Shoe restyle: painted espadrilles

Mmm, espadrilles… summer in a shoe.  I’ve wanted a pair for ages, with a nice chunky wedge heel – but being on the tallish side, I tend to have an unrequited affair with high heels.  All my pining after them doesn’t change the fact that I’m limited to about a 3 inch heel, to avoid ending up a head taller than most of my acquaintances.  So I was interested to see this pair shimmy up on eBay:

They were a shade of pink that I never wear, needed a good clean and had ratty laces – but, they were espadrilles with a 3″ heel.  I masked off the soles and got going with a stencil brush and a jar of yellow Dylon Fabric Paint for dark coloured items (I also tried a normal paintbrush, but found the stencil brush much better at working the paint in evenly.)

It took 3 coats to get the yellow consistent… with IRONING to set the paint after each layer.  No, it’s not easy to iron a shoe.  Stuffing the toes with scrunched-up paper worked best, but it wan’t ideal.  If I’d been braver at straying from the instructions on the jar, I might have tried using a hairdryer to heat it instead.

I wanted my espadrilles to lace up like Dita’s, so I sewed on a D-ring to each front section using a simple blanket stitch. They’re laced up by threading a metre of grosgrain ribbon through the D -ring, then through the already exsisting holes in the slingback strap, then criss-crossed over and tied in a bow at the side.

First wearing was to my sister-in-law’s barbeque in the brilliant sunshine last Sunday, with the cuffs of my skinny jeans rolled a little higher than usual to show those bows!

I think they’d look super cool and Coachella-glam when I go camping with 50-odd teenagers in a couple of weeks’ time (part of a youth work team taking the group to Newday) but the kids tell me it always rains, nearly always floods, and everything gets ruined in the mud.  Hmm.

Would you risk your handmade creations camping in the UK?

Finished at last!

Yes, my re-styled shoes are finally complete.  I suffered from the old roblem where the last 10% of the work takes longer than all the rest put together.  It’s as if my mind thinks that a mostly finished project will, in fact, finish itself.  But thankfully, the bank holiday weekend intervened and sorted everything out.

These pictures were taken in my parents’ back garden on gorgeously sunny Easter day.  I actually wore plain flats most of the day – looking at the photos now, I wonder if even the shirt and skirt combo was a bit too much print-mixing…?  (The skirt is in fact half of my outfit for the Sew Weekly sewing excursion, but at the moment it sits below my natural waistline, which I want to sort out – will post more about it after that.)

Anyhow, this was how I wore them the night before:

I posed for this shot in a pub beer garden at about 10.30 in the evening (still warm!)  That slightly gritted grin is because of a drunken group of lads to my left, who decided to comment in high-pitched ‘lady’ voices.  Oh, the things we bloggers have to put up with in the pursuit of worthy photos.

But even that couldn’t spoil how super chuffed I am with these shoes!

I’ve posted most of the steps involved in making these here: including the sticky-up ruffles at the back and the polka-dot heel sections.  Following on from there, I just added a long ruffle in a sort of semicircle round the heel to cover the edges of the other sections.  All it took was a lot of ribbon, fabric glue, pins and patience (and then more patience to clean all the gluey pins).

Why the glass of pink bubbly?  Well, beyond celebrating Easter, the sunshine, the shoes…. I got the job I was interviewed for a couple of weeks ago!  Cheers!  Went back to work today with a little spring in my step.

Shoe restyle and bow tutorial

In the age-old debate on shoes versus bags, I am completely and utterly a shoe lady.  I do love a good bag (I’ve just swapped my christmas Next vouchers for Mr B’s Topman ones and bought a wicked little satchel) but shoes have a strangely emotional pull on me.  In fact, my relationship with shoes is not unlike the serial monogamy that I’ve known friends to have towards romantic partners:

They catch my eye across a crowded room (aka the shop) .  They’re perfect, beautiful, original.  They will complete me (or at least my outfit).  I feel so good when I’m with them, so attractive and cool…  And then, after a few weeks, the feeling wears off.  They rub on the sides, or the heel’s a dodgy height, or they don’t actually go with the rest of my wardrobe.  But it’s ok, because by then I’ve seen the next pair…

(Of course, the beauty of being a serial monogamist with shoes is that, when you get tired of them, you can keep them all in a wardrobe in case you fancy them again one day.  Which would get you arrested if you did it with people.)

So, after admiring Roisin’s gorgeous collection of shoes, I checked out some more Irregular Choice designs – these are my new pin-ups, ‘Lucite Lovely’:

But, the problem is the heel.  I’m 5’7″, and even in kitten heels I’m taller than a lot of my friends, family and colleagues.  These 9cm beauties are just out of my league. 

But then I thought:  if I can make clothes, can it be that difficult to make (or at least adapt) beautiful shoes?  I had the perfect contender sitting on my shelf:

These shoes were an eBay find over a year ago, but I can’t remember ever wearing them.  Nothing’s actually wrong with them, they’re just a bit boring.  On the occasions that I get dressed up enough to justify a pair of heels, I want them to be exciting and gorgeous, so these always got shuffled to the back of the queue.  But it’s all about to change!

First of all, I got hold of this rather lovely stuff.  The Lucite Lovelies prompted me on a search for polka dots, and this grosgrain got two thumbs up:

And I was also in the mood for pretty bows.   Bows are, on one hand, easy enough – most of us learned to tie them when we were little (I learned at Rainbows when I was 7… does that sound a bit late?).  On the other hand, making a nice presentable artistic bow can take time and thought, especially with a ribbon that is different on the front and back – i.e. my polka dots.  This is what I worked out after lots of trial and error: 


(1) Cut a piece of ribbon (I used the length of an A3 piece of paper, which was actually more than I needed).  Fold in half to find the centre.


(2)  Then, fold the top half back on itself to form a loop, keeping the centre marked with your finger. 

Carefully flip the whole thing over and do the same on the other side, so that you have:

(3) two loops, like a little heart.  These will be the loopy bits of the bow

(4) Still holding on to the centre, slide the top loop towards the right across the other one.  


It should end up bow-like, like picture 5, with the lower loop pointing left and the upper loop pointing right.  All good, apart from that pesky bottom-right bit!   To sort that out, keep the left-hand loop still, and bend the right-hand loop over and away from you.  From the back, it should now look like (6).

From the front it should look like this (7).  Wahey! 

(8) Secure by sewing up the middle – just 3 or 4 stitches will do. 

(9) Then, just pleat the middle slightly, slidingthe top part down over the bottom part just a little.  Sew a few more stitches through the middle to secure.

Finally, cut another small piece of ribbon to go round the middle.  I folded mine in half, as it would’ve been too wide otherwise:

Wrap the tie around the middle, and put a few stitches in at the back to secure.  I’ve left the tie long at the back (it’s the bit I’m holding between my thumb and finger) so that it’s easier to attach to the shoe.  Then just trim the ends of the bow to a length you like, and ta-daa!