Used as footwear by Native Americans, moccasins were traditionally made of tanned leather hides with soft soles. The skins were smoked to improve water-resistance, and they were relatively easy to create with just a few tools and supplies. Today’s moccasins can be made with leather or any leather-like material that doesn’t lose its shape too easily.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Stiff leather or other similar material
- Stiff paper (grocery bag or pattern paper)
- Sharp Scissors
- Awn or rotary punch
- Long, sharp, thick needles
Draw an outline of your foot on a piece of paper. Make sure to allow a little over 1 inch all the way around and about 1 ¼ inch at the toe for the seam.
Measure the distance between the back of your big toenail to just above your instep to get a good idea of the length of your vamp (top of the moccasin). Measure from one side of the ball of your foot across your instep to the other side, and add about ¼ inch to the foot line for your vamp measurement.
Cut the vamp pattern in the shape of your sole pattern, less the heel area. Use the vamp measurements to create the pattern, remembering to add ¼ inch across the instep.
For the back of the moccasin pattern, cut piece of material that is 4 inches wide and long enough to wrap around the heel of your foot, overlapping about ½ inch on each side.
Use an awl or a very fine rotary hole punch to make holes ¼ inch from the edge of the soles, front pieces, vamps and back pieces of your moccasin material.
Using a saddle stitch, work outward from the centre of each vamp, stitching one side and then the other.
Join the sole to the back of the moccasin by sewing each side from the centre of the heel outward.
Add a thong by cutting a long strip from the same material that you are using for your moccasin and threading the strip through slits in the back piece of the moccasin. Make sure the piece is long enough to tie into a bow.
Tips and warnings
- If using leather, use heavy leather that has been oil-tanned.
- To make working with the pattern easier, use a heavyweight paper, such as a grocery bag.
- Because your left and right foot are not exactly the same, you should make a separate pattern for each one.
- Sew the patterns together before you actually create the moccasins to make sure that your patterns are correct.
- Make sure to pull all seams tight after each stitch.
- To sew using a saddle stitch, thread each end of thread with a needle. Starting in the centre hole, sew with each needle in opposing directions, tying a knot in the final seam.
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