Sewing Bucket List
Making shoes have been on my sewing bucket list since our trip to Spain last year. I fell in love with the idea that you can make your own espadrille. I watched every youtube I could find on making the soles until I ran across the Dritz espadrille soles. They’re already made for you! At the time I had only found the flat soles in adult sizes in the store. I like a little wedge for height. You petite ladies know what I’m talking about. I tried the size 5, my RTW shoe size and it was way too big. I think it’s more like a size 6. So I mothballed that project until my Hobby Lobby started stocking the wedges. Yes, the sizing is still too big but I couldn’t resist.
**Disclaimer: I haven’t road tested these shoes more than walking around the sewing room. What I’m about to tell you is how I made mine. I make no guarantees that they’ll hold up. Don’t send me your medical bills if you sprain an ankle.**
Dritz Espadrille Soles
The soles come with the soles, a pattern for making traditional espadrilles and instructions. Tip #1: you can download the pattern online and print them out instead of tracing. The pattern is meant to print on legal size paper but you can print on letter size. You’ll cut off the top and bottom but the pattern pieces will all print. Tip #2: The regular price is $24.99 at my store. I used my 40% or 50% off coupon, I can’t remember. Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s and Michael’s all take competitor’s coupons so use your smart phone and search for the best coupon. All the other supplies you have to purchase separately. Tip #3: you don’t have to buy the Dritz Espadrille supplies. More on this later.
As I mentioned I think the sizing runs large. I think because there are no half sizes so they recommend 5 1/2 have to go down a size to a 5. I checked the few pattern reviews on PR and others thought the sizing was just right. Good news for you, you can take the soles out of the packaging and try them on for yourself. You can’t do that with a pattern! This is a comparison of one of my favorite RTW wedge in a similar heel height. You can see the Dritz soles is a bit longer. Wonder where I got the ankle strap detail from?
I didn’t want a traditional espadrille looking shoe. If you want to make traditional espadrilles you can use a tightly woven, medium weight cotton for your fabric. You can buy the fabrics Dritz sells pre-packaged if you’re uncomfortable picking the right types of fabric for this application. I wanted more of a leather sandal look so I went with marine vinvl from JoAnn’s. The design was inspired by a Hasbeens sandal. They don’t make shoes in my size. 🙁 So I guess I had to make them.
I’m not sure about the durability of this fabric over time since I haven’t take the shoes out for a real test spin. The marine vinyl is a thick vinyl that comes in many luscious colors. The backing has a knitted layer. The best part is that it doesn’t fray and I didn’t need to use interfacing. I drew the pattern with a pen on the back of the fabric and cut it out with an X-acto blade on a self healing mat. If you aren’t doing any cut outs you can simply use scissors. The marine vinyl is very stable in one direction and had a slight stretch in the other direction. I placed the pattern so that the stable direction went left to right on the toe piece. Placed the strap so there was a slight stretch along the length of the strap. The fabric is regularly $10.99/yd. You need very little. I bought 1/2 yard and had a lot left over. If you’re not doing the long ankle strap like I did you can get away with less.
I had initially made this same design in duck cotton. I interfaced the duck cotton and the lining, sewed them together and attempted to do the cut outs by reinforcing the edges with a tight zig zag. This was really messy looking and I couldn’t keep the edges stable. It was an epic fail. I then tried the design with another vinyl like material and it had too much stretch. Epic fail #2.
Again you can purchase the needle, thread and wax the Dritz sells specially for espadrille making. I didn’t purchase these. For the thread I opted for a crochet thread from JoAnn’s. It’s was $3.99 regular price for a large spool. Remember your coupons. I have a ton of it left for other purposes. I like that it was way cheaper and I like the smoother thread. Doesn’t hurt that the color was spot on.
The bee’s wax sold as espadrille supplies looks like the same thing as you find in the quilting section. The quilting one is larger and less expensive. If you already have bees wax or Thread Heaven I’d skip buying this. I used bees wax. The coating does change the color of the thread but it should go away with time. Below is a picture of the unwaxed and waxed thread.
For the needle I used a sail/tent needle. In the picture above you can see that it was a flat almost blade like tip. I already had in a home dec needle set. It’s the straight needle, second from the right.
It went through the sole without any issues. I pre-poked the holes on the vinyl using a push pin on a foam board. I did this mainly to help me keep the spacing even.
I then pinned the fabric onto the sole, pinning through the holes. When it’s pinned up you can sort of try them on but I found that the fabric is still too loose to get an accurate gauge.
Then you stitch the fabric to the sole. I used a blanket stitch but there are many others that could work. After the needle comes through the sole you can gently push it against the vinyl and you can tell if you’re in the right spot or not before you poke through the fabric. Tip #4 I used my crappy sewing table push the needle through the hole. I think that’s easier than pulling the needle through even if you have a needle puller. It’s easier on the hands too.
I removed the pin right before stitching through it. So everything else stays in pinned place.
This is one side of the toe piece stitched up. I stopped at the edge of the fabric. I didn’t sew all the way around.
I copied the ankle strap from my RTW pair of shoes. I sewed them on the same way I did the toe piece but with less distance between the stitches. I tried on the shoes to determine where the buckle should go. The buckle I used was 8 mm or 5/16″. I found them at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. I should have cut the ankle strap along the stable direction of the fabric and added a piece of elastic like my RTW pair.
With the 1 layer of marine fabric I wasn’t sure I could attach the elastic without poking too many holes and ripping the fabric. Plus I didn’t have any red elastic on hand. Instead I cut the straps along the stretchier direction. I’m not sure if this was the right choice until I give the shoes more road testing. After I figured out the placement I punched a circle with my screw punch large enough to go around the base of the prong.
I sewed it shut and glued the little tab of fabric to secure the buckle. On the other strap I tried on the shoes and marked where how long the strap needed to be. I cut the strap to size and used my screw punch with the smallest hole and punched prong holes.
This is the finished ankle strap.
Since I went way off the reservation on this one I’m going to carry a pair of flip flops with me when I wear them. I’m crossing my fingers they aren’t a complete disaster. I am going to put some insoles in for support and to keep my feet from sliding forward because the soles are too big for me.
Here are a couple of different views of the shoes. I’ve never been so self conscious about my legs before. I swear they don’t look this bad in real life.
Happy shoe sewing,