of the foot. Keep in mind, you cannot design straps or cut-outs too thin because they will break sooner or later!
2. Remove the tape with your pattern and flatten it against a piece of paper.
3. Add on seam allowance. Cut this out.
4. Place on the doll's foot to see if the pattern works. Make any necessary modifications, then make your definitive pattern.
5. Attach the prepared (lined) insole to the doll's foot with a piece of tape to hold it in place while you work. Cut the pattern out in the material of choice. Here, I am using a lightweight vinyl fabric that resembles leather. (I think real leather would have been stronger and better for this shoe.) Glue the bottom of the insole and attach the uppers.
6. If somehow (in my case) the soles are longer than the uppers (or the other way around), you can always cheat and add a little (epoxy) clay extension to fill in the area.
7. I was not really happy with how the toes turned out. (Serves me right for not using the magnifying glass.) So I covered up the mistake by taking a little aluminum tape (mylar also works), and wrapping it around the toes of the shoes BEFORE I added on the outer soles. I used silver wire for the heels.
8. I painted the soles black around the edges and the top of the heels were painted silver.


That should keep you busy for awhile! We'll be back soon with Shoe Biz 5, a short tutorial that combines this project with another we did a while ago to help you create Stocking Boots!!!!

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