Saturday, 5 July 2014

Revolutionary shoes

The last thing I needed to complete my revolutionary outfit was a pair of red shoes. I'd love to get my hands on a pair of red Kensington from American Duchess, but I will have to wait and see if they'll come back. Without any luck in finding accurate shoes, I had to make decent shoes. I'm not going to start with shoemaking, so it was a question of refurbishing a pair of excisting shoes.

These were a pair of beige leather pumps that I picked up from a second hand store in May. The first thing I had to do was dye them red. I found a product called All-in-one leather shoe recolouring/dye stain pigment paint on ebay.

I didn't clean the shoes properly before starting to apply the paint. The first layer was a real disappointment. I used just a thing layer, thinking that it would be good to use as a primer, the result was a blotchy pink shade. You could see every stroke from the inbuilt brush and the shade was horrible. I was ready to give up, especially since the colour wasn't the bright red that I wanted, but decided to try some more layers. For the next layer I took a lot of paint on the brush, it was dripping with paint, and applied generously all over the shoe. That was the trick, all of a sudden the the shoes turned an uniform bright red shade. I had the shoes rest over night and then I added another thick layers just to be sure.

I was very happy with this result. In the original fashion plate the only thing visible is a plain red toe, I felt that it was a bit too plain though. The shoes I had dyed basically looked like just a red pair of pumps and didn't look 18th century enough. I decided to trim them a bit, but not too much. I added a thin black piece of satin ribbon round the opening, using superglue. Then I boxpleated two pieced of grosgrain ribbon. I put a row of stitches down the middle, to keep the pleats in shape, and then I used more superglue to attach them to the front.
This is the final result, after having been worn a full day. You can see that I've missed and put some dye on the inside as well. I didn't put any sealer on the paint. After having worn them a whole day in quite moist conditions, and including dancing on asphalt, I still think they hold up very well. There are some scratches on the toes, but I can touch up on the paint no problem, and the dye hasn't bleed. I don't have any marks on my feet, or my white stockings either. The only bad thing with the shoes are that they are pointier than I'm used to, so my little toes felt quite squeezed after a couple of hours. The heel was very comfortable though.

Just the facts
Materials: one pair of second hand pumps, one bottle of all-in-one leather dye, satin ribbon, grosgrain ribbon.
Cost: $30 (split more or less half between the shoes and the paint)
Year: Late 18th century
How historically accurate is it? Not very, 10% for the general look.
Hours to complete: 2, but a lot of waiting time to let the paint dry
First worn: 28th of June for Silvergruvans Dagar in Sala.

What I've learned with the project
My main lesson was that it isn't hard to dye and trim shoes, and I'm probably going do similar things in the future.

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