My homemade leather sandals.
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How I made a pair of leather sandals

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 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

Making the sole pattern using my old sandal as a base.

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.

Cutting out the soles and the insoles.

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!

The soles are ready!

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

Sanding the edges.

The first thing I did the next day was to sand the sole and insole piece edges together to get nice and even edges.

Bevelling and burnishing the leather edge.

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:

The 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.

Marking the sandal strap lengths and positions.

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:

Glueing the straps in place.

Then I glued the outsole on and left the sandals to dry overnight.

Finishing touches

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.

The leather sandals are coming together.

I sewed the buckle seam by hand using the saddle stitch and two needles:

The detail of the sandal buckle fastening.

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.

The drill-punch tool.

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:

Adding some embellishments.

The finished pair of sandals

Here is the finished pair of my new sandals. I am really happy how they turned out!

The finished pair of leather sandals.

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 front look of the sandals.

The straps cross another at the heel and that keeps the heel comfortably in place.

The sandals from the back.

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!

Thank you for reading and subscribe to follow this blog via email if you want to follow me on my sewing and crafting adventures! Happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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