How to Make Leather Moccasins

    by Tammy Quinn Mckillip

    About the Author

    Tammy Quinn McKillip has written extensively in print and online publications about pets, parenting, theater, design, health and environmentalism since 1999. She is the editor of the Macaroni Kid National Family Safety newsletter and publisher and editor of "Macaroni Kid," a local family-friendly weekly events newsletter. She is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at City College of New York.


    Used as footwear by Native Americans, moccasins were traditionally made of tanned leather hides with soft soles. The skins were smoked to improve water-resistance, and they were relatively easy to create with just a few tools and supplies. Contemporary moccasin-makers can use leather or any leather-like material that doesn't lose its shape too easily.

    Things You'll Need

    • Stiff leather or similar material
    • Stiff paper
    • Sharp scissors
    • Awl
    • Rotary punch
    • Sinew or thread
    • Long, sharp, thick needles

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    Draw an outline of your foot on a piece of paper. Allow a little over 1 inch all the way around and about 1 more inch at the toe for the seam.

    Measure the distance between the back of your big toenail to just above your instep to get a good idea of the length of your vamp, which is the top of the moccasin. Take another measurement from one side of the ball of your foot across your instep to the other side, and add about 1 inch to the foot line for your vamp measurement.

    Make the vamp pattern in the shape of your sole, less the heel area. Use the vamp measurements to create the pattern, remembering to add an inch across the instep.

    Cut piece of material that is 4 inches wide and long enough to wrap around the heel of your foot for the back of the moccasin pattern. Overlap about 1 1/2 inches on each side.

    Use an awl or a very fine rotary hole punch to make holes 3/4 inch from the edges of the soles, front pieces, vamps and back pieces of your moccasin material.

    Stitch one side and then the other using a saddle stitch and working outward from the center of each vamp. Thread each end of the stitching material onto a needle. Starting in the center hole, sew with each needle in opposing directions. Pull all the seams tight and tie a knot in the final seam.

    Join the sole to the back of the moccasin by sewing each side from the center of the heel outward.

    Add a thong by cutting a long strip from the same material that you are using for your moccasin and threading the strip through slits in the back piece of the moccasin. Make sure the piece is long enough to tie into a bow.

    • To make working with the pattern easier, use a heavyweight paper, such as a grocery bag.
    • Because your left and right foot are not exactly the same, you should make a separate pattern for each one.
    • Sew the patterns together before you actually create the moccasins to make sure that your patterns are correct.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images