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The Well-Trimmed Toe: On Making a Shoe Rose

I used one inch wide pure silk hand dyed ribbon and silk thread for the shoe roses. I used one and a quarter yards of ribbon for each shoe rose, so three and a half yards total. My materials cost me six dollars for a pair of ribbons. Satin finish and grosgrain ribbons should be avoided as satin finish ribbons were not availible and grosgrain ribbons were not used for shoe roses in our period. Many colors were available, and people who could afford them often had several pairs as they were fashionable and easily replaced.

The shoe roses I made finished about three inches across, so each petal is about an inch and a half long in the base layer. I also made a template of the outline of the first to make sure the second would be approximately the same size.

shoe rose 1I began by pinning the first three petals of the first layer together. The petals should overlap slightly so that there are no gaps, but only slightly. Any kind of ribbon will be extremely slippery, so don't be frustrated if you need to pin the first two petals together and then pin the third to them later. The photo show at left is of the intended top of the shoe rose.

shoe rose 2I then sewed the three layers together with my silk thread. I chose silk thread because of the delicacy of the ribbon, but I think a fine sewing thread could be used as well. I tried to make sure that all three of the layers were sewn together at some points. The photo show at left is of the back of the shoe rose. I found it helpful when sewing to take the last stich before moving on so that the needle and thread went from the top to the back of the shoe rose, as each new petal will be layered on the top and the thread gets in the way if it is left on top.

shoe rose 3This is again taken from the back of the shoe rose. After the first three petals were done, I sewed each following petal on seperately, always ending with the thread to the back of the shoe rose.

shoe rose 4When a complete circle was made with nine petals, I sewed down the last petal, laid the ribon down straight across from the last petal, folded it just short of the previous layer of petals, and folded it back on itself to created a sort of bar across the bottom layer of petals. I then sewed a straight line about a half inch away from the last fold.

shoe rose 5To create the cross bar, I folded the ribbon in a forty-five degree angle to the previously made bar repeated the previous step, folding it back on itself to create a center cross and then sewed the middle down.

shoe rose 6To create the middle cap petal that hides the rest of the stiches and folding, I looped the tail end of the ribbon over on itself again, stopping just short of the previous layer of petals. To cover all the stitches, it helps to sew a line farther out than all the previous stitches before flipping the ribbon over. The very end of the ribbon gets flipped under toward the center of the shoe rose and stitched down as far as possible out while keeping the rose symmetrical as possible.

After the pair is done, a small loop may be sewn on the back of the shoe rose--preferably into the center petal--so that the shoe roses may be tied with laces on to a pair of shoes. This loop could also be sewn on before the center petal or even the cross is completed, but I wasn't that clever the first time around.

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wool spinning demonstration
wool spinning demonstration