One of the reasons I named my blog Handmade in BK is because I couldn’t think of a name that covered everything I love to make. From time to time, I’ll be introducing another of my passions.  Today is shoe making. I love shoes and I love making them. At least I used to. I haven’t made a pair in years. Anyway, I decided to dig out my supplies and make a new pair of shoes.

So far I haven’t decided anything except that they’ll have a heel.

This is a shoe last (my picture is a little dark because it’s overcast today.) It’s basically the mold for the shoe. This one has an almond shaped toe and will accommodate a 2″ heel (once the heel’s in place, the toe will no longer be hovering off the ground as it is in the picture).

Shoe last

My last is covered with masking tape which I’ll use to make the final pattern. The next time you see this last, it’ll have my design drawn on the tape. Then I’ll invite you, my lovely readers, to witness the making of a pair of pumps.

Now I just have to figure out the design and the materials.  I’m envisioning tweed, but I haven’t seen the fabric I want – and I don’t even know if it exists. But, as always, I’ll figure it out.


Fabric Belt

I needed a belt for my floral dress and I thought a nice red belt would break up the pattern and further define my waist. I found some great information at Coletterie and on Casey’s blog. Emboldened, I bought this kit for a 1″ belt:


I already had the material (stretch cotton) and a very stiff interfacing. I decided not to use the prong that came with the kit because I’d have to make eyelets and I thought the belt would look better without them.


The slashes on the paper backing are guidelines for cutting the fabric.


This is what it looks like after the fabric is applied


Then you peel the paper off the other side and wrap it around the buckle.  I meant to take more pictures but I was in the zone.


Next was the actual belt. First I decided to make faux belting from the interfacing.


Then I got greedy. Since the material is stretchy, I thought it might be better (and easier) to just fuse the interfacing to the fabric and turn it. Big, huge, massive mistake. It took me THREE HOURS to turn the belt because the interfacing was so stiff. It would’ve been faster to just go to the store, but anyway I soldiered on and this was the result.


In the picture, it looks a bit wonky because of the interfacing, but when it’s on, there are no ripples. Next time I’m definitely buying belting or trying my faux belting method.

Here’s a better view of the buckle and the end.  Did I mention that I didn’t sew the end before I turned the belt and it almost caused me to cry when I realized how much more difficult it was going to be to finish it?  If I didn’t, then that’s good because I don’t like to whine.


Anyway, the important thing is it’s done and as I thought, it looks amazing with my new dress that I’ll be wearing to brunch soon.

Wait, What Is This?

I needed a hook and bar closure for one of my skirts.  No big deal, right? Well I thought so too. So I went to my local fabric store and asked for a package of skirt hooks. When I got home and started to open the package, I noticed that it wasn’t what I expected. I thought I’d bought these:


but what I bought were these:


I had no idea how to use these. I just kept staring at the package because I couldn’t even understand why “no-sew” hooks and bars were even invented. I mean they’ve been the same forever and everything was gravy.

Anyway, I finally got up the courage to try to use them. The instructions were a bit confusing (understandable since there’s not a lot of room on the back of the package), but the basic premise is that you push the prongs of the hook or bar through the fabric and then bend the prongs to hold it in place.

I did get them onto the waistband, but I’m not convinced that they’re as sturdy as the sew-on ones. I’ll just be careful to avoid these “no-sew” products in the future.  I like my old-school notions just fine.

Let’s Start With A Couple of Garments

I’m realizing how impractical my dream wardrobe is.  My goal is to make everything in my wardrobe, but I keep gravitating to full skirts and dresses that need crinolines when what I need is more drawstring skirts and simple tops. Oh well. One day I’ll close the gap between the woman in my head who wears pearls, heels and lipstick daily and the woman that needs to run out to the farmers market and ride the subway.

Anyhow, now that I started sewing again, I’m obsessed. When I’m not working on a project, I’m thinking about one. For the past few months, I’ve been working on improving my sewing skills and adding couture touches to my work because I believe the details separate a homemade garment from a handmade garment. I’ll be posting here about my adventures (and misadventures) with sewing  – and occasionally other crafts that interest me.

I don’t yet have a dressform so I’m working with hangers. While they were very cooperative, they don’t do justice to the clothes so I may have to get a tripod and take my own pictures. Sigh.

Here’s what I’ve been working on:

First up, my strapless dress from McCalls 8766.

Hanger loop so I can hang up my dress. I also made a thread bar for the loop. Yes, that’s  hem tape.


Hanger loop again. Here you can see better how it’s attached at the waist seam.



Zipper on the lining side


My modifications:
1. I used the shorter circle skirt
2. I changed it to a sweetheart neckline
3. I did the full bust adjustment
4. I added much more boning. The pattern only calls for boning at the side seams, but I knew that wasn’t going to work so I added boning at the back, the sides, diagonally from the center front to the side seam and in the center front to give the bodice much more structure and support.

The only thing I haven’t done is a belt. I have a 1″ buckle that I’m going to use.

Next up, a skirt inspired by Mimi G’s Regal Maxi. Mine has four belt loops and two side pockets, an invisible zipper in the back and a separate lining. I bought the fabric for $3/yard at a fabric shop in downtown Brooklyn.



Right now, my table is overrun with fabric and notions.  I have about 6 projects to work on and I’m desperately trying to stay organized.

One thing I need to get better at is taking pictures while I’m sewing.  I never think to do it, but I do want to create some tutorials in the future, so I’ll try to take more pictures during the process.  Until next time.