V82: How To Decorate Pemberley Regency Shoes Like It's 1789

Mar 22, 2012 18 comments

As of late I've been inspired by that interesting transitional period in women's dress, around the end of the 1780s and into the 1790s.  Many things changed - the waistline of gowns, the favored materials, hair styles, and also shoes.

This tutorial will show you how to decorate Pemberley Regency shoes to be of an earlier design, one befitting the late 1780s and early 1790s.

Angelus products are available at Dharma Trading Company online
What You'll Need:

  • A pair of Pemberley Regency shoes (click here)
  • Angelus Leather Preparer
  • Angelus Leather Paints
  • Angelus Acrylic Finisher (opt)
  • Paintbrushes
  • 1/2" wide Petersham ribbon
  • 3/8" wide Petersham Ribbon
  • A glue pen
  • 1/2" wide decorative ribbon of your choice
  • Needle & Thread

Optional Bow Clips:

I want to wear my 1780s shoes with a future yellow and blue polonaise, so I did some sketches to see what combinations of paint, binding, and ribbon I wanted:

Now to get started...

First, lightly wipe the tops of your Pemberlies with Angelus Leather Preparer, and allow to dry.

Mix your paint color - mine was white + a little yellow - and dilute the tiniest bit with either water, acrylic finisher, or both.  You do not want the paint to be thick.

Paint on the first coat lightly.  Let dry.

I left the heels white on mine
Paint on another coat.  Two usually does it, but if you need more solid coverage, paint on a third coat.  I also lined the sides of my soles with black, optional.

Start the binding by applying the 3/8" wide petersham to the side and back seams, using the glue pen.

Two widths of Petersham - 1/2" and 3/8"
Petersham applied to the back seam - this is 3/8" wide
Now bind the edge of the opening, first applying glue to the *inside* edge, then the outside, pinching and stretching the petersham into place as you go.  Note: Petersham ribbon is by far the easiest binding to use, and is period correct.  Grosgrain ribbon will *not* work (here's the difference between the two), nor will satin ribbon.  Bias tape will work, but is harder to manipulate.

Petersham goes around curves in a lovely way.
Pleat or gather the toe decorations in any fashion you like.  I pleated mine, then glued it down to the top of the shoes.

I also wanted the option to add more froof to the top of the shoe, so I tied large bows from wide blue ribbon, and stitched shoe clip hardware on to the back.  These can easily be put on and off.

Here are my 1780s shoes all finished:

Where to get the stuff:
Pemberley Regency Shoes - american-duchess.com
Shoe Clip Hardware - american-duchess.com
Angelus leather painting products - dharmatrading.com
Petersham ribbon - thesewingplace.com


  1. Very nice! What kind of stockings are you wearing?

    1. The stockings were bought at Sacramento City Drygoods' going-out-of-business sale. I believe Jas Townshend has them, or ones with black clocks, too, though - http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=5&products_id=1004



  2. Gorgeous shoes!
    I'll second the above stocking source question ;-)

  3. So pretty, so pretty, so very pretty.

  4. Such a good idea! It makes me want to do this too!

    1. Do it! It's SO easy. I don't think people realize just how easy it is!

  5. Two of my favorite colors :)
    They look charming!

  6. So pretty! I would love to see what the blue stripes would look like...

  7. You could go into business just decorating shoes, m'dear!

    1. I like the idea of it, but there is a big problem with mail-order shoe decoration. What is the shoes don't fit? That's why we stopped doing the custom dyed colors - the shoes would have to be bought, then mailed and tried on for fit, then mailed back, then either exchanged for another size or decorated, then mailed again. It gets to be very expensive :-\

    2. Do you still decorate shoes for people on occasion when they know what size shoe they wear already?

      Also, what kind or brand of glue do you use specifically? I am trying to get an idea of what you use for if I want to decorate one of my pairs of Pemberleys with more that a clip.

    3. Hi Megan - No, I don't do the decoration, but we have all the right dyes and paints in the shop for DIY. For glue, I use Aleene's leather glue if I'm glueing to leather, or Aleene's Fabric Fusion if glueing on any of the fabric shoes. Both are available at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or any craft store (maybe even Joann's)

  8. Beautiful! I love love love this style shoe.

  9. Amazing tutorial. Wonderful job

  10. On the shoes, is it possible to dye the heel or just the uppers?

  11. Great Post! Thanks for your share! You can get ribbons with 196 colors and 19 sizes for choice from Grosgrain Ribbon with the best deal!


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