How to make leather sandals

We have been asked over the years how you can make your own leather shoes and more specifically, sandals. For this reason, we went to talk with our local shoemaker here in Athens to guide you through the basic steps. Shoemaking is a craft that anyone can do as far as you have some guidelines from the pros. Kiamos Shoes has been in the leather shoe business for years and knows how to treat every inch of leather accordingly to mold it into the perfect shape of shandal.

We would like to thank Kiamos Shoes for the following amazing photographic and videographic material on how to make leather sandals.

Making leather sandals


First of all, let’s take a look at the materials to use

Material and Ingredients

1. Leather – Pick the amount, the thickness, the color. This is a personal choice.

2. Contact Cement – intended for use on laminate countertops. It should be waterproof and dry flexible.

3. Super Glue

4. Precision Knife and Scissors

5. Hammer

6. Something to Cut on

7. Masking Tape

8. Construction Paper

9. Leather Awl


 Step 1 

Sweet Pattern O’Mine

Download a pattern from the internet according to your feet size. In order to make sure the pattern fits your feet, cut it on construction paper and fit the straps on your foot and then bent them where they went under. After you make sure it fits, detach the straps and start your leather craft. The leather you choose is best, if it is flexible. A type of leather that our customers use a lot for sandals is  vegetable-tanned leather. Veg tan leather is soft and supple; it makes it easy to work with it at home. Then, start cutting the topsole using your precision knife. Then cut the straps of the sandal according to the pattern in the same way.

Leather Sandals

Step 2 

Smells like Cement Spirit

Tap the fresh cut soles down, so they wouldn’t move. Apply the glue all the way to the edges of the soles. Let it dry until it is sticky, but does not pull away. Stick the leather soles together making sure to line them up carefully, smooth them out, lay something heavy on top and allow them to dry.

Step 3

I Will Always Cut You

Mark about 5mm inwards from where the straps are and cut a hole in your pattern. Then, mark the soles with the pattern, and cut holes for where the straps will go later. You will probably need to work with it a lot because you want to make sure the leather straps fit well.

Making Leather Sandals


Step 4

Hey Strap

After you have cut your holes fit each leather strap to your foot again. Mark each strap on the inside where it fits and remove. In order to make the strap fit well, you will need to skive it. It means to shave it to be gradually much thinner with a precision blade. 

Leather sandals Handmade


 Step 5 

Dancing Sole

Now it’s time to skive the inside of the holes you draw, where the straps lay. This is so that the leathers can amalgamate together and be flat to step on. Now, rough up the bottom of the midsole for when you glue it. You can do this by making quick hash marks with my precision blade. Then, check again the fit of your straps before you glue. Afterwards, apply contact cement to the inside of the straps and the sandal where they will sit. When the cement is tacky you will fit them together. There will be a lot of squeezing, so be careful with your eyes and face, it’s best if you wear protective goggles. 

Step 6

Born to Sew

The time to stitch has come! You will need to stitch all the way around the soles of the leather sandal. In your first stitch pull the end of the thread all the way through, like you do when sawing a torn sock. Then, keep enough length of the thread to go all the way around the sandal. After that you can tie. Then stitch all the way around. When you come to the end of it, pull the needle down so you get the end of the thread out the bottom and tie a string knot. Immediately after, glue to finish it.

 Step 7

Cement Vibrations

Apply the Cement on the shoe upper to the bottom sole. This way, the shiny side of the sole is on the ground. Make sure you cover it completely, since there will be no stitching holding the layers together. Then, hammer the soles around the edges. Using the cement, holds better. The more pressure that is applied, the better, so hammering around the edges will help keeping your soles together.

Step 8

Sand me Baby One more Time

The final step is sanding. You will take your leather sole pattern and cut around the edge so it can fit inside the straps. Then, tape the sole in place ready for sanding. Making the edges smooth will help stop the separate edges pulling apart. Thus, the smoother you make the edges the stronger the shoe will be and long lasting.

Making shoes is great, though if you would like a professional to make it for you according to the needs of your feet and decoration that you wish, you may contact Kiamos Shoes.  You can order your own pair of leather sandals from their website