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Getting historically-appropriate shoes for any era can be tricky without spending a whole load of money.
Fortunately, the Regency era is quite forgiving as you can wear inexpensive ballet flats and get the right look for the era. However, if you want to give your shoes an extra bit of period-appropriate flair, this tutorial will demonstrate a way to elevate your Regency shoes to make them look more historical.
The Regency era fashions were inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome, so when you look at pictures like this one and think of the sandals worn at those times, you can see where the inspiration comes from! There's also the added bonus that (if you have silly feet like mine) the extra ribbon will help keep the flats on your feet, especially if you're doing something energetic like dancing.
You will need:
7mm ribbon in matching colour
Various sewing supplies (matching thread, needle, pins)
1. Source some ballet flats
Find some simple pumps with as little decoration as possible. If they have a small bow or accessory on the front you may be able to take it off and replace it with something more era-appropriate, like a cockade.
You can buy any colour that matches your outfit, so have fun with it! You can also purchase white ones and dye them, or paint them with pretty designs.
I sourced mine from primark- I try to purchase as little as possible from fast fashion companies nowadays, but my first pair of shoes I did this to are from… five years ago? And they’re only just starting to wear out, so the fashion is actually quite sluggish! They also only cost £4 and have no additional decoration, only a small cord around the binding which looks appropriate for the period anyway.
2. Mark out fastening placement
Using straight pins mark out the placement of your ribbon loops. I'm doing four, two on either side of the shoe, but you can play around with this if you want.
I have UK size 4 feet and marked out, from the shoe opening, 3.5cm and 6.5cm. If you have different sized feet you may want to space these out differently.
3. Construct x4 ribbon loops
Using your ribbon, you can either tie a small knot or construct a loop. The knot is easier to sew and will possibly last longer, but you'll also be able to feel them poke into the soles of your feet, so I'm constructing loops for mine!
I cut lengths of 5cm and wrapped it around itself, then stitched it separately before attaching it to the shoe.
For my previous pair of shoes I made the loops from cord, so that's also an option if you don’t want to use ribbon.
4. Sew ribbon loops to shoes
With the pins as your guide, you can sew the ribbon loops to the shoe.
Sew them quite close to the sole of the shoe so they won't be visible when you're wearing the shoe- the added bonus of this is that you can remove the ribbon if you just want plain flats again!
Go through all layers of the shoe with your stitches. If your thread matches quite well and the stitches are small then they shouldn’t be visible. I stitched over the loops three or four times just to make sure they were extra secure as these will be the parts under the most strain.
(Can you see the stitches?)
5. Cut ribbon fastening
Cut a length of ribbon 150cm long. Tie a small knot at either end or the ribbon will unravel (I speak from experience!). Thread the ribbon through the ribbon loops.
Tighten the ribbon over your foot, then cross them over and wrap around your ankle (careful not to be too tight) for the perfect Regency look! Now you can float your way across the dance floor and curtesy to your hearts content.
Have you tried out this tutorial? If you have please do let me know, and send me pics! Are there any other tutorials you’d like to see?
Until next time,