25 April 2012

Sewing challenge no. 7: baby shoes

OK. I tested this pattern for baby shoes. Pictures below.

I think it is fair to say that this is not a beginners’ pattern: it involves sewing smoothly around sharp angles; and, the shape of certain pieces makes them impossible to pin in place: you have to ease them in while stitching round an ovaland hope for the best.

I have just reached the point at which the puddle of fabric takes on the shape of a garment: I can see the embryonic shoes. I can also see so many puckers that I’m laying the project aside until I can consult the dressmaker in the family.

To learn to sew, you have to have either an engineering mind, or the humility to follow rules you don't understand until you come out at the end and realize why the engineers were right. I have neither.

So, please don’t judge the pattern by my shoes. The lady who created the pattern got sweet little shoes out of it.

Here’s what I got out of her pattern instead:
1. A sound lesson in shoe engineering
2. Mussar
3. Confirmation of my suspicion that making shoes is incredibly satisfying.

There is a man by the name of Elik in an alley off Yaffo who makes beautiful leather shoes by hand. His shop was closed last time I tried to visit, with a note I didn’t quite catch on the door; please comment if you know what’s up.

I once asked the local cobbler, an elderly Russian in a shop the size of a shoebox, to teach me how to cobble;  he declined, but now whenever I go in there he bumps my shoes to the end of the line so he can show me how he fixes everyone else's.
Recently I came across this site: cordwaining for dummies.

The Midrash says that Chanoch (in Genesis) was a shoemaker who was meyached yichudim - 'unifying unities' - in making shoes. Rav Dessler says this means not that his mind was on kabbalistic matters, but that he did upright work: he focused intently on making shoes that would serve their wearerwell.

Here’s what my undisciplined experiment looks like at the moment.
One shoe is farther along than t'other


  1. The family dressmaker, who has also made baby shoes, says there's nothing wrong with these shoes that some earnest effort with the white plastic seam pusher or smaller stitches or a teeny iron won't fix. Yes! We do have a teeny iron!

  2. There is nothing wrong with the pattern. In fact, it's too beautiful and unique for a baby's shoes. Great job for sharing your thoughts with regards to this.