When I was a senior in high school I had a good friend who was really into making leather stuff. He made leather journals, belts, bags, and then he got into making leather shoes. As you can probably guess, I tend to gravitate toward people who make stuff, or might be described as "crafty". I was super stoked when he made me one of his first attempts at a gladiator sandal. I thought they were way cool, I think in part because I was obsessed with Athena at the time.
Gosh, this probably makes me sound kind of nerdy (which I'm not denying). BUT, I would like to point out that this was before gladiator sandals came back into style and before Katniss ever let her first arrow fly (which is Athena's weapon of choice as well). So basically I was a trendsetter. Clearly.
Anyway, I got the hankering to make some summer sandals, and I kept thinking about those homemade gladiator sandals from high school. My sandals are not quite as advanced…I simply used espadrille soles and customized them (so easy to do!). Here's how I made mine in case you're curious.
-espadrille soles (I bought mine on Etsy. The brand is Prym. They also sell add-on items to make the rest of the shoes too if you don't want to pick out your own leathers/fabrics)
-scrap paper and pencil
-scrap leather, pleather, or other sturdy fabric (you don't need much!)
-needle (for leather or tapestry)
-velcro or buckles
Note: I originally planned to use fabric glue (pictured), but after trying it, I just didn't think it held up as well as I wanted, even though it said it was good for leather projects (LIES!). So I just stitched the velcro on instead. So, skip the glue if you're doing this project.
All together these shoes cost around $14 to make (not including the glue because, like I said, skip it).
Step One: Use scrap paper to make a pattern or template for your shoe straps. Feel free to get creative here! Also, really do put your foot on the sole and hold the pattern in place to make sure it works well. And remember, you can always cut your leather (or other fabric) a little smaller if needed. Trimming is easy, adding on if it's too small is not.
Once you have your pattern how you want it, use it to cut out your pieces.
Step Two: Stitch on your pieces. Remember that you will be wearing these, so don't be afraid to double up your thread or sew through each hole twice for extra durability. Espadrille soles are great for this because they are made of plaited fiber (kind of like sewing through soft rope). Stitch on your velcro or buckles too.
Step Three: Wear your new shoes a few times and see what you think. If you notice the leather stretching a little (like most leather will) you can stitch them a little tighter.
Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.