How to Make Indian Moccasins

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Leather moccasins range from simple to very complex and decorative designs.
Leather moccasins range from simple to very complex and decorative designs. (Image: Moccasin image by Kathy D from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Different Native American tribes use various patterns in making moccasins and each maker often adds her own bead-work or other decorations. Designed for specific environments, moccasins come in many shapes and styles. The center seam, soft-soled variety is easiest to make. It consists of a one-piece pattern and was worn by the eastern tribes who walked in leaf covered forests. Authentic moccasins are most often made of deer, elk or moose hides.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Felt
  • Scissors
  • Waxed thread
  • Glover's needle
  • Medium weight leather, 3 to 4 oz.

Fold a piece of heavy cardboard in half and place your foot onto the cardboard with your instep close to the folded edge.

Trace your foot on the cardboard, rounding out the shape and adding 1/8 inch all around as a seam allowance.

Cut out the pattern and open it to reveal a shape with two mounds at the toe areas. Cut two slits at the inside heel mark to the outside of the pattern piece.

Trace your pattern onto felt and practice stitching a sample moccasin before you cut into your leather.

Thread the glover's needle with the waxed thread. A glover's needle has three sharp edges that will cut through the leather better than the piercing of a traditional needle.

Sew up the front starting at the middle point and puckering your stitches to form the front of the moccasin. Sew the heel by folding in the back portion and attaching it to the tab formed from the cut slits.

Use a running stitch and a whip stitch to sew the seams. Seams may be sewn right side out or inside out, depending on personal preference and the thickness of the leather. Be certain that this sample moccasin is the correct fit for your foot. Adjust the pattern as needed before you proceed.

Place the pattern onto medium thickness leather. Position the pattern with the grain so the stretch of the leather goes around your foot. Cut the leather around the pattern. Make the heel slits. Sew in the same manner as you did with the felt example.

Tips & Warnings

  • A cuff may be added by drawing flaps on your pattern; these extend out from the little toe line to the back on both sides and are 2 1/4 inches wide.
  • A fleece lining and fur trim may be added to your moccasins.

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