How to Make Moccasins

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!

Happy Sewing!!!

 

Materials for making moccasins:

  • Artificial sinew
  • Glovers needles
  • Old paper bag
  • Leather (at least 20”x16”)
  • Pen

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!

Sharon Buczaczer is an instructor with Wilderness Youth Project, which is based in Santa Barbara,CA. They teach many skills such as how to make moccasins.

13 Comments

  1. Cindy Crane

    I loved your article & how to make moccacins, but my question is How do I line them?
    I have rabbit fur which I would like to line them, but how do I do it?
    Your help & attention to my request is appreciated.
    Sincerely, Cindy

    • turn then in side out take the outline of your foot use it to cut out a shape make it slightly smaller then glue the fur to the inside part wait for it to dry sew on for strength then flip em and your done

    • Cindy Crane, I imagine what you would do to create a lining is use the pieces that you cut for your shoes to cut the lining , the seems would be on the back side of the fur. then you would use a blanket stitch or whip stitch to sew the lining to the top of the moccasin. Hope this helps you. I have never made shoes but I imagine it would be like when i line the purses i make.

  2. Sean

    Wow thank you so much! I have been wanting to make a pair of moccasins for so long and this was very helpful! I lined mine with rabbit fur like the person above me… They are SO comfy and warm!

  3. janna

    what thickness leather should i use? should it be thicker on the soles as well?

  4. Colleen

    Your mocs are awesome!! But my son and I are having so trouble with sewing them together. We can not figure out all the directions, can you give us a little bit more help with them? The toes don’t line up on the left or right foot do we need to do something different? And once the sole is sewed to the top peice of leather we are not sure how the tongue is made.

  5. Colleen D.

    I’d love to try this but am having trouble visualizing how these get sewn together (which isn’t usually an issue for me. Pics, or maybe a video would be helpful before I wind up with shredded leather.

  6. Karen

    What size Glovers needles should I be looking for?

  7. Stephanie

    This video should help visualize the pattern or you can use theirs. Its the same thing in the end.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1jiJ4qsdVk

    Happy sewing!!

  8. Gerald

    Looks easy enough but directions and espeacially diagrams are so poor, I’m very handy at making things but I wouldn’t even attempt it with these directions. Also very interested in brain tanning, heard of it for 40 yrs but never attempted it, I’ve done had my best success with acid tanning but have done bark tanning and chrome tanning in the past. The bark tan left a very dark stained leather that was tuff and Chrome tan left my leather greasy and blue/green

  9. Tracey Blades

    Great way to recycle old leather pants and jackets!

  10. Echo

    i too really like this idea but am having trouble visualizing how to put them together. some actual pictures would be a fantastic addition to the instructions. i am having a hard time with the very light color of the font also.
    Please, add a few pictures!
    Thanks!

  11. Echo

    i should have said i was having trouble with the lightness of the color for the drawings. it’s very hard to see!

Share Your Thoughts