Sunday, August 4, 2013

Making totally rad hi-top sneakers even better with a hidden wedge heel

I love the hidden heel sneaker trend.  I have a small passion for sneakers.  I seem to tend more towards sporty looks in my clothing choices, but I don't want to look butch (just a personal preference, not a knock).  Enter the hi-top sneaker.  On the shelf (or virtual shelf) I love these things.  So sporty.  So throwback.  Love them.  But on my stubby legs, they don't do anything for me.  Enter the hidden wedge heel masquerading as a hi-top sneaker and I am sold.  These babies lengthen legs, but aren't fussy.  Not to mention they are much more comfortable than your basic pump, or even most wedge sandals.  For me, when wearing heels, it's not really the height that worries me.  I derive my comfort from knowing I won't fall out of them.

So I currently own these two babies:

I love that the pair on the left, some rip-off Isabel Marant's, are skater-inspired and perfectly conceal the heel.  The Padua Wedges from Jeffrey Campbell on the other hand are daintier, and the cutouts and stitching inform people that there is a heel there.

And I also own this pair of Solar Tart Hi-Tops from Pastry's:

I love these shoes, but they hit me at the wrong part of my leg and make me look even stubbier and thicker than I am.  I reasoned that their bulky shape could accommodate a heel, so I gathered these supplies:

All I had to buy was some Foamular insulation foam from Home Depot, I had everything else.  A 2' x 2' x 1" piece was on sale for $5.39.

First, I pulled an insole out and laid it on the foam top down, so the widest part was traced.  Next, I marked off two points, one just behind the ball of the foot and one just behind the forward foot pad on the outside of the foot as shown (luckily my insoles had special blue reinforcements for the footpad that I was able to use as a guide):

Then I traced the back of the foot and connected the dots:

And cut the piece out.  This is where things get messy.  I did a quick cut with a drywall knife knowing these didn't need to look great.  I cut out three more of these, and glued two pair so I had enough for a two inch heel.  This was all the shoe could comfortably accommodate.  I used yellow glue, but you might want to do hot glue or foam adhesive.  Yellow glues dries very slowly when used on this foam, but it did eventually get there.  I would say it took an hour (twice as long as the bottle says).  I labeled the two stacks left and right on the bottoms, then I used a wedge heel with about the right toe-to-heel elevation change to mark off a profile:

(The top of the wedge is facing left here)

To cut the profile, I used my Olfa utility knife (probably my most used tool), with a fresh blade for each wedge.  Foam really dulls blades.  I wonder if you can get a cleaner cut with a soldiering iron, I know that's one of the best ways to cut upholstery type foam, but I am not sure about this denser insulation grade stuff.

After the profile was done, I had to shave down the bottom to match the hell cup of the shoe.  I retraced the insole on the bottom of the wedge, this time with the opposite insole, sole to sole.  So, to mark off the right wedge, I turned it over and laid the left insole bottom side down on the bottom of the wedge, lining the lip of the sole up with the edge of the wedge.  Then I traced around the point of contact with my marker.  The rest of the carving was completed by examining the insole and inside of the shoe.

(See what I mean about the mess?)

I pressed the foam into the heels of the shoes (after loosening the laces) and slid the insoles in over top (and got sick of taking pictures).  Here is the before followed by the after:

(Before)                                                                    (After)

I now love where the shoes hit me, and I also like how the tongue stands up more in the heeled version.  Pretty cool that this cost less than $5 dollars and only took two hours time including glue up.

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