I was happy after making my red leather ballet flats and wanted to do more shoemaking. This time I decided to try to make a pair of leather sandals. I ordered the soles and insoles from icanmakeshoes.com and used their online course and YouTube to figure out the process. This was also a good way to test the new leatherworking kit I just bought from Amazon:
I found this excellent video on YouTube explaining what you do with all those different tools and that proved really handy.
Cutting the pieces
For some reason, the sole template with the instruction booklet didn’t open and I never received a reply when I tried to ask after it. Finally, I realised that I could use my existing sandals and take the sole pattern directly from them. So that’s what I did.
The next thing was to cut the soles and the insoles into the right size. The leather was thick and I was sweating to get through the material. When I was done with all four pieces, my right hand was shaking and for the rest of that evening, I struggled to lift even a coffee cup with it!
However, I had the soles cut to the right size and I could proceed.
I cut strips of paper and wrapped them around my feet to figure out the strap placement. Finally, I decided to have two crisscrossing straps at the front and two traps going around my ankle.
I realised that the straight paper straps weren’t the optimal shape to go around my ankle, so I marked a few darts and then added a slight curve to the actual pattern pieces that I cut out of reptile-print embossed leather. The strap width of 16 mm was determined by the buckle size.
Putting the sandals together
The first thing I did the next day was to sand the sole and insole piece edges together to get nice and even edges.
I then use the edge beveller tool from my new kit to round the edges a bit. Then I started to burnish the insole edges. I wet them with a rag and then took this wooden leather slicker tool:
What you do with it, is that you position the leather edge in one of the grooves or use the straight bit and then rub the wooden tool back and forth to create friction. The friction smoothes out the leather edge beautifully.
The next thing was to mark the length and the position of the straps. This took some time. I did the measurement and then got confused on what was left/right/front/back/top or bottom strap and had to start all over again. Finally, I labelled each and every strap on the wrong side to know exactly where they went.
Then I skived of some of the strap thickness at the ends that were then glued under the insole:
Then I glued the outsole on and left the sandals to dry overnight.
I made holes for the buckle prongs using my Prym pliers. However, I then switched into a leather punch that had four prongs to make holes for the stitches that held the buckle in place.
I sewed the buckle seam by hand using the saddle stitch and two needles:
The kit came with this interesting looking hole punch drill. I first thought it was an ordinary punch with interchangeable tips but when I pressed it against the leather I noticed that the pressure made the tip-end rotate like in a drill. This was a very handy tool to make 2 mm holes for the buckle.
Now that the sandals had all the parts in place I went back into sanding, burnishing and polishing the edges to get them really neat. After burnishing with water, I took leather cream and spread it over the edge to make it darker and then finished the edge by polishing with my Dremel. The slightly darker tone, that the leather cream gave to the leather, was pretty so I finally spread it over the insole, too.
I wanted to have some little extra for the shoes that looked quite plain. I had these die cut pieces of tan leather ready and I glued them on with some rhinestones:
The finished pair of sandals
Here is the finished pair of my new sandals. I am really happy how they turned out!
Unfortunately, it has been raining on and off today, so I wasn’t able to walk outside. However, I was able to have my hubby take a few pics at the front door.
The straps cross another at the heel and that keeps the heel comfortably in place.
I have now been walking with these indoors for a while and they feel really nice. The leather is soft and nothing seems to hurt or (what is worse!) break.
This was a really interesting project and I learned a lot from it. Now I only need to wait for sunnier days to wear these!
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