How to Make Moccasins
The most comfortable moccasins in the world…
This last summer Wilderness Youth Project took a group of teenagers on a trip up the coast experiencing elements of survival such as sleeping in a debris hut, making fire by friction and eating wild edibles.
One of our most popular activities was going through the entire process of brain tanning a deer hide and then making something from the leather.
It took much persistence from all the participants to complete three skins but when the smoking was done we had three beautiful hides to work with.
Some of us made medicine pouches or wallets but most of us made moccasins custom made to fit our feet. They are literally: the most comfortable moccasins in the world and will fit your foot like a glove!
Do you want to know how to make moccasins?
Below are directions on how to make moccasins for you. Even if you don’t have the time or experience to make the leather yourself you can pick up some at a local leather shop. Learning how to make moccasins by following these instructions is a fun and truly satisfying project!
Materials for making moccasins:
- Artificial sinew
- Glovers needles
- Old paper bag
- Leather (at least 20”x16”)
Cut up an old paper bag and stand while tracing your left foot with a small seam allowance (about 1/8”). Drop your fingers straight down from the high arch of your foot and mark these spots. Connect the dots with a straight line. Intersect this line down through the middle of the heel line and extend it about 1” more. You should now have a basic foot outline with a “T” on the heel. This will be the sole of your shoe.
Place your hands on the paper (palms down) with the tips of your thumbs touching the top of the “T” and your thumbs together so your nails and top knuckles touch each other.
Squeeze all your fingers together and draw them towards each other so the index fingers meet. Mark the outside edges of your palms. You can check these marks by measuring your arch over the top with a piece of string, The string should be the same length that connects the marks you just made.
From these marks, draw lines down at a slight outward angle and up at a slight inward angle towards the top of your foot, following the line of your toes with a ¼” space.
Connect the two points at the bottom. (This should be 1” below the heel which is where you have extended the line from earlier). In essence you are making a large triangle with a rounded top. Cut this entire template out. (The dotted line in the diagram)
What you have made is a template for your top and bottom left foot. If you flip this over you have your right foot!!
Trace the template on the inside of leather and write “left.” Put a dot on the leather where the inner “T” is (This dot will come in handy later on). Flip the template over, trace the pattern again, mark the “T”, write “right”, and make the dot. Make sure you have done these things before moving to the next step.
Cut out the sole of your foot from the paper template (solid line in the diagram). Trace it on the leather and write “left.” Flip it over and write “right.” You can now cut out these four pieces from the leather and you are ready to start sewing.
With the triangular piece on top start sewing the edges from the big toe to the middle heel. Start at the top of the big toe again and sew the other side. Fold your moccasin in half and sew up the back edge. Cut from top of ankle stitch inward to the dot you made on the leather earlier, keeping a uniform inch. You do not want to cut this piece off! This piece is the tongue of your shoe. You should now have moccasins that you can slide your foot into. There are many ways to embellish this with lacing, fringed tongue and beading. Get creative and share with others how to make moccasins!