Sunday, 10 June 2012

Chic Cheat Reloaded - Chic or Unique? Shoes for festivity

Hello and welcome to another slightly late-in-the-day blog entry with a retrospective flavour. My excuse this time? My last computer broke down (apparently, the motherboard finally hit the cyber-menopause or something equally terrifying) so, to cut short a long story of which I don't quite understand the technicalities, I decided, over the course of the weekend to take the plunge and indulge - nay, invest - in the dandy convenience of a new laptop. So, once again, readers, here I am with another retrospective DIY-fest (clue in the choice of words - more on that later), this time, in wedge shoe form.

First of all, a bit of background on the events of this weekend, I've been living and working in Peterborough for roughly 18 months, and am already at the stage, so perennial in the life of any crafter with hoarder tendencies, of being able to go through a veritable adventure of endless charm and reminiscence much like that of a local history walk just by going through my things for a quick sort-out... today's archaeological escapades took me to the shrouded depths of the mesh drawer cabinet, into which every receipt, craft project emergency buy and essential piece of equipment I recently forgot I had was shoved at machine gun speed while I worked your way through the tight time schedule of work alongside mandatory everyday executive functioning. My legitimate reason for this  was trying to find programs, driver software and space for the new acquisition I had welcomed.

These treasure hunt-style trips are among surprisingly many things that make me feel smug about following my dreams, trusting my instincts and going down the piss poorly paid creative route, against the advice of so many sniping cynics, at school and the like. Sure, I could have pursued languages instead and exploited my respective technical USPs in translation or somewhere similar, or gone into something technical like maths (with which I left on a good note, clocking up an A* grade at GCSE - no I don't know how the hell that happened, either!) Sure, I'd have led a nice, respectable  lifestyle well into the middle-class demographic with casual panache, resigned all my proud quirks to a kind of personality lobotomy and probably become an alcoholic if I didn't die of boredom first (no, I know it hasn't killed anybody - I'd be a world record holder, as yet another string to my overachieving bow, but, really, would the sacrifice be worth it?) But no, I remain a modest-living artiste, with proudly straightedge principles, a pursuit of truth and now in recent ownership of two pairs of tailoring scissors bought from  student-trusted shop, William Gee in Shoreditch, both acquired as part of a determined rush to the finish line of different art projects, and both at a time when I was solemnly convinced I had lost my last pair. Other finds among my treasure trove are two half-full tubes of contact adhesive from similar scenarios, a hazardously leaking glue gun and, I swear, every phone I've owned since around 2004!

There is a genuine point to my reminiscent ramblings, I promise, in fact, just to deliver, I'm tackling the hippie-inspired festival theme with an item from the fairly recent past, namely the Topshop Unique Woven Tassel Wedges, which were worn by Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, then by Made in Chelsea muppet, Chloe Green and by Saturdays singer Vanessa White. My reason, well defence, is that while they may have been designed last year, tribal is still very much of the moment. Fashion, like all art,  communicates a language of imagery. The Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure asserted that each part of an image, in this case it would be an outfit, is made up of parts of a whole - the "signs." These signs signify a message according to the choices and combinations of how they are arranged, so, for my festival-themed look, I'm going to slip these shoes in with studs, fringing, denim and Native American prints (hoping nobody notices, hee hee!) That's my story, and dammit I'm sticking to it!

You will need

Wedge heeled shoes

Black and red enamel paint

About two square feet of black leather (mine was fished out of a leather shop reject bin, in semi cut-up jacket form, at the bargain price of about £3)

Brown large beads

Red opaque fabric paint


Sewing machine with a leather needle (sold at most haberdashers and generally made for easy insertion)

Glue gun

Paint brush

Black pen

Pattern master or graded setsquare

Fine metal wire

2cm wide strips of black elastic

Needle and thread

With each shoe, you need to..

Using your black pen and graded setsquare, map out a symmetrical, angular area, like the one in the above sketch, on each of your heels. Paint it with red enamel paint and cover the surrounding area in black.

Cover the upper areas of your shoes, where the straps are, with the black leather, leaving peep toes at the front and attaching black strips of elastic along the backs of the ankles.

Cut twelve strips as long as possible (ideally about 30-40cm long x 1cm wide) fold them in half and sew them together so that they're double thickness. Paint them with red fabric paint along the edge. Separate them into two groups of six, and then each of the groups into three sets of two strands. Now, it's time to plait them.

In case this looks like some exotic parasitic worm diagram from a Victorian medical journal, let me rouse you from your apparent nightmare to let you know that this is, in fact a colour-coded picture of how to plait your three sets of two strips, from the previous step. You only need to do this on the one side, as you will notice if you look at the originals - plait the other side conventionally. Notice how the strands loop around each other.

Now to make some tassels. Cut out two strips of leather, about 40cm x 10cm and paint the backs with red fabric paint. Cut slits which end about 1cm from the top (I just eyeballed it) Then, take your wire, bend it over several times whilst still keeping it about 15cm long, loop it at the end and thread it through your large brown bead. Glue the wire underneath to the end of your leather, on the red side, and roll it up into a perfect cylindrical tassel.

Sew your plaited strips and tassels in place, on the outer sides, in the latter's case, and there you have it...

I also added some excess red-edged straps along the centre to look like laces:

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