Handmaker's Factory

These Boots Were Made for Walking

Hello, my name is Lynn and I’m a shoe-aholic.

It all started with my red patent leather go-go boots. When I zipped them up, the leather hugging my prepubescent calves, I felt like the Goldie Hawn of my 5th grade class (sans the rockin’ body, but hey, I was ten!)

You always remember your first.

Forty years later my love affair with shoes has not faded and my calves look amazing in a five inch heel, thank you very much. However, I am trying to be environmentally conscious AND I am in the process of downsizing so I am mindful of what I buy (and keep). I could spend the rest of my life in the same pair of jeans but the same pair of shoes – I don’t think so. One pair cannot possibly convey the many facets of my personality. Casual and sporty me wants cute and comfortable athletic shoes while sex kitten me wants va-va-voom (did I mention how great my calves look in five inch heels?) How was I going to solve this battle between my inner fashionista and granola-loving environmentalist (not to mention my shrunken closet space)?

I remember back in the 90's, you could buy preppy little bows to clip onto your shoes to spice up those awful generic office heels that we (those of us old enough to have lived through the “Dynasty” era)  were forced to wear with our big shouldered power suits. I actually think it's a good idea (clip ons, not shoulder pads...) and it reminded me of a pattern I did for the book “Not Your Mama’s Knitting – The Cool and Creative Way to Pick up Sticks” by Heather Dixon. It's a knitted metal anklet to wear around a boot. Why not make jewelry for your shoes to transform them for different outfits?

The key is to start with a basic (i.e. timeless) style and color. Something with straps is good. I chose a pair of bronze colored sandals that I rescued from my garage sale pile.  On their own, they're a little boring but the circular design makes them a perfect candidate for embellishment.

This is an excellent project to use up those scraps, costume jewelry, leather, feathers, beads and buttons. Take some feathers and a rhinestone studded button and you have instant glamour.  Or sew up a fabric flower. Use one for understated elegance or add a whole bouquet if you want something over-the-top. Looking for something more refined?  How about crocheting around a bone ring and adding beads?  Leather scraps can be made into tassels.  Or you could cut out geometric shapes and embellish them with grommets and chains. The key is to make these detachable. Depending on the design, you can tie them on, use jewelry clasps, earring clips, safety pins, buttons or snaps.

For variation number 1 I chose a colorul fabric for a flower and covered a button with a bright turquoise scrap for the center. I covered the back (and all the ugly bits) with a piece of leather and attached a clip.


For variation number 2, I made a traditional Irish rose motif using crochet cotton that had a metallic gold thread running through it. Again I used a button for the center and and finished it off with a bias band strap and a snap. What can I say, I'm partial to flowers but the monochromatic color scheme and texture of the crochet creates a totally different look from the vibrant fabric flower.


Variation number 3 is a work in progress. I went through my jewelry supplies and found an old bracelet that had lost some of its stones. I took it apart and have been playing with ways I could arrange the pieces. I wish it was a bigger bracelet because I love clustering four of the beads in the center of the shoe but I only have six that are intact and I would need eight. But I have to remember that constraints like this often breed the best designs so I'll continue to play around with it. 

I doubt if I could ever live with only one (two, three or five) pair(s) of shoe(s), but by sticking to neutral colors and timeless designs, a little imagination and some scraps can turn one pair into a whole wardrobe that will satisfy both my style-minded and eco-conscious sides.

Now if I could only find a way to deal with my obsession with tote bags…


Lynn Burdick is a designer, author and Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach who loves the thrill of the (thrift store) hunt. When she isn't playing with yarn/fabric or helping others follow their bliss, she can be found jogging, cooking, drawing, reading, dreaming of her own garden or plotting her next adventure. You can learn more about her at www.LynnBurdick.com.