Thursday, March 29, 2012

Clothing and Toms Repair

The no new clothing purchase thing has become a challenge (see what I did there?). This is because a). I love buying clothing and b.) all of my things seem to be wearing out. Take my jeans, for instance. I have 3 pairs of jeans that I can wear and they're all wearing out-- the pockets in the back, the knees, that thigh rub area-- you get the idea. My other pants are too large now. I mean, how does one alter corduroys?

I did find a nifty way to hem jeans* without losing the original seam around the bottom. That's the extent of my sewing successes so far. I tried to slim down a pair of pants and I ripped the seams out so many times I thought I was going to cry. Maybe I did cry.

And though a certain type of patching is socially acceptable, I don't think Jord and I would look classy with patches all over our pants. Who cares though, right?
He cares.

I obviously want this experiment to work but I'm willing to purchase new items if I need to. I did, however, have limited success repairing my Toms shoes. I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm a recovering slacktivist and I think the Toms model is seriously lacking, but I do love those shoes. I've had them for about 4 or 5 years and when we first moved here I wore them everywhere. Eventually the soles in both wore out and my left shoe developed a hole near the edge of my foot. I decided that instead of tossing them out or buying new ones I would repair the ones I have.
This is what they looked like.
It took some time, but I think it worked out okay.

First, I took them apart and washed them-- inserts and all. The upper soles are composed 3 layers: the top, thin leather layer; the bottom foam layer; a foam arch support thing. The leather is sewn to the foam and the arch is glued to both; all three are glued to the bottom of the shoe. I took care of the inserts first.

I used a seam ripper to separate the leather from the bottom layer-- I essentially tore one seam out and the thread pulled out on its own. I think this may have more to do with the fact that the shoes are old than with the manufacturing, but it took me less than a minute to undo both leather tops from the bottom layers of the soles. I repaired a tear in one of the bottom layers (it was torn so I did a quick whipstitch around the tear) and used both as a template. This is where things got murky. The bottom layer is made of a foam like material that is very stretchy. After years of wear these bottoms have molded to my foot, which meant that when they were flattened out they were bigger than the actual sole of the shoe. I didn't know this when I was making the new leather sole.

I have a bolt (?) of leather that my mom found for me at a thrift shop. I'm going to use it eventually to make a leather cover for my butterfly chair, but I have plenty extra to fool around with. I cut two pieces from the leather and fashioned a leather top for the sole. It's a little thicker than the tissue paper they use on the inside, but I think it will work out better in the long run. After regluing the arch support to the bottom of the sole I used my sewing machine to run along the outside of the leather to attach it to the foam bottom. 
The insert.

I followed the basic sewing pattern that the original makers used by following the marks in the foam (so it was foam side up when I sewed it). I then placed it in the shoe. It was too dang big.

I trimmed it little by little until it fit perfectly. Same thing happened on the other side. Eventually, I got them snug and tight.

I then took on the tear in the side. After patching it on the inside with a small canvas fabric scrap, I used a small piece of matching red fabric from the inside of the heel of the shoe to repair the hole. The heel fabric is not as thick as the canvas that makes up the rest of the upper, but it is the same color. It's also the only part that is double layered-- I could essentially cut out that piece without damaging the shoe in any visible way.
The replacement.

End game.
So that's it. In the end, they were a little more snug and looked a lot better. Not new, for sure, but better. Eventually the bottom will wear out and I'll get old tire treads and attach them and then repost. I know what my audience is begging for**.

*I essentially have a 17 inch inseam. Stumpies.


  1. To quote a line from my favorite movie, "Clever girl." (don't forget the British accent). xo

  2. This is impressive. I don't think I could have tackled a shoe repair. I did however step on a sewing needle barefoot a few days ago. Chad had to perform minor surgery. :)