DIY Beaded Sandals

DIY Beaded Sandals

I made these a couple of months ago so that they’d be ready to go once spring hit, but I wanted to wait until it warmed up a bit before doing my designer DIY post on them. It’s a sunny 72 degrees here in New York today so I couldn’t pick a more perfect time! I have been wanting to learn how to bead for a while now and I’m glad I finally bit the bullet and went for it because it truly is beautiful and the possibilities are endless. I bought Creative Beading Volume 4 and started learning different techniques and projects. I’d really encourage people to do what I did here-  if there’s something you want to learn how to do, go to the library or research online… there is literally an endless amount of resources out there and there is no reason you can’t teach yourself to do it all! I had started seeing beaded sandals and embellished sandals ALL OVER and I really liked them. I took the basic idea from the book which was actually beading cabochons to make a bracelet and made it work for these sandals. Instead of using cabochons, I used rhinestones which I already had from a giant bag I bought at Joanns. These took a while, but they were MUCH cheaper than the designer ones and it really is satisfying knowing that you made them yourself!

My designer inspiration came from a lot of sources… a few of them on my board were Vince Camuto’s “Allik Peacock Sandals” ($89) and “Imanal Sandals” ($98), Manolo Blahnik’s “Tirini Thong Sandal” ($865) , Ivanka Trump’s “Vance Jeweled T-Strap Sandal” ($150) and Steve Madden’s “Glaare Sandal” ($90). Here is my inspiration board for this project:


And here is my DIY version:

finished beaded sandal

Essentially, what you’re doing here is beading around and up over the rhinestone’s edge and then beading around the perimeter. I would be lying if I said this just takes practice and then it gets easy, the truth is this was the first project I’ve ever done where I didn’t think I could do it. It’s hard and confusing and frustrating and so delicate that you’ll wonder why the heck you thought it would be a good idea. Once you’re able to get the hang of it, you’ll want to use this technique for all kinds of things (I have been using it for a lot of my current projects). If you can’t quite figure it out or it’s just not your thing, you can easily find earrings or necklaces that have a similar style and deconstruct them to add to your sandals (though I’d encourage you to at least try this!).

A couple notes before you get started. 1. I used steps 2-11 in the book. 2. They suggest using Lacy’s Stiff Stuff beading foundation… I couldn’t find it anywhere so I used scraps of leather that I always buy whenever they have it in the remnants bin. 3. You’ll need size 12 beading needles… WalMart sells three packs of beading needles (comes with 3 size 10, 3 size 11 and 3 size 12) and while you only need the size 12s, they are only 1$ a pack and by far the cheapest ones I was able to find. 4. I used a 10 lb weight fishing line 5. The beads I used (in the order they’re used) were a 10/0 silver glass bead, 1.5 mm silver crimp bead, 2 cut czech glass bead and 11/0 glass bead.

I’ve scanned the two pages from the book that I used to learn how to do this, I’ll post them along with the pictures and notes I took while working. If you click on the pictures, they will come up in a new window in their full size making them much easier to see.

Again, I used rhinestones instead of Cabs (cabochons) so keep that in mind. I glued mine to the wrong side of the leather, it seemed to be more sturdy this way. In step 5, they say to sew up through the middle of the first two beads and then sew through 3 beads… I found it much easier to just sew through the last 2 beads instead of three.

You’ll see in the set of pictures below that for step 5 I just sew up through the last 2 beads, sew back through them and repeat. Follow step 6 for your peyote stitching. As you can see in the pictures below, once you’ve finished this row it will look crazy… don’t panic this will all straighten out after the next step.

For step 7, disregard the information about trying to add another round of beads, you don’t. Once you’ve done your peyote stitch, your needle will be coming up from a bead on your original row. Sew through the upper bead right next to it, add a crimp bead and thread through the next bead in the upper row. Continue until the row is complete. Pull the fishing line really tight to secure this row of beading… if you’ve done it right it will contour to the shape of the rhinestone, encasing it in beads. Sew through to the bottom and still pulling tight, tie the line off to secure it. (all of this is shown in the picture set below).

The next set of pictures is demonstrating step 9, it’s basically just repeating how you did your first round. You can do more than two rows if you like, just keep in mind these are going on sandals and you don’t want these to take over your feet!

This page is just for step 11, which is where I stopped at. You want to cut as close to the border as you can, being extremely careful not to catch a piece of the line while cutting (I made this mistake once and the whole thing comes apart… pretty disheartening considering you spent all that time beading). 

The rest of the steps in the book are how you can cover the backs and trim the sides… if you want to do this then go for it, I figured no one will ever see the undersides of these once they’re on your sandal so I didn’t see a point in doing it. I beaded 7 rhinestones for each sandal: one large oval, two large teardrops and 4 small ovals.

Now you’re ready to start preparing your sandals. I bought these leather butterfly t-strap sandals from Charlotte Russe, I can’t find them online but I was in the store yesterday and they still have them. Use pliers to remove the butterflies and scissors to remove the back strap (I prefer a slip-on sandal, if you want the strap in the back then obviously leave it on).

I then just added my clothing label to the heels of both sandals.

Start by gluing on the middle set of beaded rhinestones, then glue the side ones on. To build the new shape of the sandal and ensure everything dried correctly, I stuffed each sandal with paper towels.

This project was really overwhelming, not just in making it but in doing this post…. I’m sure I have left out some things or not explained others clear enough and I apologize. It’s a lot of information and a difficult thing to explain, so if you have questions or something you need more information about- please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me ( I’m more than happy to clarify. I hope you guys enjoy this post… it’s been one of my favorites so far!