No matter the season, boots are a wardrobe staple for any fashion-savvy woman. Inspired by the animal-hide footwear worn by American Indians centuries ago, wrap-around moccasins are a trendy way to pull every low-key outfit together while keeping your feet comfortable. According to Linda Baumgarten, curator of textiles and costumes at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, moccasins have been a popular fashion accessory since their introduction to European society around 1780. Why buy them, though, when you can easily make your own distinctive pair at a fraction of the cost?
Items you will need
- Large sheet of paper
- Measuring tape
- Sharp scissors
- 1 yard of leather
- Sharp three-sided glover's needle
- Sinew (real or artificial)
Making the Pattern
Place your foot in the middle of a sheet of paper so that there are at least 4 inches of paper surrounding it on all sides. Use a pencil to trace around your foot.
Find the center of the footprint and draw a vertical line down it so that the right and left sides are symmetrical.
Use the measuring tape to measure all the way around the outside of your foot. Add 1 inch to this measurement and divide your number in half to determine the width of your pattern, or the "width number." For instance, if your foot measured 9 inches around, the width number of your pattern would be 5 inches.
Draw a straight line on the outside of the right and left sides of your footprint, making sure that there are equal amounts of space on both sides of the center line and that the combined width of your pattern matches your width number. For example, if the width number of your pattern was 5 inches, you should draw a straight line 2 1/2 inches out from each side of the center line.
Mark 1 inch above the toe area of the footprint and 1 1/2 inches below the heel. Draw a straight horizontal line across the heel to the sides of the pattern, and draw a curved line around the toe area.
Use scissors to cut almost halfway up the center line, beginning at the heel. Fold the paper in half along the arch side of the foot so that the pattern will be doubled when cut out in the next step.
Cut out the pattern, leaving only the folded edge along the arch side of the foot uncut. Unfold the pattern. When unfolded, the pattern should look similar to an opened book.
Making the Boot
Place the pattern on the leather and cut out one boot. Flip the pattern over and cut out the other boot.
Use the three-sided glover's needle and sinew to stitch each of the moccasins together using a running stitch. Try them on for size and adjust the length of the center slit for comfort, if necessary. Remove the moccasins and cut 1 inch horizontally on each side of the top of the slit so it looks like a "T."
Mark the heel seam with a pencil and cut off the excess, then sew down to roughly 3/4 to 1 inch from the bottom. Try on the moccasin and cut off the excess heel fabric if necessary, then remove the boot and finish sewing the heel. You might want to reinforce the heel by stitching the area multiple times.
Begin creating the high top of the boot by measuring the ankle opening of the moccasin with the measuring tape. Add 4 inches to this number. This is the "ankle flap number."
Cut 2 rectangles of leather to a length that is your ankle flap number and a height of 4 to 6 inches, depending on how tall you would like the moccasin tops to be. Sew the leather pieces to the tops of the moccasins, sewing toward the inside of the foot. When finished, there should be an overlap of about 4 inches to wrap around the front of the boots.
Attaching the Wrap-Around Strings
Cut two small holes in the overlap flap, one in the top corner and one in the bottom corner. Cut two identical strands of sinew that are long enough to wrap around the ankle three or four times.
Thread the sinew through the holes and knot it in the back to hold it in place. The knots should not be visible from the front of the flap.
Put the moccasins on, wrap the sinew ties around the ankles to close the flaps, and tie bow knots to secure them.
If you plan to wear thick socks with the moccasins, be sure to wear the socks when drawing the pattern to ensure a comfortable fit.
- "What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America"; Linda Baumgarten; 2002
- Moccasin image by Kathy D from Fotolia.com