This year, we’ve been looking for new ways to create or customize unique sandal designs that we haven’t seen or tried before. This has been quite a feat, since we’ve been crafting for decades and feel like we’ve tried just about everything under the sun, but the challenge of finding ideas that are brand new to us just makes it all even more fun!
Just in case you’re as interested in making your summer sandals as we were but you feel like you could use some guidance when it comes to designs, ideas, and techniques, here are 15 of the best ideas we’ve come across in our annual search for shoe inspiration so far.
1. DIY hand studded strappy sandals
To start our list off, here’s a tutorial that we knew immediately we’d be hanging onto for tips and reminders for years to come! Nona Chewy guides you step by step through the process of hand studding a simple pair of elastic strappy sandals to give them a little more attitude than they had originally and we think you’ll be surprised by how easy the technique is. The best part, however, is that if you don’t have or can’t find a pair of elastic sandals like this, their photos are clear enough that you’ll probably be able to recreate the straps with your own ingenuity, just using the photos as a guide. That’s what we did and we’ve been running around in our strappy studs ever since!
2. Pretty tying rainbow ribbon sandals
In our house, there’s a nearly endless supply of foamy flip flips in just about every size. We’re not sure how or why this collection amassed, particularly since there isn’t actually a massive range in foot size in our family but alas, here we are. That’s actually one of the reasons we started looking for ways to make sandals from just about scratch; we wanted to upcycle some of the foamy flip flops that don’t get use and upcycling them into shoes of other styles is a great way to do that! Check out how Miss Bizzibee did precisely what we’re talking about by weaving cheerful rainbow ribbon through some holes punched into the foam.
3. DIY ribbon applique sandals
Do you actually already have a pair of old leather sandals that are perfectly worn in and definitely the most comfortable summer footwear you own, so you’re hesitant to get rid of or replace them even though they’re scratched, worn, and starting to look a little ratty? Well, who’s to say that you can’t give them a little bit of a cosmetic facelift, per se, so long as they still work comfortably and get the job done! We love the way Trinkets in Bloom used a length of ribbon cut to the right length and width as an applique to hide scratches on the tops of their favourite sandals. We like that it adds a little bit of extra personality and style too!
4. DIY silk bow sandals
Do you already have a pair of sandals that you absolutely love the feeling of but you can’t help wondering whether they’re actually just a touch too plain for your personal tastes? We can definitely understand that, particularly if your sense of style is rather girly and embellished throughout the rest of your wardrobe. That’s why we loved this silk ribbon and flouncy bows customization idea featured on Pretty Designs! It’s wildly simple to make happen but it really gives the sandals and adorable transformation (and it mimics the style of several very expensive brand names… but for a shockingly smaller price).
5. DIY knee high gladiator sandals
We’ve always wanted a pair of dramatically high gladiator sandals. Lucky for us, those precise sandals have actually been trending recently, but ever since we watched the Disney movie Hercules when we were little kids, we’ve just really loved the way the leather straps of that old fashioned style criss cross up the legs. We’ve found, however, that the ones available in stores are actually a little bit out of our price range, so it would only make sense that we’d make our own version for less, right? That’s why we were so pleased to stumble across this fantastic gladiator sandal tutorial outlined on Sweet Teal.
6. DIY twisted scarf sandals
Were you actually very taken with the idea of replacing the original straps on a pair of sandals with a much softer material than the pleather or plastic the shoes initially came with but you don’t like the thought of having to steadfastly tie slippery ribbon every time you put your shoes on, like you’d have to if you chose the tutorial we showed you above? In that case, we’d definitely suggest taking a look at this scarf alternative featured on That Quirky Girl instead! They show you how to create some visual style by twisting the scarf up between your toes before wrapping it around your ankles and knotting it in place.
7. DIY jewel embellished sandals
Are you actually quite new to the world of DIY and crafting, so you’re really intent on finding a customization idea that’s much simpler than some of the things we’ve shown you so far? Then perhaps just working on some embellishment would be the best idea for you, rather than starting from scratch! For example, we absolutely adore the way More Fashion jazzed up an otherwise very plain pair of solid white sandals by carefully gluing lovely green rhinestones to the straps for a bit of extra sparkle and pizzazz.
8. Hand embellished pom pom sandals
Now that we’ve entered the realm of embellishing sandals you already own, the options are honestly nearly endless! Of course, no matter how awesome rhinestones are, they are by no means the only thing that you can transform a pair of summer shoes with using simple glue. Just in case you’d like something softer and a little more quirky, for example, here’s an awesome tutorial for creating pom pom sandals, as outlined by Bang On Style!
9. Super comfy DIY sling sandals
Are you actually still looking for ways to create soft, comfortable straps for your sandals from scratch because you’re still rich in foamy flip flops that are practically begging to be transformed? In that case, we have a feeling you might get along very well making something like these stretchy fabric sling sandals outlined step by step on Down Home Inspiration! We love the way they create a system of straps that’s wildly easy to do (because you’re literally just knotting fabric) but still very comfortable and secure feeling to wear.
10. DIY huarache running and hiking sandals
One of the problems we have with footwear in the summer is that, on most days, we’re actually far too active to feel comfortable in most of the sandals we see in stores. They might be the cutest little shoes we’ve ever seen, but we usually end up concluding that we need something more comfortable and practical than what we’ve actually bought. That’s why we started looking for simple DIY solutions and we were completely ecstatic when we came across these DIY huarache sandals outlined in very clear steps on Instructables. This sporty, comfortable style of sandal originated in Mexico in the Copper Canyon and they’re popular among the DIY community because they’re so easy to make despite being well known for their ease in movement, how light they are, and how well they stay on. Some people actually even wear them hiking!
11. DIY ankle fringe sandals
Practical, comfortable homemade sandals are all well and good on a daily basis, but what if fashioned sandals are actually exactly what you need right now because you have several special occasions coming up that you want to look your best for without letting your feet get too hot in unseasonal dress shoes? In that case, here’s a super fun design for your consideration; check out how Kremb de la Kremb embellished a simple, classy pair of dressy summer sandals with some fabulous fringe at the ankles!
12. DIY floral toe sandals
Are you actually still scrolling through our list thinking about how you love the idea of embellishing the straps of your plainest sandals but you’re just not sure that either rhinestones or pom poms is quite the best option for you? Well, if you’ve always been quite a feminine person, then perhaps you’d prefer to add some lovely little summer flowers instead! We’re completely obsessed with the way Good Housekeeping glued six simple, large blossoms to their shoes, three on each foot, creating something cute and wedding worthy in a matter of moments.
13. DIY TOMS sandals
Have you actually just been thinking about turning your oldest spring and fall footwear into a pair of grungy sandals for lounging around in or throwing on to run to the corner store? Well, we think this seems like a surprisingly practical upcycling project and we’re not actually the only ones. That’s exactly what Pin Advised did with their old canvas Toms shoes from a few seasons ago! Check out where and how they made some cut outs in order to preserve the simple comfort you loved about those shoes just a little bit longer.
14. DIY tassel sandals
Were you actually quite taken with the idea of adding little pom poms to a pair of old sandals in order to give them a new lease on life, but you can’t help but wonder whether combining those pom poms with other fun, bright embellishments might give the sandals even more great personality? In that case, we definitely think you should take a look at how Lauren Conrad created these fun shoes using miniature pom poms, brightly coloured little tassels, and pieces of old wrapped embroidery bracelets that they don’t wear anymore. This really is one of those designs that you shouldn’t be afraid to get creative with!
15. Eyelet ruffle flip flops
Perhaps you’re actually still scrolling through and thinking about how much fun it would be to make a fabric based sandal customization that’s just a little more girly and stylish than what you’ve seen on our list so far? Then we think we’ve found the perfect tutorial for you, particularly if you’re a sewing enthusiast who might actually have some fancy looking fabric scraps and ends lying around. Check out how Trinkets in Bloom added some pretty frilly to their toes by attaching simple eyelet trim to the straps of their old sandals.