Ahh… the Peranakan Kasut Manek (beaded shoe). Loved by many and such a rare find, as they are still made with the expertise of inherited crafty hands. The hefty price tag of these exotic shoes will also probably set you back. Like two months’ worth of wardrobe-revamping shopping (we kid you not).
So, let’s get crafty if you want to save yourself from a retail therapy tragedy.
You will need:
- Clothes measuring tape.
- A pair of plain coloured covered, peep-toe or cross-front shoes.
- White A4 paper or a harder art card.
- 4B sharpened pencil or thin marker.
- A thin piece of plain cloth (the colour closest to your shoe) OR a cross stitch cloth.
- Rectangle wooden sewing frame.
- Tracing paper.
- Proper cloth scissors.
- Colourful seed beads – size depends on you and the design you have in mind.
- Thin embroidery needles.
- Threads – colours that matches the beads you would want to use. Or just use plain white threads.
- Strong shoe glue.
Alternative method (i.e. fast and lazy)
- Pre-printed template (bought online from here).
- A thin cloth that matches the colour of your shoe.
- Colourful seed beads – again depending on the size that you want.
- Small and fine tipped paintbrush.
- Superglue or shoe glue.
- Old ceramic plate.
- Long and thin tweezers.
Right! Now on with the steps…
THE SKETCH PREP
Using a tracing paper, place it on the front area of the shoe (single band) where you would want the beaded patterns on. Dot along the perimeter of the area you want to cut. Remove from shoe and connect the dots to form the outline.
Take a scissors and snip, snip away along the lines. You would have 2 pieces of the “flap” tracing. Place the cut papers onto an art card and trace the outlines. And snip, snip away again along the drawn lines on the art card.
**Keep the cut tracing papers for later**
Prepare the cloth on the frame and put the cut pieces of art card (top and bottom) onto the cloth. Trace the outline of the art card pieces on the cloth. Now, let’s prepare the patterns!
Choose the pattern of your choice online or from a pattern book. Take the cut tracing papers and trace the patterns on the paper with a pencil. Flip the papers over on the untraced side. With your razor sharp 4B pencil, shade the areas where the patterns are. Make it as dark as possible, like Batman. So that it’s easier to transfer the patterns onto the cloth.
The slightly tricky part – place the shaded area of both patterned papers face down onto the cloth (top and bottom of cloth). Carefully align the borders of the paper with the drawn outline. Once aligned, hold the paper down firmly and use a sharp pencil to trace the patterns so that it will stick to the cloth. Repeat for the other single band. If you prefer, you can use a marker with a fine tip and retrace the design on the cloth to make it clearer.
MATERALISE THE DESIGN
Now, let’s bead it! (ok, ok the pun was intentional). Start with the Border Beading, just the top and bottom outlines – leave the sides unbeaded. Select the bead size and colours that you want or you can just follow the colours of the pattern that you selected. Then, identify your border starting point before you begin the magic of beading.
With a long, double-threaded thin needle, start by poking through from under the cloth within the border. Pull up until there is tension and thread through 2 beads of your choice colour. Secure the beads by backstitching (so the sewing pattern is backstitch… 2 beads… backstitch… 2 beads). If you’re clueless at sewing, here are a couple of videos that explains it in detail.
Backstitch with Beads
And we have the borders completed, folks! On to the inner design, where the diagonal ½ stitch method applies and the direction is from left to right. Check out the chart and video below for a clearer visual guide.
Keep on going until the design is complete. Repeat on the other mirrored pattern. Once both are completed, remove from the frame and cut it out. It’s now ready to add pizzazz to your monotone shoe.
Take your shoe and lather shoe glue with a brush on the targeted areas. Working quickly, glue on your beaded patterns carefully onto your shoe. Leave it to dry, preferably overnight. If you want it more secure, thread single stitches across some of the beaded stitches.
And it’s DONE! (After days of squinting, with needle-poked fingers to boot).
NOW… if you are not as patient and want zippier results then the below is right up your alley:
Choose a pre-printed template here and print it out. Cut both identical patterns, flip it over and shade it with a 4B pencil.
Repeat step #5.
Prepare seed beads and long tweezers for decorating the cut-out patterns. Leave it aside.
Now decant the glue onto an old ceramic plate or bowl. Take a paintbrush, dip it in the glue and “paint” a small portion of the patterns.
Use the long tweezers to place the respective seed beads one by one onto the glued area. Press each bead firmly for a few seconds to ensure that it sticks.
Repeat until the patterns have been filled with beads. Ditto for the identical design.
Repeat step #10 and we’re done!