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How-Tuesday: Arrow Sandals

Aug 9, 2011

by Kaye Blegvad handmade and vintage goods

While we sweat through waves of summer heat, fashion need not be forgotten. For this week’s How-Tuesday post, put your best foot forward and learn how to make your own sandals, starting with custom pattern pieces and ending with a waltz out the door with fancy feet. Kaye Blegvad, a.k.a. datter (jewelry) and kayeblegvad (illustration) on Etsy, will be your guide.

Looking for more shoe how-to’s? Check out how to make Japanese Zori sandals, like-new shoes with crocheted elements and fabric sandals.

Well, hello! I’m Kaye, and I’m an illustrator, jewelry designer, and general crafty thing-maker. I always like to see if I can make something myself before I buy it from a store, so I played around with making sandals until I worked it out, then taught a class on it at the amazing Brooklyn Brainery. And now, here’s a tutorial just for you. It’s quite a simple method, really, though it looks like there are lots of steps. It’s up to you to decide how complex you’ll make your sandals. Here goes!

Supplies Needed:

  • A pair of cheap flip-flops (They need to have the foamy kind of sole! I found this pair, which has a woven sole stuck on top of the foamy part, and that works perfectly well, too.)
  • A piece of leather or vegetarian leather
  • Barge rubber cement (or Shoe Goo), available from shoe repair shops
  • A metal ruler
  • A sharp cutting knife
  • Scrap paper
  • An awl for making the holes (a small nail will do just fine too)
  • Leather sewing needles
  • Strong sewing thread (such as linen)
  • Buckles or buttons, as you desire


1. First things first: cut the whole upper away from the flip-flops. You’ll want to cut as close as you can and leave just the sole.

2. Once you’ve got the bare soles, it’s time to work out the shape of your sandals. I do this using a highly technical method: by cutting strips of paper and taping them to the sole, around my foot. Basically, you’ll make a paper shoe around your foot so you can get the fit right. (I thought I’d spare you shots of the paper actually on my foot, but you get the gist.)

Wider straps work a little better (it’s really fiddly to work with anything less than 3/4″), and the more straps you attach to the sole, the trickier the process becomes. You need to add at least 1/2″ to the end of each strap, which will tuck into the sole.

I made a little drawing of a few simple pattern ideas for your shoes and the rough lengths of strap you’ll need. (You can also download a larger version of these instructions here.)

3. While the straps are still taped to your sole, you’ll need to make marks for later. Mark on the sole where the straps are positioned and mark the straps where they meet the sole. It also helps to label the straps because, once you remove them from the sole, they pretty much just look like strips of paper.

Once you’ve marked everything so you’ll be able to put it back together in leather form, you can take those strips of paper off the shoe. Ta-da! Pattern pieces made!

4. Now it’s time to start cutting your leather. Cutting knives cut through leather really well and make a much neater cut than scissors. Slice the straps using the paper pattern pieces as a template.

5. Bam! All the straps are ready. My leather piece wasn’t long enough for the ankle strap, so I just sewed two strips together. No big deal. Transfer marks to the back of the leather, so you know how far into the sole these bad boys need to go for the shoes to fit you.

6. Okay, the fun and messy part is approaching. Using the guides you’ve drawn on the sole, cut slits into the sides to insert the straps. You need to make these slices pretty deep — aim to get the cutting knife in about 3/4″. I cut between the top sole and the foamy sole, but if you just have pure foamy sole, cut as close to the middle as you can.

7. Now you have to get gluing. I sacrificed a butter knife for this, which wasn’t very smart. If you have a popsicle stick or a plastic takeout knife, I think that would be a lot more sensible. Squeeze glue on the tip of the knife and squish it into the cuts in the sole. Try to get a lot of glue in there. This is inevitably a bit messy, but hey, nobody looks at the soles of shoes anyhow.

Push the straps into the sole, up to the guides you made. Normally they go in about 3/4″, so if you leave excess on your straps, you may want to trim before smushing them into the glue. A popsicle stick would work wonders here. I used a bookbinding tool which, again, wasn’t very smart. What can I say? I don’t have a lot of disposable tools around. The glue needs to dry overnight before it’s secure.

8. Okay! You have got all your straps into the sole. Your shoes are nearly done. And they look like shoes already, right?

For mine, I decided to make an ankle strap, so I needed to do a little sewing to attach it. If you went for a different design, you can skip these steps.

9. Fold the side straps around the ankle strap to figure out where to sew. You need the ankle strap to be able to move through fairly easily. Then, using the awl (or a nail), make holes to sew through. I went for two rows of holes, but you can lay this out however you like. Thread up your leather needle with super tough thread, and sew, sew, sew!

10. Nearly finished! Thread the ankle strap through the sides, and lo and behold, it’s almost a shoe! All that remains is attaching a buckle. I have the good fortune to own a leather hole puncher, but if you don’t, you can use the awl or a nail for this last step.

Make a hole about an inch into the strap. Put the buckle through this hole, like fastening a belt. Now sew the end of the strap back onto itself, to hold the buckle in place. Again, to sew, you’ll probably need to make holes in advance with the awl. Once the buckle is sewn in place, make holes in the other end of your strap too, so you can fasten the shoes.

Done! You have literally made your own sandals. Rejoice. Wear them. (Or, if you’re anything like me, decide they aren’t quite finished.) Add an embellishment. I gave my sandals arrow t-bars, and now my feet live in constant happiness.

If you make your own sandals, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

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  • 1dream

    1dream said 9 years ago

    I love it..Thank you for sharing.

  • xxxRedStitcHxxx

    xxxRedStitcHxxx said 9 years ago

    good idea! thanks, xxx

  • rosealida

    rosealida said 9 years ago

    Very cool idea. Never thought of dissecting an existing pair to make what I want. Thanks for sharing your technique,

  • LAccentNou

    LAccentNou said 9 years ago

    So cooooool!

  • MadeinMogotes

    MadeinMogotes said 9 years ago

    Wow! So interesting to see how that was done in all the photos. I'd probably mess it up if I tried it, but I love it :)

  • brandeye

    brandeye said 9 years ago

    what a great idea!

  • urbunny

    urbunny said 9 years ago

    I did something similar with some knit fabric, but this is so much better!

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection said 9 years ago

    Oh this looks like fun. I'm going to try it! TheIDConnection

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 9 years ago

    Very Roman-looking! Great!

  • charcoaldesigns

    charcoaldesigns said 9 years ago

    The arrows are a great touch!

  • vitamini

    vitamini said 9 years ago

    How cool! I would have never thought I could make my own sandals starting with a pre-made sole. Brilliant! Thanks for the thorough how-to!

  • SweetandDandyVintage

    SweetandDandyVintage said 9 years ago

    These are TOO CUTE!! Great tutorial!

  • DirtyLush

    DirtyLush said 9 years ago

    OMG Amazing !

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 9 years ago

    These sandals look H-O-T! Thanks for sharing this super creative tutorial.

  • blueberryshoes

    blueberryshoes said 9 years ago

    wanna try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bysweetmom

    bysweetmom said 9 years ago

    wow superb:) thanks

  • GalipetteVintage

    GalipetteVintage said 9 years ago

    Ingenious! Such great work, bravo :)

  • VintageEyeFashion

    VintageEyeFashion said 9 years ago footwear! I love it!

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads said 9 years ago

    these look really cool!

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 9 years ago

    Ambitious! I will stick with making jewelry for the time being. Love the look you guys came up with!

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 9 years ago

    Super :)) Thanks for sharing :))

  • KateStealey

    KateStealey said 9 years ago

    very cool!

  • TheHiddenBloom

    TheHiddenBloom said 9 years ago

    Love it!

  • needlenerd

    needlenerd said 9 years ago


  • MouseTrapVintage

    MouseTrapVintage said 9 years ago

    pretty darn rad!

  • missantique

    missantique said 9 years ago

    like it!!

  • datter

    datter said 9 years ago

    Aw, thanks for all the lovely comments! I hope somebody makes some awesome DIY sandals from this. It's easy!

  • littlepancakes

    littlepancakes said 9 years ago

    I think I know you from elsewhere on the internet, SS maybe?

  • NikoandNonnie

    NikoandNonnie said 9 years ago

    A great idea - so creative! I especially like how you adorned them with arrows.

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 9 years ago

    This is a great idea to repurpose or freshen-up a pair of sandals. Thanks

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 9 years ago

    no way!! i HAVE to try this, thanks to Kaye and Etsy!

  • dalilascloset

    dalilascloset said 9 years ago

    cool! Dalila

  • littletreasure2011

    littletreasure2011 said 9 years ago

    Awesom job

  • BlueRoseRetro

    BlueRoseRetro said 9 years ago

    Way cool cobbling!

  • spicedish

    spicedish said 9 years ago

    Absolutely fantastic! I would love to rock those!

  • Kaytea20emu

    Kaytea20emu said 9 years ago

    I love this! The only thing is, whenever I start a project it usually ends up costing just as much as buying the thing because I never have the right supplies on hand :P

  • ohiomom

    ohiomom said 9 years ago

    Why are there no pictures with them on feet?

  • rkdsign88

    rkdsign88 said 9 years ago

    Great info :)

  • xZOUix

    xZOUix said 9 years ago

    man, that's great. thank you for an inspiring post :) happy days!

  • nikacollection

    nikacollection said 9 years ago

    very nice!

  • salvageshop

    salvageshop said 9 years ago

    must try now!!! thank you!!!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 9 years ago

    Wow that's amazing you certainly make it look so easy. Would make a great project for old sandals.

  • nicolelias

    nicolelias said 9 years ago

    That is soo cool!!!

  • aldontrujacks

    aldontrujacks said 9 years ago

    I just love it! I have been thinking for some time about trying to make my own shoes. This is fab! Thanks for sharing. I think the folks on Etsy are the greatest group of sharing creative people.

  • Woolbridge

    Woolbridge said 9 years ago

    ahhh! this is so cool! :o)

  • catilla

    catilla said 9 years ago

    WOW! Absolutely amazing. How unique your sandals. Thank you for sharing the sandal tutorial. Cat.

  • ShawnBoenArt

    ShawnBoenArt said 9 years ago

    Wow! what a process ... BUT ..... thinking of thee alternative .... it's Great! A low cost way to have a new pair of shoes... let your imagination go! Thank You for the details and patterns. :)

  • asileoriginals

    asileoriginals said 9 years ago

    So creative, I love them!

  • MomBakes

    MomBakes said 9 years ago

    I was already a fan of Kaye's - but this is seriously amazing!!!

  • SweetSincerity

    SweetSincerity said 9 years ago

    I love shoes and have always dreamed of making my own! If you don't count felt baby slippers and the sandals I make out of folded newspaper I made when I was a kid, I have been entirely unsuccessful at this endevor! You can bet I will be following this how-to! :) AWESOME POST! Thanks

  • NaturesJewells

    NaturesJewells said 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing very cool

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 9 years ago

    awesome! I bet those sandals are really comfortable!

  • ExpressingDevotion

    ExpressingDevotion said 9 years ago

    very creative. great way to get a unique pair off shoes!

  • NopalitoVintageMore

    NopalitoVintageMore said 9 years ago

    So glad to see this! It brought back memories from 1970 when I made my own sandal. You can do it! Just buy some very thick leather or similar material, cut it to size your foot. You will need two for each foot. I then macramed a big toe holder and slipped it between the two glued pieces of leather (the bottom was very firm and the top piece was softer. I also macramed a cross piece for over the top of the foot. I used to love wearing my own hand made sandals! Thanks for posting this!

  • NopalitoVintageMore

    NopalitoVintageMore said 9 years ago

    This was great seeing! It bought back memories of my own sandals I made in the 70's. Very similar, but I bought my own leather, one piece hard for the bottom and a soft piece for the top. I macramed my own big toe ring and a macramed strap. It was so nice to be able to make my own sandal and if you make your own, you will feel great!

  • NopalitoVintageMore

    NopalitoVintageMore said 9 years ago

    Oops, sorry folks, I thought I didn't hit the "add your comment" button on the first post..........

  • crazynoodle

    crazynoodle said 9 years ago

    thanks! i've always wanted to make my own sandals but never knew how. i hoipe i get to make my own soon!

  • frittsrosenow

    frittsrosenow said 9 years ago

    that is so awesome!!! thanks so much for sharing!!

  • PruAtelier

    PruAtelier said 9 years ago

    GREAT article! I've ALWAYS wanted to make my own footwear and I've even toyed with doing espadrilles basically in this same taking a cheap ready-made pair, removing the fabric and adding my own!

  • booboosmom

    booboosmom said 9 years ago

    brilliant, you are! thank u for your talent and efforts!

  • booboosmom

    booboosmom said 9 years ago

    brilliant, you are!

  • corduroy

    corduroy said 9 years ago

    Go Kaye! These are freakin awesome

  • fajitafieldtrip

    fajitafieldtrip said 9 years ago

    Love it! I'm totally gonna make me a pair!

  • Studio207

    Studio207 said 9 years ago

    I can't wait to try this! Forget the heels it's summer sandals for me!

  • styleforlife

    styleforlife said 9 years ago

    LOVE!!!! Incredible. Amazing sandals, such talent!! xxxxx EL Vintage

  • BoxEleven

    BoxEleven said 9 years ago

    yessss! so cool! i've been wanting to make a pair of shoes for a long time now, but thought i needed to have all kinds of professional tools and gadgets and know-how....thanks for convincing me otherwise! awesome post!!

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 9 years ago

    amazing! seriously how easy. i am definitely going to try something similar to these. thanks!!!

  • InYourBones

    InYourBones said 9 years ago

    i'm sooo gonna do this when i get home

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 9 years ago

    Cool! I'll try to make them.

  • SweetCheeksCouture

    SweetCheeksCouture said 9 years ago

    Love this! Cant wait to make my own!

  • Apseed

    Apseed said 9 years ago

    Amazing! Absolutely in love with this project!

  • charmedjewel

    charmedjewel said 9 years ago

    wow cool, great way to make new sandals from old ones:)) and thanks for sharing....

  • trottinette

    trottinette said 9 years ago

    Brilliant tutorial ! I'm definitely gonna try this one...

  • melibea

    melibea said 9 years ago

    Great tutorial! I MUST try it!

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 9 years ago

    Cool tutorial!

  • MakeMeUnique

    MakeMeUnique said 9 years ago

    How cool is that u can design ur own cool desighner sandles

  • AdeloCreations

    AdeloCreations said 9 years ago

    wow!Love the tutorial and all the possibilities!Thanks for sharing!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 9 years ago

    Love this! Such a fun and creative idea!

  • IrisTse

    IrisTse said 9 years ago

    Thank you for sharing~ must try it!

  • RascalDreamFactories

    RascalDreamFactories said 9 years ago

    Fantastic! The tutorial inspires me to make some of my own with a lot of crazy details!

  • lemondear

    lemondear said 9 years ago

    this is wonderful and makes me wish Summer could last a few extra months!

  • MissingHeirloom

    MissingHeirloom said 9 years ago

    These are too cute - and very clever. Your construction techniques seem to be very sound as well. Thanks for sharing :))

  • GreenDial

    GreenDial said 9 years ago

    these look so amazing!! i love the arrows. nice touch!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 9 years ago

    They look great, thanks for sharing your tutorial. Love the 60's boots!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly said 9 years ago

    Great idea! Love the arrow shoe clips!!

  • grabbers

    grabbers said 9 years ago

    I WANT TO MAKE SANDALS NOW!! I, unfortunately, got smacked upside the head with the big-foot-stick at some time in my life and they never make cute sandals (aside from flipflops) for big feet! Ah ha! I will now beat them at their own game!

  • BDleatherdesigns

    BDleatherdesigns said 9 years ago

    I'm so going to make these!!! I love it. The arrow is an adorable touch.

  • simplywhit

    simplywhit said 9 years ago

    this is so great! i just stumbled upon some old vinyl samples and was wondering what i could do with them!

  • rosenu2

    rosenu2 said 9 years ago

    I Flipped over this one .... Too old for this type of footwear, But will pass it on to my Daughter who wears flip flops all the time .... Will have to give it a try so she can mix and match her wardrobe .... Thanks for sharing ....

  • thevintagegreen

    thevintagegreen said 9 years ago

    As I do love the idea I was a little disappointed in your first step. You don't truly show us how to make a pair of sandals. You need a tutorial on the soles, then your sandal project would be complete.

  • ethicBioskin

    ethicBioskin said 9 years ago

    wow...Beautiful sandals love it !!!

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 9 years ago

    So cute! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • rinnyc

    rinnyc said 9 years ago

    Wow how creative and inspiring! I am ready to make some sandals.

  • jjboz10

    jjboz10 said 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing.....I am ready t make my own sandals. Lucky to live Hawaii, summer all the time :)

  • emilybidwell Admin

    emilybidwell said 9 years ago


  • Crochetedforyou

    Crochetedforyou said 9 years ago

    wow, very creative

  • jwalk

    jwalk said 9 years ago

    Question for Kaye: Where'd you get your leather? I've looked at a few online stores b/c I don't happen to have leather scraps or samples sitting around my house, but most places seem to sell larger pieces than I'd need...

  • UrbanBirdandCo

    UrbanBirdandCo said 9 years ago

    What's even better is cheap flip flops will be even cheaper as stores move into fall clothing. LOVE these sandals!

  • NCantrell

    NCantrell said 9 years ago Or you could order a custom pair. ;-)


    THEMONKEYSHOP said 9 years ago

    Very cool!

  • LeBelleBijoux

    LeBelleBijoux said 9 years ago

    Love!! Thanks for sharing :)

  • dew24710

    dew24710 said 9 years ago

    Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • sancynam

    sancynam said 9 years ago

    Thank you for sharing these instructions! I really want to make a pair for myself.

  • elegantgartershop

    elegantgartershop said 9 years ago

    What a great idea! All you people on Etsy are so creative absolutely gorgeous items from all of you

  • kwilliard

    kwilliard said 9 years ago

    My dad used to do a lot of work glueing stuff. He used hypodermic syringes, with fat guage needles, filled with clear glue to squirt into the spaces he needed to get into that were tight fits!

  • studio2355

    studio2355 said 9 years ago

    They are neat, have made shoes and also house slippers and revamped pumps. The cement was very strong, I will try again maybe it has changed. Thank you.

  • studio2355

    studio2355 said 9 years ago

    One can find a thrift shop hand bag. It is fun and easy to dye leather,

  • tribalissima

    tribalissima said 9 years ago

    Nifty idea. Next time I blow out a flip flop, I just may try this for an upcycle! Thank you for mentioning vegetarian leather in your supplies list.

  • MaigretLampwork

    MaigretLampwork said 9 years ago

    Nice idea - vegans/veggies could use tough fabric, perhaps.

  • CiaraBaby

    CiaraBaby said 9 years ago

    I love it; thanks so much for sharing! :)

  • hopee

    hopee said 9 years ago

    Love this! I can't wait to try it out :D

  • feltingdreams

    feltingdreams said 9 years ago


  • prendasbyenid

    prendasbyenid said 9 years ago

    This is great!!!

  • polkyanddot

    polkyanddot said 9 years ago

    WOW! Sounds fun! I have an old purse i could cut up for the leather!

  • AzuriteCreations

    AzuriteCreations said 9 years ago

    Thanks! Great way to recycle those blown out flipflops! :)

  • wiredroxz

    wiredroxz said 9 years ago

    very cool.. ..gonna make my own too........merci :)

  • jewelswiredup

    jewelswiredup said 9 years ago

    I have several pairs of old flip flops I don't wear. I cant wait to try this. Thanks for the instructions.

  • SilverTrove

    SilverTrove said 9 years ago

    I happen to have a leather sewing awl which comes threaded with waxed cord. I also have many pairs of old flip flops so I will definitely be trying this!

  • hotabich24

    hotabich24 said 9 years ago

    Verrry cool!

  • TheSmartCat

    TheSmartCat said 9 years ago

    Now ai know why I have been saving my broken flip-flops!

  • Veraniz

    Veraniz said 9 years ago

    WOW!!!! very creative!!!! I like it!


    PHILIPAPIPA said 9 years ago

    Amazing, really love it !!!Thank you very much !!!

  • fifime

    fifime said 9 years ago

    Great creativity , wow . Congratulations from Turkey .

  • nicolaclare7

    nicolaclare7 said 9 years ago

    awesome stuff. and kaye's work is awesome as well. fantastic.

  • KnitKnit

    KnitKnit said 9 years ago

    love it! thanks so much for sharing! i have a couple pairs of flip flops that could definitely use a make over

  • cougarvintage

    cougarvintage said 9 years ago

    Very creative!

  • DariaBukesova

    DariaBukesova said 9 years ago

    Thank you! I should try that!

  • chattypatty6

    chattypatty6 said 9 years ago

    wow that's really cool!! amazing job... ♥ them!

  • asunlitwalk

    asunlitwalk said 9 years ago

    I'm definitely going to do that. I have a pair of broken flip flops just waiting to have a new life.

  • freshfeathers11

    freshfeathers11 said 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like something I may actually be able to do. I may even consider making them and selling them in my shop along with my feather hair extensions.

  • ekohaus

    ekohaus said 9 years ago

    Wow! Thanks! I should try on my felted shoes :)

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    mia lopez said 8 years ago - Whether you are at home or on the move to a familiar or unfamiliar destination, you will find everything you need to know aboutwhat's happening in the world, right here, right now!... well, eventually. This is where you come in. Upload any of your events to with ease and share your event(s) with the planet.

  • joyousjules

    julia from joyousjules said 8 years ago

    fab, fab, fab!

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