Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Wide Brown Sandals

Everyone's feet are different, but some feet are more "different" than others in a world where standardization and mass production are the norm. Very wide flat feet, for example, are hard to fit in standard shoe sizes, so they are good candidates for custom sandals. And since the particular feet in question belong to my husband, they are perfect candidates for my sandal experimentation.


I had tried, unsuccessfully, to find the padding that Michael of Island Sandals uses. Rob at Tandy suggested I try using a blue foam sleeping bag pad, which made sense to me, so I got one at REI and started hacking it up.

Once I had cut the strap holes and finished the top piece (Tandy Eco-Flo dye, Bison Brown followed by Carnauba Creme finish), I glued the blue foam to the top piece with Fast-bond 30 and wrapped the straps around the foam through the holes, as seen below:

I cut the sole pieces a bit oversized so I would have room for stitching and trimming later.

I'm working with quite thick leather again, like I did for my first pair of sandals: 13-15 oz. saddle skirting for the sole bottoms, with an extra layer for the heels. I used 6-7 oz. leather for the upper layer of the shoe, and 10-11 oz. leather for the straps (no way is he going to wear through these straps!). In hindsight, I should have used thinner leather for the straps, maybe 6-7 or 8-9 oz., because these straps are awfully thick, stiff, and bulky. Besides, the nice thing about the free-floating straps (that is, they are not permanently fastened to the sole anywhere so they can be infinitely adjusted) is that they are relatively easy to replace if they wear out or break.

I glued the top sole to the bottom sole (carefully not gluing where the straps are), then used a drill press with a small bit (around 1/16") to drill the holes around the edge. It worked pretty well, so long as I kept the straps out of the way! It was definitely easier than holding a power drill by hand like I did for my daughter's thong sandals.

Stitching by hand around the edges took a while, but I eventually finished them.

I like the wood-grained appearance of the hand-dyed leather. I got that by using a small paintbrush to apply the dye to the upper sole pieces.

Sole Bottoms

I glued a layer of SoleTech 3.5 onto the front part of the bottom, and glued a section of rubber chevron-patterned soling (also ordered from Louis Birns & Sons) onto the heels, as in the picture below:

When I took the picture above, my husband had already been wearing the sandals for a while (several months), so some wear is visible on the soles. The SoleTech 3.5 is a little too thin and dainty for this purpose. When he eventually wears all the way through it, I'll replace it with more of the chevron soling. Meanwhile, the sleeping-bag pad foam has held up pretty well so far and is still pretty resilient.
Lacey Too?

Lacey wants to know when I'll be making a pair of shoes for her, but she points out that she has much daintier little feet than my husband!