Saturday, January 16, 2021

The book will be available soon

I finished the "Doll Shoe Projects: Felt Boots" book today, and it is currently in review at Amazon. The last time, it took about a day for my book to get accepted, so it will be available soon. The price is the same as for the first book, $2.99 (plus VAT, if applicable).

The "Doll Shoe Projects: Gladiator Sandals with Flat Soles" book will be available at a discounted price ($1.99) at for 7 days starting from January 18.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Felt boots

The second Doll Shoe Projects book will be about making felt boots. I have the first draft ready, that is, structure done, all photos done, descriptions written, but still needs editing. As I started my studies on Thursday, I will probably need to leave this for the weekends, so it's going to take some time to get this finalized.

The idea with the book is that it starts with the simplest possible structure and then goes into ones that require more work, followed by ideas for decorating the boots, ways to fix your project when things go wrong, how to deal with dolls that have molded shoes that cannot be removed, and how to make fake heels when your doll has flat feet.

As with the first book, the materials and tools are easy to find and cheap. Also, you only need basic hand sewing skills, nothing fancy, so anybody should be able to make boots with these instructions. The designs are also safe for children, if you don't use any small decorations.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Experiment with metal foil

This is going to be a long post. I decided to try something new and wasn't sure how it would turn out. I ended up fixing things a few times when everything didn't go quite as planned.

To start with, I made a pattern for the soles (the doll is the 16" Miss Piggy). Then I cut the soles out of metal sheet (0.3 mm thickness, cut with shears) and bent them to follow the bottoms of the doll's feet.

The other parts of the soles were resin castings I had made earlier. A pair of platforms and heels.

I used hot glue to attach the platform parts to the metal soles. At this point I realized the sides would need something to cover them and make them more even. The resin castings were made using a latex mold, so they had some bumps.

I had this thick and stiff leather that hadn't been useful for anything else, but I thought it would make an even surface for the sides and undersides of the soles. So I cut suitable pieces and glued them on the soles. Again, using hot glue. Actually, everything that required glue in this project was done with hot glue. The new hot glue gun is so handy.

Then I glued the heels in place. These soles were to be covered with metal foil all over, so all pieces needed to be in place before starting that.

The metal foil came from chocolate wrappers. It seems that those all have the inside covered with paper nowadays. Probably some food safety issue. Anyway, the paper had to go before the foil would be usable for two reasons: 1) the foil was too stiff, and 2) the foil had some text embossed into it and that had to go. So, I soaked the foils in water overnight to soften the paper.

When the paper was all soaked and soft, I used my thumbnail to scrape it off. That was slow and tedious work, and the paper started to dry after a while, so I had to put the foil back to water occasionally.

It was impossible to remove all traces of paper, but I got off enough of it for the foil to be usable. I also thought that the glue would probably take better with some traces of paper still left on the foil.

Then I glued the foil on the soles. Unfortunately, even with the leather, the surface was very uneven.

I had been hoping to have the foil to be the finished surface, but it just didn't look that nice. So I decided that I had to do something else with these. But first, I cut insoles out of gold-colored leather and glued them in place. I usually use a neutral light color, but I thought this fit the soles well.

I decided to use this gold-colored decorative plastic band for the straps and cover as much of the sides as possible with it to draw attention away from all the unevenness of the foil surface.

Here are the shoes with the straps glued in place. After this I glued some strings of those decorations to the sides of the heels. I also glued pieces of leather under the heels and platform parts to make the soles even and help keep the shoes upright when they are not on the doll's feet.

Finally, here are some photos of the finished shoes on Miss Piggy.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Some decorating

I've been mostly writing the book, so no new shoes, but I did decorate the yellow boots from the previous post. I'm really having fun with the hot glue gun, now that I have a proper one. All the decorations are attached with hot glue, except the metal ones on the sides.

The cup cakes have metal spikes for attaching them. That's otherwise fine, but the metal may end up scratching the doll's leg. This is easy to fix by gluing a bit of felt on the inside to cover the metal. Here the boot on the back already has the felt in place. Not that it really matters with the Kindi Kids doll, which isn't a collectible, but for better dolls this is a good idea.

While I was making these, I also took photos for what I thought was the last example for the book, except I came up with another idea. The last chapter will be about making boots for dolls with molded shoes. My main example there is the 12" Miss Piggy by Tonner Doll Company. Her original shoes are fine, but it's interesting to experiment on ways to cover them and make fake heels.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Boots made of felt and modeling clay

The second Doll Shoe Projects book will be about making boots. This is one project that did not make it in the book, because things didn't go as planned. The yellow felt used for the uppers was already salvaged from another unsuccessful project. Probably should have just scrapped the whole thing, but I didn't want to throw all that felt away.

The pieces for the boots are simple, just the uppers and soles, both made of felt. The grey felt is made of recycled textiles and is 3 mm thick, so it's very stiff.

The first step was to glue the uppers to the edges of the soles. I used PVA glue for this. It works well when gluing pieces of felt together.

When the glue was dry, I sewed the front seams. The boots could be used like this, but my plan was to make the outer soles using modeling clay.

Here you can see the paper pattern on the left and a pattern cut from plastic on the right. The reason I was using a plastic pattern was that it's easier to get the modeling clay off from plastic after shaping the sole by pressing the clay against the pattern.

The clay I used was air-drying modelling foam, but any modeling clay would work. Actually, polymer clay would have been a better choice for the reason explained later in this post.

Here are the soles, shaped using the plastic pattern. I made them slightly bigger than the pattern, because air-drying clay tends to shrink.

Not big enough, it turned out. As you can see, the sole doesn't cover the entire insole and some gray remains visible. With polymer clay, this wouldn't be an issue as they don't shrink, at least not noticeably. At this point, I again considered scrapping the entire project, but decided to go on anyway just to see if this could still be salvaged.

I decided to glue some of that yellow felt to the soles to cover the gray felt. You get exactly the right shape by gluing a bigger piece first and then cutting off the excess.

The final stage was to glue the foam soles in place. I'm not sure I like how the seams between the uppers and foam soles look like, but at least the gray soles are hidden now. I may end up covering the seams with ribbon, but for now, these are good enough.

I've done all but one of the projects I intend to include in the book. The structure of the book is all planned, almost all photos are ready, and I have plenty of notes in Scrivener for writing the actual text. I'm aiming at getting most of it done before the end of the year, because I'll be very busy in January due to starting my studies. We'll see how that goes. The first book remained unfinished for a very long time.

I'm also waiting for a snowfall, because I plan to shoot the cover photos outside and snowy landscape would be perfect for that.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fixing the loafers

The second try on the loafers was more successful. In the photo below, you can see the soles (black, made of the same old mousepad as the sandal soles), paper pattern, pattern cut from clear plastic (more durable than paper), and the vertical side pieces. The soles are smaller this time. I traced the foot on paper and just rounded the result, not adding any extra length.

This time I used hot glue for attaching the side pieces around the edges of the soles. I even used it for the back seam, overlapping the edges a bit. Hot glue works extremely well with felt. I had soles made of air-drying modeling clay for which I used hot glue to attach the felt, didn't like the result and tried to remove the felt. Can't be done. The felt gets so effectively stuck that if you mess up, you cannot remove it and try again, you need to start from scratch.

The top of the shoes is similar to the first attempt. I tried making it narrower first, but it didn't work with these smaller soles, so the pattern for the top part was drawn the same way as in the first time. Basically, everything else was fine in the first time, just the soles were too big.

Here's another picture from a different angle. I'm still thinking about adding some decorations, but haven't figure out what those would be. The main thing for now is that the pattern and structure work, you just need to get the size of the soles correct.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Simple loafers

This is the sole I made for the Kindi Kids sandals. You just trace the doll's foot on paper and then shape the sole around it. This time I used it for making loafers out of felt.

Here are the pieces for the shoes. The grey soles are made of thick felt (0.3 mm) that is made of recycled textiles. The red parts are made of thinner felt I bought from a supermarket's crafts section. The uppers are shaped using the sole pattern and adding a small bit that won't be sewn into the side pieces, so it will turn up along the top of the foot.

I sewed the side pieces to the soles and then the back seam. Then tried this on the doll to check how it looked like.

The sides of the toe part were too high, so I adjusted them while the doll's foot was inside the shoe. Then I wrapped the remaining side piece around the shoe to adjust it the same way before sewing it in place in the other shoe.

Then I sewed the uppers in place. At this point I realized that the upper should have been narrower than the sole, but I wasn't going to undo anything and just accepted that this first try wasn't going to be a success. The soles need to be smaller anyway, so I'll make all the necessary adjustments in the next pair of loafers.

Here are the finished shoes on the doll. Not totally awful, but definitely in need of improvement. This doll's feet are so oddly shaped that it is a challenge, but I'm sure I'll be able to make a nicely fitting pair eventually.