Well, let’s get started immediately with the first topic of my wish-to-learn list of American Leathercraft, the Native American craft. It has been a while I did a DIY or a pure leather post I thought let’s combine the two. I will figure out to make one of the oldest types of shoes, moccasins. In this post, I’ve got a lot of links for you to check out since I don’t have the materials for a step by step tutorial. Nevertheless, I think I’ve got some great techniques for you to try and for me to go onto my ‘learn-in-America-but-still-want-to-try’ wishlist …
What are moccasins:
Moccasins are leather shoes made originally by the Native Americans to protect their feet, back in the cold and harsh environmental days. These shoes were mostly worn in the winter days to overcome frozen feet. In the summer the people could also go bear-feet. Nowadays these moccasins are sold all over the world and remade even by most of the luxury brands as slippers or driving shoes.
Different types of Moccasins:
I found an amazing overview of all the different types of moccasins on the website of Native American Technology and Art. And there are so many!! When I see this map I can imagine the technique of making moccasins taught from generation to generation. There was not just one supplier to all tribes but each area of North America made their own design of moccasins. The difference might also relate to the local weather, nature, and supplies available. In the northern and eastern regions, you see some kinds of moccasins which are lower. While in the south and west of North America there you also see the higher models (which is actually quite strange since I would think it is colder in the northern regions…).
Inspirational pattern illustrations
Not only did I found this map but also a great overview of illustrative patterns of the different types of moccasins on the website linked in the link below! I am sure you could use these images as inspiration to design your own type of moccasin! Or find more images on my newest Pinterest board.
Moccasins are made of…
As you can imagine were there any industrial sewing machines and are they all made by hand. Thick leather would be difficult to process so most of the moccasins were made of souple but sturdy leather, like elk, moose or deer. In some tribes, they did add a sole of a more thicker type of leather. The thicker the leather the more durable the moccasins would but the more difficult to make. Suede or split leather could also be used.
Recycle over and over again
A lovely little detail I read while browsing the web for more and more information, was the fact that whenever the soles were worn out, they could replace the soles. They would sew the cuff or ‘tongue’ of the moccasin, often beautifully decorated by beats or embroidery in a new pair! Wouldn’t it be great to have your favorite pair of shoes ‘forever’?
Different ‘vamp’ techniques
I think the most famous type of moccasin is the ones from the northeast. This type has a ‘vamp’ or tongue in the middle. For this one specific type of moccasin, I found already 4 techniques to attach the vamp. Even more choices to make in your design right…? I’ve found some youtube video’s that might be helpful to succeed in every technique you like.
The last video is apparently from a DIY kit from Michaels (an American craft shop). So maybe I am going to check this one out… Although the pattern is not very refined… What do you think of moccasins ??