Showing posts with label 18th Century. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 18th Century. Show all posts

Monday, June 16, 2014

How To Make Your Own Pair of Couture Pompadour 18th Century Shoes

Last week, I showed you several pairs of custom-made shoes I designed for Whoopi Goldberg. I was so flattered by the comments - thank you! - and also a little frustrated that we won't be able to mass-produce those design for those of you who wanted to buy them.

However, I thought it would be helpful to show you the kind of customization you can do with your American Duchess shoes. Many of our styles are dyeable, but sometimes it can hard to imagine how you can take your shoes from "blank" to "blingin'," so I'm going to show you today how to start from scratch and turn a pair of Pompadours into some seriously tricked-out shoes.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 pair of American Duchess Pompadours in White
  • 1 pot of International Fabric Shoe Dye in the color of your choice
  • Wool Dauber
  • Paintbrush
  • Scotchguard
  • Fabric Glue (any kind that will adhere to fabric)
  • Decoration - applique patches, metallic lace, sari trim, jewels, anything really
  • 3/8" or narrower trim - guimpe, petersham, lace, etc.
  • Clips (hair clips or alligator clips, etc.)
  • 1" - 1/5" satin wide ribbon (for laces)
  • Aiglets/Bolo Ends/Ribbon Ends
Step 1
First, you're going to dye your Pompadours. I chose color A81, a dusty pink, to match the trim I'd selected for the vamp. The design in the fabric will take the dye the brightest, and the ground will dry lighter. Be sure to remove the ribbon laces from your Pompadours.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

Starting at the back seam, dab on the dye with the wool dauber. Use a small flat paintbrush for more control along the edges. Do not dye the heel - the fabric dye will stain, but not stick to, the leather heel. For this tutorial, I left it ivory, but you can paint it any color you like with Angelus Leather Shoe Paints.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

Work your way around each shoe, then allow them to dry overnight. The following day, spray them thoroughly with Scotchguard, to seal and protect the color. (*If you don't spray them with Scotchguard, you'll have a hot mess when you come to glue your decorations on later!)

Step 2
Prepare your decorations. I found some gorgeous beaded and embroidered sari trims, but you can use just about anything - metallic lace, pre-made appliques, even a motif you embroidered yourself. (*tip: embroider on gold organza, then cut around the edges of your motif)

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating TutorialThis technique uses glue to topically adhered the decorations to the vamp of the shoe. I do not recommend trying to sew these bits on, as the structural elements in the shoe (particularly the toe) will make it *hard* to get a needle through.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

The trim I found used a stiff organza ground for the beads and embroidery. I chose to cut out around the motifs, but there are lots of antique examples where a large piece of flat ribbon was used down the vamp of the shoe. It's totally your choice what you use and how you arrange it on the shoe.

Step 3
Now it's time to start "lacing" the shoe. With plenty of glue, start sticking those motifs on how you like. For my sari trim, I clipped between the flower and leaf motifs to "bend" the trim into curves, and cut out individual parts of the trim to fill in the gaps throughout the application.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

Some glues are quicker-setting than others. I recommend a quick-setting glue. Use the hair clips to help hold pieces in place while the glue dries.

Step 4
Next, I glued the guimpe trim around the edges. This is totally optional, and it's up to you if you want to use a trim like this, or petersham ribbon, which also gives a wonderful period look.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

 Again using the clips to aid, bend that trim around the edges and hold it in place until it sets.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

Do the same for the tongue, ending your trim at the seam that goes across the top of the foot.

*Trims that are NOT RECOMMENDED for the edging on your shoes:
  • grosgrain, jacquard, or satin ribbon - it won't bend into curves as needed
  • trims that are wider than 3/8" - you'll have trouble getting it around the curves

Step 5
You're almost done! The last little detail is to add the ribbon ties. The ribbons can really oomph up the finish of your shoes and give them that polished final look.  I chose spring green ribbons to contrast the pink and complement the beadwork from my trims.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

Your ribbons will be about a half-yard long, depending on how big you want your bows to be.  Feed each end through the grommets. Then, if you're using aiglets (bolo ends), tie each ribbon end into a small, tight knot, clip the excess off, and stick into the open ends of the aiglets. Use needle-nosed pliers to crimp the ends of the aiglets over the knots. There's no need to stitch them into place.

American Duchess 18th Century Shoe Decorating Tutorial

*Keep in mind that once those bolo ends are on the ribbons, you won't be able to pull them back through the eyelets on the shoe. You'll have to take the bolo ends off the ribbons to switch them out.

Now you're finished! Sit back and admire your seriously gorgeous new shoes! Imagine them peeking out from the hem of the stunning 18th century gown you're working on!

American Duchess Customized 18th Century Shoes - DIY

I've done this tutorial with Pompadours, but you can use any dyeable shoes, leather or fabric - just make sure the glue you use is suited to the material to which you're adhering your decorations. Don't be afraid to get a bit wild, too - 18th century shoes could be quite eye-popping. Need some inspiration? Check out these originals...

LACMA, 1700-1715
Muenchner Stadtmuseum, c. 1730
Bata Shoe Museum, 1735-50
The Met, 1690 - 1729
The Met, early 18th c.
Dive right in! Your "lacing" could be as complex as individual motifs cut out of organza, or as simple as a wide piece of metallic lace or ribbon running gracefully down the top of the shoe. There's no right or wrong way to do it, and your result will be truly one-of-a-kind. Let history guide you, and have fun!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

About Whoopi Goldberg's Custom Made Shoes

A few months ago, I was asked by Whoopi Goldberg to design some custom shoes. She asked me to make "four pair as rich looking and feeling as you can with your choices of fabric." So I set to work sketching out some "over the top" footwear, based on our available lasts and heels, inspired by shoes from history.

Running the designs by Whoopi, she chose five and we set to work making them. I spent quite a lot of time sourcing the right fabrics and antique trims, and a lot of back-and-forth with the workshop to get each design *just* right.

Well here's the result, with a little about each shoe:

One of the designs I was most excited to try was a pair inspired by Martha Washington's 1759 wedding shoes, with influence Lady Mary Stanhope's 1660 shoes.

Martha Washington's wedding shoes, 1759 - via
Lady Mary Stanhope's shoes, c. 1660 - via

Martha Washington's shoes were made of purple silk, embroidered and spangled all over in silver. They're utterly splendid. My version is much more sedate, but I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

American Duchess "Martha Washington" 18th century shoes
The trim around the edges is antique French metal trim I found on Etsy. It really makes this pair totally unique, as that's not a touch that could be repeated.

Below, Whoopi wore the "Washington" shoes on her talk show The View, and also posted a picture of them on her Facebook fan page. Some people loved them, some people hated them, and some even got the 18th century reference! I was floored when I saw this, because it really helps to put American Duchess out there, particularly to others in the entertainment industry that may be needing some historical shoes for a movie, tv show, or stage production.

Whoopi Goldberg wearing American Duchess shoes on The View

A totally different design from the 18th c. shoes, the "Chicago" t-straps were inspired by a pair of 1920s Andre Perugia pumps that had this gorgeous red and black combination, with the gold design beaded.

Kyoto Costume Institute, 1920s
We went for gold embroidery and did them in suede, with the buckle instead of buttons. They're really fun, and pay homage to one of the greatest shoe designers of all time.

American Duchess 1920s Flapper Shoes

Whoopi loved these so much she wore them on The View the day after she wore the Washingtons, and was tickled that we put her name on the insole.

Whoopi Goldberg wears American Duchess 1920s shoes on The View

Whoopi Goldberg shows off her custom American Duchess 1920s shoes

"Lamballe," "Versailles," and "Royale"
The last three were all 18th century designs again made on the Pompadour running gear. Each of the designs was inspired by original 18th century shoes, or a combination of elements from different antiques.

American Duchess custom made 18th century shoes
The Met, early 18th c. - one of the inspiration shoes for "Lamballe"
"Lamballe" used the iconic red leather heel, in combination with a subtle silk brocade pattern, and bright binding. These were my least favorite at first, but the compliment of red and subtle green is really growing on me. Now I think they're really quite stupendous!

Whoopi liked them too - she wore "Lamballe" on The View on June 12th, with some craaaazy socks:

American Duchess custom made 18th century mules
Shoe-Icons, c. 1690-1720
The "Versailles" mule again used the red heel, like the original mule from Shoe-Icons. We did our version in dove grey suede, with silver embroidery and tiny spangles.

American Duchess "Royale" custom made 18th century shoes for Whoopi Goldberg

And finally "Royale," my absolute favorite pair. These were inspired by the heavily laced early 18th century shoes that are just glowing with ornamentation. We used silk brocade from India, antique French metal trims, and a two-color metallic embroidery design on the vamp. Here's one of the inspiration pieces:

The Met, early 18th century

I'm really proud of the work we did for Whoopi, and very glad that she was happy with them. It was a wonderful project that really just came out of the blue, but could mean some really wonderful future projects for American Duchess.

Now I know you're wondering about custom shoes, so I'm going to explain a little about this whole process. It's not something we can offer regularly (at this time), because it is immensely expensive and time consuming for both the customer and us.  Whoopi's shoes took months to designs, work out the embroidery, source materials for, make, and ship. It was a great experiment for us, because I now know what kind of work we're capable of, and my hope is that our tiny little company profile might get a boost in the entertainment world, and we can attract more theater and film clientele.

So will we make shoes like this in the future? Quite possibly! Right now we're still small and we still have to do production runs of 200, but if these wacky antique-style shoes catch on a bit, and our customer base grows to where we can sell 200 really unique shoes, then I would love to do some blingin' "signature collection" styles, you bet!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bright-Ass Yellow 18th Century English Gowns

I've been obsessed with bright yellow 18th century (and Regency) gowns for awhile now, and yet I still don't have one. The marigold hue is swoon-worthy, but also intimidating, but now it's time to finally go there, with my own BrightAssYellow English gown.

I've already ordered this fabric from Puresilks:

Puresilks - model code TAFBIN69

And I'll be using this pattern from Larkin & Smith:
Larkin & Smith

Here are my inspiration images of English gowns / Robes a l'Anglaise. For the sake of not burning your retinas with *too* much sunny glory, I'm restricting my show-n-tell to just English gowns today, but there are *gobs* of other garments - sacques, caracos, redingotes, robes a la polonaise - in all shades of yellow, too.

Indicative of just how popular this color was, the one 18th century gown held at our local textile museum here in Nevada is, you guessed it, BrightAssYellow. That may not seem so special until you know that this collection is made up of only pieces with Nevada provenance...and Nevada became a state in 1864! (I'm prohibited from showing images of this gown, but I can assure you it's wonderful.)

My primary inspiration piece, from Kerry Taylor Auctions, c. 1770s (click through for more views)
Snowshill Collection, National Trust, c. 1750-60
Snowshill Collection, National Trust, c. 1750-60
Museum of London, c. 1743-1750
The Met, c. 1776 - a much softer yellow with a lovely floral motif, and lovely narrow back pleats.
Snowshill Collection, National Trust, c. 1770
KCI, 1770, with fabric from the 1740s
V and A, 1774 - this has a different pleating pattern on the back, and buttons for looping up the skirt.
The Met, 1780-85. This one is a Robe Retroussée, an English gown (Robe a l'Anglaise) with the skirts pulled up like a Polonaise, but there is a clear waist seam and pointed back. The back is not pleated en fourreau on this one - it's a later style.
You can see all my English Gown research images, yellow or otherwise, on my Pinterest board here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Buyer's Guide to 18th Century Cotton Floral Prints

One question I receive a lot is, "where do I find appropriate 18th century floral prints?" I realize that it's taken *years* to source these out, so to save you time (and maybe some money, too), here's my personal, non-exhaustive, go-to list of vendors selling floral 18th century prints in cotton.

I've sorted them by price, though some of these are sold in lengths other than yards (such as the Dutch chintz and the curtain panels), so prices may be a bit deceiving (in either a good or bad way).

Most of these shops have LOTS of other designs and offerings (Reproduction Fabrics, Colonial Williamsburg, and Wm. Booth Draper, for example), so be sure to click through to see the whole range. Many of the shops also have silks, linens, and wool for sale. Links to the shops are listed at the end of the post, or you can click on each fabric swatch image to go directly to that fabric (and consequently the shop)

Den Haan & Wagenmarkers B.V - 4,75 or approx. $6.48 per 25cm - or $23.70 /yard - does not include shipping.
Den Haan & Wagenmarkers B.V - 4,75 or approx. $6.48 per 25cm or $23.70/yard - does not include shipping.
Reproduction Fabrics - $9.25/yard
Reproduction Fabrics - $10.50/yard
Reproduction Fabrics - $11.00/yard
Reproduction Fabrics - $11.00/yard
Reproduction Fabrics - $11.00/yard
eQuilter - $11.25/yard
Discount Fabrics USA - $11.81/yard (price may change)
Colonial Williamsburg - $12.00/yard
Colonial Williamsburg - $12.00/yard
Colonial Williamsburg - $12.00/yard
Colonial Williamsburg - $12.00.yard
When it comes to historical accuracy, the Colonial Williamsburg reproduction fabrics are *the best.* They're excellent quality, very reasonably priced, and are made from original textiles, many in the Williamsburg collection. See all of the Colonial Williamsburg fabrics here.

Fashionable Frolick on Etsy - $16.50/yard
Discount Fabrics USA - $17.81/yard (price may change)
Waverly "Felicite" Curtains - $19.98/2 84x50" panels
The famous Waverly "Felicite" curtains are available in ivory, red, black, and in yardage from Joann's also in blue, and ivory/green. *Note: The Joann's yardage may be heavier than the packaged curtains from Lowe's. Be sure to avoid heavy upholstery weight or even medium weight cottons - you want lightweight.

Joanns - Waverly Felicite "Mineral"
Joanns - Waverly Language of the Garden Nassau Vine Toile Porcelain - $19.99/yard
Wm. Booth Draper - $35.95/yard
Wm. Booth Draper - $39.95/yard
Wm. Booth Draper - $39.95/yard
IKEA - Ingmarie Curtains - $39.99/2 98x57" panels
Duran Textiles - no price, but tend to be expensive (see how to order link below)
Duran Textiles - no price, but tend to be expensive (see how to order link below)
In the future, some of these fabrics may not be carried by the vendors, so here's a list of each shop (and a few more) so you can click through and search on your own:

p.s. I am unaffiliated with all of these shops. I don't get any kickbacks for any of these links.