Last week I pulled myself together and finally finished the boots. The project has been on hold, with the almost demolished boots tucked away deep in my closet since before the summer. I had to construct a feasible plan in my head.
I started with this, remember? A pair of classic Koenig’s riding boots crafted in fine calf leather. Right size for my feet but a good two inches too tall. Really nothing wrong with them, but not Regency. This is how got I started.
I wanted this style of boot:
Relatively little is written about them online (unless you are involved in hunting and riding) but they are seen in so many portraits and fashion plates. They are known as top boots or hunt boots. They are distinguished from other riding boots by the top that is turned down to reveal a lighter coloured leather. Today this type of boot is the correct wear on ceremonial fox-hunts and such. Other Regency boots are of course the famed Hessians and later on the Wellingtons.
My plan was to look for cheap second-hand boots and cut off the tops, but quite recently I remembered there were some discarded cuts of tan leather in our stash. (A medieval shoe-project years ago, but originally a 1970s skirt.) After a lot of debating whether there was enough – this is what took time, pieces were very odd with stains and tears – I finally came to the decision to go for it. And actually it could not have been simpler. I had dreaded the hand-sewing, but needed only one seam per cuff, and could use the holes made by the original seams. The seams along the edges are not supposed to be visible, so I took a shortcut and simply glued them. Then pulled the cuffs on the boots, and they fit perfectly. Folded the top to the inside of the boot and attached it with glue (while watching the Nobel-prize festivities on television, it was 10 December). Finished off with a quality shoe polish (I can recommend Kiwi Shoe Polish), black for the boot and medium brown for the cuffs. Three coats darkened the cuffs to the desired effect. See?
Scraps of very light shade of tan leather might work?
I was able to sew along the original seams, so it wasn´t that difficult after all. This is the wrong side.
The seams along the bottom edges are not supposed to be visible, so I simply glued them. I used Casco Contact adhesive, suitable for leather, textile, plastic, etc.
The tight cuff is pulled on to the boot. It is about 5 inches (12 cm) wide. The seam is positioned at the middle back. The top is folded over and glued to the inside of the boot.
Almost done. They need a good coat of polish. Sorry for the bad photo, but it was a gloomy day.
Cuff is glued on. I saved the tab at the back and folded it over the cuff. It was originally on the inside, before I cut off two inches of the boot. Not perfect, but getting there…
My top boots are done! After three coats of medium brown polish the cuffs were darkened to the right shade of brown. Notice the spot on the left boot? I was hoping it might disappear with the polish, and it nearly did, but not entirely. It is no disaster. Signs of wear only gives the impression of Mr. Elton being out and about…
The difficult part was actually cutting off the tops evenly, since the boots had curved tops. The raw edges are now covered by the new cuffs. They are not perfect, but any unevenness will be hidden by stockings and breeches.
So now I have a decent pair of boots, without going bankrupt. And of course I found use for them this past weekend. A new post is coming up later this week!
If you are interested in making yourself a pair of Hessians, there is an excellent tutorial over at My Darling Dear and the Regency.