Fancy Spats (Or; They would protect your good shoes, but these ARE the good shoes)

Posted by Bree Frost

Background: For one of my recent cosplays I decided to try a duct tape pattern for the first time.  It turned out so well I couldn’t believe it; so I tried it again and it turned out just as awesome.  This is how I did the second set.  I was inspired to make this pair to resemble boots that are now unavailable.

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You will Need:

For pattern making

  • Fabric duct tape.  (You can use the plastic stuff but it stretches and shrinks)
  • Cling wrap
  • Paper
  • Sharpie or similar marker

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For the basic construction:

  • Outer fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • Construction Thread. I needed two colours
  • Interlining (if your outer fabric doesn’t feel like it will have enough body) A good test is to grab a piece of your fabric, curl it into a cylinder and hold it about 15cm from an edge to see if it holds up by itself.
  • A separating zipper.  I used a 20cm zip but if you would like your design to go beyond ankle boot, you could choose something longer.)
  • Eyelets (and all the stuff you need for them like a punch, hammer, teeny anvil etc.)
  • Ribbon for lacing.  This lacing is purely decorative so it can be as thick, thin, satin-y or organizer-y as you like.

Optional Extras:

  • Three different laces
  • Extra ribbon
  • Lace motif
  • String pearls
  • Machine Embroidery Thread
  • Tearaway stabilizer

Presser feet used:

  • Standard sewing foot (#0A)
  • Open toe applique foot
  • Zipper foot (#4)
  • Beading foot (6mm) or whatever size suits your string pearl.

 

TL: DR (too long: didn’t read)

Wrap your leg like a mummy, cut into insane shapes, sew back together and decorate.

 

The Prelude: Patterning

To start, put on the shoes and/or socks you would like to wear under your spats.  This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to wear them over other things, but it does dictate the specific shape your leg and foot assumes.  Sandals vs boots will make a BIG difference, so will flats vs platforms or stilettos.

Lightly wrap your leg in cling wrap past where you anticipate you want your pattern to be. Include your instep and under your foot. 

Cut up small pieces of duct tape and start taping up your foot and leg.  Small chunklets mean you can control the stretch of the tape better and minimize the puckering.  Try and be as smooth as possible and as few layers as possible without missing anything.

Grab your marker and draw the lower edge of your spats.  Doing this first means you can add more tape if you were being a bit stingy.  Draw a line up the centre front and back. These are your basic-est template lines.  If you want to put working lacings up the front or lacing or a zip up the back this is as many pattern pieces as you need.  I added a few extra design lines such as my instep zip seam and a separate lacing gusset.  I also made an included strap under the arch this time.  You can ignore that and put a fabric strap or fabric covered elastic in when they get bagged out later.

Cut down the centre back seam to get the pattern off your body, being REALLY CAREFUL not to cut your sock or shoe in the process.  I haven’t goofed this yet; probably because I’m too afraid to do serious damage.  With the pattern in front of you, even out any wobbly lines because drawing on your own foot is awkward.  Cut your duct tape up! 

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Grab some common or garden A4 paper, spread your pattern out over it and trace it.  This feels really awkward and wrong as your feet are round and your paper is flat.  The best way is to average out everything as you go.  You won’t get a perfect trace as it will keep moving about.  You can pin it or tape it to the paper with a mat underneath but I just opted for holding it down with my fingers and aiming between its extremes in movement.  If your pieces are extremely not flat, you may have to cut some slits to sew as darts to account for the flare.

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Once you’re traced, add seam allowance (I add the standard 15mm to everything like the commercial patterns do) and cut them, trace them onto some scrap fabric again and baste together to see what’s going on.  A toile is essential when working with duct tape patterns and you’d be foolish to skip this step.  When checking the fit of a toile, you can cut off the seam allowances top and bottom to see the over-all look but don’t forget you need them for the lining.

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If that works: YAY!!! You’re now ready to actually make something.

 

How to moosh this together:  Note: I will keep stopping in the middle of this to do optional stuff

To begin the real project, fuse the interlining to the fashion fabric.  Technically my wool was stiff enough but I really like a smooth finish on my pieces, so I did it anyway. Pay attention to how many pieces you need of each thing when tracing out your pattern onto fabric and lining.  I cut out two of each piece on folded fabric for each foot except the gusset.  I needed 2 each of fused fabric and lining plus 4 more each of unfused fabric and lining for the gusset.  That’s just the way I had it worked out in my head.

*Optional* The grey pinstripe wool that I had for this project was, I thought, a little bit boring.  As the first optional option, I’m going to follow the pinstripe with a fancy stitch in embroider thread.  I tried a bunch of different stitches on some leftover scrap to see what it would look like and chose something that wouldn’t take absolutely forever to stitch out all over every piece.

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Eventually I chose a 6mm long triple straight stitch and a stitch I had made previously in PFAFF® Stitch Creator™.  Stitch it all out with some tearaway on the back and then spend a couple of hours of mindfulness tearing it all off the back again.  You have to think of tearaway as a process, not a product.

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*Optional* I also added my lace motif cameo thingy at this point.  I’d like to say that I measured out the shape, cut out some double-sided iron-on and appliquéd it properly but I just cut some small scraps of lining, pinned it under the motif, sewed an inner line, cut it back and sewed an outer line.  It’s not cheating if it looks good.  

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Also optionally, you can add some string bead trim (with appropriate foot) and a pretty ribbon bow using the button tacking program if you want it to stick.  I put my bead trim on much later but here is probably best.

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Now is basic seam sewing time. Centre back seam, centre front seam etc.  Sewing the extreme curve of the lacing gusset to either of the main pieces needed some help.  I basted about 13mm around the curve and pre-clipped it almost to the line to make it easier.  Sew up the seams for the lining as well. Note that the centre front seam in my design is extremely short and I didn’t sew the CF gusset seams together.

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Time to bag them out with the zip included.  With the zip done up, rehearse how it will go on the instep seam and pin, separate the zip, then pin it in properly with the lining right sides together.  I started sewing with the two zip seams from the top down (like you’re supposed to), the moved to the top and bottom edges.  Once again, do not do the centre front gusset seams.

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At this point, you could be sensible (the opposite of me) and clip your corners, turn it inside out to press and then sew up the outer fabric side of your centre front gusset seams and then hand sew the back bit up and be done with it.  But no, I had to do it a really weird way.

*The Weird Way*

Grab your extra un-interlined fabric gussets and lining pieces and bag out the top and curved edges (once again completely ignoring the centre from seams again).  There should be two mirrored sets.

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Fabric side to lining side, sew the loose gusset pieces to ONLY the lining side of the centre front seam so that when you fold it all the way around.  Fold the seam allowance into the main body and then also turn in and press the seam allowance of final layer of outer fabric that should still be flapping around. 

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Top stitch a couple of millimetres from this edge to seal the whole thing in, then press the flappy gusset bit over the inset version of the same shape.  Oh my goodness, it could have been so simple!

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*Optional* Before top stitching this bit down, I pinned some edge trim under said edge and then for good measure, stitched the same fancy stitch around the curve about a presser foot’s width from the edge.

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Mark out where you would like some eyelets (this is different for which ever sized eyelets you’ve used). I did mine about 15mm from the edge and 15mm spaced from one another.  If you have little eyelets, they can be closer and if you have larger ones they can be further apart.  Bang them in therapeutically and with gusto… and with headphones on.

*Optional* Top stitch some trim top and bottom using your favourite trim stitching stitch (because you definitely should have pressed it by now) remembering NOT to trim around your arch tab; enough trim and you won’t even see it disappearing ender your foot.  For an extra flourish, tack some ribbon through the puller of your zip.  Any extra help when your feet are so far away is always awesome.

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Sew some Velcro to the arch strap and the corresponding join at the instep.  My suggestion in the loop side should face toward the skin and hook side away from it.  Finally lace up your centre front eyelets, making sure that if you’re using ribbon, to get it flat all the way up.  This lacing is purely decorative so it may as well look it’s best.  Remember to double knot the top like your mum taught you.

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Done! Time for some tea!

 

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