How to Make Apache Moccasins

Moccasins were, and still are, an important part of Native American culture. Tribes could be identified simply by the design of their shoes, as each group would decorate them differently using beads, quills or paints. Nowadays, they are still being made and worn by some Native Americans, as well as being the inspiration for popular fashionable shoes. These basic, soft-soled moccasins can be customized in many ways, to achieve a traditional look or a modern one.

Trace the shape of your foot onto a piece of cardboard. This is hard to do accurately yourself, so ask someone else to do it for you. Cut out the shape of the footprint.

Trace around your cardboard footprint onto a large piece of paper, folded in half. Make sure the footprint is placed directly beside the fold in the paper, and draw its mirror image on the other half of the paper. This will be used to draw the pattern.

Draw a center line on the fold between the two sides of the pattern. Label the right-hand side "A" and the left side "B". (To make an Apache moccasin with the tradtional turned-up toe, make the toe of side B slightly longer and more pointed.)

Fold side A in towards the center line and crease it. Repeat for side B. Make a mark in the center of side A, halfway the length of the moccasin and label it point “C.” Draw a line from here to the center of the “heel” of the shoe.

Measure 1½ inches, at a right angle to the crease on either side of point C, and mark these two points as “G” and “H.” Draw a straight line connecting G and H. On the heel edge of side B, measure 1¼ inches either side of the crease, and draw two 1-inch lines parallel to the creasel label the lines "E" and "F."

Cut around the outside lines, and cut the lines that you have drawn as well. Create a pattern for the tongue of the shoe. It should resemble a tall semicircle, approximately 3½ inches wide and 3½ inches tall.

Use the pattern to cut the pieces of leather accordingly. Remember to cut a right and left foot, and also to ensure there is enough leather at the back to go around your foot.

Fold the leather inside out -- suede-side in -- and stitch the moccasin together from the toe to ankle. Use a mixture of whip stitch and running stitch so that the seams stay strong. Traditionally, the Apache would have used sinew as thread, as it is sturdy, so use this if you can or substitute rawhide.

Fold the shoe back rightside out and try it on. Adjust your foot position accordingly, and sew up the heel so that it is a perfect fit.

Slide the tongue about 1 inch inside the front of the shoe, and stitch it to the moccasin. Pierce evenly distributed holes in the side of the shoe to thread the laces through. Repeat the process on the other shoe.

Decorate your moccasins however you wish. The Apache traditional patterns include narrow, parallel rows of glass beads arranged in stripes of alternating colors, and sometimes a turned-up toe. You can take inspiration from their designs, or create your own patterns.