I'm half Swedish, and I think a love of clogs must be embedded in my DNA. These may not be traditional style, but there's something about the click clack of wood on pavement that reminds me of home. Dad likes them because it means you always have a hammer on hand - so versatile.
I have been wanting a pair of Bryr clogs like crazy. The SF based company combines the most beautiful colors and patterns. With each pair running upwards of $200+ though, it's not in budget.
There are definitely less expensive pairs on Amazon or Poshmark - but what's the fun in that?
Before we get started, there's one more thing you need to know. I am NOT a professional. I have made all of ONE pair my entire life. The following instructions are what I've pieced together from the internet. It worked for me, so I hope it works for you!
- Leather or Leather scraps - Amazon and Etsy are your source for all things crafty. But your local leather store might have a scrap area that has what you need for free! A quick search got me to this Etsy listing: ETSY LINK. When selecting leather, keep in mind thickness, color, and making sure you have enough of your material to make the straps. A piece around 4"x8" should be enough for a simple strap like I've made.
- Wood Base - Traditional clog makers would make the base from scratch. Since we're working with limited tools, we're going to buy the base premade. There are two routes you can take. (1) A base blank: ETSY LINK or (2) a used pair! I found mine on Poshmark for $4.
- Upholstery nails - LINK
- Sand Paper - I used this Dremel because it's what I had on hand: LINK, but I also love using sanding sponges: LINK
- Fabric scissors or Leather scissors
- Felt or printer paper
- Pencil or pen
- Masking Tape
- Leather glue (optional)
LET'S GET STARTED
Prepping the base
If like me, you purchased an old pair, it's probably going to need a little bit of prep.
1. Using pliers, pull out the original nails and leather strap and set aside.
2. Using the dremel, sand paper, or sand paper sponge, begin to sand down the wood base. Give some extra attention to any chips or dents that need to be worked out. Be sure to follow the natural curves of the clogs to avoid sanding down any ergonomic character of the sole.
3. If you plan to coat, stain, or weather protect the wood base of your clogs, now is the time. I opted to skip this step, but that doesn’t mean you have to!
4. The rubber soles of my clogs were pretty worn down. I was able to use a box cutter to make it flat but be careful with this! If the soles on your clog are in really bad shape, you may consider bringing them to a professional for some final repair touches.
QUICK NOTE: Traditional Swedish clogs are made from a single piece of leather that is molded to curve around the top of the foot and toes. This utilizes a process called “lasting” where leather is wet before being stretched over a wood form or “last.” The process of wetting leather allows the flat piece of leather to curve over the toes and arch and dry into its iconic structured shape.
Because it’s unlikely that you have a last on hand, I recommend making your clogs as strappy sandals. An open toe leather will be much more manageable for our DIY method.
5. Regardless of your artistic ability, give yourself a quick sketch of the design you are looking to achieve. Testing out a few different patterns will help you figure out how much material you will need. I knew I wanted a wider strap than what was originally on the clogs. Without a large swatch of any one material, I opted for one medium and one small strap in two different leathers.
6. Trace the strap previously removed from the clogs onto a piece of paper to create your template.
7. Adjust the template as needed to match your design.
8. Cut the template out of a piece of felt to test out your design. Tape the felt to the shoe to understand the shape and layout, and trim excess material as needed.
9. When you are happy with the design use your felt template to cut the leather strap.
QUICK TIP: because I didn’t have the tools on hand, I opted not to “finish” the edges of my straps. So far, it hasn’t affected the durability of my shoes and I actually like the rough edges. If rough edges aren’t your style, head over to this great video for guidance on the process: LINK
You may also want to coat your leather straps with a leather protectant, bear in mind that this may alter the color of your leather.
Attaching The Straps
This next step is really going to test your flexibility. There will be ots of leaning over to hold the straps in place, adjust, and hammer into place.
While traditional clog makers use a form or “last” to ensure the correct placement and stretch, we will be using our feet.
10. Place your feet on the wood base making sure your toes are aligned.
11. With your feet on the base, place your pre-cut leather straps over your feet and tape to the wood base. Make sure the straps are even and fall in the same spot on both feet.
12. Once taped, remove your foot from the clog and use your hammer to nail in one side of the strap. Work from front to back, making sure you pull tight and flat as you work. Slowly pull back the tape as you hammer so that tape does not get stuck between the nail and the leather.
13. Once one side is completely secure, place your foot back into the shoe and adjust the other side of the strap. Pull the strap snug and any trim any excess leather. Remove your foot again and hammer the strap into place again working from front to back.
14. Repeat this process with the other shoe.
15. For additional comfort you may decide to add a heel cushion. Cut an oval, leather shape to cushion your step. Apply an even coating of leather glue to the underside of the leather cushion. Align the leather to heel of the wood sole and press to secure.
QUICK TIP: I attempted to reuse the nails from the clogs. I would not recommend this. I squashing or damaged enough nails that I only had a few left for each clog. For a shoe like mine, I probably should have used 16 nails per clog (8 each side – 6 on the tan strap and two on the silver) instead of 8 total which has allowed some of the corners of the leather to “peel up.”
Walk your new clogs around town and enjoy!