Hi, my name's Kat and Peronel has asked me to put together some notes on making shoes.
Ok, so I know what you're thinking. It was bad enough when someone dropped the bombshell that you had to make layers and layers of authentic tudor clothing, but shoes? You can't make shoes! Well it's not actually as impossible as you think.
When I went to my first Kentwell open day one thing was obvious to me: making a costume was going to be a challenge but on a tight student budget buying one was out of the question. When I realised that the most expensive item was the shoes, I decided I'd have to have a stab at making those as well.
Now I'm not saying that the shoe stall at the open days is unreasonable. On the contrary, their shoes are very good value. It's just that when your bank account is in a similar state to a bottle of gin at the end of the summer event (which, let me tell you, is pretty empty), even £40 for a pair of shoes is not really an option!
So, if you've come to the same conclusion and want to try making a pair yourself, hopefully my notes will be helpful to you.
As Peronel said about her costume notes, there are people out there who know an awful lot more about Tudor shoes than me. I worked this pattern and method out myself and it's quite basic but it's fairly simple to follow and you should end up with a fairly decent pair of leather shoes, which, lets face it, you'll probably be pretty proud of!
This pattern is for a ladies bar style shoe and should be suitable for all classes, except possibly the very posh. It assume you're making two identical (mirror image) shoes, using the same pattern for left and right. If your feet are different sizes or shapes you'll need to make a different pattern for each foot.
I've never tried making mens shoes so I won't attempt to advise on that in any detail but you could probably use the basics from these notes and adapt the upper part of the shoe. The shoe stall at the open day (along with peering at old participant's feet) should give you a good idea of styles.
Leather and buckles:
Chris of Pilgrim Shoes runs the shoe stall at the open days. She sells buckles and leather offcuts so it's probably best to try her first. Some other suppliers are listed on the Kentwell suppliers list and there are also various suppliers across the country. I have listed a couple here:
London: J.T. Batchelor Ltd, 9-10 Culford Mews, London, N1 4DZ Tel: (020) 7254 2962
Newcastle: Le Prevo Leathers, Dept W1, No.1 Charlotte Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4XF. Tel (0191) 232 4179, Fax (0191) 261 7648.
It's usually better if you can go to a shop to buy rather than ordering on the web or phone as nearly all suppliers will have offcut bins where you can get small pieces (plenty big enough for shoes) for a few pounds, rather than having to pay for a whole piece.
Awls, thread, needles and craft knives:
These can all be obtained from haberdashery departments of stores such as John Lewis or from most haberdashery or craft shops.
Editors note: If anyone knows of any other good suppliers then do contact me, and I'll be happy to add them to this page.
Ok so now you've got everything together you're probably wondering how the pile of leather turns into shoes!
Well I'll try and go through the whole process 'step by step' (Groan - ed).
The first thing to do is get the shape and size of the sole right. The best way to do this is to take your piece of sole leather, put your foot on it and draw round it (shape 1). You should be in bare feet or thin socks. Try to start fairly close to the edge of the leather so you don't waste it but leave a bit of a border as you will need to make them slightly bigger than your foot.
Once you've done that, take your foot off the leather and sketch the shoe shape (shape 2) around your foot shape, leaving a border of about a centimetre as shown here:
You can vary the shape slightly if you wish, (for example you might want a more rounded toe) but Tudor shoes are generally quite close to foot shape so don't go for anything too different.
Now you need to cut the shape out using a scalpel or Stanley knife. Try to keep the edges nice and smooth as this bit will show and be careful of your fingers!
Once you have cut one sole out, turn it over, put it on the remaining leather and draw round it. Make sure that it is the opposite way up to the first one or you'll end up with two of the same foot!
Before cutting put your other foot on the second shape to check that you don't have one foot wildly bigger than the other, then cut the second one out with the scalpel. You should now have a pair of soles. Next you need to cut out the pieces for the upper.
Don't panic! The diagram above shows all the pattern pieces, neatly laid out so you can see the shape. I'll go through each one in turn.
The top part of the shoe is made out of the following pieces:
Once you have your measurements, then cut out all the pattern pieces from your leather. It's easiest to cut everything out in one go. Make sure you're working on a steady surface that won't be harmed by knife-marks.
Preparing the sole
Put all your pieces somewhere safe so you don't lose bits. Take your sole pieces and your awl. Using the awl, pierce holes all around the edge of the sole, about 1cm apart and 8mm in from the edge as shown. The awl will end up damaging the surface underneath it. Make sure you're resting on something firm that you don't mind getting holes in. The dining table would be bad!
Do this on both soles.
Next take one of the soles and the upper piece which goes with it. Match one edge of the upper to the corresponding edge on the sole and, using the linen thread and leather needle sew the two together using backstitch as shown. Keep stitching right round the toe, always stitching the edge of the upper to the edge of the sole. Don't worry about the fact you have slack in the middle of the upper - this is where you put your toes in!
Editors note: Take this with a pinch of salt, as I've never made these shoes, but I'd be inclined to sewing the toe piece to the sole starting from the tip of the toe rather than on one side as shown here. That way the excess in the upper will placed evenly on the sole. If I were to start joining it on one side, I'd be worried it would end up crooked. I think I would also place a thin layer of glue where the upper meets the sole to strengthen this join. However it's possible that the glue might make the sewing more awkward.
You now need to repeat this process with each pattern piece, using the same stitch and sewing edge to sole edge until you have attached the toe (fig 1), sides (fig 2) and heel (fig 3) and it looks something like fig 4. The diagrams above show where to sew. Note that when you put the heel on you will be sewing through the sole, the heel piece, and the side piece.
Joining the pieces of the upper
You will notice that the pieces overlap (possibly by quite a bit at this stage as you cut them bigger before to allow for mistakes and adjustments). You do want them to overlap so you can sew them together, but you can now put your foot in the shoe and trim them to a more accurate size. Remove your foot from the shoe before waving a knife around! The upper and side-pieces should overlap by about 1cm at points A & B in fig. 4 above. The sides should fit inside the heel and extend right round until they almost meet at the back. This helps to strengthen the back of the shoe.Once you're happy that the pieces are the right size, then it's time to join them together. Just as before, use backstitch to sew together the overlapped pieces. The pink stitching in the diagram to the left shows where to sew.
Repeat on other shoe.
You should now have the whole foot part of the shoe complete and be ready to attach the straps and buckles.
Take two of the strap pieces and glue them together to make a double thickness, leaving about 3cm at the blunt end unstuck as shown above.
Once the glue has dried separate the unglued ends and place one on either side of the inner side piece of the shoe and stitch through all three layers in a rectangle shape.
Repeat on other shoe.
Finally try your shoe on and make holes in the strap with your awl in the appropriate places to fit the width of your foot. Remember that you may be wearing these bare-foot, or you may have Tudor hose. Tudor hose are thicker than normal socks, so make a hole to fit those. The shoes may stretch with wear (particularly if it's raining at Kentwell) so you may want to make an extra, tighter, hole in case.Repeat on other shoe.
Editors note: Again, feel free to take this with a pinch of salt. I think if I were to make these shoes I'd cut a second sole piece and glue it to the walking surface of the shoes once they were constructed. It would serve two purposes. Firstly, it'd give you more leather to wear through. Secondly, it would protect the stitches from friction with the ground. If those break the upper will seperate from the sole.
You should now have your finished shoes!