Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Floral Shoes

This didn't turn out to be a good weekend for sewing, but I still wanted to accomplish something on my Versailles project. Painting my shoes was a perfect choice, because I could work on my grad school final while I waited for paint to dry. Win!

For some reason, while doing research for this project I've been really drawn to yellow shoes. I don't know why--yellow isn't a color I usually wear, and it's not an especially iconic shoe color--but yellow shoes just kept popping up. Especially yellow shoes with floral designs.

So I decided I needed a pair.

Here are some of the originals I had in mind:

embroidered shoes, 1750-1760
Embroidered silk grosgrain shoes with figured ivory silk heels, c. 1775-85.:
bronze shoes, 17755-1780 (via)
brocade shoes, 1750s (via)
yellow silk, 1730-1770 (via)

I started with a pair of American Duchess Kensingtons in ivory, which I de-glazed following the instructions on the American Duchess site. I taped off the soles, inside the latchets, and around the edge with painters tape.  

ready to go!
Then it was time to mix paints! I was really worried about getting a yellow color I liked. The yellow (I used Angelus leather paints) was very bright on its own, and I thought mixing with white would make it lighter rather than less neon-y. I ended up ordering both white and a very light gray called "bone" as potential mixers. I'm really glad I did--I ended up using both throughout the process. It took a little bit of experimenting, but I ended up getting a color I was happy with (involving yellow, bone, and white). 

Then I let it dry, and got ready to stencil! Initially, I had planned to use a stencil and a sponge applicator, but the curvy shoe surface and the thin leather paint led to a lot of bleeding, and the first flower was a mess. I got some help from my resident painting expert (who also let me steal is setup) to fix up the edges as much as I could, but it definitely wasn't going to work as a method for the rest of the shoes.

the messy stenciled flower
After some thinking and poking and fussy noises (and overnight for the paint to dry completely), I decided to try tracing the stencil onto the shoe with pencil, and then painting it by hand. This worked much better! 

one toe box complete, one penciled and ready for paint
Stenciling also felt very period appropriate to me. Stencil designs definitely existed, although not for shoes that I've found, and hand-decorating shoes led to some of the lovely embroidered examples above. 

in progress

fully painted
These were a lot of fun to paint, and a perfect "I'm too braindead to sew" project. I'm really happy with them, and I can't wait to get them on my feet!

stenciling the side

under petticoats
paint shoes

Still To Do:
visible petticoat
francaise gown


  1. The shoes are beautiful!

  2. I love these! The yellow looks amazing. I can't wait to see them with the whole outfit!

    1. Thanks! Neither can I--and the date is coming up quickly :)

  3. They're fabulous! You did a great job free-handing those painted flowers. I was thinking of using a stencil to paint some shoes, too, but hadn't thought about the curved surface presenting a problem. Now I know!

    1. Thank you!! I'm really glad I could provide an advanced warning on stenciling--it definitely wasn't as easy as I'd assumed. That said, if you had a flexible/smaller stencil that could handle the curves you might be ok.