Wednesday, September 18, 2013

HSF #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion

A while ago, I purchased some American Duchess Pemberley's from the imperfect section, since I missed the initial order. My size was sold out, so I bought one size up. Turns out they were huge, but I knew if I kept them, they would come in handy one day...

The Challenge: #18 Re-make, re-use and re-fashion

Fabric: Blue silk taffeta and white linen for lining.

Pattern: Drafted by me, from the tops of the original shoes.

Year: 1780's

Notions: One pair American Duchess Pemberley's, leather for heels, shoe cement, silk thread, linen thread, cream silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it? Hmm... the general design is good for the era. The fabrics are good and I tried to construct the uppers to the best of my 18th century knowledge. The shoe I took apart for them was modern and so the sole to upper construction was glued, instead of stitched. Maybe 70% for looks ( I glued on the sole) and 50/50 for construction, since the uppers were done as close as I could, to the best of my knowledge.

Hours to complete: About 7 or 8

First Worn: Not yet. Except around the house to admire them :)

Total Cost: The original shoes, which I bought a while back, so I don't know if it counts. I consider this a stash project, since I had everything at hand. The only thing I really bought was the shoe cement, which was about $10, I think.


It was a little bit scary ripping apart a pair of perfectly good, unworn shoes, but I had kind of a here-goes-nothing moment and started prying back the sole and then there was no turning back. To me, these shoes were most valuable for the heel. If anyone has tried to find heels like this to purchase, they like don't exist.

New and pretty...

...but too big.

I cut apart one of the tops at the seams and traced a pattern from them, making sure to make the pattern smaller, since the originals were too large. I also had to cut back the sole.

I got all carried away sewing so I forgot to take pictures, but basically I stitched the silk and lining together, following the logic of how 18th century clothing is constructed. I don't know a ton about 18th century shoe construction, so I tried my best to figure out what would work.

I bound the side seams and tops with cream silk. I pinked two strips of silk, gathered them up, and attached them to the fronts, then pinned the uppers to the soles, to attach. I used heavy linen thread across the bottoms the secure the uppers to the rest of the shoe. The only real roadblock was the heels. I don't know how they are attached to the shoe, but they don't unscrew, but they did spin. I pulled, but they didn't pop off. I didn't want to break something and have the heels be unusable, so I had to work the fabric and stitching around the post inside the heel. A little fiddly, but it worked out. 

Yay shoes! I put them on and did a little happy shoe dance before bed :)

Today I went and found shoe cement and reattached the soles. I also removed the plastic heel caps and replaced them with a thick leather I cut to size. I wish there had been a way to sew the soles on, instead of gluing them. The glue doesn't seem as sturdy as stitching would be, but I really couldn't see a way to stitch through the existing, modern shoe. 

All in all, I'm super pleased. I have always loved this look and I am thrilled to have a pair in my closet now. I would definitely make another pair some day. Maybe I can whittle out some wooden heels and make a really legit pair. Until then, this was actually a very easy thing to do.


  1. What a fabulous idea! I agree, so hard to find the right heel. I love what you did with these!

  2. that is incredible! they look lovely!

  3. OMG! These are so beautiful, and inventive, too!
    Hey, Ms.Cobbler, these are a shoe-in for best back-in-the-day party pump! Bravo!