Monday, April 21, 2014

How to make sandals

I try to learn something new every year. I guess it should be "I try to learn something new every day" but I'm a mom and, believe me, I learn something new about myself, my kids, my husband, about life and about God every single day! So I try to take up something so completely far off from my everyday life. Last year, it was doll-making. This year, I learned how to make shoes. Or sandals, to be more specific. It is one of the most difficult things I've ever done!

The idea came to me suddenly as I was idly scrolling down my Facebook feed last month. I'm subscribed to the page of Craft MNL, which hosts regular crafts workshops. I'm actually not a crafty person. I'll do the occasional homemade cards but that's about it! Still, I subscribed to Craft MNL because I wanted to learn a skill, in case the world decides it doesn't need writers anymore haha. Anyway, I saw that Craft MNL had partnered with Renegade Folk to offer a shoemaking workshop, and I signed up!

The fee to the workshop is Php 3,000. The style of shoes we were going to make is called Summer Breeze and it's for sale on the Renegade Folk website for Php 1,450. So the workshop fee is actually Php 1,550 and that covers the venue, the tools (cutter, hammer, screwdrivers) and the instructor fee.

There were lots of straps since we were making strappy sandals. There was plain leather (silver, neon yellow, nude) and snakeskin leather (pink, nude). I chose pink, of course!

The soles were already pre-cut and pre-holed. Hehe, I made that term up. We had to squeeze the straps into the holes. That was not easy at all. We had to use screwdrivers to make the holes bigger.

Then we used a special set of pliers to pull the strap through the hole. All you need is half an inch of strap for each hole. Snip away the extra length.

Two holes down, eight more to go! That's just one shoe! My fingers were not happy at all, even though I looked happy in the photo haha

Yup, the bottom holes are for two straps each so that was an extra difficult step. Anyway, once all straps are in, you fit a foot form into the sandal, tighten the straps around it, then cut off the excess straps.


Here are the instructors from Renegade Folk and my classmates, too. 

So here's the assembled shoe. The insole with the straps, welt, outsole and heel.

Being pregnant, I had to step out of the room when it was time to apply the rugby to the welt. Our instructor (I forgot his name!) had to do that step for me. I do think that that was one failing of the workshop—the venue. Since we were going to be working with rugby, we should've been outdoors, or at least in a well-ventilated garage. Inhaling rugby fumes is not good!

Anyway, after applying the rugby and letting its sticky magic work for a few minutes, you help the sticky process out by hammering the welt and insole together. I suppose this is to get rid of air bubbles? The hammering step wasn't explained but hammer away we did! I also hit my thumb with the hammer. Ouch.

Once you've hammered in the welt to the insole, the straps underneath will make the welt bulge out. This is not going to be comfortable to your feet so you take a sharp knife or a cutter to level the material. This is careful work. You can slice yourself! After my hammer-meets-thumb incident, I did this slicing step very carefully.

And here it is! My almost finished sandals! Pretty! We had to leave them with the Renegade Folk people so that they can finish it by sanding the sides so that all the soles are perfectly aligned. But I took a photo of me wearing my new sandals (that I made myself!) and shared it with all my Instagram and Facebook followers:
Excuse the swollen pregnant feet and ankles! I insisted on getting my real shoe size (US 6) since my feet always go back to normal two to three months after giving birth. So there! I now know how to make sandals. I have a deeper appreciation for all my shoes now. Also, I am never going to buy cheap shoes ever again. The amount of work that goes into a single pair is amazing. That work should be compensated well so I guess cheap shoes mean the brand is paying slave wages to their shoemakers!

To shop from Renegade Folk, click here.

To check out Craft MNL's workshops, click here.

Now you know what to do this summer!

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  1. Well done, Frances!
    I enjoyed reading about the whole process :)
    I can't stand the fumes of the leather glue either. I sometimes need to use it for my bags...but I always do this out in the open. I also have two metal plates that squeezes the two pieces together - so no need for hammering ;-)
    Thanks for sharing this article and enjoy your Easter monday!

  2. Hahaha! Ako naman like na like ako ang amoy ng rugby. We use to build these rattan angels back when I young (for charitable purposes naman), and I enjoyed the putting together part coz I get to work with rugby. My lola provided us with masks but i sneak out to smell it. adicct lang. Lol! Would be fun to learn how to make shoes though. I lived in marikina and met a lot of shoemakers but never did learn how to make em. :)

  3. I have the same sandals in gold naman! :) Looks fun! But I agree that it should be in a well-ventilated area.


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