How to make mukluks with moose hide

Written by ragnar danneskjold
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Mukluks are the variation of the traditional Native American moccasin used by tribes in the extreme north. They were developed over time for use in the extreme cold, arid northern regions of the arctic and subarctic. There are versions available that are constructed from modern materials, such as the U.S. Air Force surplus versions sometimes available from military surplus stores. But in their book "The Winter Wilderness Companion," snow-country guides Garrett and Alexandra Conover point out that these are not as effective as those homemade versions that use the traditional patterns out of moose hide.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Tanned moosehide leather
  • Craft paper
  • Sharpie pen
  • Scissors
  • Artificial sinew
  • Glover's needle
  • Old wool blanket

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  1. 1

    Stand barefoot on a sheet of craft paper and use your Sharpie pen to draw an outline of your foot. Leave 3/4-inch of additional space around the edge of your foot to allow for sewing this sole to the upper half of your mukluk.

  2. 2

    Use the pattern you have now made and cut four pieces of moose hide leather. Mark two of these as "soles" and set them aside.

  3. 3

    Measure your foot from the tip of your longest toe to the top of your instep where it meets your lower leg. Add 3/4 inch to this measurement and cut the other two pieces of leather to this length. Start your measurement at the toe. These will form the "vamp" of the mukluks, the portion that covers the top of your foot.

  4. 4

    Measure the outside perimeter length of your foot and cut a strip of the moose hide that length and 3/4 inch wide.

  5. 5

    Sew this strip to the sole of your mukluk, around the edge. Place the toe of the vamp against the top centre edge of the strip and sew it all the way to the back corners as well. This is the lower of your mukluk.

  6. 6

    Measure the circumference of your ankle at the top of the mukluk lower and your calf at its widest point.

  7. 7

    Use these measurements, plus an additional 3/4 inch, to draw a pattern of your craft paper that is roughly a triangle with the tip cut off. For instance, if your ankle is six inches in circumference and your calf is 13, the bottom of the pattern would be 6 and 3/4 inches wide, while the top would be 13 and 3/4 inches wide. The height of the pattern would be the distance on your leg between the two measuring points you used.

  8. 8

    Use the pattern created on craft paper to cut this piece out of your wool blanket material. An old wool army blanket or Hudson Bay Company wool trade blankets are both popular choices for this material with natives in northern Canada and Alaska.

  9. 9

    Sew the bottom edge of the wool blanket piece to the top edge of the moose hide mukluk lower. Sew the edges of the wool together to form a tube. This is the upper of your mukluk.

  10. 10

    Hem the top edge of the mukluk upper and insert a moose hide leather lace into the hem to secure the top to your leg when worn.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear thick felted boot liners or warm wool socks under the mukluks. Alternatively, you can wrap strips of excess wool blanket material around your feet snugly, but not tight, in lieu of felted liners.
  • Do not wear mukluks in temperatures above -9.44 degrees C below zero Farenheit. This is referred to as wet-cold, as opposed to the colder dry-cold. It will result in moisture leaking into the mukluk. This will lead to cold-weather injuries such as frostbite.
  • Do not wear mukluks on pavement. These are designed for wilderness travel on soft surfaces. Wearing moose hide mukluks on pavement can result in faster wear on the material, dramatically reducing the longevity of the finished product.

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