DIY: The Very Hungry Caterpillar espadrilles

We've not had much of a summer in London, so I was in two minds whether to bother making some espadrilles. After all, give it another few weeks and I'll probably be buying my Autumn boots...* But, since I still have my summer holiday to go on, I decided I would. Here's how I got on making my very own pair of espadrilles:

Cost of materials:
£10.52 (plus £2.79 postage) for Prym espadrille soles, sand-coloured yarn, white lining fabric and pins from Knit and Sew (Amazon)
£1.54 (free postage) for darning needles from Lakeside Needlecraft (Amazon)
£2.55 (99p postage) for The Very Hungry Caterpillar (TVHC) fabric from eBay
£3.66 - see "Making the espadrilles" below for what this cost was and why!

= £22.05 (I already owned green and white cotton, and a tape measure.)

Yes, in all honesty it is a *lot* cheaper to buy a pair of espadrilles... but where's the fun in that? (And you can't get TVHC ones, I've already checked!)

I shopped around to make sure that I got the cheapest prices - the soles, for example, cost £10.95 in John Lewis, but I got my soles, yarn, lining fabric and pins for less than that! Do shop around or these will probably cost you more than they are worth.

Making the espadrilles:
I had two issues straight away. First up, the Prym espadrille soles were supposed to come with the pattern and whilst that's true for the toe piece, I was missing the back pattern. Thankfully I spotted a QR code on the pattern I did have - a quick scan of that and I had the other pattern, which I then printed off. Hurrah!

Secondly, I didn't realise that I would need to sew together my base fabric and my TVHC fabric to ensure that I had a sturdy enough material to actually be able to wear my espadrilles. As I don't have a sewing machine and didn't want to do this by hand, I  bought some iron-on adhesive. This bumped up my costs but it did save me a lot of time and effort and I've got quite a bit left over. Those issues resolved, I apprehensively sat down to make some espadrilles!

First up, I cut out the patterns, but added a 1cm border around each pattern (on the recommendation of a few blogs that I'd read). For the toe section this worked out quite easy as the pattern shows various shoe sizes and there was naturally a 1cm gap between size 5 (my shoe size) and size 8 - I could just use the pattern as it came! I then used the toe pattern to cut out x2 TVHC toes, x2 white lining pieces and x2 toe-sized iron-on adhesive pieces.

I'll admit something here, it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes just to cut out the toe pieces and get the two fabrics bonded together. At this point I wanted to give up. I'd had an issue cutting out the material as my scissors were ordinary scissors and the first toe section I cut out was very jagged. I debated whether to order some dressmaking scissors to continue (more expense!) but then decided to sharpen my scissors which, thankfully, made it much easier.

Now I knew what I was doing (and had sharpened scissors), it took me 35 minutes to cut out the back pieces, and then it was time to pin the pieces to the Prym espadrille soles. Only then did I realise that the material sat too high up on my foot, so I chopped off 1cm off around the top of the back piece - I didn't need that recommended 1cm border on that piece then - and I also trimmed the edges of my toe pieces to get a smoother finish.

It took me 15 minutes to pin and sew a back piece on to its sole, which lured me into a false notion of timings... that's because it then took me an hour to pin and sew the toe piece on and to close up the sides (where the two pieces meet). Sounds like one espadrille down and on to the next one, right? Wrong!

The espadrille was really loose at the back when I tried it on, so I created a fold on the heel and sewed this up to make it tighter. I also sewed over where the two pieces met to strengthen those stitches. It would have taken me 15 minutes to do this... except I spent *another* 15 minutes trying to get the cotton through the tiny needle's eye. Gah!

I also reinforced where the fabric meets the sole in the heel section - those stitches had come a little loose when I was making the espadrille tighter and I didn't want them to fall apart on my first wear! Once I was happy with that, it was (finally) on to making the next espadrille - this one was a lot quicker and easier to do, plus I didn't need to to do any reinforcing stitches afterwards. You can definitely tell which shoe I made first - the second one looks much better, yet only took half the time!

All-in-all, it probably took me about 6 hours to make the espadrilles, on and off, and I definitely have a pair that are unique... how long they'll last remains to be seen! Whilst I won't be starting my own espadrille-making empire any time soon, it was fun to do something different, and I'll *probably* make a pair again next summer.

If I make another pair, I will:
- try and make sure that the material I bought is strong enough not to have to go through the hassle of strengthening it
- choose a material with a smaller pattern; I didn't really think about my fabric in relationship to it becoming a pair of espadrilles
- not add an extra 1cm border around the back pattern
- buy some fabric scissors for a smoother cut
- learn how to do a blanket stitch to get that classic espadrille look.

What do you think to my espadrilles? Are you tempted to make a pair? Good luck if you do!

* OK, not true, I actually bought my Autumn boots back in February in the sales. Ker-ching!

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