Updated: Oct 27
5 tips and resources in making the outsoles for my sandals
Finally, we are at the final stage of making my sandals and that means making the outsoles!
This is the last part of the shoemaking process where I add the final touches and complete making my sandals.
My 1st sandal prototype completed!
For me, making the outsoles has always been the trickiest part of shoemaking because there are so many ways that this most crucial stage can go wrong. Done carefully, the shoes will be a perfect dream pair; done shoddily, the shoes will end up looking unfinished.
That being said, please do not be disappointed if your shoes did not turn out as perfectly as the way you wanted. Just like mastering any other skill, shoemaking is an ever-learning process, and you will get better over time as you continue to make more shoes.
So, what are two of the biggest problems that can arise from making the outsoles and what are my tips that will help solve these problems?
Problem 1: Outsoles do not fit the midsoles
When cutting the outsoles from the soling sheets, I have to be 1000% sure that the outsoles fit the midsoles PERFECTLY.
The problem arises when the outsoles do not fit the midsoles.
Tip 1: If the outsoles are bigger than the midsoles, the problem can be easily resolved by sanding or cutting the edges of the outsoles to fit the midsoles.
Tip 2: However, if the outsoles smaller than the midsoles, then it is necessary to go back and re-examine the patterns drawn on the outsoles again and make new ones that fit perfectly. This was exactly what happened to the outsole for the left foot when I was making my sandals.
In my situation, I chose to go ahead and use the slightly smaller outsole because I know that it is a prototype at this point, and to be honest I ran out of the outsole material, which leads me to the next tip…
Tip 3: Always have additional soling sheet on hand just in case anything goes wrong!
Problem 2: Gaps between the midsoles and outsoles
Another problem that may arise from making the outsoles comes at the very final stage when attaching the outsoles to the midsoles. There might be some small gaps between the midsole and outsole in the areas where your straps are attached because the strap materials were not sanded down as much as it should, hence making it difficult for the outsoles to fully adhere to the midsoles.
Tip 4: In this situation, always make sure that any excess strap materials underneath the midsole are sanded down to be as smooth and flat as possible.
Now that you are aware of the potential hiccups that could arise in making the outsoles, let’s dive in to see how this process works:
Summarized below are the first six steps:
Step 1: Design and create the midsole pattern
Step 2: Create and wrap midsole
Step 3: Design and create the upper pattern
Step 4: Create the upper material and lining using the pattern
Step 5: Glue the upper and lining together
Step 6: Connect the uppers to the midsole
Step 7: Outline pattern on the soling sheet and cut the outsoles
Once I have completed all six steps in making my sandals, the next step is to use the midsole pattern you created in Step 1 and trace it on the outsole material. There are many types of outsoles materials available, and they are usually sold in sheets in shoe supply stores and online.
For my prototype, I used beige resin outsoles. After cutting out the outsoles, make sure to smooth the edges using a sandpaper or rotary tool and put the outsoles on the midsoles to make sure that they fit the size and shape of the midsoles perfectly.
Outlining the pattern on the soling sheet and cutting them out.
I used sandpaper to sand down the rough edges.
I decided to add heels to my sandals, so an additional step is to make the heel pattern and use it to cut the heel shapes for the sandals. I then put glue on the heel and on the area of the midsole that will be attached to the heel and attached them together.
Glueing the heels on the outsole
Step 8: Attach the outsoles to midsoles so that we can finally wear them
After the outsoles are cut, sanded and measured to make sure they fit the midsoles perfectly, the next step is to add Renia glue to both the midsole and outsole surfaces. I am ready to attach the pieces together when the glue dries up.
Gluing the midsole and outsole with Renia glue
Tip 5: Take your time very slowly in attaching the outsole to the midsole starting from the heel, making sure it fits perfectly, because once the outsole is glued to the midsole, it is very tedious to separate them and reattach.
Please also make sure that the glue covers every bit of surface on the midsole and outsole.
Be sure to press with your fingers the outsole and midsole together firmly, or use a hammer to hammer the outsole to the midsole so both pieces adhere firmly and permanently. After this step is completed, my sandals are finally completed and I can wear them every day or for special trips!
Attaching the outsole to my midsole and pressing them firmly together to make sure they adhere permanently
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Resources on where to buy sole soling sheets:
1) I CAN MAKE SHOES – I bought a shoemaking kit and used the resin soles to make my sandals.
2) Kaufman Shoe Repair – I visited this store in person to buy rubber outsoles for other sandals/shoes I made.
4) Alibaba – Alibaba offers a wide variety of soling sheets and pre-cut outsoles for shoemaking. Pre-cut sandals are beneficial because they cut down on the time needed to complete making the shoes.
Reading materials on different types of outsoles:
2) Top Factory Shoes