Saturday, May 12, 2018

Putting soles on

When last we left the great shoe creation experiment we had one pair of shoes without soles and one pair of slippers in the sewing stage.
Chris's shoes and my partially sewn slippers
It didn't take long for me to finish the slippers, do a test fit, and then quickly make another pair in a wool/poly blend. I ended up increasing the length slightly from the original test slippers but didn't make any other changes. I love the color combination of the green exterior and red interior. The insoles were a bit of a challenge because finding material was more difficult than I expected. Purchased insoles come pre-shaped and they didn't fit well. Ultimately I decided to purchase yoga mats - a thick exercise version and a typical thinner yoga one. The prices were low since you can still get mats in the under $10 range and they cut easily. I sewed on some cotton fabric and installed insoles custom fit to the shoe. Awesome!

The exterior soling is a heat moldable material that comes in a sheet. You cut a sole, heat it, press it to your foot, and it conforms to the shape. Pretty cool, right?
Laying out the shoes
Cutting soles 
Pressing hot material to the shoe 
Molded bottoms 
See the arch swerve? Cool.
 We did Chris's first and then mine. The process was simple and worked quite well.
Once the mold cools completely you do a bit of trimming then lay your shoe on it, carefully mark sole and fabric so you can match it up again later, and then use contact cement to attach them.
Test fit 
Cutting away excess 
Smooshing on contact cement
 Once the soles are glued on you do more trimming and then sand the edges to get a good bevel.
Sand, sand 
Sand, sand, sand 
Ta dah!
Some stuff to note:
~Chris wore his shoes on our cruise and walked many, many miles on cobble and hard macadam streets. They performed beautifully even walking downhill in steep Madeira.
~I used puffy paint on my yellow/purple slippers and get plenty of traction, no issues there.
~None of the shoes are waterproof. We purchased spray waterproofing and will try it soon.
~My green shoes are a bit wider than I'd like. The slippers tie tightly since they have no sole but the felt shoes can't tighten enough because the glued sole holds them open. I need to cut a more narrow soling material and be more careful with the molding. I also have to do better with stitching as you can just see the front seam at the toe.
~Chris likes to pull on his shoes without untying them. Unfortunately that stresses the back heel seam stitching and it split on one shoe. I'll add reinforcing to his shoes in future and see if I can get him stretch laces too. 
~The yoga/exercise matting is super comfortable to walk on but does compress permanently after heavy use (see first note). The good news is it's very easy to cut and insert new insoles. 

I definitely have more shoes planned. I got some leather working tools and scrap leather recently and will be experimenting with those. Plus I want to reverse the colors on the green/red shoes since I have enough felt left over to do so. Chris too has already made requests for future pairs. He loves how these fit and feel.


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