There are many designs and techniques for making sandals. An easy way is to wrap a length of strap around the foot slotting it in and out of the sole. There are many ways to wrap the strap in order to create different designs.
The following instructions are for making a simple and popular style of sandal + a Teva look-a-like recycled from car tires.
DIY Simple Sandals
There is no reason why you cannot utilise your own creative resources to invent new designs by experimenting with a tape measure, pieces of tape, fabric or paper. The following material can be substituted and use (recycled) discarded leather and fabric you find in thrift shops and yard (garage) sales or from items from around the home. Experiment by using other types of material for the uppers, such as heavy tape or cloth, canvas, etc. Some people may have sensitivities to certain products.And you may also find that substitute materials may not be as hard wearing as leather.
Leather can be purchased from craft or leathercraft shops. Ecobiters know that deforestation for the purpose of grazing land is bad, but it's not the leather industry that's driving it; it's the food industry. Ecobiters would definitely prefer to see less of it, but so long as there are cattle raised for meat, you might as well make the most of the whole animal.
However, it can be very expensive indeed particularly thick soled leather. Buying leather scrap pieces will lesson the cost substantially. You could also substitute a layer of rubber as the undersole.You may find that rubber will provide the wear and thickness you desire for a heavy duty type sandal. You can also use pieces of old car tire as rubber soles for sandals - although they may not be as comfortable or as flexible as shoe rubber and would be more difficult to work with. They are certainly harder wearing than softer sole materials and sustainable as recycling these tires which would end up in the trash dump where they will take thousands of years to decompose.
While some companies make good quality leather sandals that are mass produced, nothing really compares to hand crafted sandals.
The quantities of material given here are for an average size adult foot. Adjustments should be made for smaller or larger feet.
Materials and Equipment
50 x 30 cm (16 x 12 in) piece of 12 iron soling leather.(Soling leather is very thick vegetable-tanned russet hide. The thickness of the leather is measured in irons. For these sandals 12 iron leather 6 mm / 1/4 inch thick is best).
Water-based eco friendly glue or adhesive.
Shoe-maker's hand tacks - 60 tacks 1.3 cm (1/2 in) length
2 buckles with an inside width equal to strap width
2 rivets for attaching the buckle to the side strap. There are two types of rivets - tubular or bifurcated, either type is quite suitable.
Sharp knife (a Stanley knife is best)
A piece of stiff paper or card
A revolving hole punch
Oil for nourishing the leather
A steel ruler, tape measure and a pen or pencil for marking
A sheet of fine grade sand paper
Shoe polish or banana skin -- The natural oils in the banana soak into the leather, helping your sandals last longer. Potassium, a key ingredient in commercial shoe polish, is found in abundance in bananas! Rub over the banana skin and buff with a soft cloth.
In order to determine how long to cut the leather strap, wrap a tape measure around your foot in the required position and note the length required allowing extra for attaching one end to the sandal and passing the other through the buckle.
Cut two leather straps to that length, plus two buckle straps 7.5 cm (3 in) in length.
Apply some neat's foot oil or similar to all the leather pieces, (this will make them supple and flexible for working with).
To determine the size of the soles, place your foot onto a piece of paper or card and draw around it.Cut out the pattern 5 mm (1/4 in) outside the foot outline. This will be the shape for the sandal, feel free to adapt or change that shape to your preferences before cutting out. For example, you may like to smooth out any bumps, round off the heel or square the toe section.
To determine the position of the strap slots on the sole pattern, wrap the leather strap around your foot in the desired sandal style, place your foot onto the sole pattern and mark where the straps will go through the sole.
Cut slots slightly larger than the width of the leather straps, i.e. 2.5 cm (1 in) in the marked position 6 mm (1/4 in) from the edge of the sole.
Place the sole pattern on the leather to be used for the sole and mark two left and two right foot patterns (turn the pattern over to reverse the foot from left to right or vice versa, but if you have one foot larger than the other it will be necessary to draft a sole pattern for each foot).
On one right and left foot pattern mark the location of the slots through which the leather straps will pass.
Cut four sole pieces from the sole leather.
The thickness of the leather may make it necessary to cut it in two stages, the first to make the initial cut, then the cut section of leather is bent over a table or bench edge to separate the cut edges and hence allow you to cut right through the leather.
On one each of the left and right sole pieces cut slots 5 mm (1/4 in) in width and 2.5 cm (1 in) in length in the position as marked on the sole pattern for the straps.
These sole pieces now become the 'upper sole', the other two unmarked sole pieces will be the 'lower or under' sole. Use the hole punch to make each end of the slots, then cut between the punched holes.
Attach the buckles to the buckle straps with a rivet and punch a hole for the buckle tongue. Place the other end of the buckle piece through the appropriate opening on the upper sole and glue into place.
Slide one end of the long leather strap into the starting slot and glue to the underside of the upper sole. Thread this strap under and over the upper sole as the sandal style requires.
If desired rub some non-petroleum jelly onto the underside sections of the straps (this will allow the straps to slide smoothly for adjustment).
Glue the under sole to the underside of the upper sole.
Press the soles firmly together.
To make the heel, cut a heel from the soling leather by using the first 6.5 cm (2 1/2 in) section of your sole pattern.
Glue the heels to the underside of each sandal.
Apply tacks at 1.3 cm (1/2 in) intervals as shown in the illustration.
This will secure the soles and heels, the starting position for the long strap and the buckle section.
Do not secure the outer strap sections, as their free movement is necessary for sandal adjustment.
The points of the nails should be flattened as necesssary.
Trim off excess leather pieces from the straps and soles.
Sand the edges of the sandal with the sandpaper.
Apply a coat of eco-freindly polish / wax or rub with the inside of a banana skin to the leather.
Put the sandal on the foot and mark on the straps the hole positions for the buckle tongue.
Punch holes using the revolving hole puncher.
Give the sandals a coating of polish every so often to prevent them from drying out.
Make your own Teva's for Free - Recycle a Used Tire
With such an abundance of used tires why not use them for something useful like making a pair of sandals?
You can shower, hike, camp, walk, and climb mountains with Tire sandals that will probably outlive humans.
Get an old tire or part of a tire. Preferably one that doesn't have steel belts.
Cut two sandal bottoms from the tire. You can used a pair of sandals or flip-flops that already fit as a pattern. This is best done with a sawing motion while holding the tire under some tension.
Cut two foot straps for each sandal. They need to be long enough to hold your feet snugly in the sandal with a little extra to go through the sandal. These are best recycled from a piece of nylon such as an old dog leash or seat belt. There are a number of ways to arrange the foot straps. Model yours on a pair of sandals you like. You could have one strap going over the foot and one between your toes. Probably the easiest is to cut two strips which will go parallel over the top of your foot, one towards the front of the foot and one nearer the ankle.
Melt the ends of the foot straps after you cut them. This is so they don't fray. You can use a hot cutter or a heated metal tool.
Punch slots for the foot straps in the sandals. Use a screwdriver or a chisel and a hammer. Remember that the tread of the tire is the bottom of the sandals.
Push the foot straps through the slots with a screwdriver or pull them through with pliers. You will want some extra strap poking through the bottom of the sandals.
Try out the sandals. Make sure the straps are snug and comfortable.
Melt the foot straps so that they attach to the bottom of the sandals.You want them to stay put. You could try tying a knot instead of melting them.