How To Make Moccasins
Learn how to make your own moccasins. Indians from Mexico to beyond the Arctic Circle have been using moccasins for footwear for centuries.
North American Indians from Mexico to beyond the Arctic Circle have been using moccasins for footwear in one form or another for centuries. This comfortable form of footwear has recently become popular and although most believe they are much too difficult to make, a three piece moccasin is a simple task.
The three piece moccasin pattern is based on a design used by the Apache Indians. You will need to purchase a heavy weight, oil tanned leather. The oil tanning in the leather will provide a good moisture resistant shoe. A grocery bag can be used to cut the pattern or any other heavy duty paper, but be sure you have enough to cut separate patterns for each foot. You will also need an awl to punch holes in the leather, a leather needle and a good heavy duty, preferable waterproof leather thread. Most of these items, including the leather, can be purchased from any local leather store. The most common type of awl is a standard rotary punch which can be used for punching many different sized holes. Since the bottoms of your moccasins will be soft leather, you can also purchase foam insoles to give more protection against sharp rocks or roots.
To begin, place the full weight of your right foot on the paper and draw an outline around it with a pencil. Be sure to hold the pencil vertically to allow for any spreading of the foot when standing or walking. Remove your foot and sketch a second time measuring one inch outside the original outline. Allow for an additional 1 1\4 inch at the heel and toe. This will be the pattern for the sole of your moccasin. Repeat this process with your left foot. For the front top piece of your moccasin, which is also called the vamp, make this pattern about 1\4 inch wider than the widest part of each foot. To estimate the length, measure the distance from the back of the big toe nail to just above your instep and add 4 inches.
The pattern for the back or heel piece of your moccasins should be 4 inches high and long enough to wrap around the heel. It will need to overlap the vamp by no less than 1\4 inch on each side.
Once your pattern is finished, place it on the leather and cut out each piece, ensuring that you keep the right and left foot pieces separated. Punch holes 1\4 inch from the edge around each sole piece, the front or toe area of the vamps and the bottom parts of the heel pieces. These holes should be about 3\16 inches apart on the vamps and back pieces. On the sole pieces match the holes up and make them about 1\4 inch apart. Join the vamps to the soles by saddle stitching from the center of the vamp, along one side and then the other. Join the back to the sole by starting in the center of the heel and working around toward the front. You will also want to measure three equal distance slits 2 inches from the length wise center of the heel pieces to allow for a leather lace.
To make the saddle stitch you will need to use a needle at each end of the thread. Even the thread off at the first hole then insert the needles through succeeding holes in opposite directions. Be sure to pull the thread tight to give a clean uniform look. When you reach the end, simply finish with a knot hidden in the seams. The insoles will usually come in your shoe size, but if needed, you can cut them to fit inside the moccasins. Once this is done you can glue them inside the moccasin with rubber cement. Add laces and allow to dry.