It’s time for an espadrilles sew-a-long! Let’s make some shoes together, shall we?! If you want to join, grab your kit and crack it open! If you don’t have a kit yet, no problem! Grab one from the shop and you can catch up. Joining the sew-a-long is easy, just follow along and ask questions and show off your progress. Be sure to tag me @ahappystitch if you share on social media!
I’m really thrilled to be collaborating with one of the most amazing, indie-design-supporting companies in the fabric business for this series. It’s truly a dream come true for me to work them. Want to know who it is? It’s SPOONFLOWER! You guys, I’ve admired Spoonflower for years and I’m just pinch-myself excited to work with them. That said, this sew-a-long is open to anyone using any type of fabric. I want to help you make shoes!
I’m happy to be working with Spoonflower because it opens up so many options for fabric choices and because their on-demand printing and choices of inks and dyes results in really low-waste procedures. That’s just a win-win in my books. I wholeheartedly encourage you to check out my post with them and to peruse their fabric selections. It’s endless inspiration! If you do use Spoonflower fabric to make your shoe be sure to tag both of us on social media, @spoonflower and @ahappystitch.
In this first part of the series, we are going to discuss how to choose the right fabric for your shoes and how to prepare your fabric for sewing. Next Tuesday we will get into how to create the upper shoe on your sewing machine and how to attach it to the shoe sole. Finally, in three weeks, we will get in to how to hand-sew an even blanket stitch to complete your espadrilles.
Be sure to check out my post on the Spoonflower Blog today for more in-depth information on using Spoonflower fabric specifically. If you have been interested in trying out their fabric, this is a pretty great project for it because you only need two fat quarters. The post is here.
Let’s get started!
Choosing the Just Right Fabric
Choosing the right fabric for your espadrilles is the most important component for getting a good fitting shoe. Ideally, the shoes should fit snugly at first so they can stretch just enough to custom-fit your foot over time. With the correct fabrics, this process is more likely to happen. It’s a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If the fabric is too lightweight it will slip off and be too loose but if the fabric is too heavy and stiff it will be difficult to hand-stitch and too tight for comfort. You want something “just right”.
Pictured: Adobo Desert in Lightweight Cotton Twill by holli_zollinger
Here are the basics, the shoe is constructed of an outer fabric and a lining fabric. Unless you make accommodations, as I did with the toddler shoes in my previous post, you need a sturdier, thicker fabric for the outer fabric. I fill my kits with either a lightweight canvas or a linen-cotton blend (pictured below) and lined with an organic quilting cotton. If you are using your own fabric, you will want to purchase something similar. As I mentioned, you don’t want to use something too thick for the outside, like a heavyweight canvas, because it will make it infinitely more difficult to stitch up later when you are attaching your fabric to the shoe sole.
If you are using Spoonflower fabrics I recommend the Lightweight Cotton Twill for the outside of the shoe and the Organic Cotton Sateen for the lining fabric. Some of the prints and fabrics I include in my kits are pictured above. I generally go for a linen-cotton blend or a lightweight canvas. Read more about the best Spoonflower fabrics and the best way to work with them in my post on the Spoonflower blog. I also include a gallery of my favorite choices for espadrilles.
You will need:
+ Around 1/3-1/2 yard of lightweight canvas or linen-cotton blend fabric for the outer shoe. As I mentioned, you can grab one fat quarter of Lightweight Cotton Twill from Spoonflower because the cotton twill is really wide and the fat quarter is oversized.
+ 1/3 yard of quilting cotton for the lining fabric OR a fat quarter of Spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen.
Featured designs: Adobo Desert in lightweight cotton twill and French Linen Tats in organic cotton sateen by holli_zollinger
My Spoonflower post also discusses how to choose the correct scale of design. It’s worth checking out, but the basic idea is to go for a print that is either small scale or medium scale. An oversized print or a print with lots of space between design elements, as is the case with a lot of canvas prints, won’t show off very well on the tiny toe and heel pieces that make up a shoe.
Cutting Out Fabric and Interfacing
Once you’ve got your fabric picked out and ready to go we can begin cutting.
As I have said, you want to shoes to start out fitting snug on your foot. In order to accomplish that, I adhere interfacing to as many surfaces of the shoe as possible. The pattern that comes with the kits is from the shoe sole manufacturer and include pattern pieces for a heel stabilizer and toe stabilizer. Ignore those pieces completely! Just toss them out!
Instead of ‘stabilizing’ just a few places on your shoe as the manufacturer recommends, you will be interfacing (and therefore stabilizing) the shoe components in their entirety. Trust me, this comes from experience. We want to interface the heck out of our shoes. This is why my kits come standard with an entire yard of medium-weight interfacing whether you get a kit with fabric or one of the I GOT IT kits without fabric.
Using your TOE and HEEL pattern pieces only, cut out the following:
+ Two TOE pieces in your lining fabric
+ Two TOE pieces in your outer fabric
+ Two HEEL pieces in your lining fabric
+ Two HEEL pieces in your outer fabric
+ Four TOE pieces in medium-weight interfacing*
+ Four HEEL pieces in medium-weight interfacing*
*If, your outer fabric has a very tight weave or is thicker, you do not need to adhere interfacing to it. For example, the Spoonflower Lightweight Cotton Twill is tight enough that it doesn’t need interfacing. In this case, only cut out TWO pieces of medium-weight interfacing for the TOE and HEEL.
Preparing Your Pattern Pieces
In order to prepare our pattern pieces to be sewn together, we simply iron the medium-weight interfacing onto all the fabric pieces.
If you have never used interfacing before, don’t be intimidated, it’s simple. Begin by feeling for the ‘bumpy’ side of the interfacing. These bumps are the glue. Lay the bumpy side of the interfacing facing up on your ironing board. On top of the interfacing, lay down the wrong side of the fabric pieces. The ‘bumps’ of the interfacing should be touching the wrong side of the fabric.
Now, using even pressure with your iron on a cotton-linen setting (or high heat setting) press down onto the right side of the fabric. To keep the interfacing from bubbling up, be sure to press down steadily but keep slowly moving. Do that for both the TOE and HEEL outer fabric and the TOE and HEEL lining fabric pieces.
Ah! Fabulous! Your pattern pieces are all ready to be assembled into a shoe form next week!
Next Up: Check back next Tuesday when we will be creating the lined shoe piece and pinning it to the shoe sole.
Not interested in making shoes at home? Then JOIN ME! I’m teaming up with Spoonflower in Durham, NC on July 14th to teach Espadrille Making! Register HERE! You can try out the Spoonflower fabric for yourself!
Note: Spoonflower provided me with fabric for this project but my opinions are all my own and I, without hesitation, recommend their fabrics.