Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ruby Slippers Prototype - Bows

After finishing the sequins, the next and final steps were painting in some black areas and making the bows. 

I already had some red acrylic paint from years ago, which admittedly is probably too old, but I wanted to use materials I already had as much as possible to cut down on the final cost so I used it anyway.  The color is Christmas Red, and it's by DecoArt.  The sealer is a matte spray for acrylic paint by Plaid (the Patricia Nimrocks line).  The bow materials are sheet plastic from a bottle and organza curtains, both of which I already had; and 5 grams of size 1.8mm x 4mm silver-lined red bugle beads, six size 10mm x 8mm red rectangle sew-on plastic faux gems, and 100 size SS16 light siam rose montees.

I began by painting in the back of the heel, the part of the sole which shows when standing, and those little black areas showing through the sequins and at the top of the shoe. 

For a more accurate display replica, I might add the red felt to the sole, but I didn't want anything interfering with my coveted no-slip surface.  For the same reason, I didn't paint that part of the sole either.  After the paint was dry, I sealed it with the matter spray (I chose spray because it seemed easiest to apply, but by its nature it also comes in contact with parts of the shoe I'm not sealing, in this case the sequins.  I did a test on an extra piece of sequin string ahead of time just in case, and it was fine).

For the bows, I did essentially what the original costumers did, but downgraded a bit.  Leather being out of the question for these particular shoes, I first considered using cardboard for the bows.  I later decided that I wanted something waterproof, however, just in case (I don't intend to get these shoes wet really, but I was thinking of incidental rain and moisture).  I experimented with several different plastics, mainly from the kitchen.  I finally used a ranch dressing bottle: the front and back were both flat, and the plastic was thick and sturdy so it wouldn't necessarily need a second layer.

I was able to get four bows from one bottle (enough for one pair of shoes if doubling the plastic layers, or two pairs of shoes using single layers).  I poked two holes in the center of each to turn them into buttons of sorts for stitching on to the shoe.   

For light use or display, the stitching might be overkill, but walking in crowds all day I didn't want to risk the bows popping off and getting lost.  Then I painted each red with acrylic paint and sprayed it with acrylic sealer, and after they were dry stitched them to the shoes.
For the fabric, I didn't have any red organza, but I did have a single off-white organza curtain.  Using the same red acrylic paint from the soles, I very lightly painted the fabric in a test area, just using enough paint to make the fabric red but not really saturate it.  After it was dry I sealed it with, again, the same spray acrylic sealer.  After the sealer was dry, I got the fabric wet and prodded it a bit, and the color held nicely.  (The unsealed paint comes off with water, and the sealer itself says on the instructions that it's not meant for fabric which will be washed, but for basic contact with water it seems okay.)  Both the paint and sealer also stiffened the fabric a bit too, which was actually helpful.

Once past the test process, I drew the bow shapes onto the fabric first so I wouldn't end up painting more fabric than I needed to. 

Then I repeated the paint and seal process, coloring outside the lines.  To help spread the paint and take up the excess, I dabbed at and wiped it with some makeup pads.

Before cutting anything out, I put the whole piece of fabric in an embroidery hoop to bead it.  Again, in some cases gluing the fabric to the bow and then gluing the beads might be okay, but I wanted extra strength.  (No photos of this process, because it was very long and drawn out and there were a few times I worked on it that I wasn't in a position to get any photos.)  For layout, I just directly followed the beading pattern on the original shoes, adjusting it slightly for the dimension of my bows.  Then I cut the bow out, but slightly outside the lines I drew, for the same reason I painted outside the lines: when I glued the fabric to the plastic, I could wrap this excess around the edges and glue it to the bottom of the plastic to make sure it was secure and nothing underneath would show.  

When it came down to gluing the organza to the plastic, despite being fairly thick the plastic of the bows warped very easily under the heat of the hot glue.  I learned quickly - and the hard way, unfortunately - that it was better to apply the glue directly to the fabric and wait a few seconds before sticking it down to the plastic; and then hold the whole bow against the shoe to forcibly preserve its shape while it cooled.  Hence, on the prototype pair one bow is a little wonky but the other looks better, and I applied the improved technique to the second version of the shoes I made so they look okay.  In future, I would definitely use a different material for the bow base and test it with heat ahead of time or use a different glue.

Next: the final result.

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*My use and opinion of the products listed is by personal choice and availability.  I am not paid to use or endorse them.

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