Ruby Slippers Diagram (Photo: Tod Machin)

The first step in creating a pair of replica ruby slippers is, of course, the shoes. But, as anyone who’s looked for them knows, it’s much harder than one would expect! Shoes today are nothing like the Innes shoes made into the ruby slippers in 1938, and finding a size 5B, I’m sure, is difficult even when looking for contemporary shoes!

I’ve been told to look to eBay; certainly the place where you can find anything should have a pair of vintage French heeled pumps, right? While some have been lucky in searching eBay, and vintage, or online shops. I never have, and I feel like I’ve been looking, to some degree, since that first trip to the Smithsonian when I was twelve!

Original Innes Shoe, with Michael Shaw's Slippers (Image courtesy A&E Television Networks)

So, in my search for a perfect pair of shoes, I eventually decided to have a pair custom made, and through a slipper friend, Randy, I was able to contact shoemaker, Daphne Board of El Diablo Handmade Shoes who has recently made him a pair, and she was more than willing to create a pair for me! – For those interested, Daphne is willing to make more pairs of shoes for replica ruby slippers, and Randy is happy to answer any replicating questions which others might have.

My Replica Shoes

Tod Machin’s diagram of Roberta Bauman’s right ruby slipper, according to Rhys Thomas, was “originally published in the Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1988, Sunday Calendar, page 7, [and later] Christie’s received permission from the LA Times and Tod Machin to reprint the diagram.” Following this same diagram, also printed in Thomas’s The Ruby Slippers of Oz, Daphne recreated the shoes, scaling down the proportions found in the diagram from a 6B to a 5B, the same size as the “Witch’s Shoes,” and roughly the same size as the Smithsonian, and Michael Shaw pairs.

Unpacking the shoes this morning, I couldn’t be happier with the result! My immediate response when pulling them from the box was something I knew, and yet I never intellectualized, as I’ve never actually held the shoes in my hands (obviously): Wow, Judy Garland had tiny feet! In constructing the shoes, the uppers, like the originals, are lined with off-white kid leather, and a red canvas interlining was used for more structural support. The outside of the uppers are made of red georgette, identical to the fabric used on the original shoes for the overlays.

My Replica Shoes

The shoes were made with the georgette as the outer layer, which has not been fused to the canvas to allow me to sew the (many thousand) sequins directly to the georgette without damaging the underlying canvas, or (heaven forbid) the kid leather.

Inside the right slipper, like the original Bauman pair, Daphne has sewn a vintage copy of the Innes shoe label. While other pairs of ruby slippers have a heat stamped copy of the same label in the right shoe, unlike the Bauman pair, I honestly didn’t know how the stamp is to be replicated, so elected to make this pair with the woven label.

Innes Shoe Co. Label in right shoe.

Original Label in Right Bauman Shoe (Image: Christie's East)

Replica Shoe Sole

My shoes also, like the original pairs, have leather soles. While the soles have been dyed red, I will still need to paint the heel stoppers red, and I am considering painting the whole of the soles over, both to match the stoppers, and the original soles.

All in all, however, I couldn’t be happier with the shoes, and I can’t wait to get started!