Friday, April 27, 2012

Enormous gold-tipped sapphires!

I have fallen a bit behind in posting about things I have been making recently, but I shall try to catch up. 

This necklace is something I finished over the Easter long weekend. It is a continuation of my Something out of Nothing Necklace experiment. I have worn that necklace often, I love the facets of those beads and I wanted to make more of a feature of them.

I made some more faceted beads out of scrap leatherboard as before, this time shaping them so that they were slightly bigger at one end. I then drilled a hole horizontally across the small end (rather than drilling lengthwise along the middle as before)

I then spent a while painting each individual facet. I started by painting the bottom facets gold, and then painted the other facets in a variety of shades of blue. I didn't really have a plan for where each shade would go, I just allowed myself to paint a bit randomly. I did paint over a couple of facets that had ended up up being too similar to their next-door colour. When I was happy with them, I sprayed them with varnish and let them dry.

When stringing them together, I chose some tear drop shaped plastic beads from my bead stash. I wanted them to provide some space between each faceted bead without distracting from them too much. I cut thin strips of soft blue leather from my leather stash (I have a number of stashes - beads, leather, fabric, buttons-zips-and-other-notions, thingamajigs-that-i-might-need-one-day, etc) Using leather thonging allows me to adjust the height of the necklace depending on the neckline of whatever I'm wearing it with.

My enormous gold-tipped sapphire necklace. A bit graphic, a bit cartoon-y and the closest I will ever get to sapphires of this size!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A special guest star and some lovely sandals

Hello and welcome to you new visitors to this here blog! Make yourself at home, have a look around...
You may have already seen these lovely nautical inspired sandals during your internet wanderings. They were made (with a little assistance) by none other than Zoe - ethical seamstress extraordinaire, inventor of the toffee/flapjack-hybrid-snack, and she of the excellent "So, Zo..." blog.

I've been following Zoe's blog for a few years, I really admire her ethos, and I saw a while ago that she had made a reference to one day, some day, somehow, maybe making some kind of vaguely functional footwear, and I thought "Hey, that's my department, I reckon I could help make that happen!" So earlier in the year I contacted her with an offer to play for a day in the workshop at work. Our sandal making day was a couple of saturdays ago, and it was a real blast!

You may have seen Zoe's post about the day, but I thought I'd take you through our sandal making process. I've realised I didn't take very many photos throughout the day (we were too busy chatting and applauding each step of our sandal progress!) but here are a few progress shots...

The beginning of the patterncutting process. 

I started by taking Zoe's foot measurements. These include an outline of each foot, measuring around the Joint - the widest part of the foot, as well as around the Instep - the highest part of the foot. Using this information I could select a Last - the foot-shaped mould around which the sandals were built. We chose a flat last with joint and instep measurements that matched Zoe's, and I taped it up so we could draw on it. This is a very handy method of playing around with the lines of the sandal, getting the balance right, and allows you to have a really clear idea of how it will look in the end. We then cut the masking tape straps from the last and used them as a base for the pattern. The pattern pieces included folding allowance and lasting allowance - the extra bit of material that gets attached to the underside of the insole.

Zoe then cut out the pattern pieces in leather - a process called Clicking - using a clicking knife and once she'd skived the edges on the skiving machine, prepared them by adding non-stretch topline tape (to prevent the straps from stretching out) and folding the edges of the white straps. The red straps remained raw edged. 

Using the lovely industrial Singer post machine (the working area is on top of a vertical post rather than the flatbed of a domestic machine) Zoe stitched the straps to lining leather and trimmed away the excess. The white straps ended with loops which would enclose the red straps.

The finished uppers ready for lasting (Lasting is the process of shaping the upper around the last and attaching the excess material to the underside of the insole). The red straps have raw edges, the white ones have folded edges and include buckles.

I cut an insole (a double layer of insole board) and Zoe smoothed the edges on the big sanding machine and then covered it with the lovely inky blue leather she had brought along with her. We then used the remaining masking tape on the last as a guide for where to place the straps over the last and then attached them to the insole, making sure that the right and left sandal were matching and even. While Zoe was lasting up, I prepared a sole of 6mm rubber with a hard-wearing rubber heel top piece. A quick try-on of the sandals showed that we needed to adjust the fit a little bit across the joint.

Once adjusted, Zoe then stuck the prefinished sole to the underside of the insole and hammered it down to ensure it was properly attached.

Et voila! Some lovely, brand new, nautical inspired sandals that had only existed as a concept that morning, and a couple of very happy shoemakers! 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

**This is an example of some of the work I was involved with when I worked for a company called Theatrical Shoemakers. We made costume shoes for film, theatre, television etc**

If you live in the UK, you may have seen this in last Friday's Metro newspaper...
It's the first official picture of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in the new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises to be released this summer.
Cor! Look at those boots, and how helpful of her to stand in such a way that she shows off her bum those killer heels!

Now that some official pictures have been released, I thought I'd take the opportunity to give you a closer look at the various boots we at Theatrical Shoemakers made for Anne Hathaway's Catwoman.
Thigh high leather boots with platform sole and special knife heels.

First up, a close look at those excellent heels. They were made especially for these boots (though not by us), and they resemble knives - they have a sharp edge running along the back of the heel and a serrated section on the inside curve of the heel. These ones were cast in clear plastic (you can see the strengthening metal rod running through it) which made it easier for us to see exactly what we were doing when attaching screws through the insole and into the heels (without poking through the heel). They were later painted silver by the film's costume department.

These heels are crazily high and you can't easily run around and do stunts in them, so we were asked to make other boots in a range of heel height for Anne Hathaway as well as her stunt double.

A low heel, a wedge and a mid-height heel option, all without platforms. The higher heel on the right was covered with silver leather so that at a glance it would look like the silver knife heels.

You can see she's wearing the wedge version while riding her crazy motorbike here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prometheus in Empire

**This is an example of some of the work I was involved with when I worked for a company called Theatrical Shoemakers. We made costume shoes for film, theatre, television etc**

One of the fellas at work brought in the new issue of Empire magazine with Noomi Rapace ("the new Ripley!") on the cover.
As you might guess from the cover, there is a long article in there about Ridley Scott's new Alien film Prometheus. There's lots of interviews, screen shots as well as behind the scenes pics.


We at Theatrical Shoemakers did a few bits and pieces for Prometheus, mainly pairs of overboots to be worn with the spacesuits. 

They were zip-up boot uppers (without soles) cut from spongy, perforated fabric, which were to have armour style shin pads and other bits and pieces attached to them, and fitted onto other footwear by the film's costume department.

Here's Charlize Theron wearing a suit (rather than a spacesuit). Neat hair, neat suit, neat shoes. Let's have a closer look at those...

She's wearing concealed wedge platform shoes in grey leather. They have a centre seam along the instep and an asymetrical seam running diagonally across the forepart. 
We originally made them as ankle boots (as requested) but they asked us to change the topline to the one you see here.

Watch the Prometheus trailer here.
Prometheus costume design by Janty Yates.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Me Made May '12

Last month was not a very productive one for me in terms of making things at home, however this month I have got more of my home making mojo back again. I was going to post about some more things I completed over the recent long weekend, but I thought I would share with you one of the reasons why I have been motivated to make again.

I have signed up to Me Made May'12! This excellent challenge is the brain child of Zoe of the excellent 'So, Zo...' Blog and has been running periodically (me made may, self stitched september) for the last couple of years. It is an initiative in which participants endeavour to wear at least one 'me-made' item (whether it be sewn from scratch, refashioned, knitted, crocheted etc) every day throughout May, although each participant is encouraged to set the level of the challenge for themselves.  Previously I have only ever watched from the sidelines, admiring everyone else's efforts, but now that I have started making some of my own clothing, I have decided to JUMP RIGHT IN!! So here goes...

I, Emily Botterman of The Botterman Empire, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '12. I endeavour to wear at least one item of me-made clothing/accessories/footwear each day for the duration of May 2012'

I have included accessories and footwear in my challenge as I have been making necklaces, brooches, bags and other bits and pieces as well as shoes for longer than I have been making clothing. I am really looking forward to Me Made May. It's a little bit daunting, but that's the point of a challenge, right?

If you want to learn more about Me Made May '12, click to logo on the side bar on the right there, and it will whisk you off to the MMM'12 info at 'So, Zo...' and while you're at it, why not sign up yourself?!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Sorbetto, finally.

It's taken me forever, but I have finally jumped on the Sorbetto bandwagon. I downloaded the pattern ages ago, but it's taken a lazy Easter Sunday to get around to making it. 

I found this excellent pony material (some sort of entirely unnatural fabric with a little bit of stretch) a while ago at a fabric remnants stall in Lewisham market. I made the Sorbetto without the central pleat because I didn't want it to interfere with the pony pattern. To make the top without the pleat, I just lined up the pleat line on the fold of the fabric when marking/cutting out.

I chose matching bias binding and finished the seams by overlocking them (I am LOVING using my new overlocker! It makes things so much easier and neater!)

I'm happy with the result, it's a good basic, straight forward pattern with endless possibilities for adaption. I foresee many Sorbetto variations in my future!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

a belt

I made myself a belt today. I've been meaning to have a go at this for ages. It's a new version of my dad's old belt which I wear often even though it is too big for me. I wanted to have a shorter version that I could wear at my natural waistline, rather than my hips. 

I wanted to replicate the clever plaiting of dad's old belt. It looks impossible because both ends of the belt are solid and the plaiting is only along the middle section. To do this, you cut along the middle section of the belt making three equal straps. You then begin plaiting from one end, and as you go, you need to un-plait and untangle the other end. Plait a little bit, un-plait the other end, repeat. I'm sure there's a logical way of un-plaiting which I am yet to get my head around because I spent a lot of time getting the end rather twisted and tangled, but I got there eventually!

An inch-wide strip of 3mm vegtan leather, a hole punch, a buckle, a couple of rivets, a little while spent fiddling and de-tangling, and I have a new little belt. I left the edges raw and untreated because this was more an experiment with the plaiting technique. I think it will soften up nicely with a bit of wear.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Game of Thrones

**This is an example of some of the work I was involved with when I worked for a company called Theatrical Shoemakers. We made costume shoes for film, theatre, television etc**


The much anticipated Season 2 of Game of Thrones begins this week and I for one will be keeping an eye at ground level!

We at Theatrical Shoemakers made various pairs of boots for the first season for Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage among others. I didn't photograph them at the time because a) we didn't know what Game of Thrones was or how amazing it was going to turn out to be, and b) the boots we made were fairly straight forward knee-length pull-on boots, nothing crazy or out of the ordinary.

Having finally watched the first season, we were all very pleased to be asked to make some more footwear for the second season...

We made quite a few pairs of these black boots with two sets of long wrap-around straps.
We had to send them to Iceland, so I'm pretty sure they are for the Night's Watch.

Now, look at these golden beauties...
These are platform soles for the character Daenerys (dragon lady) Targaryen. 

They are made from a block of wood with a padded sock of gold leather. (the 'sock' is the term for the bit of leather your foot actually stands on) This is how they left our workshop. The Game of Thrones costume department were then going to fashion some sort of sandal-y (?) wrap-around (?) strappy (?) upper for them. I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for these ones, I can't wait to see how they turned out. But for now, let's admire these glowing curly platforms some more...