Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Regency Slippers From Modern Ballet Flats

When I left off with my slippers, they were stripped of their casing and drawstring and dyed a pale blue, and I had just received my ribbons in the mail.  Now for the fun part!  I gathered up all my materials and got ready to paint.

I was inspired by several images found on Pinterest, of patterned slippers - usually stenciled leather.  Mine are neither stenciled nor leather, but I was going for an overall feel based on some of my favorites:

ca. 1800

I mixed my paint, approximately two parts royal blue to one part silver:

I tested the color on my dye swatch to see how well it would match my ribbons.

I liked how it looked, so I played around with different designs, starting with tiny crosses and five-petaled flowers.

Finally I settled on a simple three-petal flower, and practiced a few before starting on the real thing.

Starting at the center of the toe area, I spaced them in an approximately 1" grid with alternating rows of single dots for variety.

I drew a light pencil line where I wanted the "seam" to end up:

And stopped when I reached it to re-orient the design to give the impression that the shoe upper was actually made in two parts, like the first extant example above.

I painted the second shoe in the same manner, let them dry overnight and sprayed them with two coats of Scotch Guard.

Next I added the binding, using my 3/8" petersham ribbon at the "seams" on either side, and covering the one real seam in the back.  I used the 5/8" petersham to bind the top edges, securing it all with Fabri-Tac glue.

(I messed up the paint on the heel of the right shoe, and without thinking used a wet paper towel to try to wipe it off - of course that left a water mark where it disrupted the dye.  At least it's on the back of the shoe!)

Next I cut my yard of 5/8" silk ribbon in half and pleated each piece with tiny knife pleats, then sewed them around the front of each shoe.

For variety, I also made big double bows according to a tutorial I found on Pinterest, which I will attach to clips so they will be removable.

I got quite a few comments on my slippers when I wore them to the Regency Ball on Saturday!

I didn't get the bows done in time for the ball, but I like the slippers just as well without them.

(I'm early on this challenge - can you believe it?)

The Challenge:  #7 Accessorize
Fabric:  None
Pattern:  None, but I followed an American Duchess tutorial pretty closely.   
Year:  The shape of my slippers - rounded toe with no heel - puts them between 1810-1820, from what I've seen.  However, the painted pattern hearkens back to earlier styles of the 1790s-1810.  I'm going to call them a transitional style (the earlier slippers mostly had very pointed toes and a small heel) and say they're from 1810.  
Notions:  1 yd 5/8" & approximately 1 ft 3/8" petersham ribbon in French Blue, 1 yd 5/8" and 1 yd 1" wide silk ribbon in Indigo, shoe dye, royal blue and silver acrylic paints
How historically accurate is it?  Like I said, I'm calling these a transitional style between the pointed-toe patterned shoes and the plainer rounded-toe slippers with ribbon trim.  So 90% accurate.  
Hours to complete:  6 or so.  
First worn:  March 23rd to a Regency Ball
Total cost:  I spent $16.23 on ribbon at Britex Fabrics, and otherwise everything was free or (in the case of the paint) already in my stash.  


  1. Drat on you for getting ahead with the next challenge. I'm still languishing in the "planning stage."

    In other news, I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

    1. Lol, it's only because I wore them to the ball. Otherwise they'd still be in the planning stage, I assure you.

      Thank you so much for my nomination! This is my first blog award! :D :D :D

    2. Also, I'm pretty sure I found the Historical Sew Fortnightly through your blog, so this is all your fault. :p

  2. Bwwaahaha! I'm so glad I dragged another person down the road to perdition with me. It's worked to my advantage with the shoes since you rocked yours out so quickly. I love the way you "turned" the pattern at the side seam. I would have never thought to do that and I am TOTALLY stealing the idea.

    1. Steal away! After all, dragging each other down - I mean, the spirit of collaboration and community is what this is all about, right?

  3. I am so impressed! They look *excellent*. Good idea to paint the pattern in acrylic paint over the satin. Very charming indeed!

    1. Wow, I've managed to impress the Shoe Goddess herself! AND I got a blog award today! I'm pretty much over the moon right now. :)

  4. They're very good. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow! Well done. I am inspired!

  6. They look great!

  7. Your skills and breathe-of-fresh-air attitude blow me away. Thank you for sharing with neophytes as myself.

    1. Awww, thank you! I'm still rather a neophyte myself, but I'm glad to share my experiences and mishaps. :p

  8. Marvelous! I love what you did with your ballet flats! I may have to do this! Thank you for the inspiration!



    1. Thank you! I had a lot of fun making and wearing them, which I think is the most important thing. :)