The cowboy--the knight of the West. Though he spends most of his day in the saddle (at least according to the cliché), a true cowboy also needs some fine footwear to help him tread the range. While you may not own a thousand-acre ranch in Texas, you still can own a pretty fine pair of cowboy boots like your gallant hero. And in true Western style, these are made by hand, step-by-step.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Calfskin, pigskin, horsehide, or kangaroo skin leather (enough to finish the boot)
- A small piece of stiff leather
- Tracing paper
- Pencil or other marking implement
- Pattern (optional)
- Razor blade or heavy-duty scissors
- Heavy needle and thread (to match the leather)
- Glue (suitable for leather)
- Last (wooden or plastic model of foot to fit boot)
- Shoe tacks
- Heel piece
Select your leather. You can purchase leather at some fabric and craft stores as well as online from stores such as justleather.com or Tandy Leather Factory. (See Resources.) Local tanners may also sell small leather remnants.
You may wish to use a pattern for the boot, but you can also try to make your own by measuring and fitting to your foot. If you decide to use a pattern, Tandy Leather Factory sells patterns that can be adapted to make cowboy boots. Try pattern books in fabric stores, particularly the Halloween section.
Measure and cut out the top of the boot, using the tracing paper and pencil. The top consists of three pieces: the part that covers the top of the foot (vamp), the heel covering (counter), and the part that wraps around the shin and calf (uppers).
Sew the vamp to the front upper. Sew the counter to the back upper. Trim any excess leather near the stitching. Cut a strip of leather several inches long and about 25 to 50 mm (one or two inches) wide, called a welt. Sew the welt to the back of the counter.
Wrong sides out, glue and then sew the front and back parts of the boot together. Soak this part in water until the leather is flexible enough to turn right-side out.
Using the same leather as for the rest of the boot, cut out an insole piece. With the tacks and hammer, tack the insole to the last. A last (a foot model made of wood or plastic) can be found second-hand from a local cobbler.
Starting at the front of the boot, use the hammer to tack the vamp and counter over the insole into the last, leaving the back of the boot open.
Insert a stiff piece of leather at the front of the vamp to reinforce the toe. This leather should be stiffer than the one used for the rest of the boot construction. Sew the welt onto the back and insole, binding the insole, vamp, and counter.
Remove the nails tacking the last. At this point, you may wish to add a metal shank to reinforce the high arch. You may be able to purchase a shank as well as the necessary heel piece from a local cobbler or online from companies such as Alibaba. (See Resources.) Look for a heel piece that is sturdy and at the preferred height for your boot.
Trace and cut out a piece of leather for the sole. Sew the sole to the welt. Nail the heel piece to the sole. Sand both the sole and the heel until smooth.
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