At best, a snapped, leather shoe strap can destroy a favorite shoe's aesthetic -- those decorative buckled straps on boots and booties look sloppy and worn when damaged. At worst, a broken strap can make a shoe utterly unwearable -- Mary Janes, sandals and high heels often feature a functional, not merely ornamental, strap design. A shoe repair shop can replace or restitch wear and tear on broken leather straps to give the shoes a few more months of life -- but the job can also be done by an enterprising individual with a few supplies.
Replace Worn-Out Glue
Trim any loose, broken threads and frayed, leather pieces on the shoe strap.
Rub sandpaper over the glued area to create a textured surface.
Brush a few drops of leather glue onto the point of the strap surface where the old glue was and let the fresh glue dry until it's tacky.
Press the leather straps together and clamp them with large binder clips. Let them sit like this for two days, or until the glue has dried.
Repair Torn Leather
Trim away the broken threads and frayed, leather pieces in the damaged area of the strap.
Roughen the broken strap edges with sandpaper to help the glue bond to the leather.
Rejoin the broken strap edges temporarily with a strip of masking tape that is small enough that it doesn't block your sight of the original stitching holes.
Thread a handheld leather needle with size-16 nylon thread and knot the thread ends together tightly. Insert the needle through the strap's original stitching holes, starting from the underside. Sew across the broken section on the top and bottom strap edges. Extend the stitching several inches past the broken area.
Remove the masking tape. Apply a drop of leather glue between the broken strap edges and clamp them together with binder clips. Leave them clamped until the glue dries.
Cut a 2-inch-long strip of matching leather if the thread and glue repair does not hold. Coat the underside of this leather patch with glue and apply the patch to the underside of the strap, over the tear. Wait until the glue dries before you wear the shoes.
Rough up the broken edge of the sole strap with a piece of sandpaper.
Peel back as much of the sole edge as possible -- at the point where the strap was originally inserted -- and squirt glue into the opening. Let the glue dry until tacky.
Press the strap edge back inside the sole and squeeze the sole closed over the strap. Place the shoe into a table clamp at the point of the repair. Clamp the point tightly and leave the shoe to sit for two days.
Items you will need
- Leather glue
- Large binder clips
- Masking tape
- Leather needle
- Size-16 nylon thread
- Matching leather
- Table clamp
- Treat the shoe with leather polish once the glue has dried to better blend the repair.
- Cover any messy-looking repairs with glued beads, rhinestones, bows or silk flowers.
- If torn straps show no original edge stitching, create stitching holes with an awl.
- Reader's Digest Crafts & Hobbies; Daniel Weiss and Susan Chace
- How to Sew Leather, Suede, Fur; Phyllis W. Schwebke and Margaret B. Krohn
- Singer Simple Mending and Repair: Essential Machine-Side Tips and Techniques; Singer Worldwide
- Mend it Better: Creative Patching, Darning and Stitching; Kristin Michelle Roach
- "Salvaging Your Shoes"; New York Magazine; October 27 1980
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images