18th-century leather boots (replica)…for a bjd doll

«I am currently working on a new doll project based on history and since I know your work is absolutely amazing I thought I would take a chance and ask if you might be able to help me. For this project I need a pair of miniature boots…»

With this inspiring and at the same time intriguing question, one of our most interesting and complex projects began!

Interesting…because we always wanted to try our hand at museum exhibits. And complex…because we very rarely made shoes, and so small – never before. 🙂

Nevertheless, we took up this project…Because, firstly, we always need to try new things and get out of that notorious “comfort zone”, and secondly, our customer promised us to send the doll legs, for whom we must to sew shoes. 🙂

It should be noted that the “source” we had was quite remarkable: about 42 boots, worn by King Charles XII in Frederick Hall on November 30, 1718. These boots are in the Livrustkammaren Museum (The Royal Armoury (Swedish: Livrustkammaren) is a museum in the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.). Fortunately, the collection of the Royal Armory is available online, so that we could find all the necessary references.

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We had to repeat this on a scale of 1: 3, counting the proportions on the doll leg. The skin color at the request of the customer should have been changed to black. We also agreed that we would sew the sole using the welt method, as in real shoes (then we still had no idea how much it would be an epic challenge :))))). “Cherry on the cake,” of course, were spurs…but more on that later… 🙂

So, we received our parcel from the west coast of Sweden… And inspired by the harsh but beautiful views (we really like to see where our customers live…it perfectly tunes to the right mood) and the wonderful collections of the Royal Treasury we started to work!

First of all, we needed to recalculate the proportions of the boot to the size of the doll’s foot and, accordingly, lengthen the bootleg.

Work with proportions


Naturally, the look has changed a little, but, in our opinion, has not lost aesthetics…on the contrary, heavy-looking boots began to look more elegant… 🙂

Here we must remember that we agreed to sew these boots with the welt method, like real shoes, and this implies the presence of a “shoe last“…so we had to think about what it could be made of.

The choice fell on the apple tree 6-year “exposure”…

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By the way, until the middle of the 19th century, the same last was usually used for the right and left legs, therefore shoes could be worn on any foot. (The Science of Footwear, Ameersing Luximon, Yan Luximon, 2012)

Given this fact, we had to grind only one last. :))) Work on it from scratch took about 18 hours. On our video you can see all the steps.

Now we needed to make patterns of all the upper parts. For this we used paper tape.

We constructed the bootleg using our sketch as a basis (it turned out to be quite convenient) and then proceeded to assemble the top.

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For such delicate seams, we usually use our fine needle sewing machine. It requires a little more control when sewing, but the result is worth it. 🙂 At the same stage, we hemmed a part to the back of the boot that would support the spur in the future.

The next stage is the preparation of the insole, to which later the details of the top and welt will be sewn (we will not bother you with technical details, but everything is pretty clear in the photos). 🙂

Then we began to sew on the details of the top. First, we pulled the top over the block (with a fixed insole) after wetting it: we fixed the top with studs at the “control points”, and then pulled the parts together with a thick thread. When the top was dry, we turned it off and attached a backdrop and a toe cap. Then we baited the details of the top to the insole with glue and cut off the excess. After that, we placed a rand and stitched the perimeter through pre-marked holes (cut off all the excess).

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The next step is sewing on the sole. We cut it out with a small margin and glued it to the insole (between the insole and the sole we glued steel arch support and leather padding, but unfortunately, forgot to photograph this moment), and then stitched through the welt. After assembly, we cut off the excess sole and welt.

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It remains to work with the heel … As the material, we again chose the apple tree. We cut a blank from it and began to adjust it to the desired size.

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Then we polished, painted, waxed and polished again. We glued a leather “heel protectors”, and then carefully hammer the shortened cloves into the holes pre-designated with an awl.

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The heel itself was secured to the sole with glue and metal studs. After that we pulled out the last. By the way, in the photo you can see that the blast was sawn from the rise to the heel, and then assembled with self-tapping. We had to make the block “collapsible”, because otherwise we simply could not pull it out.

But despite this…in the second boot it was still stuck, so we had to tinker with it, pulling it into the “four hands”… :))

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So, we already had two stitched boots…but there were no spurs… Fortunately, Anastasia Miramarta (without whom this project would not have turned out so epic) helped us with this! She not only made a 3D model of spurs for us, but also organized a seal made of titanium !!! And we are grateful to her for this !!! ^ _ ^

In the first photo you see the final result. However, in the process of working with the model, a “draft” was made of plastic, which made it possible to try on a spur and correct some proportions to make the spur look perfect.

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The next step is printing from metal (in our case, from titanium) and polishing. We didn’t order a “mirror” polish, because we wanted to keep some worn effect. The result, frankly, exceeded all our expectations! 🙂

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Now we had to make the upper pads (the one that you saw in the previous photos was a draft, necessary for trying on spurs), straps that would fix the spur through the heel and pegs for buckles. We did not order their printing from titanium, because the size did not allow. 🙂 In addition, we should have been able to bend it and fit it in size.

These pads were cut, stitched, painted and polished…after which they were able to take their place on the boots. 🙂 And this finally ended our work with this project, which lasted almost 15 months…except that it remains to take photos… 😉

And a little closer ^ _ ^

Thanks to everyone who read to the end! We welcome your comments! 🙂

Alex & Anastasia Svetliy Sudar Leather Arts Workshop

svetliysudar@gmail.com

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