Big initial M Altered Couture Spring 2007 sandalsIt’s been five years since my first pair of painted shoes appeared in Altered Couture magazine. Since then, Destiny and I have been thrilled to have sixteen pairs of shoes, boots and sandals appear in their pages.

Today, however, to show you that all this success hasn’t gone to our heads (well, my head, anyway…), I thought I’d show you a pair that was recently rejected. Personally, I love them!

Kitty shoe cutouts ONE after at 72 dpi Unzipped beforeThese aren’t the most stylish shoes — at least to start with — but they are all leather, super comfortable, and lend themselves to DIY shoe design! I used them a couple of years ago as the basis for the kitty-face leather-applique shoes I wrote about in “Copycat Kitty Shoes…That You Can Copy.”

I decided to embellish this pair with zippers. I am fascinated by big metal zippers. There’s something about the way the smooth surface of the fabric (called zipper tape) contrasts with the bite of the big metal teeth that fascinates me. A couple of years ago, when zippers first got popular on shoes, I wrote about how to make zipper embellishments like roses and spirals.

Zip it angled top view @ 72 dpi

This time I decided to leave the zipper tape flat and make it look as if the shoe were coming unzipped. I have lots of work-in-progress photos to show you, but they’ll make a lot more sense if I show you the finished shoe before we get started.

Here are the steps I took.

Unzipped 1 @ 72 dpi I placed a heavyweight zipper in different positions over the toe of my shoe. I tried unzipping it a little, a lot, and everything in between. I angled it in different ways. With each variation, I used drafting tape to hold it in place and stepped back to see how I liked it.

Unzipped 2 @ 72 dpi When I had it in a position I liked, I got a chalk marker (like the kind used in sewing) and marked the edges of the opening of the zipper, and the places where the zipper started and ended on both sides of the shoe.

Unzipped 3 @ 72 dpi I undid the tape and pulled the zipper off, revealing the V area that would appear to show when the zipper was “unzipped.”

Unzipped 4 @ 72 dpi Next I drew a larger V outside the lines of the first one. This was to mark the area I would paint. (I wanted to give myself a margin for error and not just paint the exact triangle that the zipper would reveal).

I painted that larger triangle with Lumiere in Pearlescent Blue, which created a nice gleaming contrast to the matte black of the shoe. Then, before doing anything else, I applied little dabs of Beacon 527 glue to the zipper on either side of the pull tab.(E6000 glue would have worked too.)  I didn’t want the zipper to move before I got it glued onto the shoe!

Now it was time to cut the zipper and glue it to the shoe. I used sharp scissors and snipped between the teeth. For gluing I decided to try some permanent double-sided adhesive tape I had been urged to experiment with. I cut strips and pressed them onto the zipper tape, then pressed the zipper onto the shoe. It held well.

Unzipped after side view @ 72 dpi Unzipped back @ 72 dpiAt this point, I decided to add another piece of zipper tape that would extend part way around the back of the shoe — I am always telling my students not to stop too soon when doing shoes, so I thought I should follow my own advice! I played with the positioning using drafting tape, then applied more adhesive tape and clamped the loose end to hold it in place until the adhesive set.

Great! I started wearing my shoes and collecting compliments. However, soon the ends of the zipper tape at the sole line started coming loose. I guess the repeated flexing of the sole and the dirt that accumulates down there was a little too much for the permanent adhesive tape. Back to the drawing board.

Unzipped right toe @ 72 dpi Unzipped left toe @ 72 dpiI got out my trusty tube of E6000, squeezed a dab on each troublesome zipper end, and “clamped” the ends in place using rubber bands. (E6000 works best if you let it set for 24 hours, preferably clamped.) After that, I had no more trouble with the tape coming loose, even after many many wearings.

Unzipped after @ 72 dpi That’s the story of the shoes I call “Unzipped.” I guess I’m glad Altered Couture rejected them — if they’d said yes, I would have had to ship my new shoes off to the editor and not gotten to wear them until they were returned many months later!

P.S. The permanent double-sided adhesive tape did work well everywhere else, just not where the zipper tape met the sole of the shoe.

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