September 20, 2013

Shichi-go-san, Completed Toddler Zouri!

I've finished making toddler sized zouri! They are not perfect - it is handmade, without the help of precision cutting machines, and glue is really tricky - but I am happy with how comfortable they turned out. And my son loves them, so I can look past the little flaws, because they do look pretty darn cute on his little feet.

I don't really have the time to do a detailed tutorial, but I did take pictures to share how I did it, for anyone who may be brave enough to attempt making zouri! Consider this a rough tutorial, I suppose. A warning though, it is a little difficult (a lot of work), but don't be discouraged! It took me about 3 days to make these. Also, these (probably) aren't made in an authentic way - I followed my own way of doing things, please feel free to do as you please to get the results that you hope to achieve!

First - Materials:
For the core material, I wanted to use something flexible that I can curve into the appropriate shape (curled upwards a bit at the toe) and knew that chipboard glued in layers would work great. I like chipboard, it is a very useful type of cardboard that I use use a lot. Poster board is very similar and would get the same result, you can find poster board in big sheets for less than $1 where ever you buy display boards for school projects - people also use poster board for garage sale signs and things like that. Since I am on a tight budget, most of my supplies I used are things I had laying around the house. I decided to recycle and use old chipboard food packaging! Its a good enough reason to save cereal boxes, haha! 

I had leftover black pleather from a Halloween costume my sister had made years ago, but I couldn't find it in storage, so I picked up a small amount for $1 and still have plenty leftover. You can use brocade fabric, laminated fabric, or what ever you like. For the sole, I couldn't find any thick leather or suede, so I got a small sample of impact absorbing foam from the upholstery supply store (ask if they have free samples). Sometimes people use it on the bottom of furniture to prevent scratching hardwood floors, but I wasn't too impressed with the foam - it looks and feels exactly like cheap craft foam from the children's craft section, so I think even that would be a good cheap option. The foam seems to not deteriorate badly when walked on, I've seen cheap sandals made of this stuff, probably about the same feel as the rubber soles on geta.

I also cut out some polyester quilt batting to pad the tops of the zouri, so that it would be extra soft on Bryan's little feet.

Glue chipboard pieces together:
I glued the cut pieces of chipboard, with the printed food packaging sides glued together - it would be awkward if one day the zouri eventually fall apart and the inside says "Friskies Cat Food"! I just used Tacky Glue for this step, as I didn't want to go out and buy expensive adhesives for little zouri that will likely only be worn a few times before his feet grow too big.
There are three layers for the type of zouri I did - the bottom, a heel piece (which is half the length), and a padded top piece. These zouri are only about 2cm tall at the heel when finished, so I used 6 layers for the bottom, 6 layers for the heel, and only 2 layers for the top. With the quilt batting added, all of the pieces equaled roughly the same thickness. I only have small office clips to hold the layers together while the glue dries, thicker core pieces will require larger clips or clamps.

The curved toe should be form in the chipboard during the gluing process before clamping everything together. It can be bent afterwards (and I did end up bending it more after this) but at this point it is easier as there is less resistance.

Cover core pieces in outer material:
On the bottom and middle heel piece, the material is only seen on the outer edge, so I cut thin strips of pleather, applied glue around the top and bottom edges (don't put glue on the outer edge that will be seen) and clamped it until the glue dried. For the top, I wrapped a rectangle of pleather over the padded chipboard, glued along the edges on the underside, and held it in place with sewing pins. Office clips or clamps would have left permanent dents in the material.
A quick note about glues - Always test your glues and adhesives before you use them. You can use the This to That website to help figure out what glues to use for your project, but the option it gave me ended up melting the pleather. I ended up using two types of tacky glues, Tacky Glue and Loctite for vinyl. Loctite also melted the pleather a little bit, but not too badly. The pleather has a polyester fabric backing, even though Loctite said it worked on fabric as well, it worked on the fabric backside about as well as spit and bubble gum. So for this step I used Tacky Glue as well, as it was the only thing I had on-hand that held the fabric side of the pleather firmly.

As I mentioned, I padded the top with quilt batting. This made it incredibly plush! But it also made it wrinkle a bit where the toe curls upward, but I could live with that since I knew it would be very comfortable - that's the mommy side of me making decisions!

Up until it was time to make the hanao straps, I still didn't know what fabric I wanted to use. I had a bit of black velvet I would use for the underside, and I ended up just settling on doing the top of the hanao with scraps of the same fabric I would do the kimono.

I sewed the two pieces together, inserted a strip of very stiff interfacing for structure, pinched the center together and sewed it in the center, then lightly stuffed the inside of the hanao (on the velvet side only) with poly-fill stuffing. The hanao are very soft and plush as well, again I was concerned with comfort!

I just used plain old craft string for the attaching strings. My son said they look like moths! I thought this was a very cute thing for him to say, as recently we had the opportunity to watch the metamorphosis cycle of a moth, so it was a happy memory.

I carefully cut holes in the underside of the top piece, but only cut slits in the pleather for the hanao to go through.

I guess I didn't take a picture, but I glued the heel piece to the base using Loctite glue and clamped it until dry using office clips - I mentioned earlier, Loctite does melt the pleather a little bit, so I had to be careful to not get it on the pleather that shows, but it was also the only adhesive I had that would hold pleather to pleather, so it is what I used for this step. Also not pictured, I added a bit of batting at the end of the heel piece, to soften that slope.
If you have a drill, it would probably work great to drill holes for the ends of the hanao to pass through. I couldn't use a drill since it would wake my son from his nap (my craft time) so I had to use an X-acto knife. It was hard work, I don't recommend it!

To glue the top on, I got the hanao situated how I liked it, passed the strings through the holes in the base, and hovered the top over the base while I carefully applied a layer of glue, then I carefully pressed them together. Again, I couldn't clamp the pieces together since it would dent the pleather, so I held it down as best as I could, and even stood on them. A tacky, fast setting glue is best for this purpose.

Next, I tied the hanao strings underneath. Moon Blossom of Kimono Tsuki has a good tutorial on how to do that. I will be honest, I was lazy and just glued the cords of the toe separator firmly under the top piece.

Then I glued the foam to the sole. The foam was tricky, as none of my glues would hold it, it was too porous. I ended up having to use a hot glue gun, after reading tips from cosplayers. It held well, but was messy, and I wish there wasn't so much glue that had seeped out. I may touch it up later, but for now I can live with it, since it is only an eyesore when viewed up close.

(this is prior to the glue setting completely. The glue dried clear)

The foam was also tricky to cut out, so I found it worked well to file the rounded edges with a nail file, to get rid of jagged cuts before gluing it down.

He found them after waking up from his nap. They got the Bryan Seal of Approval.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you're full of ideas! I would've never thought of doing Zouri myself. But nice tutorial! Maybe I'll use it for one of my cousins one day.