28 September 2014

Be yourself: don't let others decide who you are

I remember when I was about 10 years old or so I was at a friend's sleepover party and a girl I had never met until that night told me at some point in the evening, 
When I first saw you, I thought you were a geek.
I didn't really think much of it and made a joke about how could I possibly be a geek, and that they wore big ugly glasses or something like that and continued on with the festivities.

Later my friend pulled me aside and told me,
I thought that was really mean what she said. About you being a geek. She can say mean things sometimes. 
She meant it as a really nice, sweet caring thing to say, to show that she was on my side.

But it was at that moment that I realized that I might not be ok just being me,that maybe people wouldn't like me if I was just me. Maybe that girl really did think I was a geek. Maybe she had intended to make fun of me. Maybe I was not good enough if I was just being myself. Maybe I was no good at all. This memory has stuck with me all these years and I can still picture it happening, how I was hiding behind the door giggling when this girl arrived, where I was in the house when my friend was telling me about what she thought about what that girl said. I think I lost some of myself that day. I lost my carefree freedom you feel as a child. I lost some of my essence. I had to be someone else. Someone better.

I want to claim this childhood innocence back. I want to be me again. I want to know that maybe as long as I aim to be a good, honest, trustworthy and honorable person, that I am ok just being me. If I stand up for what is right. It doesn't matter if I don't fit into the box people expect me to live inside of. I can't be perfect, no one can. But I can be me.

Something my grandma said to me last week really brought it together for me. She was saying how happy she was to see me and how she was sorry she wasn't so good at calling or texting or writing as she would like, and I said, "That's ok I'm not very good at that keeping in touch either."

And she said,
I know Amy, I know you. and thats ok, because we are together now and we can enjoy this time now and know we are thinking about each other and that we love each other no matter where we are or what we are up to.
And I think I have made a lot of people mad at me at various times because I am not very good about calling back or texting or emailing. I suck at it. I try, but it just isn't natural for me to keep up on stuff like that. I know its important, but I just can't do it consistently. But my grandma called me out on it and said, I know that you are no good at it, but I accept you anyways. Granted, it is probably easier for her to understand since she has the same struggle, but she accepts that that is who I am and that it doesn't mean I am a bad person, but just that I have a weakness and that is ok. It doesn't mean I don't still try to get better and keep up on it, just means I am not a complete failure just because I am not perfect.

If I do ever get around to writing a letter, I give it 110%. It is probably 3 pages long, and has cramped writing at the end to fit it all. If I do text someone, it means I am not in the middle of work or a conversation with someone else, and that I am committed to talking with the person I am texting for as long as I can.

But this is not about excuses or explanation, or justifications. And this isn't about my ability to write letters or make phone calls. It isn't about wearing the wrong outfit, being too shy at the party, or making a mistake at work. This is about every one of these fears I have had about what box people are putting me into since I was 10 years old and realized that boxes existed and that they weren't always good. Boxes that made me ugly, boring, stupid or incompetent.

This is about acceptance. If I forget and I mess up and I fail completely, the sun will still rise and set, and I am still me and that is ok. Maybe I am a geek. Maybe it doesn't matter. This is a box someone else is placing me into. They can try to put me there, but I can only be there in their mind. I can just hop out of the box and continue on my way, just being me. I have lived embarrassed and ashamed and fearful of others opinions for far too long. 

Living in other people's boxes, conforming to what they want you to be, is turning yourself into a robot. You are simply following programs others set out for you. You don't work well this way. You will either die and become a robot, or you will eat away at yourself until there is nothing left of you. You will grow to hate you. Whenever I fall into the trap of someone else's box, I don't feel good. I hate myself. I judge myself. I should have been better, I should have been smarter. I hurt myself and everyone around me when I get this way. I can't get better or change because I am fixated on my failure. Regain your identity.

STOP FEAR. BE YOU. You may surprise yourself.

17 September 2014

Regency Style Jane Austin Turn Shoes Project

Tried something a little different, let me know what you think!
Just a little visual tutorial on some pretty simple regency era turn shoes. I haven't had time to take pictures of the real deal, and this sounded like a fun project, so I decided to work on it :) If you are getting confused, here is a link to my Blue Lace ballet flats tutorial, and for a good start on a shoe patten, this tutorial I made would work marvelously!!


12 September 2014

Adding a sole to your shoe! (Leather Sole)

Hey guys I have to share with you the coolest thing I have just learned! I learned how to make a channel in a leather sole to attach it securely without fear of ruining the stitches by walking on them, and not having to do crazy extra amounts of sewing a welt and all that stuff.

I didn't intend to make cool legit awesome soles for my moccasins. I was content to keep the thin vegetable tanned soles I had glued on simply as a slightly stronger protection from the outside ground, side walks and the like. I had wanted more-so to protect the super soft deerskin of my shoes than to protect my feet. I was going for a natural as traditional as possible style with these shoes.

Unfortunately the dang sole kept coming unglued. Annoying, but I was committed to keeping the protection to my soles so I just glued them back on every once in a while.  It seemed though, like every time it rained, the soles came unstuck again.

Then disaster struck! I was walking around in the dew covered grass at my in-laws and got my precious shoes wet! No matter! I hung them on a branch to dry, and left them out in the sunshine. When I returned I realized that one of them had blown down from the tree and found its way to Shep's lair!!!!! (Shep is the dog) He had managed to make a pretty good slice in the back heel on the left side. :(

I decided to add another piece of leather to patch the ends. Sort of ruining my official moccasin look, but oh well, maybe I could attach a decent sole while I was at it. Here is the patch. I made it the shape that a lot of shoes are on the back for heel support reasons, and while the support I needed was more just for the patching, I figured it would look a little prettier this way and maybe have some nice heel support while I was at it.

After looking into it on one of my favorite shoemaking blogs, Bespoke Shoes Unlaced, I came across this awesome article! I didn't go all out creating a welt and such, since I really just wanted a sole and wasn't ready to dive into all the intricacies of a handmade Goodyear welt type sole, but I decided to try the channel idea out for fun.

The basic idea of a channel is to create a space where the stitches can lie that will not be directly touching the ground while walking. This creates more durability in the long run because the stitches will not wear through and break. I made a simple diagram that hopefully illustrates what I was trying to accomplish.

Hopefully this illustrates the concept fairly simply. I started out by gluing the insole and sole to the shoe and letting it dry. I wanted those piece to stay where they were at while I was sewing them to the shoe.

The next step is to mark out and cut the channel. I didn't take a picture of marking the line, but basically I used a pointy object to press enough of a line into the leather so that I could see when I cut. I tried to make the line as close as possible to the edge of the sole. I used a fresh blade when making the cut to ensure a sharp clean easy cut. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be actually. I think the key is, super sharp knife, and even pressure while cutting.

Using a flat-ish object (like a flat-head screwdriver) pull the slice you made open a little to expose the area for stitching.

Next, use an awl to make holes through all layers of the sole, insole, and upper and stitch using a running stitch. Make sure the holes you make are plenty big, the cut leather slice will cover the stitches up later making the whole thing fairly waterproof, so larger holes are ok!

Once the soles are stitched all the way around, tie a good knot between the insole and the main part of the shoe (uppers) so that the knot isn't exposed to anything that could make it untie. Use a good tight square knot.

Then use a semi blunt object to rub the stitches to make sure they are all laying flat in the channel. I used a knitting needle because I had one laying around, but the official suggestion from the bespoke shoes unlaced blog is to use a deer bone. This is to make sure there is no
ridge along the channel  when you put it back together.

Using a paintbrush, paint contact cement into the channel and wait about 10 minutes or until it is tacky. Then, using a hammer, rub the lifted leather back into the space where it was before you cut it. When everything is relatively smooth, hammer the sole along the edges and across the entirely of the sole. This will both smash the cut channel back into place and compress the leather making it much more durable over time. If you can, place it against a hard surface so you can hammer pretty hard. However, you don't want to hammer dents into the leather either, so if you make any, try to hammer around the area to smooth it back out again, and proceed a little more gently.

About half way through hammering. See how the channel is flat, but could use a bit more flattening!

Let dry and now you have a beautiful, watertight sole that will last many miles of walking! The beauty of a leather sole is not only is it breathable, but it also will conform to the shape of your foot after a few wears, creating a custom fit!

Note: The soles are only as waterproof as the leather is. If you are walking out in the rain for an extended period of time, the leather will get wet and make your feet slightly damp. But it shouldn't leak thorugh the stitches if you have adequately glued the channel back into place. I walked through a river-like puddle flowing through the HyVee parking lot earlier this week, however, and the only part that seemed to get wet was the tops from the raindrops, so I think it will resist a lot of water!

Happy shoemaking!!

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