Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alphabet Quiet Book: S is for Shoes

This post is the twenty-first in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.

S is for Shoes
Every quiet book has a shoe-tying page in it. I believe it's pretty much a basic requirement of quiet books, and as such there are myriads of creative versions out there. I already sewed a running shoe page in Laurel's Buckle Book, so I thought about some of the alternatives. I considered doing an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe page like this one (a rhyme which the girls and I frequently recite together to restore sanity whenever things get too crazy around here.) After looking through several of my saved ideas, however, I realized that ballet Slippers, ice Skates, and Sneakers are all varieties of shoes that start with S, so why not do a page with all of them together?

Inspiration and Page Design
Each of the shoes on this page were inspired by a different source. These sneakers came directly from the pattern on Made by Me & Shared with You. I had to make it a very specific size so I could fit it onto my page of three shoes, so after trying to scale and print the pattern a few times, I gave up. I ended up simply adjusting the zoom on my computer until I got it exactly where I wanted it, and then traced directly from my computer screen onto freezer paper to make the pattern.

The sneaker was nice to sew in that all the pieces were already in a pattern so someone else had done the work of thinking through each part of the design. I ran into trouble when trying to install the eyelets for the laces, however. Because I shrunk the design down a bit, the eyelets had a very narrow strip for support. I discovered, after several failed attempts, that including a third layer of felt under the shoe top (one that you don't see at all) is crucial to the success of setting stable eyelets in craft felt.

The idea for the skate came from the Winter Wonder Quiet Book pattern for sale on Etsy. I preferred a more realistic look, however, so I ended up sketching my own design based on my own ice skates. All the pieces are cut from leather, cut carefully to match my sketch exactly so they'd fit together just right. There are four pieces - the main boot, the tongue, the sole, and the blade. The tongue and boot, as well as the toe of the sneaker, were originally a piece of dark brown leather that I spray painted glossy white after installing the eyelets and hooks. Similarly, I spray-painted the blade silver after cutting it out of a thicker piece of leather.

I had a funny picture here of the first failed attempt to paint the boot, but I can't find it on my computer now. I'd painted the leather pieces white and left them up on the kitchen island to dry. Before they had dried I discovered Laurel standing on top of the counter, tell-tale white paint on her pink socks, and fuzzy smears all over my leather pieces. Fortunately, some paint thinner cleaned it up enough for a fresh coat of paint, and I put it away in an even higher location where it was able to dry undisturbed.

I sewed the tongue down to the page first, an then attached the boot over it. As you can see in this picture, I didn't leave enough margin on the left, and had a lot of difficulty getting my needle around the eyelets and hooks. I think I broke a needle on the effort as well. So if you do this, make the margin a little wider than you need for your hooks!

The lace on the ice skate is a four-strand round braid, with three doubled strands of white embroidery floss, and one of silver. I would have liked a real ice skate lace, but I didn't have one handy at the time. I might replace it if I run across one, but this one works well for now.

My inspiration for the ballet slippers was from this post on All the Quiet Things. I decided not to include feet since the page was just about shoes, but to have them lace up as if they had feet in them. It's hard to tell from these photos, but the slippers are sewn from a silky pink fabric that I had in my stash. I layered that with some pink felt underneath to give it some substance, as the silky fabric on its own didn't look very shoe-like at all.

Preschool Goals for using the Shoes page
When I wrote about Laurel's Buckle Book last year, I mentioned that I'd intentionally avoided buying my girls any shoes with actual laces, since tying and untying shoes is a chore I'd rather eliminate if possible. Since then I did break down and buy Laurel a pair of real-lace shoes that she's totally in love with. As such, teaching her and Annie to tie shoes is more imperative, and on our list of preschool life skills that we're trying to learn this year. Hopefully between the three shoes on this page and the one in Laurel's quiet book, they'll master the skill before long!

Next week I'll be posting what is probably my favorite quiet book page to date, and with only three left to sew before we finish, Letter T might very well remain my favorite of the whole project. I can't wait to show you all!

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