How I Made My New World Nami Sandals

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(oops, only photo I have so far which shows the sandals. Picture from Kirsty Chambers)

NOTE: This is more a ‘how I made’ rather than a tutorial. There may well be better methods out there, and if you know of any I’d love to hear them. But this was the way I did it on this particular occasion and if this post might help somebody else with their cosplay then that’s great.

Nami from One Piece has been one of my favourite characters to cosplay so far, and indeed one of my favourite characters, period. She has a fairly large variety of outfits to choose from and most of the time her ensembles include a pair of sandals. These can be the bane of putting together her outfits.

You can buy a pair of sandals which you judge to be close enough, which I know a lot of Nami cosplayers have done and it works just fine. However, if you absolutely insist in screen accuracy, there are quite a few custom cosplay website and places on eBay which will make them for you when you send them certain foot measurements. I found the average cost of this service to be around £40 – £45. However, as I like putting things together myself where I can, I decided to have a go at altering a pair of sandals. These were for my Sanji!Nami cosplay, from the Punk Hazard Arc, so I’d need to make the first pair she’s seen wearing after the time skip.

I’m not any sort of shoemaker, so I went to eBay in search of a base and came up with this pair:

namisandal

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{get them here}

You can see they have about the right heel to them and the correct fitting around the ankle. It has double the straps across the foot that I need, but you’ll see what I do with that. And there’s also that strip which runs up the foot, but that looks (and was) easily removable. I ordered a pair, the fit was great, it was time to get to work making me a pair of New World Nami sandals!

STAGE 1: Removing parts I don’t need

The only part I removed was that strip which runs up from the toes to the ankle. All the other straps stay. Yes, I know that leaves four straps going across the foot and Nami’s only have two, but just wait and see.

Removing the strip is easy enough. Get a craft knife and cut open the pink parts. As predicted, they easily came away.

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And remember, if you do anything like this, be very careful when using a craft knife or any sharp object. Take care not to slice through the rest of the sandal and especially take care not to cut through yourself. Always cut away from your body, never towards.

STAGE 2: Strap covers

So why didn’t I remove any of the straps which go across the feet? Because the straps on Nami’s sandals looked thicker than the ones I have on mine. However, this could be fixed by putting together the pair of purple straps and the pair of yellow straps. This was achieved through making a cover. For I whipped out a measuring tape and the smoothest looking pleather I had. I didn’t worry about colour as I knew I would be painting it later. I suppose you don’t *have* to use pleather either. If you’re also doing this and feel you’d feel you’ll work better with polycotton or something else, that’s fine. I picked pleather because I felt it would be a similar material to what her sandals would actually be made of.

Then I measured the length of the straps, starting from where they attached to the sole of the shoe and going all the way across to the other side. This was done for one of each of the strap pairs. So for this particular one I measured one purple strap and one yellow strap.

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That was the length of my strap covers. For the width, I went back to where the straps met the sole. I then measured the width of each pair. It’s tricky to explain but hopefully a little picture diagram will help.

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I added about half an inch to each side, where the cover would be folded round. As I had two sandals, I cut out two of each from the measurements, which left me with four strap covers waiting to move on to the next stage.

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STAGE 3 – Putting on strap covers

This was probably the most dangerous and definitely the most time consuming. Over the span of just under two weeks I would sit in front of episodes of Judge Rinder then the New Zealand version of Highway Patrol, or whatever it was, to do this.

First I placed the covers over the straps, curling the half inch extra over underneath the straps. I ended up trimming the extra half inch on the ends until there was enough for it to curl just enough and snugly cover the strap ends. This is something you don’t have to do, you could just cut the cover strip long enough so it goes from end to end with the edge pressing against where the strap meets the sole.

With the edges curled around the straps, the undersides should look like this little doodle:

namisandalspleatherfolded

Make sense? I measured enough pleather to fold over onto the bottom of the straps so it would then be stitched into them to help anchor it. And there was no need to worry about the underside not looking neat as it would be against my foot the entire time of being worn.

Now the part where I really had to watch my fingers. I pinned the straps in place. I used a thimble over my thumb to help push them through the fairly thick straps. Though I didn’t push the pins right through the strap, just pushed them at somewhat of a horizontal angle to just pick up enough of the strap to keep it and the cover together.

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Then I stitched the covers to the straps by hand. I used a heavy-duty hand sewing needle and a heavy-duty thread, again pushing with the thimble over my thumb to help get it through the strap. This is another thing where I didn’t worry about the colour of the thread as I’d be painting over it. It took a while because I had to be super careful not to stab myself with either the heavy-duty needle or the many pins sticking out.

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Then it took even longer because I did rough basting stitches and then went round again taking more care and making it neater. White stitching in the below picture is the neater, while the brown is the basting.

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You may be able to see some hair snaps and bobby pins at the ends of the top strap there as well. That’s because I put in some strong leather glue to help hold the ends down. The hair grips are there to hold the two surfaces together while the glue dries.

The total casualty list was 6 pins bent beyond further use and one heavy-duty needle which snapped. Which is actually pretty impressive as I thought I’d lose quite a few more. But it goes without saying that if you ever do anything like this BE VERY CAREFUL. Use safety equipment if you need and never push the needle towards yourself.

It took a long time but I was super proud of what I ended up with. In these pictures you can also see what I mean about folding the pleather under the straps, which I feel I attempted a somewhat confusing explanation about earlier.

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And then the much simpler last part

STAGE 4 – Painting and sealing

To paint the sandals I used an acyrlic spray paint from a range called Montana Gold (from the Montana brand). If you ever use these, make sure you pop off the spray nozzle and remove the little black ring first, or your paint won’t come out. I’m glad the woman in the shop told me about this because they don’t mention it on the actual can.

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The colour I used was Toffee because that was the one available in the shop which I felt matched the colour I wanted best. The can says that this spray paint can be used safely indoors but I tend to like doing my painting outdoor to avoid any mess and because I have it in my head that it’ll probably dry quicker.

About 3 coats of paint did the trick. If you do this, make sure you get all the little slightly awkward places as well, like ends of straps, buckles, all the way round the heel, etc.

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I sealed it with a spray called Victory Frog Juice, which is typically used to seal signs, which assures me it will do a good job. The only thing I stumbled on was I only gave it a quick light spray-over. Like the paint, I should have given it 2-3 good coatings and left it to dry properly. Because I didn’t, that may have been why some of the paint came away on the soles and straps when I first wore the shoes and why a strap and heel stuck together while travelling to London, thus some of the paint came off when I pried them apart. On that point, I tend to make sure painted shoes are packed in different plastic bags to try and protect against that sort of thing when storing and travelling. But on that occasion I didn’t. That’ll teach me.

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Or perhaps I should have used a different type of paint? More layers? Better sealing? If anyone has any suggestions I’m sure I’d love to hear them!

But I am very pleased with what I ended up with! It was perhaps a lot of work to do for the sake of saving a tenner. But, while I’m sure many commissioners provide good work, I didn’t want to risk receiving a pair of sandals which wouldn’t fit, leaving me little to no time to have another made and shipped. And then what if those were wrong as well??

It’s also because I enjoy the crafting process. I like looking at a picture of a costume and working out how I’m going to make everything. Each costume I make brings it’s own new challenges and things to learn and I hugely enjoy adding each every little thing to my ever-growing skill-set. Usually I will just buy footwear where I can and if I cannot find a match I will then look for something which needs minimal alteration. Footwear isn’t where a huge amount of my skill lies but I feel I muddle through pretty well, and I’m rather proud of what I did here.

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