If The Shoe Fits

For a few months in 2018 I photographed shoes on people’s feet at rest and in motion. Why shoes? One of my volunteer jobs requires me to spend time in a theater lobby, and sometimes I have nothing immediate to do. I began to observe the groups in the lobby and became interested in what they did with their feet. I used my phone to take photos and a series was born.

Theater lobby

I also took photos of people waiting in lines at an art exhibit and generally hanging around. Since I had so many shoe photos I stopped, and concentrated on digitally reworking some of the photos, using what skills I remembered from my PhotoShop Elements class.

After a deep dive into PhotoShop’s effects and filters and a frustrating time sizing the edited photos for printing, I had a bunch printed off by Spoonflower in an eight by eight inch format. I used a bulk test print format Spoonflower offers. The results were a bit mixed. I should have standardized my photos more. But I had enough to combine into a quilt.

Pointilized sneakers before resizing

The next step was to devise a layout with the 8 inch squares. I sure wasn’t going to cut them up. After several days and reworkings I settled on one. Then, in a moment of genius or severe derangement, I decided to do the squares as three separate panels held together with laced up grommet tape.

Through Etsy I found Lace and Trims, which provided a reasonably priced product and speedy shipping. While I waited I quilted my panels in a simple diagonal pattern. Then, I sewed strips of the grommet tape to the panel sides and bottoms. It was tricky to avoid the grommets, yet sew on the tape. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to the width of the tape and the spacing of the grommets.

After the tape was on, I sewed a hanging sleeve across the tops of the panels (the only point at which the panels are sewn to each other) and turned under that edge. I will hand sew the sleeve’s bottom edge, along with bits I couldn’t machine sew because of the grommets. One broken sewing machine needle was enough.

Now I’m lacing up the grommet tape with various cordings and need to decide whether to try a single color or a mix. Right now I lean toward red cord for the contrast.

Black cord on left, silver in middle, red on right

I never realized there are so many ways to lace shoes. Check out some of the possibilities here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under In Process, Techniques

19 responses to “If The Shoe Fits

  1. I love your quilt! And the laces were a great idea!

  2. Oh, when the mind can wander! This is such a fun piece, any struggles you had are not apparent! It may not have worked for this project but I have used a zipper foot when stitching around objects (may not work on quilt layers though). It sounds like you learned a lot during this project. I love all the technology (especially Photoshop) but just need more hours in the day to get really good at it and still have time to art/quilt!

  3. Brilliant, just brilliant. I was pleased and surprised at the top when you mentioned focusing (literally) on shoes, as I’ve spent time doing the same. But transforming your photos and then LACING THEM UP!!! There’s the brilliance. Sorry for gushing. Not meaning to be over the top. But seriously, this is fine work. I like the multi-colored lacing. I don’t think it draws too much attention to itself but it does add a touch of interest as I explore the piece.

    • Wow, thanks. Since I took the pictures in a playful mood I wanted the edge treatment to reflect that. Right now I have the inner lacing in red, and the edges in silver cord. Now to decide how much dangle to put in the cord ends.

  4. Barbara

    Love it. I would go with the silver lacing. The red and black draw attention away from the photos. Or, silver in the middle and red just on the outside.

  5. jennyklyon

    Fabulous and unique piece. Love it!

  6. Jane Herbst

    I love the shoes, Joanna, and I love how your mind views the every-day around us!! I like the mix of colorful and black-and-white sketchy effects. I definitely like the red lacing. It brings out the red in several of the panels without overwhelming the complete piece. Perhaps play with some of the other lacing styles shown in your link? Many writers have discussed the link between genius and madness (derangement?) at least as far back as Aristotle, including a few who saw genius in madness and madness in genius. Perhaps one person’s madness is another person’s sanity. Thanks for continuing to share both of yours!!

    • Thanks, Jane. My ability to play with different lacing styles will depend on the amount of cord I have and how many times the cord will fit through the same grommet. It may be there’s a line in addition to a link between genius and madness, a continuum, if you will.

  7. Judith K Campbell

    You are amazing! I love the way your mind works!

  8. Wow! How come my derangement never looks like this?

  9. love the shoe essay… and I may have to go play at Spoonflower… someday… when I have a few minutes!!! I think I hate editing photos more than any other part of picture taking! One of the reasons I did not try portraiture photography! Too many hours in front of a computer. Of course what do I do now? Yep a computer and it doesn’t sew!

    • As always, my issue with photo editing is lack of attention to detail. This becomes important when I want to use a group of photos together. Spoonflower is fairly easy to use. You can have 8 by 8 inch samples made in your choice of fabric for about $5, last I checked. I hope you take plenty of breaks from your computer.

  10. Honestly, I am so intrigued by the way your mind works and the places you see inspiration. This is really cool.

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