For those of you who have purchased either How to Make Simple Sandals, or How to Make the Simplest Sandals, I just made a pair of loop sandals and offer these improved directions: (1) On the pattern, two holes are shown so the loop can pass up through one and down through the other, I now don’t think that’s necessary, so you can punch one hole in the center of the two holes shown, and pull your loop material up through it. I cut a 1/2″ dowel rod and cut sections of it to put into a loop so it remains the same size while I make the next loop. I used a 3/16″ hand punch to make the holes. To pull the loop material up through the hole, I used a paper clip: one leg extended up, one-half of the “lozenge-shaped” section poked through the hole. Pull the loop through the paper clip, then pull it up and shape it over a dowel rod section.
Glen Leasure and myself both took up shoemaking in the 80’s, inspired by Christine Lewis-Clark’s book The Make-it-Yourself Shoe Book. We met and realized our common pursuit when my husband, daughter and I were visiting “intentional communities”, seeking a place to live that would provide us with an extended family as well as an opportunity to share resources and live simply. We met Glen and Peggy at Common Ground Community in Lexington Va.
In Lewis-Clark’s book, she taught the stitch-down process, and her belief that lasts weren’t needed for shoemaking, that instead one’s own feet can serve as lasts.
(Lasts are standardized molds that shoes are built over that include adequate toe space and the desired toe shape).
Glen stayed with Lewis-Clark’s teachings, and therefore each pair of boots – the footwear he most-often made – he made were custom-made over a customer’s feet or a replica of their feet. For myself, having done a lot of dress-making, I was drawn to making patterns and the using of commercial lasts.
We remained constant in the support we gave each other and there was much shoemaking information that we could share with each other and we did.
I was an admirer of the beauty of the boots Glen made, because he made hundreds of them and constantly worked at improving his process. He has a dvd available on his website, www.healthyhandmadeshoes.com, describing how he made his boots.
Glen aspired to teach shoemaking to those in areas of the world where foot-wear making knowledge was lacking. He spent over a year gathering materials to be used to teach shoemaking in Sierra Leone. His death after exposure to tropical diseases left his goals of helping the children there who were sickened by parasites entering their bodies through their unshod feet, temporarily incomplete.
I use the word “temporary” because his family, friends and others inspired by his dedication are determined that his goals be met, and will find a way. If you’re going to Sierra Leone, please get in touch.
Rest in peace, my generous friend.
here’s two more sandal styles that can easily be made as out-stitched – or even “understitched” – meaning that you punch slits or oblong slots in the sandal sole and thread the ends of sandal tabs through them. Then, either stitch, rivet or nail them in place (this is all explained further in my sandalmaking book and/or dvd) before assembling the sandal.
I saw two pairs of shoes on the web recently; they each provided an example of how you can take an idea you see and like, and make something similar for yourself. Here’s the two shoes, which one can you see yourself making? That’s right, the ones on the right, just create some gorgeous fabric through beading, applique etc, construct the pattern using pattern for the avarca sandal from my “Simplest Sandals” book. A leather strap and you’re all set. Re: the high heel, you could take the heel tab and the two leather straps from it and make something similar, but with a low heel.
Several years ago I made a pair of sandals for my friend Karen that had a fixed strap across the ball of the foot. As time went on the strap stretched, until her feet slid forward uncomfortably as she walked. I thought a while about how to solve the problem; it might be best to cut the strap, then attach a buckle and a thinner strap on top of the present one, but I just couldn’t crank out a good way of accomplishing this feat.
So, I decided to simply cut the strap, take out about 1/4″, and stitch it back together. Not exceedingly clever, but all I could come up with at the time. So I cut out a slice on the inner end of the strap, thinking that would be less conspicuous. Then I decided to “couch” the seam, meaning to catch a thin strip of leather under the stitches. I chose something in the purple range, always a good bet for me and my friends. I then went to my stitching thread collection, and am unable to resist braided waxed cord – and there was my multicolor jumping up and down saying “use me! use me!” So I did.
But first I decided to punch a third row of stitching slits, so if it loosens up significantly in the future, we can just take out that thread, snip off more of the leather band, and stitch it back together again even tighter! And, in the future I plan to stitch this all on the outside of the sandal, for all to see.
I have greatly enjoyed making and wearing the one-strap sandal, which became known to the Northern Hemisphere through the book Born to Run (highly-recommended!) Checking out websites about the “invisible sandal”, I realized that a mystery had been solved for me: for years I have had a delightful photo from a calendar hanging on my studio wall – it shows three men sitting together (I cropped one out), engaged in their different crafts…one of them has traditional-looking footwear on. I have studied that picture many times, trying to figure out how the sandal was made with only one strap! I have presumed the men were from Central America, now I’m thinking Peru…if anyone has familiarity with this style of dress and these activities, I would love to know where they are from.
Now I know – it’s the same as the Tumahumara (the Northern Mexico indigenous people) sandal, but instead of the strap going through a loop in the sole alongside the ankle, there is a leather heel piece with holes at the top front corners that the strap goes through instead. Then there is the little “keeper” piece of leather over the straps, all very wonderful and I’m so anxious to make a pair – but unfortunately I can say that about a dozen or so shoe styles, so I might not be making them soon. But I’ll always enjoy the photo, these men who appear contented making, and being together.
I am finishing up a small book on the “fisher” sandal for all lengths of feet from 3 1/2″ to 12″. I believe it’s a sandal that can be made to fit everyone, providing lots of openings for cooling breezes to waft through, but also providing quite a bit of protection for the foot. I think it can be considered tropical/formal footwear or casual. Here’s a photo of one of several sandals that a woman made for her family members – in this one, she covered the elastic with a piece of leather.
A junior-high student came to visit me with her shoemaking mother; she showed me the sandals she had made with scraps left off from a project of her mothers. I love them! I think we all agreed that a toe-strap extending from the vamp band would be a good idea, which she planned to add, but otherwise, perfect!
Her work partially inspired a small book that I am working on right now, entitled “The Ground’s the Limit” – simple sandals you can make from recycled materials. I finally realized what would make great recycled soling – flip-flops that the straps have popped out of! How many of these are tossed into the trash from the five colleges here in my valley?! Now I’ve got to set up a collection scheme, I am hoping the Eco-club at UMass will help me. But people can find them everywhere, particularly along beaches. So let’s use them again – these soles and a recycled handbag and you’ve got sandals!
Today I uploaded four videos to youtube, and will then transfer them to this blog; I’ve been visiting my ancient mother, and while she watches television I put my headphones on and edit movies. I made a lot of progress during a recent visit, and have videos on three stitching techniques: how to do the simultaneous running stitch, the X and bar stitch for stitching “butt seams”, and how to use the stitching awl.
I also have five teaching videos to burn, and will be offering them for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/simpleshoemaking. They are: how to make a child’s derby shoe (all processes are the same as those used to making adult footwear); how to make sandals; how to make the chukka moccasin; how to make a stitch-down renaissance-faire boot; and how to make a simple wellington boot. Now I will have more time for blogging which I have been looking forward to for a long time; my folder of shoemaking blogging topics is bursting! (even though it’s digital!)
While downloading the videos to Youtube, I caught a glimpse of other shoemaking videos out there; if you watched them all, you’d have quite an eclectic education – and many different opinions on how things are best done. I humbly believe that if you want to make something simple and ecological, mine are a good place to start.