Homemade Sandal Instructions

Update: I have since originally posting this, found that the sole of the sandal was very easy to puncture and small rocks would lodge in the bottom. I had to pick them out regularly and some of the slightly larger rocks were fairly uncomfortable to walk on. To fix this I bought a 22oz can of clear PlastiDip on amazon for $14 and painted the bottoms with four layers.  This completely solved the problem and they are working great. So now the total price of supplies has risen to $17. Thankfully the next pair I make will not require me to buy more PlastiDip.

Three Dollar Homemade Sandals These are very cheap $3 sandals I made at home from stuff I had around the house and picked up at the dollar store. When I say I made them for three dollars, I don’t count the materials that I already had at home. (paper, thread, glue, needles, elastic, and an old tee-shirt) If I had had to buy that stuff.  They would have cost a bit more. As it was I bought three things at the dollar store:

  • A dog leash (for straps)
  • A pair of insoles (for cushioning)
  • A supper squishy plastic placemat (for the sole)

Other than the straps there were only four pieces to the sandal:

  • The fabric cover (that I made out of my old t-shirt)
  • The insole that the fabric covered
  • The two sole pieces (the placemat needed to be doubled up)

This is most of my supplies.

My tools: missing are tacky glue, two, sewing needles, a pair of pliers, and a thimble.

My tools: missing are tacky glue, two sewing needles, a pair of pliers, and a thimble.

I don’t have pictures of the whole process but the basic steps were: 1) Although my sandal ended up a bit different than I initially planned; I did plan everything out before I started. I decided how they would look like and drew a little picture. I figured out how many pieces there were going to be and what they would all be made of before I did any cutting.  I worked out how each piece would fit together and how I was going to stick everything together.  I even pulled out everything I thought I would need before I started. This helped tremendously.  Most of the changes I made to the original plan were minor adjustments and I really didn’t have to make decisions on the fly which could have completely derailed my confidence in the whole project.

Its not pretty, but its a plan.

Its not pretty, but its a plan.

2) I traced around each foot on paper and made a pattern from that. I added a bit of extra room around my toes (perhaps a little too much) and narrowed the part in the middle of the foot under the arch. I might have been able to narrow that middle part a little more I’m still deciding. I didn’t really make the right and left sandals the same size, although I did notice that one foot was a bit larger than the other. I figured it wouldn’t show when they were on my feet. (And I was right, not one has even noticed.) I also made sure to mark each paper piece as right and left.

Tracing around my foot.

Tracing around my foot.

My adjusted tracings before I cut them out.

My adjusted tracings before I cut them out.

3) Using my pattern piece, I cut out four sandal parts from the various materials that I had chosen. I made one fabric piece, one cushy insole piece and two sole pieces out of the placemat for each foot. I ended up simply using scissors because I’m not as adept at cutting with a razor blade as the lady on you tube. 4) Using the paper pattern outline of my foot and the deconstructed dog leash, I decided where I wanted the straps to sit on the foot and marked the spots on the pattern piece. I went with a pretty simple design of two straps holding my foot in place (the toe ring was added last as an adjustment.) 5) I used tacky glue to stick the fabric cover to the top of the insole. I let it dry overnight and then glued the edges to the bottom of the insole so they wouldn’t show. Unfortunately because of the cushy quality of the insole the fabric sort of bulges out around the whole sandal because of the stitching. I have yet to figure out a way to fix this in the next sandal.

Note the way the fabric bulges out under the top stitching.

Note the way the fabric bulges out under the top stitching.

6) I had decided at the start that the placemat that I was using for the sole was not thick enough and so I planned to glue two sole pieces together.  I had figured that the whole sandal could just be glued together and if I had chosen a different glue that might have been the case. Unfortunately the two pieces of plastic place mat were very slick and even after drying overnight had a tendency to slide away from each other when I put my foot down on them. I decided that top stitching would be necessary.  Even so I’m glad I used the tacky glue not only because it kept everything together while I was sewing so I didn’t have to resort to pins, but also because it dries completely flexible and made the sandal much more comfortable in the end. 7) I did use super glue to glue the foot straps to the sole.  In the future I will simply use tacky glue because once dry, super glue dried hard and unyielding, making it impossible to sew through the sandal.  Even though I had made paper strap patterns for how long the strap should be I did not use them. I basically just used the dog leash and re calculated the lengths. Double checking my work several times before gluing down each end of the strap. I would say this was the hardest part of the sandal. Next time I will use adjustable Velcro pieces so I can avoid this very difficult fitting process. I will simply need to mark on the pattern piece where the strap will attach and not have to be so exactingly certain about how long each strap should be. 8) After the straps were attached, I used tacky glue to attach the fabric covered insole to the sole. Even though both ends of the straps were attached to the sole it was easy to slide the fabric covered insole under them and press the two pieces together. I let them dry overnight with a book on top. 9) At this point I saddle stitched around each sandal. This is when the super glued straps sections became a problem; I was unable to sew through them and had to try to stop and start around those hard spots. The saddle stitch is simple, I had seen it demonstrated on you tube. In order to make the sandal a little more sturdy I doubled up my thread. While the stitch may be simple it turned out not to be easy. My stitching will hold but it will not win me any awards. It is uneven, and I did not always manage to pull the stitches tight because I had a great deal of trouble keeping track of four threads and two needles while holding on to my work. For this reason I purchased a sewing awl for my next pair. The awl uses a much thicker waxed sewing thread but I still think it will work much better.

Note my uneven stitching and the fact that I didn't always get the threads pulled tight.

Note my uneven stitching and the fact that I didn’t always get the threads pulled tight.

10) At this point I sewed the back strap onto the arch strap with some elastic for give. This was harder than it should have been. I ended up re-sewing this part several times to get the fit right despite the elastic. Next time the adjustable Velcro will make this obsolete.

You can sort of make out the elastic I sewed in each back ankle strap. It was not enough and it was difficult to fit.

You can sort of make out the elastic I sewed in each back ankle strap. It was not enough and it was difficult to fit.

11) At this point I thought the sandals were done but a quick walk out to the post box showed me that I had left too big of a gap under my front toes and the sandal threatened to catch on the ground and pull me down. I was forced to walk like a clown. I had considered a thong strap between the toes but decided that the toe ring would be easier. On the first toe ring I sewed both ends on separately. I ended up re stitching it four times to get it right. On the second sandal, I stitched the ends of the leash together making a ring and then stitched the ring on to the sandal. Which worked much better. I had to make the ring small enough that it wouldn’t be too loose and slide off but also not so tight that I couldn’t slide it on and off easily.

Here is the toe ring from the top.

Here is the toe ring from the top.

Here is the bottom of the sandal that shows the toe ring stitching.

Here is the bottom of the sandal that shows the toe ring stitching.

A quick wander around the house proved that the toe ring had solved the clown walk problem completely. I’ve warn them a few times outside the house and they are wonderfully light; it almost feels as if I am walking around in bare feet.  Only thing is, I have had to re learn how to walk on pavement because my normal way feels like I’m stomping. I have to be more careful about how I place my feet and make sure not to come down fast.

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