Monday, July 31, 2017

Turning $5 thongs into custom footwear

Well summer has passed its mid-way point but better late than never. I happened to catch a YouTube on decorating thongs with a right-angle weave bead treatment. It looked a little fussy but inspired me to try for a more boho look using strips of flat Turkish bead crochet, attached to the thong straps for an extra dose of sass.

Here are the original thongs, purchased at Walmart for $5:

And here's the embellished version:

The strips of beadwork are actually flat Turkish bead crochet, which anyone can do especially following this great tutorial by Marion Hunziker-Larson of Marion Jewels in Fiber. Marion’s tutorial takes you through making one strip for a bracelet. You will need a shorter length to fit your thongs and we will double up each strip to make them a little wider than what is shown in the bracelet tutorial. But the technique is exactly the same and Marion explains it so much better than I could.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Pair of thongs similar to those shown above
  • C-Lon Tex 400 in a color to complement your beads
  • Regular C-Lon or a cord thinner than the Tex to connect the strips
  • Tapestry needles to handle the thicker C-Lon Tex and a thinner one for the thinner cord
  • Crochet hook 1.5 or 1.75 mm. Mine is “well-loved” and I created a soft handle by wrapping it with an ace bandage secured by duck tape, making the skinny hook much easier to hold.
  • Size 6/0 beads, color of your choice. I used just about an entire 6” tube or about 28 grams.
  • Blue plastic dental floss loop to help you thread the 6/0 beads on the C-Lon Tex cord.
  • Two pretty buttons to match your beads.
  • Fireline 8# or heavier weight thread.

The C-Lon can be found at most beading stores but if you haven’t tried Marion’s online shop yet, this is the perfect opportunity. (I don’t make any money from this, I just like her products, service and tutorials.)

First, measure the side strap of the thong from the center between the toes to the side connected to the sole. This will tell you the length needed for each flat Turkish bead crochet strip. You will need eight strips - 4 using an odd count of beads and 4 using an even count. 

This construction will allow you to zip an odd and even count together to get just the right width of bead crochet. Use the thicker C-Lon and follow Marion’s great instructions to make the strips. Your first set will be a little bit of trial and error as you get your measurements just right. I needed 4 inches for my strips so my odd-count strips used 39 beads and my even count strips used 40 beads. Once you determine the dimensions for your first set, just repeat to make three more odd count strips and three more even count strips. Don't do anything with your cord ends just yet.

After making your eight strips, connect one odd and one even to make four wider strips. You do this by laying the strip down with the odd count to the right. Then line up the even count of the other strip so the center beads are interlocking. Thread a thinner tapestry needle with the thinner C-Lon cord and sew up through the center beads in the strip zipping the odd-count strip to the even count strip. I have tried this with Fireline and a beading needle but find a thicker cord seems to secure the connection a bit better. Once you get to the other end, tie this cord to one of the cords hanging from your crochet pieces then weave the ends into the crochet to hide and trim. Do the same with the working thread at the beginning of the connection. Repeat until you have four strips. Now use your thicker tapestry needle, weave in the ends of the crochet pieces and trim.

Using straight pins, arrange the strips on the thong straps so they align properly. Thread the thinner tapestry needle with Fireline and sew from the sole to the center. It's easier to disguise glitches in the center where the button will hide gaps. Sew through the beads on each side into the strap, back out again and through the next bead until you reach the end.

Connect all four strips, two per thong and attach a pretty button in the center on the toe strap between the two sides. Pass through the button many times with Fireline to secure it and fasten off on the reverse side.


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