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How-Tuesday: Make Your Own Sandals

Do flip flops make your toes curl? Reinvent that soft sole with a fabric twist.

I'm Kathrin. I've always been inspired to make things, all kinds of things, using my personal interpretation of slow design. My material of choice is usually rescued or salvaged and then transformed into interesting, functional items and accessories. I love hand-sewing, but also enjoy developing unusual designs, which can be found on my blog, However, I recently got side-tracked with an idea for summer sandals...

Summer shoes are a challenge for me. I don't own flip flops, because I can't find anything to like about them, except maybe their price tag. My toes hate to be separated by a rubber thingy and I'm neither a fan of the sound they make nor the name. How can anyone trust a shoe called a "flip flop"? Needless to say, you can't run in them. All of this has forever prevented me from getting the "number one" summer shoe. That is, until last week.

I thought the soles of flip flops were quite useful and maybe, just maybe, I could figure a way to attach something to make them into wearable footwear. When you look at the construction of shoes, the concept is quite simple. There's the sole and an upper part glued to it. I don't like using glue that much in my work, but I understand its necessity in many applications. Shoes are one of them. And then I tried a few short cuts and used an existing flip flop sole and... IT WORKED. Here's how you can make your own pair of summer sandals in no time. And, you can be very creative in customizing — just what I like.


Summer Sandals Tutorial 1

- Flip flops (remember, used flip flops work great, and are more eco-friendly)
- Scissors
- Piece of chalk or marker
- Craft knife
- Heavy duty waterproof glue
- Recycled T-shirts
- Screw driver
- Flat butter knife or thin plastic ruler to stuff fabric into the soles
- Clamps (or heavy books)


Cut the rubber bits at the point where they come through the sole. Leave just the "plug" between your toes in place (the one that holds the foot down: glue that in place). Remove the other two in the rear.

Summer Sandals Tutorial 2

These holes will be used for the ties around your ankles.

Summer Sandals Tutorial 3

Take a long strip (2 inches wide and long enough to wrap around you ankle) and knot one end. Thread it through the hole with a screwdriver and glue in place. The knot will nestle nicely into the hole from the plug you've removed, so you're not walking on it.


Summer Sandals Tutorial 7

Make 2 horizontal slits on each side of the the foam sole of your flip flop.

Summer Sandals Tutorial 5

Cut 2 strips of T-shirts 3" wide and approximately 8" long. You will need to experiment a bit. Every foot is different and the T-shirt material has a different stretch.

Summer Sandals Tutorial 8

Stuff the strips into the incision you've made crossing them over the foot. I used a protractor because that was the only thing I could find in my creative frenzy.

Summer Sandals Tutorial 9

When you are happy with the look, glue the strips in place, following the direction for the glue you are using. Be sure to use a waterproof glue.

Summer Sandals Tutorial 1

Clamp together and wait an hour or two, until the glue is really dry. You've done it.

Summer Sandals Tutorial

There are a million variations on this theme:

  • Instead of 2 incisions at each side, you can also make a longer incision and squeeze a wider strip into the gap. Or, squeeze 1 separate strip into each gap and tie them into a bow across your foot.
  • You could decorate the shoe with flowers, buttons, brooches.
  • Use different colors for the two strips, maybe really bold primary ones.
  • Try a different material forthe sole. I wonder if yoga mats will work as well? They would have even more fun colors... maybe they could be stacked to make plateau shoes. That'll give my 5'3" some boost, so I don't have to stand on my tip toes like Nicolas Sarkozy!
  • The list goes on...

My idea was to make many pairs to show different ideas, but I got so excited and wanted to share this before everyone runs off to the beach for the month of August (well, at least the French do), and I trust that you are perfectly able to experiment yourselves. I'm already thinking of some fun winter shoes.

If you make these sandals, will you please show me some of your ideas and results?

Thank you to Kathrin for sharing this project with us. For more projects and stories like this one, check out


Like-New Shoes | More How-Tuesday Posts | Sandals on Etsy

Julie Schneider image
Julie Schneider

When Julie Schneider isn’t writing and editing, she’s carrying on her family’s pun tradition, making custom GIFs, or scheming in her cozy art studio. Keep up with her latest projects on Instagram.

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