Saturday, February 24, 2018

1920's Beaded Shoe Buckles

My very favorite part of my New Year's outfit was making the shoe buckles. The top pic are mine, the picture below is of an original pair, on the same shoes. So why not wear the originals and call it done? Because for me, the making is 99% of the fun! It was really handy to have an original pair to reference, however.

In studying the original pair, I could see the background was an ivory silk satin, beaded with cut steel and smooth steel beads, sewn on with thin metal wire. I had leftover satin, which I backed with some buckram to keep it sturdy. I ordered steel beads from FrenchSteelCutBeads, on etsy. Marsi, the owner was such great help. I ran out of beads at one point, and she was able to find more for me. I highly recommend her shop! Instead of wire, I used a beading needle and silk thread, just because it's what I had, but I can see how a thin wire would be very handy instead of the needle.

I measured the original buckle, traced the shape onto the silk and started beaded. I found that I could sew about four to six beads at a time, successfully, instead of individually stitching each bead. 

I came up with the deco-esque design by taking inspiration from multiple buckles that were online.

Unfortunately I didn't keep track of how long the buckles took to bead, but it wasn't too bad. I worked on them on and off during the holidays. I think I started around Thanksgiving.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to mount them and make the buckle. The original pair are beaded fabric, mounted on a metal buckle, which has a special piece on the back that holds the buckle up from the foot. Modern shoe clips keep the ornament flat on the shoe. The other feature I needed, was that the buckle be curved, like in the originals. The picture below is of the back of the pair I purchased, from the listing. The lobed bits at the base are are what slides onto the vamp of the shoe.

I looked high and low for a blank, original buckle to use. Etsy, eBay, Ruby Lane... I could not believe there wasn't one for sale! No parts at all. Plenty I good condition, though, but that's not really helpful. So I had to get crafty. Turns out the closest, handiest think I could find to imitate the curve of the buckle was a water bottle! So I mounted the beading on that!

My next challenge was figuring out how to prop the buckles up. I had some modern shoe clip parts, so I ended up sewing the triangular part of a metal office binder clip (minus the wire pincher pieces) to the buckle, and then glueing the modern shoe clip piece onto the metal binder clip. I used E6000.

And so there they are! I absolutely love them! And if I ever come across the proper buckle parts, I can always unstitch these and remount them.


  1. Hello,

    I have put on my site, a lot off old french sewing patterns and magazines.


  2. This was terrific. I say you're a crafter of the first order! How about the water bottle bit?! Ingenious! AND, the binder clips! I absolutely love that E6000 glue. It's a miracle-worker. You are totally an inspiration!

  3. By the way, where did you get those wonderful shoes? I like the color and style for a project of mine. ;)