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Bringing Back “Coupon Busters” One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time

bringing back coupon busters, one pair of shoeclips at a time, the artyologist

In one of the later season’s of Foyle’s War, (a British crime drama set in the 1940’s, which I highly recommend, by the way, if you enjoy murder mysteries and period wartime dramas) there was an episode where the character of Sam is seen discussing shoes with a coworker. Her coworker had recently purchased a pair of “coupon busters”, which were an ingenious pair of shoes that came with detachable heel covers and shoe clips. The heels and clips could transform the single pair of shoes into three different pairs, simply by removing the sensibly shaped heel cover, which made the shoe appropriate for office wear, to reveal the more sensuously curved heel which was perfect for evening. Adding a shoe clip to the toe created yet another fashionable look.

I don’t know if coupon busters were a real invention in wartime Britain, as a way for women to stretch their rationing coupons, allowing them to purchase one pair of shoes, instead of three separate pairs, or not. I couldn’t find any information about them at all. I think that coupon busters are rather a clever idea though, and it really is too bad that they are not being made today. Even though we don’t have to worry about rationing coupons today, I would love to be able to transform one pair of shoes into three, wouldn’t you?

Although a manufactured shoe like this is not readily available, there is, however, an easy way to transform the look of your shoes, and that is by wearing shoe clips. Shoe clips are one of those accessories that have wavered in and out of fashion throughout the years. Shoe buckles were very popular in the 18th century, not just for function, but fashion as well. In the 1950’s shoe clips rose in popularity with the invention of proper shoe clip hardware. My mom had shoe clips in the 1980’s, and I remember a few years ago they were a trend again. However, they are not a common thing to see for the most part. I really don’t know why, as they are so fun and versatile, and can transform your shoes into a completely new look. I personally think they make your shoes look like “princess shoes”- don’t princesses always seem to have big bows and what-have-you on the toes of their shoes?

I have been wanting to find shoe clips for years, at least five years now, as I got these coral flower decorations with the express intent of attaching them to shoe clips. However, apparently shoe clip hardware is an impossible thing to want, and I could never find any for sale. I put the flowers aside and forgot about them, until recently, when I found them again in my craft stash, and got the idea to look online to see if shoe clip hardware was available. Sure enough, on Amazon I found a pack of ten pairs of clips! Score! I immediately pulled out the flowers, and set to work creating several different pairs of shoe clips. I mean, I do have ten sets of clips now, so I can make a lot of pairs of shoe clips. At this rate, I’ll never have to wear the same pair of shoes again! 😉

I thought that since shoe clips are such a versatile accessory to change up the look of your shoe, I would demonstrate with two pairs of shoes. Shoe clips work best on open, classic style shoes that don’t already have too many details, straps or embellishments, and they work equally well on heeled or flat shoes. Here you can see how shoe clips transform the look of the shoes and lend themselves well to any occasion.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, Navy shoes, no clips

First up are these navy peep toe pumps. I wear these shoes a lot as navy is such a versatile colour, and this pair is so comfortable. They are a plain and serviceable shoe, so you’ll see how much they change just by adding some clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps- princess pompoms, the artyologist

Round pom-pom flowers turn these into statement shoes. These are Cinderella shoes for sure- don’t they look like something the Disney princess would wear?

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps, sparkly brown clips, the artyologist

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps, green clip ons, the artyologist

Did you know you can also use clip-on earrings as shoe clips? You have to be careful with which ones you use- I have some pairs which have too weak of a clasp, or come up too high above the edge of the shoe, but some pairs clip on rather nicely to add some sparkle. Both of these, the brown and the green are clip-on earrings I seldom wear, but I think they work rather nicely to dress up the shoes. Clip-on earrings are also much easier to find than proper shoe clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, navy silver clips, the artyologist

These are true shoe clips which I found at an antique sale. They add just the right amount of sweetness, sparkle and vintage flair. Vintage stores and sales can be a good place to look to find real shoe clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black no clips

Now here are my black pumps: they have a band across the toe which has sparkly gems on it, but you’ll see that they still work rather well with shoe clips, because of the open shape of the shoe.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, coral clips

Here are the coral coloured flowers. I absolutely love the shape of these as they are very “princessey” too. Unfortunately I have very few clothes that go well with the colour, so that is definitely something I’ll have to change!

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black bows

I think that bows work really well for a vintage look. Bows were a very popular shoe decoration in the 1940’s, and they have a very classic look about them. Bows that are the same colour as the shoe, work very well for daywear as they look like part of the shoe.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, yellow flowers

The last set of shoe clips are these ribbon flowers I made. They add a nice splash of colour, yet are small enough to be discreet.

And case you would like to make some shoe clips for yourself, here is how:

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, making your own shoeclips

I used a pre-made flower for these, but some of the others I made from scratch. Attach your decoration to a felt disk, either by sewing or gluing it on. Once it is attached, you can then sew your shoe clip onto the felt. Attach it near the top of the disk, so the decoration will sit lower on the shoe. Clip them onto your shoes and enjoy! I got my shoe clip hardware off of Amazon- if you search “shoe clip blank” it should bring some up for you. I am sure there are other places that sell shoe clip blanks as well, I just purchased them from Amazon because I live in a rural area which apparently doesn’t see much demand for shoe clips and the stores didn’t carry them! 🙂

One note of caution I do have, is that depending on the material of your shoe, metal clips may leave indentations or marks. If you have soft leather, or suede like I do, you may want to put some kind of “padding’ in between the clip and the shoe to keep it from getting ruined.

So, have you ever worn shoe clips? What do you think of them? And, would you want a pair of “coupon busters”?

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, shoeclips assorted

How to Create a Modern 1920’s Makeup Look

Lipstick:  Mary Kay, True Dimensions (I was not happy with this product either, and have since returned the lipstick.)
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One other note: I was not sponsored in any way for the making of this post (although that would have been nice!) These are all products I have purchased myself, and use daily 🙂 Except for the ones that I didn’t like. 🙁 -Nicole

The Reveal: Refashioners 2016 & Gertie’s Butterick 5882

The Big Reveal: Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick 8882, the artyologist

Hooray! I didn’t wait until the last possible moment to finish up my entry for The Refashioner’s 2016. This is a record, I think. I was fully expecting myself to leave it to the last week, (day? hour?) but I actually finished this project up last Wednesday- with a full week and a half to spare! (Let’s just overlook the fact that it took me 8 weeks to get the project done, even though it actually only took three afternoons of sewing to construct it. . . hehe.)

When I first heard about the Refashioners 2016 challenge at the beginning of August, I was intrigued, but also a bit apprehensive. I am not a denim girl. I used to wear blue jeans all the time, but in the last few years, they haven’t found much of a place in my wardrobe. Not that I hate denim, I just don’t seem drawn to it as much as I used to be. I did at one point have a pair of skinnies that I liked to pair with my fur coat as it made me feel rather hip 😉 but they have worn out now, and the only other pair are designated for painting and other messy home renovation projects (designated as such, because they are covered in paint). So, even though I loved the idea of taking part in the challenge- I had to think seriously about what I could make that I would actually want to wear after I made it- and I came up with the answer: a retro styled bustier/playsuit top. (And just in time to put it away for winter too! What ridiculous timing. . . )

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, second view, the artyologist

So, in case you are here only to see the details, here they are first, and then I will continue after this to ramble on about how I made it, what mistakes I made (what? mistakes!?), and whether I will make it again. Oh, and show you a billion more photos too.

The Low Down:

  • Butterick Patterns by Gertie 5882 bodice pattern
  • Dark denim bodice made out of the bottom cutoffs of my sister’s old jeans
  • Light denim pleated inset made out of the back piece of the pant legs of my brother’s ripped jeans
  • Floral lining made out of a remnant from a past project
  • Boning leftover from a past project
  • A recycled vintage zipper from the stash
  • Thread we already owned
  • Cost= $0.00, since everything was from the stash!

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, details, the artyologist

My inspiration, and details that I wanted to include in the final project:

  • A winged “collar” or any other bust detail for interest
  • 1″ crisscrossed or straight straps. No halter straps as I find they give me headaches 🙁
  • Ideally, I wanted to make the top out of patterned or coloured denim, or utilize two different washes of blue denim for contrast and interest
  • I thought about using topstitching or preserving some of the flatfelled seams, but it ended up coming across as “biker chick” rather than “vintage girl”
  • I was nervous about sewing with a stretch denim, but decided to do it so the top would be more comfortable for hot summer days (note that this pattern is designed for woven, but I was able to sew the stretch just fine. I also cut my lining on the bias, so that it would have some stretch too.)
  • I wanted to try out an exposed zipper, since I was planning on a centre back zipper anyways. Now that the exposed zipper trend is now. . .  you know. . . going out of style and all that. I’ve never been one for following the trends anyways 😉
  • In the spirit of the challenge, I wanted it to be made out of all recycled or remnant materials

inspiration for playsuit top the artyologist

photo source: 1, 2, 3 (my Grandma’s wedding dress) & 4

I have seen several fitted bodice tops like this before, such as this one from Deadly Dames, and I really like them, as they are an easy summer option to pair perfectly with 1950’s style skirts. My original plan was to take a tried-and-true dress pattern that I have, bone it, and then add a collar flip to the top neckline. This was a popular style of bodice in the 1950’s, as I have seen several patterns utilize a detail like that, and even my Grandma’s wedding dress from the 1950’s has a collar flip like that. The Sweetheart Sundress pattern from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing uses this detail as well. I’ve always liked this style, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. Well, as you can see from the finished garment, I obviously didn’t end up sticking with that plan, and here’s why.

first-try_edited-1

Left: the failed first try. Right: so many different colours in one pair of jeans!

I started with an old faded pair of stretch jeans from my sister, (just to test things out first) cut out the pattern, sewed it up, tried it on, and then decided that it just didn’t have enough structure (as I was planning to wear this without any other underpinnings). It just felt like the bodice was the wrong shape, even with the addition of boning, and I thought that I would always feel slightly uncomfortable wearing it. I also wasn’t happy with the shape of the top neckline. After fiddling with it for a while, I decided to change plans. (Which is not unheard of during my sewing projects!)

pattern-and-materials

Top: The cutoffs, lining and zipper. Right: I don’t think anyone minded me cutting these jeans up. Used for the inset bust detail. Right: Butterick 5882 pattern

The other option I had run across when deciding what to make for the challenge, was the bodice of Gertie’s Butterick 5882 pattern. I had not used this pattern before, but have wanted to for a while. We got it when it first came out which was. . . a few years ago, and there it was still waiting in the pattern drawer. This was the perfect project to try the pattern out on, and get all of the potential fitting issues out of the way, before I committed to making the dress out of a more expensive material. I am happy to say that we did manage to get the majority of the fitting issues out of the way, so next time should be a breeze. Also, it was an exciting pattern to make, as it was my first time using boning, sewing a shelf bust style, and sewing with a heavier denim material.

cutting-out-and-too-much-ease

Left: Pattern placement on the denim cutoffs- perfect amount of material! Right: A bit too much ease I would say. . .

I chose to cut out the pattern at a size 16, as I thought it would be better to cut it out one size too big, as a test run, than a size too small. However, when I basted the seams up and tried it on . . . there was a lot of ease. I could’ve omitted the two back pieces and it still would have fit. So, I cut the pieces down to a size 12, which fit much better, though I did still end up taking some material out of the centre front pieces, the sides and the back to get better fit. I also sewed the front seams with a curve as pictured (below) for a nice smooth front. Also note, since this was a refashioning project and I was working with limited material, I cut the centre front piece as two separate pieces, and seamed it up the front.

boning

Top: I curved the front seams in a little bit, for a closer fit. Bottom: The boning sewn into place on the lining.

Once we had gotten the majority of the bodice fitting down, the rest of the top went together pretty straightforwardly. The boning went in much easier than I was anticipating. I don’t know what I was anticipating, but I was expecting it to be hard, I guess. The kind of boning I used had a pre-sewn channel which was nice. Considering how nice of a fit, and the structure that the boning created, I am now hooked and thinking of all the other projects I can bone! I now see why so many vintage patterns use boning- it just makes a really nice structured bodice, eliminates crumpling and fits really well.

seams

Left: The ill fated seam of doom. I sewed it wrong, but it was also very thick! There were a lot of layers of denim in that seam. Right: You can see the exposed raw edge a bit in this picture (right where the strap meets the front). It is covered from the right side by the strap. Bottom: Sewing the strap down covered up the problem.

The bra pieces went together nicely, with no problems there, but are you ready for the mistake I mentioned? 🙁 I lost track of where my notches were, and accidentally trimmed the seams, so when I sewed the front pleated bra pieces on to the bodice bottom, I placed them too close to the edge, which meant that the raw edges couldn’t be completely encased in the lining seam. At this point though (it was several steps down the road when I realized the mistake and I had already graded the seams) I was not about to take it apart again and move them in. So, instead, to save the situation, I just flipped the straps down instead of twisting them like the pattern calls for. I don’t mind the look, even though it did widen out the neckline more than originally planned. I have seen these bustier tops with every kind of strap under the sun, though, so no one will even notice. Right? I also stitched the straps down all around the front, underneath the inset too, as it kept trying to flip up. I also decided to criss cross the straps across the back, so that I will not have a problem with them slipping off my shoulders.

zipper

Top Left: Removing the teeth from the zipper (sounds painful!) Top Right: The correct length. Bottom Left: Sewing in the zipper. Bottom Right: Slipstitching the lining over the raw edges of the back zipper seam.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I wanted to include an exposed zipper up the back. My criteria for a zipper was one that had brass teeth, as I think that it suits the denim better than a silver zipper would. (And I’m not much of a silver girl anyways.) I originally was going to purchase a navy, separating zipper with brass teeth, since we didn’t already have one that was the correct colour. But apparently, a navy zipper with brass teeth is an impossible thing to want. So, all options exhausted, I looked through the stash again, and found this lovely aged one that came from who knows where. Originally it had been rejected, since it is khaki not navy, but then I decided that it would work fine, and would be even better than purchasing a new zipper as it would keep in the spirit of recycling and reusing. It was too long, but I simply removed some of the teeth with pliers, reinserted the zipper stop, and cut it to size and it works perfectly. Once the zipper was sewn in- I was done! And then I had to wait a few days to take these pictures, because it decided to be fall time all of a sudden.

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, back view, the artyologist

So, would I make this pattern again? Yes! In fact, my original plan for the refashion was to not use blue denim at all, but to use a tan and cream, polka dot pair of jeans I found at the thrift store. However, once I had had the one detour along the way, I decided to continue making the top out of the old denim scraps, instead of cutting into the other pair. That way I could work out any kinks along the way, and then when I cut into the polka dot pair, I can avoid the mistakes of the first trial run. So basically, this denim one is a wearable muslin, and the polka dot one is going to be the next project! Also, I like how this pattern goes together, and fits, so I am planning on making it at some point as a dress, as it was originally designed to be 🙂

So, in conclusion, I am really glad that I found out about the Refashioners 2016 challenge in time to take part this year. I liked the challenge of using a material I would normally not be drawn to, and finding a way around those limitations to end up with a garment that I like- and I do really like how this top turned out. It is completely different than anything I have in my wardrobe, and after looking at it for a while- maybe I am more of a denim girl than I thought I was at first!

So did any of you participate in the Refashioners 2016 Challenge? Or, even if you didn’t take part in the contest, have you ever refashioned something into something completely different? And, what are your thoughts towards denim? Is denim something you are drawn to, or like me, would it take a bit of convincing to make it a part of your wardrobe?

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick,zipper detail, the artyologist

Complimentary windy weather petticoat

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, another portrait, the artyologist

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, bust detail, the artyologist

A very awkward photograph. . .

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, back detail, the artyologist

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, full outfit, the artyologist

Chronically Vintage Guest Post Today

Chronically Vintage Guest Post Today, the artyologist

Hello everyone, as I mentioned on Friday, I am guest posting today for Jessica of Chronically Vintage, while she is on holidays (in my own delightful province of Alberta!) I have been following Jessica’s wonderful blog for a few years now, so I was very excited when she asked to do write a guest post for her. Today, I am sharing a before and after, of how I made this ugly little felt hat I picked up back in April, into a Philip Treacy inspired flower topped hat. So, hop on over to Chronically Vintage to see more pictures, a tutorial for how I made this chiffon flower, and inspiration for embellishing your own thrift finds! (And take a look through her blog while you are at if, if you don’t follow her already!) 🙂