It’s that time of year again when I get out my leather stuff and start making sandals (while still wrapped in wool). These are my son’s new sandals. In this post, I share my process of making a sandal pattern using lasts.
I used vegetable-tanned leather which I decorated with a shape punch.
It’s not necessary to use lasts for simple sandal shapes or those with just straps and I’ve made lots of pairs of sandals using only my feet for pattern making.
But if you want to try something new and are willing to invest in lasts it can multiply your possibilities to create all sorts of uppers.
There are lasts that are specially designed for sandal making. These lasts are different from lasts designed for making a closed shoe. As sandals sit close to the foot the shape of a sandal last resembles the human foot. In contrast, a shoe last represents the room you need inside the shoe to feel comfortable wearing it.
You could try to find lasts vintage or second-hand on eBay or Etsy for a fraction of the cost of new ones. Sandal lasts usually come with a toe slit so they are easily recognisable. If you can’t find sandal lasts, you can also use shoe lasts and adjust the pattern when fitting it to your foot shape.
Making a sandal pattern using lasts
All you need at this stage are your lasts and masking tape.
The first step is to tape the last to create a removable mould of it. Start by sticking a strip of masking tape up the centre front and the centre back.
Next start from the toe by sticking a strip of tape straight across at right angles to the centre line. Continue adding strips overlapping halfway until you reach the top of the centre.
Starting from the cone, add strips vertically down the outside of the last and work it around to the inside until all the last is covered with this second layer.
Now is the time to draw your design onto the tape mask. Use a pencil so you can play around, I used a marker just to make the lines more visible on the photo.
As my straps meet under the sole I taped the lasts inclusive underside, and cut it open just through the middle. Carefully peel the mould off the last.
This is what the flattened mould looks like.
Finally, cut out the pattern and transfer it to a thin piece of cardboard. You can now make a mock-up out of felt or other non-stretchy material. Try this felt pattern over your foot and make adjustments if necessary.
For more details on how to make high-quality leather sandals check out my sandal making eBook, you won’t need lasts to make the sandals in this book!
For in-depth tutorials on how to create patterns for shoes and boots consult my eBook Handcraft Your Own Shoes And Boots.