Fabric Porn: Fabric Shopping in Rome (with some Shoes, Cats, Ancient Ruins, and Cheesecake thrown in for good measure)

While I was on vacation in Italy last month I got a little obsessed about finding fabric stores wherever I went. Yelp was being cheeky and sending me to anything from card & gift shops to a grungy little hole-in-the-wall where a couple who should’ve long since been retired were presiding over some dusty old packages of sheet sets and were NOT happy when I wandered in asking “Tessuti? Avete tessuti?” (fabric? do you have fabric?) in broken Italian. Despite that, I managed to find some fabric shops and I thought I’d share my adventures with you.

I visited three fabric shops in Rome, all within a couple of blocks of each other.

Basetti Fratelli Tessuti (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 73)

This was the most extensive fabric shop I visited….room after room after room of fabrics stacked to the (very high) ceilings:


Bassetti Fratelli fabric shop: view from one room into another


Another room choc-a-bloc with fabric


I’m getting sucked into the Bassetti vortex here…it just keeps going.


A stack of designer fabric. Versace, anyone?


The old-school ‘cashier’.


My long-suffering husband kindly colour-coordinated himself for the shirting room.

I was actually way too overwhelmed to buy anything in this store. Option paralysis overcame me and I wandered out in a fabric overload haze.

Azienda Tessile Romana (Via S. Nicola Dè Cesarini, 13) & the The Largo di Torre Argentina Ruins

Just a short walk away from Bassetti Fratelli was Azienda Tessile Romana.


This was a much more manageable store, although I also left here empty-handed.



The most interesting thing about this shop for me was its location directly in front of a giant hole in the ground containing, oh, you know, ho-hum, ancient Roman temple ruins over 2,000 years old — the Largo di Torre Argentina. Apparently Julius Caesar was assassinated on or just adjacent to this site. NBD as the kids say ironically, or as as us oldies translate, No Big Deal.


The Largo di Torre Argentina, ancient ruins just hanging out in the middle of a busy Rome intersection.

This archeological site is in the middle of a fairly large and busy intersection, and you can wander around the edges having a look without buying a ticket or anything. It’s also home to a big feral cat colony who took advantage of all the nooks and crannies and respite from people and cars. You’re allowed to go in to a small area to one side during certain hours to visit the cats, and there’s a small shop of cat toys and souvenirs that help fund the cat shelter.


Did I visit the cats? Yes. Yes I did.

Did I visit the cats? Yes. Yes I did.

If this were anywhere else but Rome, this spot would be a VBD (Very Big Deal), complete with lineups of tourists anxious to part with their Euros to have a look around. But because it’s Rome, there seems to be something like this on just about every street corner. It’s an amazing city.

Oriani Gioielli Shop, Rodeo Belt Shop, and Discount Italian Shoes

If you were to draw a straight line from the front door of Azienda Tessile Romana right through these ruins and across the street, you would find this little shop that sells jewelry, gloves, and custom-made sandals — pick the style, flat or heel, and the colours and they’re ready within an hour or two. I’m told this style of sandal was popularized around Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri.


But I digress. (I always digress where shoes are involved.) From here I wandered a couple of blocks south and wound up on Via di Sant’Elena, where I found the Rodeo Belts Shop. Here I bought the elusive yellow leather belt I’d been looking for for a couple of years, as well as a black suede wrist cuff.

Just a little further along the Via di Sant’Elena was a discounty-looking shoe store where I bought a really cute pair of ivory-coloured leather high-heeled oxfords for just 39 Euros. The sign outside says “Calzature Donna – Tutto a 39 Euro” and they take cash only. This is the only pair of shoes I bought while I was in Italy, and those who know me personally will know that I exercised jaw-dropping restraint!

Discount Italian leather shoes on the Via di Sant'Elena

Discount Italian leather shoes on the Via di Sant’Elena

Fatucci Tessuti

Around the corner on Via dei Falegnami (#63/64) is a much smaller, more manageable fabric shop than the other two I visited earlier — this one was just my speed. Fatucci Tessuti doesn’t have a sign outside so it’s easy to miss; just look for the red-framed door and the number 63 on the wall.


The fellow running this shop was very helpful (but camera shy). Lots of lovely silks at reasonable prices, starting at 8 Euros per meter, like this one that the shopkeeper insisted I take a photo of…


…but it was this cotton print featuring cranes (or maybe geese?) for 12 Euros per meter that I fell in love with.  It has an incredibly fine thread count and it is truly very ‘crisp’ feeling. I love the contrasting orange dots sprinkled on the periwinkle-blue background.


Jackpot! This crisp cotton print is coming home with me.

I have since made a dress with this fabric, which I’ll share with you in my next post.

If you’re in this area you’d be remiss not to go another few blocks to the “Jewish Ghetto”, centred around the Via del Portico D’Ottavia, where you’ll find the Forno del Ghetto (Bakery of the Ghetto). This is another business with no sign at all out front, so look for the window with the burnt-looking cakes.

The window at the Forno del Ghetto on Via del Portico D'Ottavia. Don't let their appearance fool you.

Cakes in the window at the Forno del Ghetto on Via del Portico D’Ottavia. Don’t let their appearance fool you.

The appearance of these cheese cakes belies their absolute deliciousness! Don’t even let the super-grumpy women gruffly serving the cake deter you from sampling them. Stand your ground when they glare at you when you walk in, and do not waver in your resolve when they bark at you whether you want chocolate or berry! You will be duly rewarded for your courage.

Forno del Ghetto chocolate cheesecake. YUM!

Forno del Ghetto chocolate cheesecake. YUM! I’m only a little shaken after interacting with the shopkeepers. 😉

Have you been fabric shopping in Rome? What treasure troves did you find?

3D Printed Shoes. Yes, I said 3D Printed Shoes!

Attention all fellow shoe-problem sufferers (including those who carry bags from Browns that say “Yes, I have a shoe problem. No, I don’t need help.”): You’re about to have a 3D printer problem.

Have you seen some of the designs for 3D printed shoes? They’ve been kicking around for a couple of years (see what I did there?) but I thought it was worth sharing a few pics here for your viewing pleasure.

This is one of the first 3D-printed shoe collections I was aware of — the ‘Exoskeleton’ shoe series by designer Janina Alleyne from 2012. Clearly not a walking-friendly shoe, but a breathtaking design!

Exoskeleton shoe by Janina Alleyne

Exoskeleton shoe by Janina Alleyne

Recognize the shoe below? It’s a Fluevog (I have a version of this shoe with an ankle strap and LOOOVE it.) Some folks with a company called The 3D Printer Experience did an experiment to see if they could replicate the shoe but in the end had to ask Fluevog to share their digital design files with them, because the scanning process didn’t work as well as they’d hoped. If you’re not familiar with how the ‘replicator-like’ process of 3D printing works, it actually involves a 3D scanner that can make a digital file of a 3-dimensional object that can then be printed using melted plastic that is ‘printed’ layer by layer…at least in theory. Complex objects are of course challenging to scan and print.

3D printed replicant of Fluevog's Queen Transcendant shoe

3D printed replicant of Fluevog’s Queen Transcendent shoe

Here’s the original shoe:

Fluevog Queen Transcendent shoe

Fluevog Queen Transcendent shoe

United Nude has 3D printed shoes available for purchase:

"Float" 3D-printed shoes from United Nude

“Float” 3D-printed shoes from United Nude

And Continuum fashion also has 3D printed shoes available for purchase. This is their Laurel Tree Sandal for $265 US,which looks to me like a design that uses the technology in the best possible way — print the platform sole but use softer, more breathable materials for the parts that will contact the top of the foot. That’s smart design (although how comfortable these actually are I have no idea). Head to Continuum’s website to also check out their 3D-printed bikini, if you dare.

Laurel Tree Sandal, available from Continuum

3D printed Laurel Tree Sandal, available from Continuum

Obviously until we’re able to graduate from 3D printers to actual Star-Trekian replicators, we’re stuck with printed shoes made from plasticky materials. Melissa brand shoes, who specialize in designs made from plastic, might be worried about the competition, but other shoe manufacturers don’t have much to worry about until someone figures out how to print leather. But that starts getting us into creepy Margaret-Atwood-style-post-apocalyptic genetically-modified-organism territory. Ick. (If you haven’t read the MaddAdam trilogy by one of Canada’s greatest authors, go read ’em. They’re awesome. And scary.)

Still, Ima get my hands on a printer. Maybe not for shoes — yet — but there are definitely some great jewelry design applications for little 3D-printed rings, beads and components. I’ll round up some examples of that to share with you in another post.


Project Sewn Challenge #3: If the Shoe Fits

It’s time for Project Sewn’s challenge #3: “If the shoe fits: use a favorite pair of shoes from your own closet as an inspiration for your outfit”.

My name is Lori and I have a shoe problem. And this happens to be my favourite of all 4 Project Sewn 2013 challenges (duh).

While I have dozens of ideas for projects based on this challenge, some of which I outlined in a recent blog post entitled Did Someone Say Shoes?, one week to choose a pattern and source the right fabric and get it sewn up isn’t realistic for me at the mo’. So I thought I’d turn this challenge on its head and instead of creating a garment based on shoes, I’ve designed shoes based on a garment I created. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Shoes of Prey, an Australian-based company that lets you custom-design women’s shoes and ships them for free, anywhere in the world. (Bonus for duty-weary and currency-exchange-shock-weary Canadians and other non-US countries: prices are in your local currency, and the company takes care of all import duties.) Sorry if this sounds like an infomercial — I’m not shilling for the company, but I have purchased 3 pairs of shoes from them and I’m pretty excited about the fact that you can CUSTOM. DESIGN. YOUR. OWN. DAMN. SHOES.

Here’s the blouse I chose for inspiration, which I sewed and blogged about last August in a post entitled I Just Opened a Can of Whoop-Ass on this Blouse (yeah, I was feeling pretty smug about having tamed that slippery, flimsy fabric). It’s Burda’s 10/2011 Chiffon blouse with tie band #128B. I made it with a sheer fabric (not sure what kind?) with shades of dark blue, purple, turquoise, and white.



Burda blouse

Since it has a bit of a secretary feel, but it’s also a bit sexy because of the sheer fabric, I thought a pair of high-heeled oxfords would be just the thing. Here’s what I came up with using Shoes of Prey’s online design tool:

Shoes of Prey oxford in dark blue patent leather with turquoise toe cap and white snakeskin midpanel

Dark blue patent leather with turquoise accents and white snakeskin upper! With 4-and-a-half-inch heel! If I ordered these for real, I might go down to a 3-inch heel. But if I ordered them in my dreams, I’d definitely keep the sky-high heel.

Shoes of Prey high-heeled oxfords

They even have matching dark-blue patent leather shoelaces, and turquoise insole. LOVE.

I played around with a few other shoe designs but that oxford above is definitely my fave. Here are a couple of other options:

Shoes of Prey spectator pumps with silk rose flower & bow

The silk flower on the toe echoes the chiffon fabric of the blouse.

Shoes of Prey high-heeled sandal in blue, purple, & turquoise

Not sure about these ones, but I did manage to add a little purple to the design.

Now I’m having a really hard time not ordering up a pair of those lace-up oxfords. Must….restrain…..self……

If you want to order up your own pair of custom shoes, use this link to get $20 off your Shoes of Prey order. Enjoy!

Project Sewn: Did Someone Say Shoes?

As a faithful follower of Lladybird’s  & OonaBalloona’s amazing sewing blogs, I caught wind last month of what sounded like a rather epic event in the sewing blog world: Project Sewn. Some of the top sewing bloggers have signed on to complete 4 sewing challenges over the course of 4 weeks, with one sewist getting booted off the island each week according to popular vote. While we ooh and aah over elite bloggers’ amazing creations, complete with amazingly straight stitching and appropriate finishing techniques, the rest of us hacks are also invited to sew along with the challenges.

First challenge: who the hell has time to plan and sew one amazing thing every WEEK? No one. But what the hell. And ok, that’s just my own personal challenge, not one of the official Project Sewn challenges. The first official challenge was the Fashion Icon Challenge: “choose a favorite fashion icon and let the inspiration for your outfit begin from there.” I must admit, I didn’t intend to play along, but I had just finished sewing this Asymmetrical Motorcycle Jacket and realized I could pretend I had made it as a tribute to my…um…fashion icon, right?? A quick Google search revealed my primary choices to be Kate Moss or James Dean so I went with James Dean, obvs. (Is there a place in sewing blogger hell for people like me?)

In any case, late-ish as it may be, I’m excited about the next two challenges:
#2: Make It Pink – from rose, fuchsia, to blush, bubblegum, or neon—think pink!
#3: “If the shoe fits” Challenge: use a favorite pair of shoes from your own closet as an inspiration for your outfit.

I recently bought some hot pink fabric for a top so challenge #2 is good motivation to get that done.

But SHUT THE FRONT DOOR — why haven’t I thought of making something based on my shoes before?? Me and shoes have a bit of a little problem, see. Let me just introduce you to some of my shoes that are excellent candidates for sewing inspiration:

Fluevog Munster Beth Shoe

Fluevog’s Munster Beth Shoe

A little Lady Miss Kier of Dee-Lite, anyone? A little retro-90s, anyone? In 1991 I had the most amazing pair of Pucci-print leggings (not ACTUAL Pucci, of course) that made me the Queen of the World. Somebody nicknamed me Dee, which may have been one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. Couldn’t afford Fluevogs back then, but these would’ve been the diamonds in my crown. I have yet to leave the house in these even though I bought them 6 months ago. I must’ve been having a bad case of nostalgia.

Cover of Dee-Lite's album Groove is in the Heart

Cover of Dee-Lite’s album Groove is in the Heart

Or, how about these sharp-intake-of-breath-producing shoes from Neosens?

Neosens shoes

Neosens’ Pinot shoes

Look at those heels. Forest fairy, anyone? Ok, tree nymph isn’t so much my style but I could see making something like this oversized lace top or this velvet dress from Burda that seem to be a bit earth-mothery.

Burda Batwing Lace Shirt from Issue 9/2013, pattern #113

Burda Batwing Lace Shirt from Issue 9/2013, pattern #113

Burda Velvet Dress from issue 9/2013, pattern #109A

Burda Velvet Dress from issue 9/2013, pattern #109A. Look! There’s even golden fairy dust sprinkled on the page! (How did that get there??)

Here are a couple more candidates:

My custom-designed snakeskin shoes from Shoes of Prey.

Strata shoes from Ciel Bleu

Strata shoes from Ciel Bleu.

For those last two pairs, this design is talking to me:

Shirt from Easy Burda, Autumn/Winter 2013, pattern 3B.

Shirt from Easy Burda, Autumn/Winter 2013, pattern 3B.

My goodness, so much inspiration! So little time! I think I’ve just blown a shoe gasket in my brain.

Knitted Skirts for Fall

One of my favourite things to knit is a skirt. So easy: just knit a tube. Voilà. With Fall approaching, I thought I’d share with you the skirts I’ve knit, in case you’re looking for a little Fall-y skirt-y inspiration.

Many women worry about wearing knit skirts…will they stretch and sag? In my experience, no. But I have only ever made skirts with Cascade 220 yarn. I find it is such a great workhorse of a yarn. It’s plied (4 ply) which gives it a solid structure and helps prevents pilling and stretching. I would never knit a skirt with, say, alpaca, or silk, or some other fiber that would stretch a lot. And all of these skirts have an elastic waistband worked in one way or another which helps with fit…in most cases, it’s just a simple elastic string woven into the waistband.

Here is my version of the Seaport Skirt by Kristina McGowan. It looks fairly complex but really it is just a tube with cables done every few rows. It’s knit with Cascade 220 in colour #2448 Mallard.

Seaport Skirt

Please ignore the fact that I look like I’m about to keel over drunk in this photo. I’m pretty sure I was just trying to appear relaxed but maybe overdid it by a factor of about 100.

Can we talk about the shoes for a moment? They’re Hush Puppies. You read that right: Hush Puppies. A couple of years ago HP decided to make a groovier line of shoes, I guess, and this is what they came up with. I get a little catch in my breath every time I see them, they are so frickin cute. Look at those little two-tone curlicue decorations on the toes, and the matching t-straps. But there’s more: THEY SMELL LIKE CINNAMON. Yes! The rubber soles are somehow imbued with the scent of cinnamon. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Sign me UP for that. But alas, these shoes are not very comfortable on me…I can only wear them for maybe an hour at a time before my toes start to hurt. Which is why they spent the first 6 months of their lives with me up on my dresser, as art objects. C’mon, quit judging me. I know I’m not the only person who puts their shoes on display for daily admiration.

Ok, I just went to the Hush Puppy website to see if I could find a good close-up pic of these shoes for you, and holy shit, these are not your grandma’s Hush Puppies any more. Have a look at these, um, puppies in blue multi-colour snakeskin with bright yellow heels–squee! (Or actually maybe they are your grandma’s shoes; apparently these are part of their “1958 collection”. My grandmother would’ve been 53 then, but still might have rocked the snakeskin pumps.) Anyway, here’s my amateur photo of the shoes; couldn’t find one on their site.

Canela Shoes by Hush Puppies

Ok, back to the skirt! A-hem! I did not block this skirt after knitting it so you can see the hem is a bit wonky. But I decided at the time when I finished it that I actually liked the way the hem came out a bit ruffly…it seemed to go with the cable pattern. Looking back now, maybe I’ll go throw that thing in some water and get that hem straightened out. I wrote about the project on Ravelry here.

Seaport Skirt

Here’s my Chelsea skirt based on the pattern by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and detailed on Ravelry here. I absolutely adore this one. I love the dark eggplant colour (Cascade 220 Heathers colour #4006 Galaxy) paired with green sock-weight yarn for the lace trim. And I think the addition of a variety of buttons down the side was a stroke of genius if I do say so myself! Perhaps other knitters agree as this is my most-favourited project on Ravelry.


It’s worked in a herringbone stitch that I found slow-going…I hate having to count stitches and keep track of a pattern repeat forever. But I’m certainly proud of how this one came out and I wear it a lot.


Next is a lovely close-up shot of my ass (sorry, but it does show the skirt detail well) in my Bell Curve Skirt, based on the Bell Curve pattern by Kira Dulaney and detailed on Ravelry here. The pattern doesn’t include the ruffle at the bottom, but rather has a subtle flare all the way down into an A-line shape. I’m not too keen on A-lines so I took cues from a couple of other Ravelers who had added a ruffle, and, when I got to about 4 inches above the knee, I made an increase in every other stitch and continued knitting in seed stitch for a few more inches for the ruffle.

Bell Curve Skirt

Can we just talk for a moment about how the wind blew my hair at just the right moment in this next picture? Thanks, universe. Woot! I knit this skirt with, you guessed it, Cascade 220 yarn, color #9462. I made the necklace, too. It’s a blatant copy in another colourway of the necklace I’m wearing in the very first picture above, which I bought at a department store, and wore near constantly.

Bell Curve Skirt

Next is my Plum Heather Skirt, based on the pattern Olive Heather Skirt by Veronik Avery.  I think the direction of the lines on this skirt makes for a flattering fit. I knit it with Cascade 220 Heathers in colour #9441 and detailed it on Ravelry here.  Speaking of stretching and sagging, I knit the tank top I’m wearing with it with 100% silk yarn. It grew quite a lot after the first washing, as you may be able to tell from its lumpy/saggy appearance in this picture. Which is why everyone always says to wash your gauge swatch, blah blah blah. And they’re RIGHT. But I still don’t wash my gauge swatches. I’m all maverick-y like that (which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a word until Sarah Palin awkwardly coined it during her VP campaign…she’s a goldmine that way).

Plum Heather Skirt

You can also see in the pic above that the waistband is a little loose on this (that’s the waistband, not muffin top, I swear!). Later I added an elastic cord so I could draw the waist in a bit tighter.

Plum Heather Skirt

My advice for you if you’re going to try knitting skirts is: go for it! Choose a yarn with good structure that won’t stretch or sag. Check your gauge to see if the knitted fabric will be too see-through and adjust accordingly. Even if you wanted to wear a slip with your skirt I find it’s nearly impossible to even find slips these days…they’re like a relic from the 50s now. Choose a pattern that includes an elastic waistband or add one yourself by weaving in some elastic cord. Wool skirts are very forgiving and flattering and will never let you down with VPLs (visible panty lines) — unless you’re wearing underwear that’s 2 sizes too small in which case I can’t help you anyway. 🙂

I’m a Shoes of Prey Evangelist (sorry)

Ok, this is gonna sound like one long infomercial, but seriously, I can’t help myself. I am in love with custom designing my own shoes from Shoes of Prey and I’m going to tell you why. They haven’t paid me or otherwise compensated me to do this, but they have given me a link to share with you so you can get $20 off, and I will, too, if you buy. And fair warning: their site is addictive — you may find yourself buying shoes!

It was inevitable. I finally ordered shoes from Shoes of Prey, which I designed myself, and I just LOVE them. Here’s the green, black and gold high-heeled oxfords that I think are the most unique shoes I’ve ever owned (and I do have some pretty special shoes).

Shoes of Prey green, gold, black high-heeled oxfords

I spent more time than I care to admit on Shoes of Prey’s website designing shoes and saving them to “My Shoes” list, just having fun trying different styles and materials. I was even trying my hand at creating my own version of more expensive styles by Chie Mihara and Fluevog, to great effect.

For example, here’s my version of these Chie Mihara “Tamero” shoes…not bad, eh?

Chie Mihara-inspired design

And here’s my design inspired by Fluevog’s Wonders K2 shoes:

Inspired by Fluevog

Eventually, it was the reasonable price (I mean for custom-designed shoes, prices from $129 seem like a steal), as well as the fact that all shipping costs, taxes, and duties were included in the price that reeled me in and made me click ‘buy’.

I got those oxfords pictured above as well as a pair of black fishskin ballet flats, both size 38. While the oxfords fit like a glove, alas, the flats were very tight, and had to be returned. But returning was easy–I did have to pay for return shipping but Shoes of Prey credited my account for the shipping cost right away (not waiting until they received the returned package) which I can use against my next purchase. I had a choice of returning the ballet flats for a refund or having them remade in a larger size, and I chose the latter.

Shoes of Prey is having a promotion right now for $20 off…if you use this link to visit their site, you’ll get $20 off your order, and so will I! As long as the promotion lasts, you can share a link with your friends to get $20 off your next order, too. It’s shoe happiness all around.

I’m thinking maybe one of these gorgeous pairs might be my next purchase…but it’s so hard to choose.

Red, yellow & floral mary-jane pump design from Shoes of Prey

Snakeskin & pink patent ballet flats with bow - designed on Shoes of Prey website

Paneled Sheath Dress: sewing success!

This may be the most flattering dress I’ve worn in a long time. It’s from the downloadable Burda pattern #122A  and, as Clio on her Clio & Phineas blog put it, has “mystical bum enhancing properties”. Definite agree on that one! I wore it last week to my students’ convocation ceremony and got a ton of compliments on it. Don’t you love being able to tell people that you made it when they tell you how nice something you’re wearing is?

Paneled Sheath Dress

I sewed it with coral Ponte de Roma fabric (which looks much pinker in these photos; really it’s closer to orange*). It’s the first time I’ve sewn with Ponte de Roma, and I really love it! For a stretchy fabric it has really good ‘body’ and ‘weight’ (if I’m even using those terms right…I’m sure they mean something more specific to real sewists) and was really easy to sew.

Paneled Sheath Dress

Bonus for me: the pattern is sized for petite, so it came out well on my 5’4″ frame. Normally I’m not a big fan of skirt hems that fall below the knee, and I figured I would shorten it, but I went with the pattern length and I’m glad I did.

Paneled Sheath Dress

The neckline has a little wonk in it…the fabric pooches out a bit to the left, and I think that’s probably because I let one piece of fabric stretch more than the other as it went through the sewing machine, making the seam a bit off. But I’m rollin’ with it! I don’t like to mess with a good thing…better is the enemy of good, and all that. 🙂

I also found that the back neckline really pooched out a lot when I first sewed it. I ended up having to put two vertical darts in the upper back piece to correct this. Turned out just fine, and even goes well with all the other seams on the garment. Another modification I made was to leave off the bias tape at the armpits. I had trouble with the instructions for the armscythes and sleeve caps (as many others seem to have, as evidenced on Pattern Review), so kind of ignored the instructions and wung it. (Is that a word? I don’t think so, but it should be.)

The shoes go really well, don’t you think? Best part: I *won* them! In a twitter contest! They’re by Ciel Bleu, a fairly new shoe company. I had ‘liked’ them on Facebook, and one day there was a post from them that they were giving away a pair of these shoes to someone who tweeted a favourite quote. Since they didn’t yet have many followers on Facebook or Twitter, I figured my chances were pretty good. Fifty-fifty, as it turned out, as only two people tweeted, and I won the shoes! Woo-hoo! The shoes originally came with a nude-coloured ribbon, but I picked out some coral ribbon from Mokuba for a slightly different look. Love them!

"Trace Lava" shoes by Ciel Bleu

“Trace Lava” shoes by Ciel Bleu

I was really inspired by Clio’s colour-blocked version of this dress, and had bought some mustard yellow fabric for a contrasting colour but decided against it in the end. Perhaps another, colour blocked version of this dress is in my future!

*Here’s a pic in which the colour is true.

Paneled Sheath Dress - the actual colour

Down the Rabbit Hole: Shoes of Prey

Oh my, I’ve just slipped down a rabbit hole. It’s no secret that I have a bit of a “shoe problem”…more pairs than one person should actually need….a habit of perching a pair of shoes on my dresser just so I can admire them….justifying buying a pair of uncomfortable or impractical shoes because they’re a ‘work of art’….maybe you can relate to what I’m saying. Anyway, if you have an *actual* shoe problem (which might be defined as not paying off your credit cards in full every month and still buying beautiful shoes you don’t actually need) then do not read any further. Don’t even look at this picture. Don’t do it! Look away!

Shoes of Prey colour blocked oxfords

While I definitely could not rock stilettos this high, I just love oxfords. And colour-blocked oxfords? Winning combination!

I just came across Shoes of Prey, a Sydney, Australia-based company that makes custom-designed shoes. You create the design yourself on their website, choosing from the base style, the colours, and materials. And they ship free world-wide. Just the thought of being able to play with shoe designing to my heart’s content…well, let’s just say I spent a bit more time down that rabbit hole than I care to admit. Here’s a design I’d be tempted to order, which is a lower-heel version of one of their gallery designs:


Colour blocked oxfords from the Shoes of Prey desgin gallery: silver, tan, and white leather with midnight blue patent leather.


My lower-heeled version of the gallery design.


Anyway, this isn’t an endorsement or a recommendation, as I have not purchased anything from them (um, yet). But their prices seem quite reasonable for custom designs, so I’m tempted to try. And I know they’re not the first or only design-your-own-shoes service out there. Have you ever tried one? Were you happy with the result? I’d be interested to know of others that you recommend.

And here are more drool-worthy designs from their gallery:

Zebra and soft teal peep-toe shoes.

Zebra and soft teal peep-toe shoes.


Colour blocked ballet flats with bows.

Platform heels in white leather with printed text, and magenta fishskin heels. Magenta! Fishskin!

Platform heels in white leather with printed text, and magenta fishskin heels. Magenta! Fishskin!