Sandals of Glory!

Otherwise known as my handmade sandals that aren’t terribly comfortable…yet, but they will be, and they are tailor-made for my feet!

Kaylee

I was looking for sandals appropriate for Kaylee and Nausicaa, since I don’t wear flip flop types and I didn’t want to wear actual boots in the Georgia late summer, and I found a couple in TJ Maxx that weren’t awful, but also weren’t perfect for my feet. I’ve got strangely shaped feet…

So I drew around my feet on tracing paper, and then added some clearance around… Too much in fact, so I ended up removing a lot, then I made paper “straps” to test the pattern, and then started winging it. I cut out four heel pieces, and then three soles and two straps for each shoe. I realized then that slide shoes were also not going to work for me. My feet don’t feel secure unless they’re tied or strapped into things, so I also cut some strappings to add to the heel to secure some ties.

heels

So I had bought a pack of Shoe Goo (side note, did you know it came in colors? I missed that fact when I got it from Amazon, and bought black… not a good plan… In hindsight I should have read the description better) and ended up using all 3.7 ounces of it. And all of the leather was from a couple of vegetable tanned leather bellies from Tandy. I had gotten a couple of extra the last time there was an online super sale of 10 dollars a belly. And by last time I mean a few years ago… It’s been awhile since I really worked with leather. This stuff is thick, but perhaps not quite as sturdy as real sole leather, but it’s working out so far!

side

The heel came first. I glued the 4 pieces together with a (rough to smooth) and (rough to rough) then glued the sandwiches together rough to smooth leaving a smooth end on either side of the uber-sandwich… I used my swivel knife to rough up all smooth surfaces that were being glued with a crosshatch pattern.

For the straps I skived off the excess thickness and glued them in place to the first of the soles. For the hook at the heel, I couldn’t quite skive the leather thin enough, so I cut out a notch in the middle sole, and glued the top to that middle rough to smooth. And for good measure I glued the bottom as well, rough to rough, leaving smooth sides on the top and bottom.

binding

This might be a good time to mention that I was using HUGE binder clips as clamps. Which might not have been ideal, but they worked out pretty nicely!

A couple of hours later I glued the heel sandwiches to the sole sandwiches, but since my binder clips wouldn’t open that far, I got out my old biology and physics textbooks to weight it down (Campbell Biology for the win!), I think with a can of leather conditioner to help “concentrate” the weight in the proper place. I then left the shoes alone for some time to finish drying.

But when I came back, I found the left one was a little too big around the toe strap, so I glued the strap to the top of the sole on the edge to help reduce the length. I had to glue on both sides of the foot to properly balance it, but it’s been working out so far…side foot

I lace them up with some green leather round lacing that was a Tandy clearance buy a few years ago, and actually the same that I use to lace up my TARDIS corset belt. The ties run through slits I cut in the darker strap, then wrap around my ankle and themselves to cradle my foot. I tend to need to tighten them after a couple of minutes of wear, which I attribute to foot wiggling and leather stretching…

Another thing I’ve been doing is wetting the top of the sole lightly in order to bind to my feet a bit during wear, but also so it starts to take the shape of my feet. I know from experience that wearing someone’s well worn Birkenstocks can be uncomfortable because they start to pattern to their primary wearer’s feet, and that’s where I’m hoping to get with these. But maybe not that drastic. I’m definitely interested to see how they wear.

The other thing I’d bought for these were some rubber soles, but I haven’t actually put them on. I’m currently deciding if I really need to, and so far I don’t.

top

The past couple of weeks has been nuts with costume flurries, but slowly and surely I’ll be posting what I’m working on! DragonCon is in just over two weeks, and I’m not ready yet! Not even close!

Tardis Corset Belt

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I had already told you a few months ago now that I wanted to work on something new with leather, which is why I needed to finish the quiver so desperately.

It really was the need to make my Tardis belt.

right1

As I’ve told you before, I wanted to wear at least part of my costume for Halloween, and a big part of the costume for me at least was the corset-belt, since it was supposed to represent a good portion of the Tardis. Before starting it, I had planned for it to represent the console, but upon further reflection (and me forgetting that was my plan) it all changed.

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First up was the “muslin”, in order to see if my design would even work. I used the same cardboard from my quiver, and cut out a pattern that would fit around my hips, go up a bit in the back, and not impede any future bustle arrangements. It took some wiggling and some cutting down before I hit the right shape, but it was worth it.

I took a leather belly and lined up my pattern pieces to fit on it efficiently. My goal with leather is to always keep as much as possible, and since there isn’t exactly a grain this is totally possible, unlike fabric.

left1

I used this funky tool that I had found in a scrap drawer to draw my pattern, and cut it out with a swivel knife very carefully to keep the circles as circular as possible.

I then got to the tooling, which ended up being more strenuous than I thought. I had run into the quandary of how much of this should be in relief, and how much raised. I ended up deciding that the round things should be raised, so I had to tamp down the entire background. Love the round things! A sore wrist later, the tooling was done.

more full

Lacing was kind of required, though, since this was destined to be a corset. But how? I tested a few methods and lacing cords, but punching holes ended up being the best option.

At that point I considered it done… until Halloween morning. Then I decided that sparkles were necessary, and I painted the borders gold and glued on sequins to the round things.

roundthings

And finally it was truly done, at least enough for Halloween! I may end up painting some more, but I’m pretty pleased with it!

Quiver – Part 2

My unfinished quiver sat around for over a month between the first part and todays, but it was mostly because I was trying to determine the best way to sew it up.

I thought I could maybe butt up the two sides so they would form a solid point… My leather was just a bit too floppy for this.

I thought maybe I could fold under and sew it up like a seam. My leather had just too much structure.

And then it became the lace versus waxed thread debate. And where would I even attach the belt?

So I waffled.

initial

But I knew that my TARDIS belt was going to be made of leather, and I have a policy for leather goods and myself, that I am not allowed to cut into leather if I’m still working on a different piece. So I had to finish the quiver.

stitching

Using my trusty awl, I punched holes every 1/4 inch both up the seam line and around the bottom, since I knew I’d be attaching a cap to the bottom.

Waxed thread was my “weapon of choice” in the end. I used a whip stitch, I guess, to sew up the seam, which seemed to hold it very stably.

inside

I had intentions of attaching the belt by running it through the quiver itself, but that didn’t pan out. For one, I only had as long as a partially used cow belly, which was not as long as I was expecting. Threading it through like that also made it really blocky and uncomfortable. Comfort is key in the costume game, especially since I’d already be wearing a corset, which is enough comfort-restraint.

top

So I ended up running a few loops of waxed threads to serve as attachments for the belt. It works well for now, but I’ll probably need to adjust it in the future.

Then I actually needed to make the belt.

belt

I wanted it to be something I could potentially wear, since I love the buckle so much. Isn’t it just the cutest shield ever? But I also knew the belt had to be long in order to cross my body like a messenger bag. So I made it as long as I could, and punched holes in various places, so I could wear it at my natural waist, or through jeans, or through the quiver. I cut a simple design using my swivel knife, just diagonal lines, and I tooled a few sections for some visual interest. It doesn’t show through the paint though, so I ended up painting a very subtle alteration between cream and ivory, based on my ability to mix paints well, which ended up with a more ivory batch right at the end of the painting cycle.

So that’s it for my quiver! Isn’t it purdy?

Quiver – Part 1

Even though Susan doesn’t actually wear her quiver with her final gown, it was still a must have prop for me.

Though it is very likely that the cosplay I see is not a full indication of people’s geeky interests, I’ve always thought that Narnia fans, of the movies more specifically, are more subdued (aka they don’t cosplay). There have been a few wonderful ones, but altogether the cosplay quantity is rather low.

tease

So the likelihood that I would be easily recognized from the costume alone (and with my hair, not a wig) is slim. I’m already risking the Lucy vs. Susan issue, with the red hair, but anything to make the costume more recognizable is good.

Plus I’ve always wanted a quiver for all the imaginary arrows I have.

The problem with Susan’s quiver is that it is likely meant to be ivory, or rather it was carved in one piece. There have been some good reproductions made with PVC pipe, but I didn’t have the requisite skill set. So I decided to use leather, something I do know a bit about.

I took pictures like this was a real tutorial, at least for this first half…  and then I let it sit for two months before I finished it. But that’s another story.

pattern

I started with posterboard, knowing that I had a limited amount of leather big enough to create this quiver. I drew a pattern, dragged a belt from the closet to “try it on” and fiddled with the pattern until it felt right. It slimmed down a bunch, and shortened as well, so that it would feel proportionally right on me.

Then came time to cut into the leather. I managed to find a big enough piece, and I used my rotary cutter to cut clean lines through… Leather is like fabric, right?

begintool

I had previously drawn designs for the top of the quiver, but they  didn’t precisely fit, so after some tweaking I got a useable pattern and traced it on. I cut into it with my swivel knife, and began tooling.

finishtool

And here it is with the design finalized!

The real quiver has a picture of Aslan carved in the bottom, but I didn’t want to take this that far.

So I began painting. I had both white and cream acrylic paint, neither of which was perfect, so I mixed the two and diluted with some water.

first

The first coat turned out streaky, and it ended up taking 4 coats before I was satisfied. In the tool-work, there’s still some areas of low paint, but I’m learning to give it up.

DSC03285

I then painted the initials with a grey and gold mix of paint (though technically it was a mix of cream, white, black, and gold), with the gold added in for a bit of sparkle… Not that its really visible, but it can be seen in real life.

Look out (hopefully) next week for part 2 of my quiver fun!

Catching up!

Last time we spoke, I was making socks.

Scratch that, I succeeded at socks. And actually right now I’m working on another pair.

I’ve been working on stuff since then, but slowly. And at the same time quickly. I seem to have made a lot of stuff, but for some reason it just seemed to come out of nowhere. Blog posts, however, did not.

Individual posts should be coming up soon for these, but here’s a snapshot of what I’ve got:

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And a few more that aren’t quite completed or photographed yet.

I’ve also begun Christmas presents early… as in the aforementioned socks. I know that most people say that and then promptly fall off the wagon, but I’m a woman on a mission… Objective: finish gifts before November, or at least before December. That really means before finals season. I wish I could show you what I’m working on, but then I run the risk of ruining what little surprise they’ll have left.

Cooking has also come up recently as a thing. I’ll admit, I love to cook and bake and candy-make, but rarely do my concoctions turn out pretty, or appetizing to people other than me, or at all. For instance, the last bit of bread I made turned out tasty, I guess, but dense… Having now watched the video on how to actually make a round bread loaf, I think I’ll do better next time.

Knowing that I’m not a food blogger, and that I have no interest in becoming one, I think I’m going to start occasionally highlighting recipes that I’ve used or want to use. Making food can be cheaper than making clothing and yarn stuffs. And therefore I’ve been doing quite a bit of that this summer, so I’ve already got plenty of fodder for these posts.

Well then… talk to you soon! Err… sooner than the last time I posted.

Defining My Life

So there’s this belt. I finished it last week.

However I was deciding how I wanted to write about it here.

Because, you see, this belt is kind of the story of my life.

Not the life you would see in the papers or in a yearbook, but of my life in hobbies and interests. Some of this is old, some new, some recurring.

It was more of a “things that I can draw and represent me at the same time.” Which I kept running out of.

I only repeated two or three items, the ones I knew would be covered up by the end of the belt. first

So first up are a spool of thread, a broadsword, and a Celtic knot.

You may have gathered from this blog that I know how to sew. I first fell in love with sewing in sixth grade, when I learned how to quilt. I had loved embroidery before, and still enjoy it occasionally, but sewing took hold early on, and I love it.

As a child I loved the fantasy genre. And a lot of my favorites involve really big swords. Not as metaphors, mind you, just for hacking and slashing and play.

I began drawing Celtic knots around seventh grade, after checking a book out of the library on it. I’ve never been able to find that book again, since that first time, but I thank it. These can make the best doodles.

secondThen a notebook and pencil, a gear, and trees and a bolt.

I like to think of myself as an amateur novelist. Lots of people share this title. I also like to think I’m good at it. Maybe one day.

Then comes a gear, which in hindsight kind of looks like a movie reel. So I’ve recently discovered the steampunk trend, though I wish I had found it ahead of the curve. I love the appeal to Victorian times, and the power of steam. I did a project on Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, which was a fancy mechanical calculator, in the time before calculators, and found it fascinating. In terms of the film reel, I like movies. Not the most, but certainly not the least.

Finally the trees and the bolt. I was in a creative writing group as a kid, and there was this book we used to look to for advice. It was called something like “Asking Why,” but I’m really not sure what it was. You might sense a theme. But one of my fondest memories of this book is that it mentioned that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is nuts and bolts. I thought it was clever, and this is my ode to it.

thirdA bow and a quiver, a badly drawn phone box, and the beginning of seaweed.

So even though the new craze nowadays is archery, I’ve always been fascinated. I think it dates back to yet another book I can’t remember the title of, about a Welsh girl finding out that she is in fact a Welsh princess with a side of magic.

The phone box should be self explanatory. We’re getting close to the fiftieth.

fourthThe seaweed is for my love of the seas. There’s some fish next to the plants, for when I wanted to be a marine biologist.

Then a bow. A hairbow. Or a bowtie. Take your pick. I love them.

fifthNow, there’s a flower. Who doesn’t love flowers?

And now for my majors. I may have told you that I’m a science major. Let me clarify, which may clarify this… I’m a physics major…

sixthand a biology major. So DNA…

Then I drew a swivel knife in honor of my leatherscapades.

And some musical stuff. I’ve been a musician since third grade, and even though I haven’t been playing much recently, I still love it.

seventhA book. I love to read. I find it much more imaginatively stimulating that watching TV and movies.

And a teacup. I love tea. I really should have been born British. Or Irish.

Then the candle.  I like drawing, though I’ve never taken classes. The first time I seriously tried to draw a still life in a non-manga format was a candle. I still have and love this first one.

eighthAnd now we’ve got a sword. Another one, since the first will be covered.

I told you a minute ago that I used to draw in the manga style. I still love drawing the eyes, even if it can be a bit creepy.

Then there is a rough design for one of my favorite necklace patterns.

ninthRemember in grade school when you were required to make Valentines for the entire class? I used to make paper cranes. For at least four years in a row. I started after I read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.” See, I can remember book titles!

And there is another spool of thread.

And I knew the next bit was going to be mostly covered by the edge tip. So I made some swirls. They turned out rather pretty!

backThat end tip is being held onto the leather entirely by these itsy bitsy screws. Impressive.

fullI hope you liked the peek into my life!