Today, most of us regard moccasins as a substitute for bedroom slippers. Native Americans, however, designed them as durable daily footwear, strong enough to endure rain and snow. Moccasins were fitted to the wearer's foot, which greatly increased their comfort and durability. Using felt and ordinary cotton, you can make a moccasin pattern that fits as well as its sturdy forebears. Woodland Indian moccasins are described in detail, based on illustrated instructions at NativeTech.org.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- 1 sheet of felt, 3-foot square
- Permanent or fabric marker
- Measuring tape
Place your left foot in the middle of your felt square. You will be cutting a single pattern that you use for both feet. Trace your foot with a marker. Place your right foot next to the left, and trace it. You have now made the sole and vamp of one moccasin.
Measure the distance between your little toe and your ankle bone. Mark the outside of each foot tracing at that point. Make a second mark on the outside of each foot 2 inches below the anklebone mark, toward the toe. This 2-inch allowance lets you slip your foot in and out of the moccasin. Draw an outline 4 inches wider than your foot, from one 2-inch mark to the other and running all the way around the heel. This will provide your moccasin with a cuff you can tie around your ankle.
Cut out your pattern in a single piece. Where your left and right big toes meet, cut a curving 1/2-inch notch between the toes, but do not cut between the feet. Curve the corner where the cuff meets the foot on each side.
Fit your final pattern on one foot. Woodland moccasins are not usually made left and right; the leather will gradually mould to each foot. Place your foot in the middle of the foot tracings. Draw both sides of the fabric up to cover the foot (you will be sewing a seam over the centre of the top of the foot to cover your toes). Gather the cuff around your ankle, turn the cuff down, and trim it if the turnover reaches the floor; it should be 1/2 inch above the floor. Make two marks an inch apart where the heels meet on the back of the cuff. When you make your moccasin, these two marks will guide you in making loops to secure the tendon that ties the cuff around the ankle. Two more loops, where the cuff-ends meet, will let you tie your moccasin securely.
Tips and warnings
- To make Plains moccasins, the kind with a decorated vamp or tongue, you will need to trace your feet separately, cut a separate 2-inch border all the way around the foot-shape, then cut the decorative vamp.
- Woodland moccasins can be decorated by cutting the cuff into fringe.
- Customise your pattern completely before transferring it to leather; mistakes on leather can be expensive.
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