I’m so grateful for my industrial sewing machines. I owe my success to my workhorse Juki DDL-555. Sure, home machines are wonderful for your home needs and little one off projects, but there’s no way I’d be where I am without my beloved Juki. It’s my livelihood and the extra set of hands we designer-makers so desperately need. So when it goes down, it’s more than a bummer. That’s where I am today. A week ago a minor catastrophe put me out of commission and while I waited to have it repaired, I got busy cutting orders, planning my winter collection, a little future journalling, some website updating and a whole lotta house work that I put off in favour of spending time behind my Juki. One task I worked on was cleaning off the 7,000 (seriously!) pictures I have stored on my computer in the 5 years I’ve owned it. I’m not as tech savvy or as patient as my 11-year-old, and he helped me move that massive lot over to the external storage device I’ve been neglecting to use. So you can imagine what a trip down memory lane that was, not just for seeing my babies (literally, there were baby pictures upon baby pictures on there!) but for seeing my early So Comfy creations!
Back in the summer of ’12 Pinterest got my engine going and ‘inspired’ by the dozen armpit-stained work t-shirts my husband cast off, I started playing around and creating headbands, bracelets, and sandals made from strings of the cotton jersey fabric. Oh the fun of it all…the memories flooded back and I smiled thinking of all the time I spent sitting on my living room floor with strings of t-shirts in a multitude of colours splayed out around me, desperately trying to keep my fingers Guerrilla Glue free. I designed and made the cutest little flip flops and sandals from dollar store sandals.
They were just as cute as they were comfy, but it didn’t take me too long to realize that mass producing sandals wasn’t the right direction for me. There are a TON of variables in shoemaking (duh!) and after a fun couple of weeks, I called it quits, and moved on to the next project, which were dresses. More on that another day.
So back to my poor broken down Juki. And my poor empty pockets. I needed some sandals, and I needed to create. And I did. And I want to share with you how I turned some $1.25 flip flops from Dollar Tree into some adorable sandals that are custom fit for me, super comfy, and completely one of a kind. Here’s how I did it…
First stop, my closet. While I was putting away copious amounts of laundry I found a pair of leggings that were holey, and couldn’t be worn. They inspired me to dig through my jersey scraps to find a striped black and white top that would coordinate perfectly! Next I purchased a pair of flip flops from a dollar store. I loved this pair because of the cork-styled foam bottoms. And I loved that the flip flop straps had been damaged. Now only those would hit the trash, not the whole pair!
After I cut the straps off, I realized that I hadn’t bought the typical plastic pair that had holes pre-drilled. Oops! Luckily, I had one of these punches lying around and it easily punched holes through the foam. NOTE: I used the widest (largest) hole setting.
And then I got designing! I had a pretty clear idea of the style I wanted. Have you seen those gorgeous Sanuk Yoga sandals? I LOVE them. They are a whopping $55! Sure they’re worth it (my friend is on her second summer with her pair and they still look good as new!) but that doesn’t change the status of my bank account. So, inspired by the design, I cut two wider straps from my leggings to go over the top of my foot, and cut two long strips from the t-shirt to go between my toes and around the back.
Then, it’s as simple as forcing the material through the punched holes (I used a bamboo skewer to guide it through) and knot. Make sure you try them on your feet before you knot them so that you get the right fit, and ensure there’s enough material on the long pieces to tie behind your ankles. Some tips for tying the knots: pull the knot as tight as you can (I even used my teeth! not recommended!) and if your material is thicker, one knot will do. Flatten with your hands as much as possible, and try on the sandal to test if the knot is too big and uncomfortable underfoot. Keep working it, and even consider flattening with a few hammer hits under a block of wood. Pull and test that the knot won’t come out. A double knot will be more secure, but may be too big on the sole of the sandal. Also, forcing the wide band through was a bit tough; once I got it through and measured on my foot, I cut one inch down the centre and tied those two pieces together. Trim them so you only see the knot.
Try them on, tie them up, walk around. Feel good about the little work of art you’ve created. Take some pictures, share on Instagram or Facebook (tag So Comfy Designs for bonus points!) so your friends can see how creative and upcycle-y you are!
I hope you’re inspired to go through you’re own collection of unused flip flops and t-shirts, and are able to re-imagine them into a new style!
All the best!