Back in 2012, I happened upon an unusual pair of shoes in a small clothing store. They were quite flat, with little support or durable sole and a slightly square but still rounded toe. The price was great–$10 per pair. I thought the shoes would make excellent Regency dancing shoes, so I bought two pairs, an 8.5 and a 9. The 8.5 were a little tight on my feet which was perfect for dancing as they stayed on my heels even when I rose onto my toes, but the 9 also fit and was great for walking around.
I’ve kept the size 9 nice looking over the last eight years. They have a surprising mid-20th century vintage look in addition to the Regency look, so they are most often worn with 1950s inspired dresses (you’ll spot them with my vintage inspired Happy Clover Dress and 1953 Dot Dress, both pictured below).
But while the size 9 pair hasn’t been worn all that often, the size 8.5 pair have been worn almost anytime I’ve been dancing in Regency clothes for the last eight years. You’ll spot them in all of the posts below (with a few of those highlighted with photos, as well), but of course this is only a small portion of the times these shoes have been worn.
1817 Duchess Gown In Three Stylings
Regency Intensive Dance Weekend 2019
1817 Gold Stripes And Face Framing Curls
Regency Dance Weekend 2017
A Gown Worthy Of A Duchess
Regency Dance Weekend 2016
Regency Shoe Poms!
A Turban Fillet, 1811
Regency Dancing At The Salem Maritime Festival
Refreshing Proof (Chelmsford Regency Ball 2013)
Regency Dance Weekend Part IV: Reception
Lovely Clothes, Lovely Ball: Part I (Pride And Prejudice Ball 2013)
Regency Christmas Party At The Commandant’s House
1812 Guerriere Weekend Part IV: A New 1812 Gown
All that wear has caused the shoes to show their age. While still functional, the exteriors were cracking and peeling around the top and the toes/sides/back were worn and scratched.
But I’m not ready to let these shoes go! So I decided to revive them with a few touch up treatments.
The first touch up step was to glue petersham ribbon around the top edge to bind it off, as well as down the center back seam, for an additional historical touch. I wanted to be done quickly, so I used hot glue, but this really wasn’t the best choice of glue, as it is a bit lumpy under the ribbon in some places.
I purchased the grosgrain from The Sewing Place. They have a beautiful selection of colors, reasonable prices, and low shipping charges.
The second touch up was a bit of white Angelus leather paint to cover the scuffs. (Thinking back, I should have cleaned my shoes before painting them… But I didn’t. So, there’s that.) Again, I was just trying to be quick. I figure these shoes are going to get banged up again as soon as I wear them, so I didn’t need to be too fussy. The white paint didn’t perfectly match my shoes, so I did thin coats and buffed the edges with scraps of cotton to get them to blend. It’s not perfect, but it looks reasonable from standing height.
This was a simple project, but it qualifies for this year’s HSM challenge #2: Re-Use.
Use thrifted materials or old garments or bedlinen to make a new garment. Mend, re-shape or re-trim an existing garment to prolong its life.
Just the facts:
Fabric/Materials: 1 pair of soft soled flats and white Angelus leather paint.
Year: c. 1810.
Notions: Approximately 1 yd of petersham ribbon.
How historically accurate is it?: 50%. In general, the silhouette and style works, but of course these shoes are not perfectly historical in style and the materials are modern.
Hours to complete: 1 hour.
First worn: November 23, 2019.
Total cost: If we’re only counting the revive and not the original cost of the shoes, then approximately $5 for the ribbon. (The glue and paint were in the stash.)
Here’s another view of the completed shoes.
It was my goal to revive these before this year’s Regency Dance Weekend (an annual event each April). I achieved that goal in terms of the date, though sadly the weekend was cancelled this year. But even though I didn’t get to use these for that event, at least now they’re ready for more years of adventure (and I can return them to the closet–they’ve been sitting out since last year to remind me to deal with them!). I’m quite pleased with the end result and the small amount of effort required to update these shoes.
Check out the following links if you’d like to see tutorial-like photos and descriptions of the painting and ribbon-ing process:
Lauren, of American Duchess, wrote a very helpful blog post tutorial back in 2012 showing how to paint shoes as well as the petersham ribbon edging.
Chelsea, of A Sartorial Statement, wrote a blog post about her freshly painted and ribbon-trimmed flats in 2019.