I was so pleased and excited by the results of my first pair of sandals that I immediately started on three more pairs. I had another design that I wanted to make for myself, and of course both of my daughters wanted some too.
Younger Daughter's Pair: Fancy Thong Sandals with Horse Head Conchos
My younger daughter flipped through the "Sandal Making" book and selected a thong style. Of course she wanted a small modification to the style to make it just what she wanted. She wanted a horse head decoration in the middle of the shoe. Tandy had some matched right- and left-facing horse head conchos that were just the thing.
I cut out the bottom soles and heels for her shoes. Her shoe size is about a kids' size 2, and it took about a square foot of saddle skirting leather.
It's easy to make a long oblong slot for a wide strap even if you don't have a big enough punch. Simply punch a second (or third) time, overlapping the ends of the hole, as in the following picture.
The colors and dyeing process were pretty similar to what I did with my first pair. With her pair, however, she wanted the sole to be black. No problem. After dyeing, I cleaned the pieces with Lexol and treated them with carnauba creme (wax). Since I was going to be gluing the straps to the soles, I didn't treat the whole pieces with the wax. I used the tape to show where I didn't need wax.
Fitting her shoes took repeated efforts, since I had to align the toe straps with the conchos and the riveting and make it fit around her foot properly. I did a fair amount of skiving on both the soles and the strap ends for her shoes so she wouldn't have huge lumps where the double layer of straps went under her (lack of) arch (I marked the skived areas with chalk in the picture below). I didn't bother with padding.
For my first pair I had used nails to reinforce the connections between the straps and the soles after I had glued them with Tandy's contact cement. For this new pair, I used rivets and cement. I also skived the straps, shaving off some of the blue and green dyed layers, so they wouldn't have such noticeable edges under the foot.
Next, I glued on the sole, avoiding putting cement on the back strap, which is supposed to slide.
For this pair of sandals, I wanted to try stitching around the edges of the sandals instead of nailing on the sole. The stitching gives a neater, more finished look to the sandals. The first step is to mark a dotted line of dents using an overstitcher that gives 5 stitches per inch.
I then used a Number 51 drill bit (just smaller than 1/16th of an inch) to drill holes through the soles. I was using a hand-held corded drill. It took 40 minutes for me to drill all around the two child-sized sandals, and my hands and arms were aching by the time I finished. Unfortunately, it was hard to drill straight down through the soles, so the bottom line of holes (and the resulting stitch line) wavered quite a bit. I drilled right through the heels as well.
We used two-needle stitching (my daughters both did some). I found helpful information on this on the web, particularly on the Back Room Leather website. I used waxed nylon sewing awl thread from Tandy. The stitching took about three hours.
We tried various methods to smooth the edges of the sole. Here my younger daughter is using sandpaper wrapped around a small block of wood to sand the edges of her sandals. She is using a "lacing pony" to hold the sandal while she works. The sandpaper-around-wood worked, but it was very slow, and it didn't work on parts that curved inward (the arch area). I also used coarse sandpaper cylinders attached to a mandrel on my drill. That worked better.
Once the stitching and trimming steps were done, I dyed the edges black to match the inner sole.
I don't want the shoes to be slippery, and I want to protect the stitching from wear, so I put a layer of SoleTech 3.5 on both the heels and the main part of the soles.
I had learned my lesson from the first pair of sandals, so I cut the SoleTech pieces a bit large and then trimmed them off after gluing the pieces to the sandals.
Here are the finished sandals:
Here is the front view:
I think the horse head conchos were an inspired piece of design on my daughter's part. She gets comments all the time about how cool they are. I hope she doesn't outgrow them in a month, but if she does, I can always make her another pair!