Handmade Wardrobe / Inspiration / Shoe Making

Replicating My Favourite Sandals, Part 1: The Plan

These are my favourite sandals of all time. I bought them from Country Road 6 years ago, and have absolutely worn them to death every summer since. I am a great believer in caring for the pieces I own, so every year I have taken them back to the cobbler for repairs. But this year he told me he didn’t think he would be able to do any more for them. The insole had become so compressed that it was difficult to attach a new outer sole, and the straps were one by one snapping, and no amount of glue was going to be able to fix snapped leather. Beyond the gorgeous design of these sandals, the comfort level is next level and they literally go with everything. I was more upset about a broken pair of shoes than i reasonably should be, and just couldn’t say goodbye. So it was time for a plan. Today I bring you Part 1 of my attempts at replicating my favourite sandals!

Replicating my favourite sandals: the details of the upper Replicating my favourite sandals: side shoe details

Phew I need to take a deep breath, because though having these sandals means that I can use them as a pattern for the new pair, the act of turning them into a pattern will destroy them further. I’m finding that hard to swallow, but I think it’s necessary. So the first thing I need to plan is the materials. I want to use Vege Tan leather for these so that they will be long lasting and also a natural biodegradable material. I would also like to try and use a leather sole for the first time. Up until now I have made all my shoes with resin soles and I would love to try a natural leather sole (which is what these shoes originally had until they were resoled 1 million times… ok fine it was 6).

Replicating My Favourite shoes: assessing the damageReplicating my favourite sandals: the damage Replicating My Favourite Sandals - original construction

The straps for these sandals measure 2mm thick, but inspection of some of the broken parts reveals that they are actually made of 2 pieces of 1mm wide leather with some sort of stabilizing tape sandwiched between them. I currently have a large stash of 1mm thick Vege Tan leather from when I made my Basket Weave mules, so this is an option for me, but since I have never used a stabilizing material in between leather I’m not confident in how to do it well. Plus then I’m relying on glue to hold it all together, and i’d prefer to use as little glue as possible. I’m inclined to buy some 2mm wide vege tan leather and cut all the pieces out of thicker leather. The issue with this is that it will make it harder for me to thread the straps through the slits in the upper.

Replicating my favourite sandals: strap details Replicating my favourite sandals: Part 1, the plan!

The next consideration is the ankle ties. These are a lovely detail and are currently threaded through the back strap of the shoes and held in place by a sewn tab. I’m tempted to try and use the ties that are already in place, though part of me wonders if it might be better to buy some new leather ties to use. I’m also trying to decide if I can successfully accomplish the tab with my current skill level and how achievable it would be to reuse the metal ends, or if i should skip it.

Replicating My Favourite shoes: the PlanReplicating My Favourite shoes: the Plan

So friends that is the plan for replicating my favourite sandals! The next step will be pulling these apart and making a pattern for them as well as check if the insole matches my insole templates for my shoe lasts and then buying the materials probably from my favourite local supplier Leather Direct. If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know in the comments!

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

This sounds like a great project. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making my own shoes. I did make a pair of moccasins when I was in high school but nothing with a real sole. I’m a big fan of huaraches, too. I’d really like to know how you keep your sandals so clean!

2 years ago

Excited to see how these go. I can totally recommend Rachel Corry’s new book The Sandalmaking Workshop. It’s a wealth of information and has loads of info on leather soles!