1790s Painted Shoes Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my tutorial for 1790s painted shoes! At the end of Part 1, I had just discovered that the Angelus Satin Leather finisher had turned my 18th century shoes into patent plastic disco balls.  At this point I shoved them into a cupboard and went out to find the matte version of the leather finisher. This presented a certain difficulty. There are a lot of companies that don’t ship to Chile, and unfortunately, Angelus is one of them. Eventually I found a seller on Mercado Libre who had a crate of it, and for an absolutely extortionary price, I paid to have one bottle shipped from Santiago to Iquique. It was a period of impatient waiting – the shoes were lighting up the inside of my closet. 

Two pairs of bright yellow painted shoes - top, 1790s slippers, bottom 1760s American Duchess Kensingtons. The paint is very shiny and they glow like disco balls under a spotlight.

The day the matte finisher arrived, I wiped the shoes carefully for dust bunnies, applied a layer of matte glaze and put them under a tipped over tupperware crate to dry. And then I did it two more times.

The glaze was dimmed – not shut down, but dimmed. The shoes were still bright and shiny, but it was the shiny that a really diligent shoe polisher could get with wax and elbow grease- not a modern space age plastic shine.

Step 6:  Trimming the Shoes

I trimmed my yellow 1790s shoes with pink petersham ribbon. I had two widths of it – 5/8″ inches to be doubled over around the shoe opening and 3/8″ inches to mark the center back and side seams.  The ribbon was glued on with Fabri-tac glue.

If you haven’t used it before, you need to know straight up –  Fabri-tac is the devil. It sets almost instantaneously, but it comes out in gobs so it needs to be spread, and that is an awful combination of qualities. I found the best method to be running a bead of glue along my glue-line, then spreading it out with a finger or a palette knife, then running over it a second time to remove any remaining globs that could soak through the ribbon, and THEN pressing the fabric onto the glue line.

two painted 1790s shoes, seen from behind, with pink petersham being glued up the center of the back.

Beginning with the short back and side seams, I turned the raw edge of  the 3/8″ ribbon under, tacked it in place with a dab of glue, and then glued the strip in place, folding the top edge over the lip of the shoe and holding that down with a large glob.

Next I bound the open edge with the 5/8″ ribbon.  Working in short sections, I glued the ribbon to the inside of the lip. Once it was in place, and working again in sections, I folded the ribbon over to the outside and glued it down, again working in small sections, and pressing it down with sewing clips.

A bright yellow painted 1790s shoe with soft pink petersham ribbon being glued around the foot opening. The ribbon is held in place by a dozen red quilting clips

I had some difficulty with the ribbon around the heel. The suede panel on the heel became very stiff when painted, and I wasn’t able to flatten out the curve enough to successfully lay the ribbon from the inside.  It turned out to be easiest to run a second piece over the back of the heel, working outside-in. This extra piece is not symmetrical on one shoe – when i was gluing it down, the glue spread out from under the top layer and stained the bottom piece, so i had to rip the patch off and start again with a longer one to cover the stain!

A pair of bright yellow painted 1790s shoes with soft pink petersham ribbon being glued around the foot openings

But voila – there they were.  My fingers were a mess of glue blobs and ribbon shards, but the shoes were a POEM in pink and yellow, ready for field tests.

A pair of painted 1790s shoes sitting on a pale beige cushion - the shoes are a bright sunny yellow and bound with soft pink petersham ribbon.

Or almost – I wanted pompoms on the toes. I largely followed Frolicking Frocks’ tutorial for this. I made four pompoms out of silk embroidery floss, tied them off in the center, and layered them on a pair of shoe clip blanks: two pompoms per blank, stacked cross-ways. Once they were stitched tight, I cut the loops and trimmed the shaggy edges.

A pair of pompoms made of silk floss, one face up, one face down

In my button box I found a pair of small mother of pearl shank buttons, so I stitched them onto the centers of the pom poms.

A close-up of a bright yellow 1790s shoe with a pink pom-pom on the toe. The pom-pom is centered with a white mother of pearl shank button

And – Voila! This concludes Part 2 of my tutorial for 1790s painted shoes! These lovely little shoes have gone from cotton-candy sweet to bleeding ADORABLE.

A pair of painted 1790s shoes sitting on a pale beige cushion. The shoes are a bright sunny, shiny yellow and bound in soft pink petersham ribbon. They have pink pompoms on the toes, each centered with a small white mother of pearl shank button.

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