This is now my second official pair of ballet flats and the first pair that has proper outdoor soles. I love this yellow dotty fabric that I found in the remnant bin (where else, you know me!). I got the soling sheet from the little shoe repair shop at the local mall (Sello, if any of the locals want to know).
I used the same Living DIY Style pattern as before. However, I have since making my first pair been making trial shoes and trying to improve the fit. It is surprisingly challenging! If you make room for your toes the toes just tend to slide forwards which causes the heel to slip.
I had needed to take in the size 8 shoe before, so I decided to go down a size to size 7. That’s the black and white slipper in the picture above. I also tried glueing the lining to the upper with the help of fusible web and curving the heel a bit. However, the shoe felt a bit short and the fusible web didn’t really do much since the soft Vlieseline interfacing had plenty of movement. (If any of my readers know better interfacing options, I’d be happy for any tips!) The curved heel was good, though.
I decided to go up to the size 7,5 and add a bit more room for my toes. That’s the yellow dotty slipper in the picture. I used a little gathering threads to fit the bigger upper to the sole the size of which I didn’t change. With that I noticed that the fit was slightly better at the toes but that the shoe was a bit too pointy and that the shoe covered a bit too much for my taste. I figured out that I needed to add more roundness to the toes and then open up the top of the shoe a bit. This is now the pattern I ended up with:
I decided to still use the same sole and just gather the extra fabric at the toes.
Making the dotty ballet flats
I interfaced the uppers and sewed the upper and the lining together . Then I made the gathering stitches. I overdid the gathering a bit in the picture, though!
Then I sewed the fabric sole to the slipper.
The fabric slipper felt slightly big, so I tried the cardboard insole thing, I did with my previous pair. It did improve the fit since the insole forces the sole to lay straighter. Then it was the time to add the soles.
Soling the ballet flats
I got these directions from the local shoemaker: First I needed to sand the wrong side of the soles to make it easier for the glue to stick to them. Then I needed to spread the glue on both the sole and the shoe and leave the both parts alone for about 30 min. In practice my contact glue tube said “15 min” so I used that. Then, following the shoemaker’s directions, I “woke up” the glue by heating it with a hair-dryer and then pressed the sole to the shoe firmly for a few seconds. In practice I slipped my shoe in and stomped my foot against the floor.
The finished pair
This is what I ended up with:
The side still shows a bit of the fabric sole that I am not very happy with. I think that the next time I will try sewing the fabric sole with the seam allowances outside. Then I could glue the seam allowances under the shoe.
I couldn’t wait wearing them. First thing I noticed was that the shoe was still just a slightly too long. If I walked carefully, the shoes stayed in place but the next time I will take just a few millimetres off from the length. Or I could just curve the top part of the shoe a bit… Have to think about this…
This sole is very thin so I don’t think it is a sole I would want to wear for longer walks. Or I could add a softer insole to compensate the next time.
I wore this pair to go grocery shopping today and that was very revealing to me. I found out a big fault with the cardboard insoles. They kept sliding backwards and that was very annoying! Now that I think about it, I read about this kind of soles online but, at that set of instructions, the upper was glued onto the insole which made it impossible for the insole to slide anywhere. So, I think I need to find stickier insoles or use glue to keep them in place.
So, as you can see, the shoe-making is a learning process! Luckily each shoe is very quick to make, so I can keep making these test shoes. Oh, I wish there was a proper course I could take nearby, preferably one that wouldn’t cost a fortune! I am already dreaming about my own shoe lasts and working with leather!
And those of you who live in the Helsinki region, we are planning a ballet flat making party at Ompelino on 25th of May. It will be “bring your own pattern, materials and your machine” kind of an event and we can then solve shoe mysteries together! The actual details will be confirmed later.
Thank you for reading and happy sewing!