This might sound weird, but I began a love/hate relationship with my feet when I was a little girl. Sure, I loved my feet because they were essential to getting me around. (Still are. They’re good for that.) But I hated my feet because, back then, they seemed HUGE. They were clumsy. They appeared to be growing at an alarming rate in comparison to the rest of my body. I was very self-conscious about them. For a long time, I couldn’t let that feeling go.
Then I discovered Dr. Martens.
On my 21st birthday I didn’t celebrate at the local bar. Christened the liquor store, at least? No. Not me. Instead I headed to Trolley Square with my sister, and we bought me my first pair of Docs. Black leather work boots. Eight eyelets. Almost identical to these. (I see they’re calling this style “vintage” now. Cool. Thanks, doc, for reminding me that I’m old.) Somehow, when I put on those big, clunky, tread-heavy boots, I fell in love with my feet. I wanted to show them off. Those boots sent me on a lifelong love affair I never thought I would have. A love affair with shoes. Big, clunky, tread-heavy shoes.
Fast forward. Now my closet (and the coat closet, to my husband’s discontent) is brimming with clunky-shoe bliss. Like these, my current favorite:
Not-vintage Docs thrifted from the kitchen aisle at Savers, Layton, Utah; $6.49.
Now I understand why Mr. Marten is referred to as “Dr.” Because you see, he cured me. He cured me of the hate part of the relationship I had with my feet. Now it’s just love.
Apparently however, having gloriously loud, H U L K – S I Z E shoes is no longer enough for me. Oh, no. I need to lavish even MORE attention on my feet. So I decided to stitch up this:
Secondhand denim on secondhand denim. Sweet!
The design was so easy to put together, I thought someone else might like to try. And if you’re like me when it comes to your feet, you just might like this little tutorial.
Flowers at Your Feet Tutorial
Here’s what you need:
Denim jeans you don’t mind cutting into (I used four different pairs, in values from light to dark). A circular template, such as thread spool. Basic sewing supplies: a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (or scissors), seam ripper, glue stick, thread to coordinate with your denim, sewing machine. A pair of pants you want to flower at your feet. And thread to match the stitches on those pants.
Start by cutting 1/2"-wide strips from each piece of denim you have. You can do this by removing the hem of one pant leg, and then cutting strips from the width. These strips will become the flower stems and grass. Start with 2-3 strips per pair, and then cut as needed from there. Then, cut a square of denim from each pair of jeans to use for flower petals, centers, and leaves. A 6" square from each pair was plenty for me.
Next, choose which pant leg you want to sew the design onto. I initially placed my design on the opposite pant leg, thinking I could keep the design loose on one pant leg while I sewed the pieces onto the other. That didn’t work out. So go ahead and place your design on the actual pant leg your want your design sewn onto.
Now for the fun part—creating your own flower patch. You can design it however you like; here are some techniques I used.
• I cut different lengths from my 1/2"-wide strips to make stems and grass.
• I traced circle shapes directly onto my denim with a pen, using a thread spool as a template. I cut two circles to make the flower centers; I cut eight more to make the petals for the short flower. Cut shapes just inside the drawn lines.
• I hand drew a petal shape onto paper to make a template for the petals and leaves on the tall flower. To draw a petal, make two dots about 2 1/2" apart on a piece of paper. Draw a curved line to attach the dots on one side, then the other.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, just kind of like this.
• I overlapped the grass pieces so that, when sewn with a 1/8" seam, the pant leg underneath would still be covered.
• Remember, you can use BOTH sides of each piece of denim for even more variation in value and hue.
Here’s the design I ended up with. Not sewn yet.
Arrange your design however you like on your pant leg. When you are happy with your design, note where the top of the design falls on the pant leg; make a mark about 2 inches above that spot. Carefully remove your design piece by piece and place it in order on a flat surface that won’t be disturbed, like a table or a rotary mat.
Using a seam ripper, carefully unpick the inside seam of the pant leg you’ve chosen to sew your design onto. Unpick from the bottom hem to the spot you marked that notes 2" above the top of your design. Unpick the bottom hem horizontally, but only to a point where you can easily unfold the hem and separate the front pant panel from the back. Remove any loose threads.
Note: As you unpick your seam, pay attention to how the original seam was sewn. The raw edges of my pant leg were sewn with a serged (or zigzag) stitch first, and then there was a row of straight stitching beyond that. You’ll want to take note of these specifics so you can sew your pant leg neatly back together later.
Your unpicked seam will probably be pretty messy, threadwise.
I cleaned mine up quick with a bit of tape.
Now to start sewing.
Note: When you are choosing which pieces to sew on, be sure to sew pieces that make up the bottom layer of your design first. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line of stitching.
Lay the pant leg on a flat surface. Dot the back of your first piece with glue stick; press it in place on the pant leg. Open up the pant leg. Using a 1/8" seam, sew around the piece. Choose your next piece and repeat.
In my design, I sewed the stem first, then the first layer of petals.
(Gratuitous close up.)
Then I sewed the second layer of petals.
Then I sewed the flower center. (Little circles are a little tricky; sew slow.)
The same step-by-step method goes for the short flower. To eliminate sewing a tiny circle around that tricky flower center, I used straight stitches instead.
(Superfluous close up.)
Now to sew the grass. Instead of sewing around all four sides of each tiny rectangle, start at the top of a blade and sew down to the pant hem. Then, lift your presser foot and pull the pant leg forward; sew the other side of the blade in place from top to bottom. Again, pull the pant leg forward; glue and press your next blade in place.
For each blade, use this mantra: sew, pull, sew, pull, glue.
A thready mess to clean up when you’re done, yes, but the sewing goes fast.
When you’ve finished sewing the vertical sides of each blade, it’s time to sew the horizontal sides. For the blade tops, start at one edge of the design and sew across the outermost blade, 1/8" from the top edge; backstitch. Pick up your presser foot and place it at the beginning of the next blade top; sew and backstitch. Repeat until all the blade tops are sewn down.
For the blade bottoms, sew a straight line across the bottom of the blades using a 1/8" seam.
It should look something like this when all the pieces are sewn.
Now it’s time to sew the inner seam of the pant leg back together. Did you make a mental note of how your pant leg was originally sewn? Retrieve that mental note now. After pinning the seam together, I sewed a zigzag stitch along the raw edges of the denim; then I sewed a straight stitch about 1/2" beyond the zigzag stitch. Finally, I sewed the bottom hem back in place, backstitching well to catch the original stitching where it began. For all rows of sewing I used thread that matched the stitches on my pants.
Inner seam, all stitched up.
My stitches here.
Where my stitches and the original stitches meet.
Wash and dry your pants by machine so the raw edges of the denim get all roughed up. Clip loose threads as needed.
All roughed up.
Excessive close up.
And another one.
Yikes, another one! But you see what I mean by "roughed up."
And now you’re done.
Whether you choose clunky shoes, funky shoes, or some skinny style in between, I hope you have fun with your flowers at your feet.
I chose my roughed-up secondhand super-chunk Mary Jane Caterpillars to roam in my garden.