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Twinkletoes First Shoes + Giveaway

How to Make a Pair of “First Walker” Shoes

By Sharon Raymond of SimpleShoemaking.com

How many pairs of shoes does a child grow out of before he or she is fully-grown? I don’t know the number, but I do believe if we were making some of those shoes, the cost of raising a child would plummet (a slight exaggeration) and our children’s feet would be healthier.  And, if we use recycled materials to make them, our children’s shoes would have a smaller “footprint” on the earth.

Here’s a pattern and directions for making simple children’s shoes in a “first walker” size. The pattern can be reduced or enlarged on a photocopy machine by about 8 percentage points without becoming too distorted to be usable.

I think these shoes make great baby shower gifts. There will, no doubt, come a time when these “first walkers” will fit perfectly.

Consider checking the sizing of this pattern by making a “mock-up” from inexpensive felt to try on your child before cutting into your actual shoemaking material.

Pattern and Materials:

Pattern: twinkletoes shoe pattern by Sharon Raymond

Uppers: Make the upper parts of the shoe from thrift-shop leather goods, leather or fabric upholstery remnants, hand-made felt or felted wool coats, recycled denim or canvas.

Soles: To make children’s footwear as flexible as bare feet, there are a couple of materials I use. For those who want their children’s shoes to be made of all natural materials, natural rubber soling is available on my etsy shop. A child wearing shoes with natural rubber soles can feel the topography of the earth, yet will be protected. This soling must be stitched with a stitching awl as described below, as holes pre-punched in it seal right up.

Another option, readily available and thin enough to provide that barefoot feel, but in no way “natural”, is the grey hall-runner available at home building centers. It has rubberized material on the backside that can serve as soling. If you put a few layers of fabric or felt, or a single layer of leather over the fuzzy side-up, the texture won’t be noticeable underfoot.

A third option is to cut them from thrift store leather goods. If you use leather, I suggest that you use two layers, with the “fuzzy” sides facing out. The fuzzy side on the bottom provides traction and the one on the top absorbs perspiration. This is the option I have used on the sample pair of shoes shown here. If you prefer rubber bottom soles, cut them from bicycle inner tubes.

Thread: I use heavy-duty waxed braided cord from Tandy Leather. Four-ply waxed Irish linen or stitching-awl thread can also be used. It’s best to use a synthetic thread when stitching the upper to the sole, as organic materials deteriorate when in contact with the ground.


Elastic: For this size shoe, I use six inches of  3/8″ elastic for running through the channels. To get the elastic through the channels, make a little tool from a piece of plastic milk carton, about 5″ long and 3/8″ wide. Cut a little slit at one end. Use like a sewing needle or bodkin to pull the elastics through the channels.

To make colored elastic, I use permanent markers to “dye” the elastic in the area where it is exposed, between the toe piece and the heel piece.

Tools:

The tools for making these shoes are simple – a decent pair of scissors, a “scratch” awl from the hardware store for punching stitching holes, a couple of layers of corrugated cardboard to place below your upper material when punching holes with the awl, a glue stick, a marker appropriate for your material, permanent markers for “dyeing” the elastic and a couple of tapestry needles for stitching leather shoes, or sharp needles for stitching fiber shoes.

If you want to make proper round stitching holes in leather, the 00 round-hole drive punch from Tandy Leather, # 3777-33, is the tool for you. You will need a plastic cutting board to place under the leather piece while punching, and a rubber mallet or other non-metal hammer for pounding on the punch.  The little “spring punch”, # 3236-00, from the same source, can punch holes nicely if they aren’t more than 1/2″ or so from the edge.

A stitching awl (Tandy Leather # 1216-00) can be used for stitching the upper to the sole. A video showing its use can be seen at www.simpleshoemaking.wordpress.com.

left to right: spring punch, stitching awl, 00 drive punch, scratch awl, rubber mallet.

Assembly:

Make the soles: If your material is sturdy and sueded on both sides, you might only need one layer for soling. If your soling is different, cut out the leather or fiber topsole, then use a glue stick to adhere it to the bottom sole material. When the glue has dried, cut out the bottom sole to match the topsole. Mark the stitching holes onto the topsole with silver pen or permanent marker.

Cut out the upper pieces: Draw around the toe piece and the heel piece onto your upper material, then cut the pieces out. Be sure to flip the patterns over when drawing the second shoe.

Punch out the stitching holes: Punch out the stitching holes on the patterns and transfer them to your shoe pieces. Also, mark the center of the heel and the toe, and the location where the heel piece meets the toe piece, indicated on the patterns by a spiral. On fabric or felt, use whatever mark-maker that is suitable for your material, to mark the location where stitches should go through the fiber.

For leather, I like to use a silver gel pen to mark the location of stitching holes, it usually comes off with soap and water applied with a cloth.  After marking, punch out the holes. To accomplish this, either place your shoe part on a few pieces of cardboard and punch down with an awl, or use the 00 punch as described above.

Make the channels for the elastic to pass through: if you are using leather, punch out the stitching holes along the two lines shown on the patterns. If you are using felt or fabric, you have made stitching marks. You can turn the channel either to the inside or the outside. Use the “simultaneous running stitch” to stitch the channel.

For the simultaneous running stitch, cut a piece of thread about four times the length of the distance you are going to stitch, and put a needle on each end of the thread.

For stitching fiber shoes, attach a sharp needle to each end of the thread. Stitch into the first mark on one end of the heel piece, then down through the corresponding mark on the sole. Bring that thread back up in the second mark in both sole and heel piece, and tug on your threads so they are the same length. Pass the second needle down into that second mark, while holding the thread that is already there to the side, to protect that first stitch from being split.

Give a good tug on both threads after each stitch to create a nicely-seated seam.

Keep repeating this process.

Hiding knots: Each time you stitch, at the end you have two loose threads. To tie the threads in a hidden knot, put each needle through only one layer of your shoe material so the threads meet inside the area stitched. Tie a tight square knot, then run the ends of the threads under a few stitches before cutting them off.

When working with leather, you will have punched stitching holes. Proceed as described above, and for the neatest appearance, develop a pattern of which thread goes into the hole first (from the top or bottom) and whether the second thread goes to the right or left side of the first. Consistency is the key – and that’s why your work won’t look as neat if you make a running stitch with one thread all along the seam, then fill in the gaps with the other thread; you’re missing that tug on both threads after each step that makes the threads grab each other and settle in.

Embellish: Embellish the shoes if you like – embroider, applique, reverse applique, stamp, paint.  Since I made shoes from leather, I punched holes along the decorative lines on my pattern, about 3/16″ apart. I then transferred the marks to my toe piece, punched them out, then stitched with 4-ply waxed Irish linen.  It’s fun to add a little touch of embellishment to the heel piece also.

 Run elastic through the channels: Use the plastic bodkin to pull the elastic through the channel so it emerges at the other end. Put one end of the elastic through the slit, then pull it all the way through with your plastic strip.  Once the elastic is through both channels, check for twisting, then overlap the two ends about 3/8″ and stitch them together. After stitching, pull on the elastic until the stitching is hidden inside a channel.

Stitch toe-piece and heel-piece to the sole: Now that the uppers and soles are complete, stitch the shoes together. I usually start stitching on the inside of the shoe, where the heel piece meets the toe piece. Cut a length of non-degradable thread about four times the distance around the shoe, which is about 12 inches x 4 = 48″.

For fiber or leather soles, use the “simultaneous running stitch” described above to stitch the shoes together, unless you are using a natural rubber sole. As described above, a stitching awl is needed to stitch a natural rubber sole to the shoe.

In the toe area, the distance between stitching holes or marks is greater on the toe piece than on the corresponding holes on the sole; this causes the toe area to “pop-up” and not press down on the child’s toes. I usually wet leather when stitching in this area so it’s moldable, and do my best to gather the leather so it doesn’t overlap on itself.

If you are concerned that stitching through the soling might result in these stitches wearing out sooner than you’d like, remember that the part of the foot that touches the ground is the part you can see when walking barefoot in wet sand. However, if your child does wear through stitches, you have the skills to re-stitch!

When you’ve stitched all around the shoe, hide your knot as described above. Spray water inside the toe piece of a leather shoe, and stuff it hard with fabric or paper bag scraps. Let it dry for a few hours until it keeps a nice, rounded shape.

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For twenty five years, Sharon Raymond has had a passion for making simple footwear. She first learned shoemaking when living in England in the early 1990s; since then she has written seven books about shoe making, and taught the craft of shoemaking to hundreds of students. She delights in learning, then sharing, how to make simple footwear, often inspired by ancient and far-away cultures.

Sharon disseminates her joy of shoemaking from her home studio in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

You can read more about Sharon’s work on her website:

www.simpleshoemaking.com

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GIVEAWAY!

Sharon will send out a PDF of her book, How to Make Simple Shoes for Children with Your Own Two Hands! to five lucky winners! Enter a comment on this post by Sunday March 24th,  Midnight PST for a chance to win.

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March 21st, 2013: A note from Sharon:

“Beautify the earth, sister!”   Now that’s a comment in response to the “First Walkers” tutorial that brightened my day! Along with the other 100 and more – I’ve never experienced such an audience!

In gratitude, I will send a pdf of How to Make Simple Shoes for Children to anyone who makes a pair of these shoes and sends me a photo at  sharon@simpleshoemaking.com by Thursday, Midnight, March 28. I’d love to post a gallery of them on my Simple Shoemaking facebook page.

Plus, I’d like to learn how the pattern works when made in a variety of materials, from fiber to felt to leather; what types of embellishments you create; tips that you would like to share with others, and how the pattern might be improved.

Please feel free to email questions that come up along the way, and have fun “beautifying the earth!”   Sharon

 

Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 10, 2013 06:31 PM | 115 Comments

Beads and Buttons Tutorial and Oakmeadow Giveaway!

 Beads and buttons are fun to make, especially by children who love hands-on learning, but clay can also be used to explore any academic subject.  Here are just a few ideas to get your imagination started:

- Create letter and number shapes for alphabet and math learning.

- Sculpt bird heads when studying how bird beaks are shaped differently fo rdifferent purposes.

- Make a model of a Mesopotamian ziggurat, a Mayan temple, an adobe dwelling, or an Egyptian pyramid.

Enjoy this craft from Clay Fun, an Oak Meadow original publication, which is part of our Second Grade curriculum.

MATERIALS

INSTRUCTIONS

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Giveaway

Oak Meadow Curriculum and School has generously offered a complete homeschooling curriculum package for one grade of your choice (preschool through 8th grade). That’s a value of $120-$420! Simply visit Oak Meadow’s latest issue of Living Education, a quarterly journal that inspires and informs home learning with strategies, tips, and crafts.

Leave a comment here with feedback and/or suggestions for future issues and you’ll automatically be entered in the giveaway! We will pick one lucky Living Crafts winner on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012.

Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 6, 2012 09:50 AM | 369 Comments

Imagine Childhood Giveaway and new Book!

“Childhood is more than just a stage in our path to adulthood, it’s the time in our lives when our imaginations have no limits.  It’s the time when we learn how to be inventors. It’s the time when we watch clouds and butterflies with wonder and admiration.  It’s the time when we fall in love with the world.  Childhood is not just a developmental stage, it’s the development of a perspective, and quite a beautiful one at that.  In 2008 we established ImagineChildhood.com to support and nurture the growth of that perspective.  Imagine Childhood is a family owned and operated company offering high quality environmentally conscious toys, activities and stories that encourage exploration, creativity, and open-ended unstructured play.”  Sarah Olmstead, Imagine Childhood

Sarah Olmstead has a new book out (which will be reviewed on our blog soon) with the same name as her store:  IMAGINE CHILDHOOD: Exploring the World Through Nature, Imagination, and Play- 25 Projects that spark curiosity and adventure.  This book is a part of the giveaway on this post, but you can also purchase signed copies on her website.  Here is her blog post on behind the scenes work for the project.

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GIVEAWAY

Imagine Childhood is offering a big giveaway to one lucky winner, residing in U.S., which includes all four items below:

1)      One European Sewing and Knitting Kit,

2)      One Set Nature Keepsake Bags,

3)      One Basket Kit of your choice, and

4)      One copy of Imagine Childhood book:  IMAGINE CHILDHOOD: Exploring the World Through Nature, Imagination, and Play- 25 Projects that spark curiosity and adventure.

To enter the drawing for a chance to win all four items above, please leave a comment on this post by Wednesday midnight pacific time, October 24th, 2012.  In addition, Living Crafts readers are offered a 10% discount between 10/20 – 10/24.  The discount code will be “LivingCrafts”.

Posted by Living Crafts on Oct 20, 2012 07:00 AM | 713 Comments

Good Finds: SweetPea Doll

This doll is very soft and plump.  It feels heavier than a regular wool-stuffed doll, so it feels more real when hugging and carrying by your child (and you)!  It is handmade in Northern California and exclusively offered at A Toy Garden. 

The first time I was introduced to A Toy Garden was meeting Sonya Bingaman (owner) at a homeschooling conference offered by Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s Waldorf in the Home.  Then, my daughter was only six years old and I remember purchasing a King Winter for our nature table, which we still bring out every Christmas.  I noticed many of the toys she offers are U.S. made and exclusive.  After that I purchased items online, and absolutely love the moving flag logo next to the U.S. made items.  It makes me feel I’m doing something good, shopping as local as possible!  When talking to other moms, I found out at least two of my friends also shop from her, and their biggest reason was the personal service she gives on the phone.  I highly encourage you to visit the website and take a look at their new arrivals and everything else.

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GIVEAWAY

The generous folks at A Toy Garden are offering one lucky customer a Custom SweetPea Doll.  The SweetPea Baby Doll is heavy and huggable and beautifully handmade in California exclusively for A Toy Garden! This custom doll will be created with your choice of color for skin tone, eyes, hair and soft velour cap and suit. Truly a doll that any child (and adult!) will love to care for!

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post by Monday, October 1, 2012 midnight pacific time.  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Posted by Living Crafts on Sep 14, 2012 09:52 AM | 876 Comments

Books: Grow Your Handmade Business

Grow Your Handmade Business

by Kari Chapin

(Storey Publishing)  Can I make a living creating and selling my crafts?  That’s the question Kari Chapin answers in this book, a sequel to her best-selling book, The Handmade Marketplace, also published by Storey.  This wonderful book cheers you on and coaches you on how to make a livelihood from your passion, including stories from other creative people, their struggles, successes, and advice.  That’s not all, she also covers the business side, including developing budgets, strategies, and also funding.  If you’ve always dreamed of having your own craft business, or already have one and are looking into the next step, this is definitely worth checking out.  While you are at it, be sure to give The Handmade Marketplace a look too.

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GIVEAWAY

Storey Publishing is giving away a copy of Grow Your Handmade Business to a lucky winner!  Enter a comment on this post by Wednesday, August 1st, Midnight PST for a chance to win a copy of this book.  You must reside in U.S. to win a copy. 

 

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 29, 2012 11:13 AM | 321 Comments

Books: Vintage Designs to Knit

Vintage Designs to Knit

by Kim Hargreaves, edited by Kate Buller

(Trafalgar Square) On every page of this book, reviewed in Summer 2012 issue of Living Crafts, you’ll see something beautiful, classic, and familiar. Perhaps a sweater that reminds you of a glamorous movie star or an old movie or a grandmother’s photo. The designs are authentic and summon the styles of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. They are simple and sparingly adorned. This book is a must-have for anyone who loves the beauty of simple knits and purls….and some cables.

Finn and Edda on page 98

My absolute favorite designs are Finn & Edda on page 98, Agnes on page 124, and the red hot Audrey on page 8.  All yarns in the book are specified from the Rowan collection, and some are not all-natural, but the patterns are definitely worth spending the time to find the 100% natural equivalents.

Agnes on page 124

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GIVEAWAY

Trafalgar Square is giving away a copy of this book!  To enter the drawing, you must live in the U.S., and leave a comment here by Monday, July 30th, Midnight Pacific Time. 

 

 

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 20, 2012 12:43 PM | 229 Comments

Good Finds: Knitting Cards

 

I was delighted when a package of Heartstring Note Cards arrived from Kaspareks.  It is made of quality thick paper and is very simple.  If you have friends who love yarn, receiving a card like this will make them happy, indeed.  I went online and saw they had a few more letterpress card designs, and frankly, the Juggling Bear and the Literary Cat designs are my top favorites.  Click here to see all of their letterpress knitting card designs. 

 

Juggling Bear

Kaspareks sells stamps of the same designs (and more) too.  Here’s a link to the stamps so you can print the designs on any surface. Once you are on their Letterpress Cards page, keep clicking on Next Page to see more designs …

Literary Cat

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GIVEAWAY

The winner is Kim, with following comment:  “So pretty! Thanks for sharing. Crossing my fingers you pick me! Thanks again.”  Thank you all who participated.

The folks at Kaspareks are giving away four sets (of your choice) of their Letterpress Note Cards to one lucky winner who is a U.S. resident.  To enter drawing, please leave a comment here by Sunday, July 22nd, Midnight Pacific Time.

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 18, 2012 07:17 AM | 181 Comments

Books: A Felt Farm

 

A Felt Farm

by Rotraud Reinhard

(Floris Books) Adorable, precious, and lovely, this book will provide hours of fun felting a farm and all the people, animals, and props. There’s the farmer, and also his family, the dog, the lake, the ball that fell into the lake, and the stick used to fetch the ball out of the lake! Did we mention the iron stove, the donkey, and the visiting gnome? If you loved the “Knitted Farm” article in our Premier Winter 2008 issue, you will love this.  The book is filled with rich visuals, and following are three to enjoy!

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GIVEAWAY

The winner is Sandy Littell with following comment:  “I shared your post on FB and HOPE TO WIN!!!”  Thank you all who participated in this giveaway.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please enter a comment below by Friday, July 20th, Midnight Pacific Time.  Giveaway open to U.S. Residents only.

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 16, 2012 06:28 AM | 387 Comments

Books: Handmade to Sell

 

HANDMADE TO SELL:  Hello Craft’s Guide to Owning, Running, and Growing Your Crafty Biz

 By Kelly Rand with Christine Ernest, Sara Dick, and Kimberly Dorn

 (Potter Craft)  Hot off the press, and written by the founders, organizers, and executive staff of Hello Craft, a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters, this book gives you the A-Z advice on running your own handmade business.  From sourcing inexpensive materials, photographing your products, and setting up a booth at a craft fair, to launching an online storefront, branding and sales, all on a lean budget.  Handmade to Sell covers many subjects you may have questions on, and offers different options for each step of your way.  It is also full of fun illustrations and some photos.  If you are contemplating a new handmade business of your own, or already have one and want to make it more efficient, this is a great book to consider.

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GIVEAWAY

The winner is Jodya with following comment:  “The perfect how-to gift of encouragement for friends with talent & dreams for starting their own handcraft business! Hats off to the authors for leading the way.” 

Potter Craft is giving away a copy of this book to one lucky winner.  To enter drawing, please leave a comment on this post by Sunday, July 15, midnight Pacific Time.  This offer is for U.S. Residents only.  The winner is chosen on a random basis.

Thank you for your participation.

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Please send books or products for review to:

Editor

Living Crafts

4521 Campus Drive #302

Irvine, CA  92612

editor@livingcrafts.com

 

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 12, 2012 09:12 AM | 411 Comments

Good Finds: Lion Brand Bonbons

 

Beach color assortment

Bonbons is Lion Brand’s collections of 8 miniature skeins of yarn in one package. Each assortment includes 8 shades, perfect for any project requiring multiple colors, such as frinedship bracelets, amigurumi, colorwork, embroidery, and children’s crafts.  The cotton Bonbons are available in two assortments: mercerized cotton in brights (Beach), and mercerized cotton in spring shades (Nature).  Following is a photo of the Nature shades:

Nature color assortment

They have several patterns on their site, using this yarn, but our favorite is the Friendship Bracelet:

click on photo for free pattern

 Click here for several free patterns using this yarn.

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GIVEAWAY

The Winner is Susie H. with following comment:  “Oh wow! I’ve never seen these before, how fun!!!! Those nature shades are fantastic, and the bright colors are great too. Loving this giveaway! Thanks!”

The folks at Lion Brands are offering one lucky winner two sets of each of these cotton Bonbons, a total of four packages!  If you want a chance to win, please leave a comment below by Sunday, July 15th Midnight Pacific Time.  The offer is open to U.S. Residents only.  Thank you!

 

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 11, 2012 10:00 AM | 459 Comments























  




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