Shoes for your dolls are the perfect complement, and finishing touch, to any outfit. So many different types of shoes are available, both separately and as a part of an outfit that it's hard to know just how to properly care for each pair. So, in this article we will look at the best ways to care for a few different types of shoes.
The first thing to determine is what material the shoes are made from and how old they are. If you are lucky enough to own an antique doll in an antique outfit, the safest way to care for the shoes is simply to dust them very carefully. This can be done with a soft, sable paint brush or a gentle burst of air such as you might use to dust your keyboard. This is also a good way to get into crevices of newer shoes. It's a good idea to avoid wetting antique shoes with any kind of liquid, even those without water. Many antique shoes are at least partly made with cardboard; which will disintegrate if wet. It's also difficult to know exactly what the materials are in old shoes. There is also the possibility that the shoes are made from more than one material, so it's best to be safe.
If your doll shoes are made of vinyl, which is a good possibility if they are new, the easiest way to clean them is with a drop of gentle dish soap or baby shampoo. Use a soft cloth that is just barely wet and gentle circular motions. Rinse with a small amount of clear water and air dry. If the shoes are lined with fabric, or any other material, avoid getting that wet.
For leather shoes, saddle soap is the best choice. Apply it with a damp, not wet, soft cloth and small circular strokes. An old tee shirt is the perfect cloth and will make lots of cloths if you cut it up and save it for just such a job! Let the soap dry, it will probably take at least as long to dry as it takes to put it on. When the soap is dry, gently buff the shoes with a dry piece of that tee shirt. If your shoes are light in color, try this on a small out-of-the way spot first, as it may darken the color, at least temporarily.
If your doll has a pair of canvas, or cloth shoes, you have some more decisions to make. First, is the shoe just plain cloth, or is it decorated with lace, embroidery or stones, etc. If the shoes are just cloth, and they are quite dirty, try a very soft, old toothbrush and a tiny amount of gentle dish liquid. Again, use gentle, small circular motions to clean. To remove the soapy residue, use clear water on the brush and blot as much water out of the fabric when finished. Allow the shoes to air dry completely. If the shoes are decorated I would avoid cleaning them because the likelihood is the decorations are glued on and any attempt to clean them may result in the decoration coming off. In this case it is especially true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it's easier to keep the shoes clean than to try to fix the problem later. Of course this is true of all doll shoes!
Finally, if you have patent leather you can also try a small amount of vegetable shortening or oil on a soft cloth, to gently clean and shine them.
When you have finished cleaning your shoes, especially with water, it's a good idea to let them air dry, upside down on a towel, but gently stuff the shoe with paper towels or cotton cloth, to hold the shape as well as absorb some of the residual dampness.
The most popular dress on the Doll Making Site, The Spring Dress for 18 Inch Dolls, is included as well as 5 other outfits, underwear, and accessories such as jewelry, a bag, a knitted hat and scarf, and the new scrub suit. There are also patterns for slender Magic Attic type dolls as well as full-bodied American Girl dolls and an antique Saucy Walker doll from the 1950's.
If you love 18 inch dolls, and want a collection of patterns for a wardrobe, all in one handy Ebook, this is for you! All these patterns are available on the Doll Making site, but I have brought them all together in one book for ease of finding and using them. Make Clothes for 18 Inch Dolls.