How to Make Medieval Shoes

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you are making Medieval shoes for a Renaissance Fair or simply because you like the look, constructing authentic Middle Ages footwear takes skill and practice. While some historians argue about various materials used for the soles of Medieval shoes, most agree that some shoes from that time were made entirely out of leather. Before making the attempt, try to find a pair of Medieval leather shoes for your to inspect. There is no better learning tool, than one you can see and feel.

Cut a piece of thick leather to the shape of each foot. Thick leather was a common choice for Medieval shoe soles. Cut these pieces to account for the loss of size for stitching and turning the shoe inside out when done.

Cut thinner, more pliable leather to make the upper portions of the shoes. The size and shape of your foot along with the strapping choice will dictate how many pieces to cut for each shoe. Medieval shoe uppers were typically constructed from two or three pieces of leather and were at least ankle-high.

Puncture the leather with the awl to make the holes for the linen thread. Puncture each hole as you need it making them no further apart than 1 centimetre. If your sole leather is thick enough, the thread holes on the sole leather should angle through and emerge from the edge of the leather, not the bottom.

Use a blunt needle to pull the linen thread through the leather. Like modern-day clothing construction, Medieval shoes were constructed with the intention of turning the shoe inside out to hide the seam. Pre-waxed linen thread is easier to use but is less authentic than waxing your own linen thread.

Add a stiff triangular piece of leather above the heel. This is used to help the shoe keep its place on your foot. Add this piece of leather to the outside of the shoe as you make it. Make sure you push the linen thread through all three pieces of leather when adding this piece. When you are done stitching, you will turn the shoe inside out making this heel piece sit inside the shoe.

Turn the shoe inside out. Put your foot into the shoe. Wrap the leather pieces around your ankles to determine how the leather will lay the best. The leather should be smooth. Cut off any excess leather.

Cut small slits into the leather around your ankles. These will hold the leather straps that will hold the shoes in place. Measure and cut the leather straps and lace them through the slits.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather
  • Scissors
  • Awl
  • Needle
  • Linen thread
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