In one or the other form, moccasins were the footwear for native Americans covering North America, Mexico going beyond the Arctic Circle. All moccasins had similar characteristics even though every region and tribe had their specific variations in design. The upper parts were made of tanned leather and soles made of smoked to improve water resistance. Some western tribes however made soles that were soft. They learnt early enough how to make moccasins for hunting and other outdoor uses.
You can use the Apache design to make the three piece moccasin. Heavy-weight oil-tanned leather is used as oil tanning makes the leather moisture resistant. The pattern is cut out of a heavy paper like a heavy duty grocery bag. Since the right and left leg are usually not the same, you should make a pattern for each foot. baste the patterns together and try if they fit prior to cutting the leather to avoid damaging valuable material.
It is necessary to punch holes before sewing the leather since it is heavy. Use a fine drive punch or rotary punch for the holes and use the saddle stitch for all seams. Make sure you draw the threads tightly for every stitch so it bites into the leather to produce a strong and attractive seam for the heavy duty wear. Once through with this then cut thongs from the same leather then thread it through the slits in the back piece, they should be long enough to make a tie bow. This is the short guide on how to make moccasins. Below is the step by step process to make your own moccasins. Each full moccasin is made of three pieces, the sole, vamp and back, a thong is added from the back. The finished shoe can be beaded if desired.
- With your foot on a paper, draw the outline with a vertically held pencil. Sketch the shape of your sole and give an allowance of one and a quarter inch at the toe and heel and one inch all around the sides.
- Make a vamp pattern that is a quarter inch wider than the widest part of your foot. The length of the vamp is approximately the distance from the big toenail to about the instep then add 4 inches.
- Cut the back piece 4 inches high and long so as to wrap around the heel and overlap vamp by a half inch on every side.
- Punch holes a quarter inches from the sole edges, back piece and front toes of vamp.
- Begin saddle stitching from the center vamp and stitch along one side then go to the other side. Start from the center of heel to join the back to sole sewing one side then the other.
- Using a needle at each end of the thread is the easiest way to make a saddle stitch. Thread on first hole and the other needle inserted through the next hole on the opposite direction then finish with a knot hidden in the seam.