One of the most interesting and unexpected observations from a child about my sewing was that I don’t have company labels, care instructions, or check out tags on my handmade clothes. No, I don’t. Yet, this time, I do have a bar code to label me…well, kind of. This top may have a bar code, yet it is not for sale and there will not be another quite like it in the world. I did not go to a store to get what I needed when I came up with the idea for it…I shopped downstairs in my stash. I have no bars holding me back, and no code to dominate what I wear. This top is me silently laughing at fast fashion – I don’t need you, cheap ready-to-wear. I can do better.
This scrap-busting little summer top project blatantly speaks for my lack of conventionality when it comes to what it is that I wear, while my background mural of St. Louis, Missouri speaks for my hometown pride! Together, this outfit is the modern “me”, the side of my life which occasionally does not wear vintage, that is. It is the late 90’s punky-style teen still inside me that still loves to sing loudly to Avril Lavigne while driving around town. Besides, I needed an edgy monotone black-and-white outfit to see the new Disney live-action “Cruella” movie, after all!
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was whipped up in the matter of 2 hours on March 30, 2016.
THE INSIDES: cleanly bias bound on all edges and facings
TOTAL COST: The satin and rings were leftovers on hand, which I’m counting as free, and the quilting square was bought on sale so many years ago I no longer remember. My total here is probably almost nothing!!!
I was literally just making this idea work. That’s okay, though, because I felt like being inventive for that day and just went along with all the setbacks I faced. For example, I didn’t have a piece of satin wide enough to have a conventional center back seam, much less a pleat, so I figured the rear of the top would have to be open…”but make it a stylistic element” I thought. I added metal rings, found off of my husband’s work table downstairs, to connect the two edges. The fat quarter wasn’t big enough for a whole front piece either, so I added little satin shoulder extensions (drafted off of the pattern) to end up with a complete panel. This way the print is primarily front and center to my top and the satin is visible from more than just a back view. I like my top better for all the changes I was forced into because of my fabric choices. If you have an oopsie appear purposeful, it becomes an artistic pattern adaption!
Crop tops are fun for me to wear anyway, but this one is more so the way you can tie the longer back extensions up or leave them down like tuxedo tails. I am surprised the pattern never showed or even suggested this wearing option! Either way, tying the back tails helps keep this crop top down in place on me. As I found out after its first time being worn, the lightweight fabrics I used are too insubstantial for a loose fitting pullover crop top, like this. It has the tendency to not stay down in place. Luckily the heavy metal rings weigh it down somewhat from behind. Otherwise, I could see this top creeping up on me. Lesson learned – do not make a crop top in the lightest fabrics on the market unless you don’t mind if it flies up to arm level. Luckily, the combo of both the rings in the open back and tying up the back tails helps this project to be wearable in the end.
I can actually wear this over a long sleeved black tee in the winter, so this is more than just a one season piece happily. Inside during the summer, when places have their air conditioning on “deep freeze” setting I like to have my faux leather moto jacket as a fun, modern cover-up. To wear this to see the “Cruella” movie, I actually paired it with an oversized 1930s red beaded necklace, nice red flats, and a black skirt, and the top almost looked dressy! In these pictures I am wearing it with another Burda Style pattern, the pants portion to a designer jumpsuit (posted here). This little crop top has become more versatile than I imagined when I was originally sewing it together. What I make for myself always gets worn to some degree, I make sure of that. Anything that usefully whittles down my scrap pile is good in my book, anyway. Yet, I love surprises where something that seemed fun and useful to plan at the moment ends up a wardrobe favorite.
At this point, I almost need a whole section of my blog highlighting my scrap-busting projects…I have so many! This one was one of those projects that has been slipping under the radar of my blog, being worn frequently but seemingly insignificant enough to post. This summer has been so busy, I feel badly for not posting here as much as I would like, and certainly not frequently enough to keep up with what I am sewing in real time, but it gives me the opportunity to easily share simple little creations like this one. I hope, like me, your sewing creativity is still going just as fervent and fulfilling, and this season is also finding you happy and healthy!
P.S. If you want to discuss the new live-action Disney “Cruella” movie, share what you thought of it, or just find out more of my opinion, leave me a comment and let’s get talking!! I found it really good, and well done, but with reservations over some confusing technicalities that do not match up. I’d be happy to chat about it!
Let’s ‘dive’ back into the 1980s decade with yet another installment to my ongoing “Pandemic Princess” series! My title gives away the royal fairy “tale” subject ahead of time here. This is inspired by Ariel, from Disney’s original “The Little Mermaid”, with an outfit dated to the year of the animated movie came out – 1989. My Pandemic Princess series was something I worked on throughout last year (2020) during the pandemic, and this outfit was one planned out at the end of the year for a wintertime visit to the new downtown Aquarium. Thus, this becomes a conservative, bifurcated version of Ariel’s mermaid look with a purple blouse and greenish trousers made for an 80’s interpretation. This is my only Disney Princess inspired outfit, too, which will not be a dress.
I wove so much symbolism, high quality, and love into all the details of what I’m wearing…Ariel was my first big deal, mega favorite Disney Princess, after all! Proof in point – my parents were somehow able to get me (as in bring it home to keep) the oversized window display which was at our local Disney store for the release of the movie. I remember dressing in a little purple bikini top and a sparkly mermaid tail to stand inside the 3-D display after they had set it up for me in the living room. I was part of Ariel’s world that day! So, please don’t mind if a grown up me obsesses over every little aspect to crafting her very ocean princess outfit, he he.
Be prepared for a “part two” follow-up to this post, also dating to 1989 and with more matching pieces to make this outfit a complete set. As big a fan as I am, one Disney’s “Little Mermaid” inspired outfit is not enough! I might also do a third Ariel inspired garment – a dress – in the future, but I know I need to curb myself in at the moment. For now, I felt it was important to channel the underwater princess as a woman with legs because, after all, her main longing was to walk, run, and dance on land! I also enjoy the juxtaposition between her wearing only seashells as her top becoming a very fun but conservative long sleeve blouse in my hands. All the blouse buttons are carved abalone shells instead!
FABRIC: Pants – a 100% wool twill, marked on the selvedge “Alta Moda – Enrico Coveri”; Blouse – a soft but tightly woven cotton blend broadcloth
PATTERN: McCall’s “NY NY The Collection” #4537 pattern, year 1989, from my personal stash
NOTIONS NEEDED: Lots of thread, interfacing, several hook-n-eyes, vintage rayon tape for hems, and vintage buttons from the collection of my husband’s Grandmother
TIME TO COMPLETE: Both pieces received much hand stitching, but the pants more than the blouse. Even still, the blouse took me 30 hours and the pants about 40 hours (not counting the pattern re-tracing I needed to do on paper to re-grade the sizing). Both pieces were finished by January 15, 2021.
THE INSIDES: Most seams are covered by vintage rayon seam tapes, but the long pants seams are zig-zagged over along the raw edges.
TOTAL COST: This set cost me next to nothing – just a few dollars – as I bought everything except the notions (which were on hand already) at a garage rummage sale.
This set might have been practically free but don’t be deceived – it is not lacking in quality. The blouse fabric is very nice cotton, to be sure, but it just so happened to be the same purple as Ariel’s brassiere shells. What seemed like the perfect find was not even 2 yards in length (at 45” width) so I was able to just barely make this blouse work out with its long sleeves and peplum. Even still, my blouse’s cotton is a pretty basic score compared to the amazing find that was the fine woolen used for my pants. It is a very greenish turquoise perfect to complement the purple, but also a mermaid appropriate tone. It was a soft, supple, and fabulously textured cozy wool. Yes, there were 6 yards of the material in total.
However, those 6 yards were perhaps the most moth chewed piece of fabric I have ever seen…quite a freaky mess! There was barely a solid swath which didn’t have a hole in it from which to cut my pants. With that fabulous selvedge marking, though, there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to try and salvage what I could from off of it. Whenever you see a stitched on ‘label’ on the selvedge of material, that’s a clear giveaway that it’s something high-end, especially when it says “Alta Moda”!
Many people may not recognize designer material, so I’ll decipher why the selvedge marking here is so important. “Alta Moda” is an Italian noun for the world of Italian high fashion, Italian fashion designers collectively, and Italian couture. It is their equivalent to “haute couture” in French. “Traditionally, Alta Moda or Haute Couture is the creation of unique tailor-made garments made mainly by hand using high quality fabrics, decorations, applications and embroideries with extreme attention to details” says The Accedemia Costume & Moda in Rome. Dolce & Gabbana is most often associated with the term “Alta Moda” nowadays, but as a designation for the industry, the words mark the difference between Milan and Rome – the former is more known for everday wearable clothes (pret-a-porter) where the latter is known for extravagant high fashion (says “Dave’s Travel Corner”). This is significant because there is the name of Florence based fashion designer Enrico Coveri behind the “Alta Moda” designation.
Enrico Coveri was born in 1952 and studied at the Accadema delle Belle Arti in Florence. In 1973, he began working as freelance designer, creating knitwear and sportswear lines, while making his mark by being one of the first designers to use soft pastel shades. He moved to Paris in 1978 to work at the “Espace Cardin”, the vast design institute set up by Pierre Cardin, and the year after he debuted with his first women’s collection in Paris. Shortly after that, he returned to Italy to establish his own company in 1979. “You Young” is the name of one of the several seasonal Enrico Coveri collections. It is also perhaps the best description for his bold, unpretentious, and fun-loving fashion: strong, vibrant colors and striking, witty designs that have always been clear and intelligible, with zany prints and knits often incorporating Pop Art designs and cartoon characters. Although he excelled at casual clothing, even his eveningwear exuded a young, sporty, wearable feel. Coveri enjoyed shocking and going out on a limb with design.
It is noted that in Coveri’s styling, attention was always given to the particularity of the materials and fabrics. His favorite fabrics included stretch satin, superfine linen, silk, cotton poplin, and sequin-covered knits. Journalist Hebe Dorsey to dub Coveri the “Italian Kenzo” in the Herald Tribune. Coveri died in 1990, at the young age of 38. (This and the above paragraph’s information is from The Fashion Model Directory, Made-In-Italy.com, and Encyclopedia.com.) Please hop on over to my Pinterest page (here) for his work and check out how full of life Coveri’s designs were in his too-short career.
This line of NY NY “The Collection” McCall’s patterns are supposed to be designer drafted, after all, so using a fabric most probably leftover from Coveri’s work and then channeling his style to interpret my version seems so appropriate. Now, I’m not intimating this was his pattern, but after reading up on his life, it suits his exuberance and love for details. It also means this wool is from before 1990…bingo. I couldn’t have chosen a better designer to incorporate into my Disney “Little Mermaid” outfit! How this vintage Italian Coveri fabric got here in the Midwest of America and why it became so moth chewed is another mystery I won’t even entertain unravelling. I feel he would appreciate the animated character influence here, as well as welcome the color tonality, but I would hope Coveri would especially like the unexpected details to the blouse and the pants of my chosen pattern.
The most obvious special detail is the front waist of the pants which have a strong mermaid-reminiscent shaping. With the dipped center and the flared, pointed sides, it calls to my mind the common way to portray the joining of the human body to the fish tail at the waist of a mermaid or merman. It’s not just all design lines with no utilitarian purpose, however – these pants are a unique “fall front” opening! This is scarce on so many counts. Not only is this style of pants closing something relegated to menswear, but besides maritime military uniforms having a buttoned fall front closing, it is primarily a historical fashion point. The “fall front” means there is a panel (sort of like a bib) which is flapped up (after stepping into the legs of the pants) and either hooked, tied, or buttoned down to cover both an inner waistband underneath and the exposed lower groin.
This style of pants is most widely seen today on the handsome gentleman and their roguish compatriots of popular Jane Austen novels and early 1800 era stories in television and screen adaptations. The end of the Regency and Napoleonic eras were the last of the fall front’s common usage in trousers, excepting certain military uniforms (as I mentioned) or ladies Victorian “split” skirts for riding. Brann mac Finnchad has an excellent terminology post here on his blog “Matsukaze Workshops” as he explores drafting and sewing his own regency fall-front trousers. Modern pants are a basic form of the “French fly” closure style, also called “split-fall”, and this has been dominant on men’s trousers and denims for about 170 years now. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the “French fly” was utilizing zippers, as we use today, rather than only buttons.
I have not yet seen a decorative fall front pants, much less in modern times, and especially for ladies. These are THE coolest pants I now have. They are not trying to be historical, yet are a fresh take on a style long dead…not dated at all for coming out of the 1980s! Most importantly, though – the fall front incorporates deep pockets that reach down to my thighs. This is modern ingenuity combined with practicality for you. Even still, style aside, I love the way they are very comfy and easy to move in, besides being quite complimentary to my hourglass figure! Now I just need to make sure troublesome fabric pests do not find my pants…
My fall front trousers utilizes one snap set and a few hook-n-eyes. A 1 inch heavy-duty snap closes the inner waistband, as Brann calls the “binder”, and large hook-n-eyes to close the sides of the fall front flap. The original instructions called for me to use buttons and work buttonholes at all these closure spots, yet I wanted the smooth front appearance of invisible-from-the-outside closures. The amazing seam lines of these pants needed to take center stage without big buttons to distract! After all, I did not trust two buttons to alone hold the weight and the pull of the fall front. I want these amazing pants to last me many years. Not having set button holes will hopefully aid that by giving the versatility of being able to adjust the spacing of a hook or snap. Depending on how the fabric loosens or what my body is dealing with at the moment, “fit” is something fluid and not static and I sew all my clothes with some option of tailoring at a future date.
Once I graded up the paper pattern according to the given size chart, these pants turned out close fitting yet exactly my size, luckily, so I could focus on perfecting every feature as it was out of the envelope with no alteration. The pants’ legs are tapered slimmer at the leg hems, the waist is high above the natural line, and the hips are roomy across…all in a nicely subtle 80’s way. They are dart fitted across the back, unlike Regency trousers which were laced to fit. The inner waist facings were in many different pieces across the back to accommodate the curving fit. I kept the pants unlined so they would be more lightweight and therefore versatile for a mild spring or fall season. The wool is so fine it is not really itchy. I did finish the hem in a bright, cheerful lime green vintage rayon hem tape. Only I really see or know it is there, but sometimes it’s those hidden fine details that make all the difference, right?!
Now compared to the pants, the blouse takes second sitting, yet it is still packed with unusual, special details, too. It is more of a 1980’s classic, though. As the envelope summary stated, the blouse was designed to be very over-sized, except for the close-fitting hips and wrists. Combining these features with the dropped shoulder line and lowered armscye, as well as knowing my tiny wrists, I presumed correctly that the only place where I needed to size up was from the waist down. The size of my pattern was two sizes too small for me according to the envelope chart and yet the main body finished up fitting well yet with a comfy amount of room to spare – just the way I figured it. Sizing up was challenging as it is a darted one-piece in the front and a separate peplum with defined waist seam only in the back. I merely slashed and spread the front blouse panel open to the necessary increment starting from the hem. Then, I came back to retrace in the original pleats again. When a pattern says “generous fit”, believe it only so far and measure at the pattern stage (as I did here) to see just what is going on ahead of time for a perfect fit in the end!
The pattern calls the back bottom portion a peplum, but I see it as a clever way to keep a poufy blouse tucked in and looking neat. This blouse is onto something smart – don’t you hate it when you tuck a blouse into pants or a skirt which fits snug over the hips and the top just gets all bunched up and obvious under your bottoms?! I am glad for the longer, lower hip length of the hem because it not only stays tucked in nicely but also looks great worn untucked, on its own. 80’s oversized blouses can overwhelm a smaller frame like my own, so the slim fit for the waist and hips makes this style work for me, I think.
An unusual part to the blouse is for sure the sleeves, the way they are so deep set and super gathered at the center top ‘shoulder’ seam. I have not done a tapered sleeve like this before either, nor does one often encounter a smooth transition (no tucks, pleats or gathers) into the fitted, rounded cuff. I love it! Even still, one little detail of two carrier tabs at both the back collar and front button placket makes all the difference here. It keeps a contrast scarf in place (the way I am wearing it), but the pattern calls for an ascot to be made (included in the envelope, too) and worn in a way similar to a man’s necktie. No wonder the pants had such a masculine influence! The whole ensemble owes its design to guy’s clothes, even if the details are inherently feminine. The collar otherwise is pretty much the same as the cuffs, with curved ends, yet was sewn down with a man’s shirt-style collar stand.
I felt that true shell buttons were the only thing appropriate here to keep “The Little Mermaid” reference strong but subtle. Abalone shell buttons, if the underside is unglazed and raw, can fall apart easily. However, I was able to find ones stable and uncracked for my blouse in the amount I needed (a total of 11) out of a good number more (about 18) in the vintage notions stash of hubby’s Grandmother. Shells are intertwined with every mermaid legend it seems, but I figured abalone shells would be Ariel’s preference the way they have an iridescent shine in her classic colors of turquoise, purple, and pink.
The way Enrico Coveri was obsessed with matching, curated accessories, I followed suit with this outfit. Where do I start? My shoes are perhaps my favorite compliment to my outfit, but then again I do greatly enjoy matchy-matchy footwear! My facemask reminds me of the interesting and slightly alien texture of coral and was made by me of the lovely shiny turquoise rosette fabric leftover from this vintage inspired Whitney Frost dress copy (posted here). My purse might be the most obvious accessory – it is a “Unique Vintage” brand cosmetic case that I added pearl straps to so I can use it as a purse. My bracelet is really a necklace, but it is long enough to wear around my wrist when wrapped three times. It has a sterling silver mermaid swimming across it!
My earrings are genuine shell carved in the shape of a starfish. I have had these earrings since I first got my ears pierced as a little girl. I know there is a story to where they came from which I cannot remember yet, so but nevertheless I hold them as special for the reasons I already mentioned! I could have flaunted off so many of my old original charms, pins, or pendants which I have from when I was little and the movie first came out…but it looked too gaudy. I wanted to go all out with this princess out, just to let you know, but I kept it tame…I really don’t want to cause any more attention (at times) than my vintage way of dressing already does!
So, regarding our shooting location, if you ever find yourself in St. Louis, Missouri I do recommend a visit to the Union Station Aquarium. This is something worth seeing (from a land locked Mid-Westerner’s point of view) plus it makes for the best pictures! I couldn’t have asked for a better outfit to wear, though…the anticipation of the visit helped spur me to finish sewing it. My Ariel inspired set totally put in the frame of mind to appreciate the underwater realm in an immersive state of mind…which was easy to do as some of the expansive tanks wrapped around and over between rooms! Although I will not say “it’s better down where it’s wetter” as Sebastian sings, watching the fish and their counterparts do their ‘thing’ (“just keep swimming”, right?) was incredibly relaxing for us, compared to our working hours up on land. At least it was fun to pretend to be a grounded mermaid princess for a day!
Stop the presses! News flash here! I have now made shoes! Well, technically I have sewn my own house slippers, but they are worn on the feet so that is close enough to make me feel like adding the term “cobbler” to my long list of capabilities. I cannot express how elated I am over this creation and just how incredibly comfy they are to wear. I was very doubtful I could pull such an idea off, but my slippers turned out fantastic. Plus, they were so quick and relatively easy to make…and all I used is scraps leftover from past projects! This post is aptly named after a sweet song by the same name by a favorite singer of mine, Lionel Richie.
A big ‘thank you’ is in order to Quinn (who blogs here at “The Quintessential Clothes Pen”) for her encouragement and support over this idea in the first place. Over in this post of mine about the making of this fuzzy winter jacket by the designer Ungaro, I casually threw out the question of ‘what can be done with the scraps of the waist peplum I did not use’. Happily, Quinn voted for the house slippers idea, and it sounded like she started making some for herself in turn. All I needed was a bit of outside inspiration to spur me on, and just look at the wonderful slippers I finished now! I am always so overwhelmed and supported by my blog’s readers and followers. You are all truly the best!
I half-heartedly wonder if it might be old fashioned (according to younger generations) to be wearing house slippers. Thus, just in case a definition is needed here, I will provide a brief one. “A house shoe is a general term for any footwear that is intended to be worn indoors, particularly at home, while a slipper is a type of indoor or outdoor footwear that you can easily slip-on your feet. Remember that house shoes can be slippers, but not all slippers can be house shoes.” (Definition from this site.)
I have a few vintage slippers, of the famous Daniel Green brand, which are closer to shoes, for sure, the way they are so fancy, with molded soles and wedge heels. While they are comfortable and luxurious, at the end of the day all I want is to feel barefoot…but with the benefits of a little extra warmth and cushioning. This is one of the many reasons why I personally prefer soft, ballerina-style, enclosed foot house shoes to both slip-ons (with an open back or exposed toes) and modern molded foam bed support slippers. Yet, a good version of a ballerina house slipper is hard to find, never as comfy as I would like, and also quite pricey. Besides, they never last me very long before they wear out to the point that they need to be thrown away. Cue the quest to craft my own. Sewing can be so enjoyable AND useful.
Unlike the fuzzy house shoes commonly referred to as “slippers”, ballet shoes are made of soft leather, canvas, or satin, for dancers to appear weightless and graceful when performing. “These shoes are lightweight and have thin soles to offer maximum flexibility. What’s more, the shoes feature an elastic band that’s meant to secure the shoe tightly to the foot during the entire performance. A proper ballet slipper should also offer a snug fit, like a glove.” (Info from this site.) Often these shoes are in a skin toned color for an invisible appearance. Modern ballerina house slippers, however, are in all sorts of fashion colors and prints and often cheaper materials.
How about a casual “about me” moment related to that topic? I had the hard-toed ballet pointe shoes when I was growing up. They were merely a cheap but neat second-hand purchase that I played around with and casually practiced in at home…nothing too earnest. They are torture devices though (in my opinion) for all the beauty they offer dancers on stage. Nevertheless, I grew to appreciate and admire both the charm of ballet and the hard work of its performers. (Being taken to a Nutcracker performance when I was about 10 years old helped along those feelings, too!)
What I especially loved about ballet was the soft leather dancing slippers after also acquiring a set secondhand at a resale store. I loved wearing them around the house to the point that my mom went to a ballet store and bought me a few more new pairs. The woman at the store quickly ended that obsession by throwing out very judgmental, inquiring, and intrusive questions to both me and my mom…as if her customers could only be professionals and nothing else. Oh well. No doubt this past history of mine is a contributing factor to my preference for ballet style slippers. Now I can make my own and this is the most exciting and inspiring thing to happen in my sewing sphere in a while!
Speaking of something exciting, my slippers had their first time being enjoyed in conjunction with a very special occasion for us. We went for a short (and Covid safe) weekend getaway to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I brought a special true vintage 1930s era nightgown and matching robe for my evening lounging, and my new slippers paired perfectly with the ice blue color of the peignoir set. The aesthetic of the room was 18th century which went so well with my fancy loungewear, besides being a dream-come-true kind of glamorous setting, the likes of which I have never seen. It was a great backdrop to take some pictures of my sippers. If you would like to see the whole vintage lounge set, go check out these two Instagram posts of mine (here and here). If you would like to see a short video of me in my slippers in action, see this post!
PATTERN: a Burda Style extra project template in the back pages of the December 2014 magazine (cover page at right)
NOTIONS NEEDED: All I needed was thread and wide cord elastic. The front decorative bows are ribbons that were saved from off of the packaging of a present I received. Re-use and recycle, right?!
TIME TO COMPLETE: Each slipper took me 1 ½ hours, so I spent a total of 3 hours to make these on the afternoon of April 7, 2021.
THE INSIDES: raw edges are enclosed within the lining
TOTAL COST: FREE!
So long as I approached this footwear project with the mindset that it is still sewing, just like anything else I make, it was easy to make these house shoes. The Burda Style pattern I had to go on was even more bare bones than their regular patterns so I am floored these turned out so well. There were challenging to make because of all the curves, small spaces, and tiny 3/8 inch seam allowances. However, as I said above they were not hard to make, though, and a very fun, different thing to attempt. It’s so refreshing, besides good for my brain, to change up what I am working on making!
On the back page of the Burda magazine, you start with just two small pattern pieces for the slippers, both only about 3 inches long, next to a few short paragraphs of construction details. The same page also has a sleep mask pattern and a quilted travel jewelry organizer to make! All of the patterns on page need to be photocopied and custom sized up to be usable. I aimed at the length of the sole being just a quarter inch bigger than the actual size of my foot (9 inches) since I wanted a snug, ballerina shoe style fit. Thus, I had to enlarge the pattern pieces 305% and add on the 3/8 inch seam allowances, as directed, before I cut the pattern out.
There are four different kinds of material I used because I wanted to only use scraps and also to keep the slippers comfortable. The soles are triple layered with a brown faux suede bottom (a tip from Quinn) and a fleece inner foot bed, all sandwiched with a cotton, padded, quilted panel in between. This way the soles are lightly padded with the quilting, soft on my feet with the fleece, and not slippery to walk in with the suede-like exterior. The outside of the slippers’ uppers are more of the blue fleece, lined in a lightweight poly interlock to absorb moisture and keep my feet from overheating in just fleece alone.
I did slightly adapt the pattern to add some improvements. Firstly, it doesn’t necessarily call for an upper foot lining, but it was a not only a choice for comfort but also a convenient way to end up with clean inners to my slippers. Furthermore, the instructions do not call for the padding that I added into the soles, but it elevates these slippers from being merely homemade and makes them so much cushier. Then, I also hid the raw edges by stitching all of the shoe pieces together onto sole before finishing off the upper elastic edge. Stitching 5 bulky layers together along a very curvy seam in a 3/8 inch seam allowance was something I took my time on so the slippers’ construction was right from the very beginning. There are literally 3 seams to stitch on each slipper, yet if ever I needed to get a seam correct and be precise with stitching, this was the time for that.
Stitching the casing was even trickier than sewing the sole. I was somehow able to mostly machine stitch the seam, luckily. I finished the raw edge of both the interlock and the fleece together with a double row of tight zig-zag stitching that imitates a serger (overlocker) finish. Then, the edge was tuned under 3/8 inch and stitched down with a small gap so the elastic cording could be run through the casing along the upper foot bed edge. It is interesting that the elastic has to be so very much shorter of a length than the actual casing around the foot. The slippers should curl in on themselves when they are off of one’s foot or else they will not stay on. Avoid having the knot of tied elastic end in the casing at the back of your heel for a smooth fit.
I slightly obsessed over trying to have the elastic tightness of both slippers to be equal. I think I came so close to perfection, I’m happy. You know, most store bought ballerina slippers all have one shoe which fits tighter than the other and I have always hated that with a passion. I know how hard it is to make RTW to suit everyone’s individual sizing – but that hadn’t fully sunk into my head how much more challenging that is when it comes to our feet. Most people have a body that is not symmetric on both sides. On top of that, many people also have health issues or results of an injury which can render one foot to be different from the other. A bad ankle of mine, leftover from a severe sprain, makes my one foot swell up at times. Cutting two elastic strips the same length made for unequally fitting slippers for me. I can understand the gripes I have had with RTW ballerina slippers much better now. Nevertheless, that problem still is annoying and uncomfortable, I will admit, so I am happy to have avoided it for my own handmade slippers.
For the last step, I took a fabric marker to designate the left from the right…because let’s face it. More often than not my brain doesn’t need one more thing to figure out at the end of a day. I wanted my slippers to be effortlessly enjoyed, besides being something fantastic to present on my blog, as well! Next time I make shoes, I’ll have to try an amazing 1940s pattern for some summer sandals that you make by braiding scraps – much like a rag rug! (See the pattern here.)
The first time trying something new is always the hardest. With my first pair of shoes successfully done, I can feel a bit more confident branching out. Now, I am rather interested in some kits I have seen online, for assembling your own espadrilles or sneakers. Anyone got any suggestions for more shoes to make? This is fun! Just think of the possibilities to end up with shoes that perfectly match your outfit this way…