Regency Ball Ensemble, Post #1: Shoes!!

My work on the Tree Gown has been neglected much of November because of something that came up.  In late October a friend alerted me to a program being run by our local library system for the month of November commemorating the bicentennial Pride & Prejudice’s first publication.  There were events scattered throughout the month (that I didn’t make it to), culminating in Regency Ball the evening of November 30th!  There is also a dance workshop happening for it earlier the same day.  I signed up for both!  The Ball is being held at City Hall.  The building dates from the 1840s, but I’m willing to let that slide ;o)

[photo of Kingston City Hall]
This is the room the Ball will be held in:
red boot festival
So, long story short, this impending event meant that I decided I needed a Regency Ball ensemble.  The Regency dress I already have just wasn’t gonna cut it.  I’m betting hardly anyone else would notice too much, but it felt like too good an opportunity to pass up.
I’ve ended up making not only a Ballgown but a whole ensemble including a turban (for the period-hair-impaired such as myself), trimming a pair of shoes, a matching cloak, a fur muff, and we’ll see if a reticule happens in time.
I’m starting posts on all this with the shoes.  This may seem a bit odd – why aren’t I starting with the gown, right?  It’s because the shoes happen to work as a late entry for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #23: Generosity & Gratitude.  The aim of this challenge was to make something using or inspired by tutorials, research, patterns that have been made freely available by generous members of the wider costuming community.
My shoes for the Ball fit well with this challenge as the whole reason I thought to do them up was inspired by one of American Duchess’ tutorials: How to Decorate Pemberly Shoes Like it’s 1789 
I had no shoes at home that would look any way decent with my gown, so I took myself off to Value Village and very luckily found a pair of white, low-heel leather shoes with a slightly pointed toe that fit.  As you will see, the heel on them is all wrong for the period, but close enough for me for now!  Apart from the heel they look a lot like the Pemberly shoe, which sadly seems to have been discontinued?
Aside from not painting my shoes I followed the tutorial fairly closely and even got my first glue pen to do it with!
I’ll start off with the required specs for the HSF Challenge:
Challenge: #23: Generosity & Gratitude

Year: ummm….1789 does Regency?

Pattern: American Duchess tutorial

Supplies: 1 pr of white leather low-heel shoes; 1 yd each of 3/8″ and 5/8″ petersham ribbon; approx. 1.5 yd/m of vintage satin ribbon (used matte side up)

Historical Accuracy: Oh Lord, is there really any?  I’ll be generous and give myself 50%

Hours to complete: maybe 2hrs

Total cost: $10 for the shoes, about $5 for the ribbon, $5 for the glue pen = $20

First worn: Not yet, but to Regency dance the night away this Saturday (Nov 30)!

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I ordered this pretty pale blue petersham ribbon from Britex, 1 yd each of 3/8″ and 5/8″ (they didn’t have 1/2″).  This is actually the reason the shoes are a late entry for the challenge.  I thought up doing the shoes and actually acquired them before the deadline, but had to wait for the ribbon to arrive.
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I pressed the wider ribbon in half lengthwise to make it easier to get it even around the top edge of the shoes.
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The main thing I did differently from the tutorial was use glue tape to adhere the ribbon to the outside of the shoe.  Around the top edge I glued the to the inside first, as per the directions, and noticed that the glue pen was leaving marks in some spots.  I had used the glue tape to adhere the narrow ribbon to the shoes’ seams before I managed to get the glue pen and it seemed to work ok, so I tried it on the outer edge of the wider ribbon and that seems to be working well too – and no spots of any kind!
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For the frou-frou pleated ruffle detail I took a piece of vintage rayon (or acetate?) satin ribbon I had in the stash and cartridge pleated/gathered it as tightly as I could.  I then pressed it while folded all up (so fiddly, ugh) to get it into crisp, if not totally tidy, little pleats.  I used it matte side up to look a little more period plausible.  I used a combination of glue tape and hot glue to adhere these to the shoes.
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They’re certainly not perfect, but I’m very happy with how they turned considering this was a first try and with Value Village shoes.  My feet feel perfectly ready for my upcoming evening of Regency dancing!  Thank you so much Lauren of American Duchess for helping me have pretty, pretty dancing shoes!
If all goes well, I expect this is how they’ll look at the end of the Ball ;o)
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10 thoughts on “Regency Ball Ensemble, Post #1: Shoes!!

  1. These are fantastic!!!! I’m so impressed that you are making a whole ensemble. I’m just glad that my dress will be done in time! I too hoped to have time to make a reticule. That doesn’t look like its going to happen! Oh well! I can’t wait to see the rest of your ensemble!

    • Thanks so much! Now that I’ve been to the ball (posts to come) they don’t look so immaculate and neat anymore! They definitely show how much fun I had! I think I’m going to get a stock of the ribbon I used for replacement and there will need to be some cleaning. But it was totally worth it!

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