Braided Twine Soles¶
A sole made of braided twine, suitable for various kinds of slippers.
This isn’t The Traditional Way to make espadrille style soles, it’s just a method I’ve used and that seems to work. I don’t know The Traditional Method and couldn’t find details on it online, so this way may be similar, except I’m doing something horribly wrong.
3-4 mm twine;
sturdy sewing thread.
As a sewing thread I’ve used 4-ply waxed linen designed for bookbinding, marked with a number 14 (I’m not sure on which scale, however).
paper pattern for the sole;
a binder clip, optional;
strong needle, ideally curved;
a needle as long as the sole will be wide, optional.
The pattern will depend on what the sole will be used for: for sewn shoes you will probably have a regular pattern, for knit / crocheted ones you can trace around the finished object, and to make a sandal you can trace around a foot adding a bit of ease and smoothing out the shape.
You don’t need to buy curved needles: regular needles can be curved with the help of an heat source such as a hot air soldering station or a candle flame, pliers and eye protections.
Cut 3 long pieces of twine: 10 m for each piece were barely enough for a 25 cm foot.
Find the middle point and tie the strands together with a scrap of thread.
Starting close from the middle, loop each strand around your fingers to form a butterfly, wrap it with an elastic.
Make a 3-strands rounded braid: each strand is made of the two sides of a piece of twine, and fold the strand towards the front to bring it to the middle while braiding, rather than curving it to the side as for a flat braid.
Keep braiding until the end, keep it in place with a binder clip (or just leave it hanging and rebraid it if needed).
Put the paper pattern on a pinnable surface and starting from the toe pin the braid vertically all around the pattern.
When you have finished the first round, lay the braid towards the middle of the sole, whipstitching it to the outer round.
And keep working like this, whipstitching each round of braid to the one next to it.
Hide all knots between the braid sections.
After a while, you won’t be able to add more rope to the narrower part of the sole; start making shorter rounds just in the wider part.
When even the wider part is full cut the braid to size
and finish whipstitching the remaining open parts, including the one that was left in the narrower part of the sole.
Now you can remove the pins and the sole will keep its shape, but the bottom part will tend to open up, enabling dirt and other unwanted material to creep into it, so you need to stabilize everything by stitching it from side to side.
If you have a long needle you can insert it from one side of the sole to the other one, but if you don’t (or if your long needle is to thick and you can’t insert it into the braid) you’ll have to go through 2–3 braids at a time with the curved needle.
When you get to one end pull tight to compact the braids, and then go back into the sole for the next line. Keep hiding all knots between the braids.
Now start again for the second sole, remembering to turn the pattern upside down if it’s shaped to have a right and a left foot.
Attach the soles to the shoes with the whipstitched part on top; depending on how the shoes are made a blanket stitch will probably work nicely.