I’m looking at making a new pair of sandals to replace my current ones that I use for reenactment stuff. One of the issues I’ve had is the thin leather strapping I used on the 1st ones tends to dig in to the foot as they get tighter. So it was really interesting to find a technique for doubling up the strapping thickness in Veldmeijer (1).

Slit and Pull example from Veldmeijer (1): Left- Diagram showing how to join two thongs; Middle- Diagram showing how to make decorative strap; Right- Practical example of the decorative strap

The technique is called slit-and-pull, which makes a decorative braid look out of the 2 straps. It’s a relatively easy method, and an extension of how we can join two leather straps together.

What isn’t clear from Velmeijer’s illustrations is the slit length to gap length ratio, so I decided to play around with a bit. By gap length I mean the gap we allow between the slits. The slits are obviously the width of the leather straps, so that’s an easy one to determine.

First I tried an equal slit to gap length. In my case I am working with 10 mm strapping so the slit and gap lengths were 10 mm. What I found was this didn’t work as the slit on the strap passing through is partially covered by the strap you passed through. Thus I ended up having to feed through every 2nd slit, so I ended up with a 1:2 slit to gap length ratio. As you can see in the image below, it doesn’t look quite right, and you can feel the lumps in the finished strap where the straps pass through each other.

Slit & Pull Experiments – Top: 1:2 slit to gap ratio; Bottom: 1:1.5 slit to gap ratio

So looking at the first result, I decided to use  1:1.5 slit to gap ratio. I am much happier with this result and you don’t have  the lumps you got in the earlier one. It actually seems to be the sweet spot for the technique. It’s a win for the trial and now I know what I need to do for the sandals!

Overall, it’s an easy decorative technique for making straps for sandals, and a period method for Coptic stuff so worth the time working it out!

I’ll be writing all this up in another project post,  which will go up when I’m done. I’ll possibly have some short posts like this as progress notes as well.


(1) André J. Veldmeijer, Sandals, shoes and other leatherwork from the Coptic Monastery Deir el-Bachit – Analysis and Catalogue, Sidestone Press 2012, ISBN 9789088900747


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