Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Making my own Regency dance slippers and boots


I am running a demonstration class on how to create your own Regency dance slippers at this year's (2014) Jane Austen Festival Australia. Dance shoes of the period. as can be seen below,  were often soft silk slippers, tied on simply with ribbons. They would have shoe roses attached with pins and the soles would be silk to enable good movement on the dance floor. There are contemporary accounts of slippers soles being ripped to shreds over the duration of a ball!
I was originally inspired by a blog post from the Oregon Regency Society, Miss Charlotte's Shoe Tutorial. Miss Charlotte's method is easy, the shoes are machine,stitched, and for those of us who like our shoes to match or compliment our gown, we can be well satisfied.

 I then read Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker, by A Lady, a reprint I found in a second hand book shop. A very lucky find indeed! Its a small booklet originally published in 1855. Its a great instructional manual if you would like to try your hand at being a cobbler and gives you an understanding of period shoe making. The ladies shoes in this book are made of light material and require no heavy equipment to make. There is page after page of instructions and pull out pages of patterns so you can cut your shoes out with a minimum of trouble. It also has designs for ladies gaiters. The book strongly suggests that you should use rubbers (1851 Goodyear's patent) to protect your shoes in damp weather and to use a sewing machine to speed the work along. 

So being equipped in different methods, contemporary and mid 19th century I set off to create. So far I have made a test shoe toile in calico to get the fit right and I tried my hand at a nankin boot.

My first slippers were inspired by these lovely silk Blue Slippers 1790-99

My apprentice Phoebe followed my instructions and reproduced a very fair copy of an early period slipper.

While she did that, I mocked up a Nankin half boot, using the same pattern idea, but elongating the top. I was inspired by these 1812-1820 ladies boots. Image @Victoria & Albert Museum.


I shall create patterns for this tutorial at the Jane Austen Festival Australia, I'm looking forward to sharing what I have learnt!


I'm The Tailor's Apprentice, maker of The Miss Page 1940s reproduction patterns, gowns developed from pattern pieces found amongst the remnants of Miss Violet Florence Page’s life and work. Affordable, elegant, and unique garments from the 1940s war years. 

All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern and an Australian Army Nurses Services WWI uniform pattern.

If you'd liked to be included on my mailing list for events, pattern release dates and interesting snippets about vintage and historic sewing, please subscribe to my Newsletter on The Tailor's Apprentice website.

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