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shoemaking-msg - 3/24/12


Making shoes. More detailed than shoes-msg.


NOTE: See also the files: shoes-msg, shoes-lnks, boots-msg, leather-msg, p-shoes-msg, lea-tanning-msg, leather-dyeing-msg, 2Shod-a-Shire-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: IMC at vax2.utulsa.edu (I. Marc Carlson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: lasts and shoemaking

Date: 9 Apr 1995 16:24:30 -0500


During the last major debate on Lasts, a note was posted by Thora

Sharptooth (aka priest at vaxsar.vassar.edu), Dated (17 Feb 95)

Subject: Jorvik Last (was:  re: Lasts) for which I am extremely

grateful. However, while while I found it highly informative at

the time, I missed a significant detail it was relating, as I

was busy reading it for another bit of information.  Having

recently come across a copy of the work she was quoting, I was

struck by said detail, and thought I'd re-post it and stress it.

I am curious about any thoughts on the matter from our more

experienced shoemakers and cobblers...


>Here's a quote of the section on the tenth century Jorvik last


>PAVEMENT, AND OTHER SITES, by Arthur MacGregor...

>"Shoemaker's lasts (Fig 74)


She didn't show the picture, but the last it shows (as best as

can be presented in this format:


   |-------------------------21.5 cm----------------------------|

   |-----------9 cm------------|

___   ____________________________    _____

| |                            \___      \____

| |                                 \_______   \_12.75 cm__

| |                                         \_______        \

8 cm |                                                 \________

| |                                                          |

| |                                                      ___/  

| |_____________________________________________________/


It is clearly a "Left" and is 7.5 cm in breadth at the widest point

(7.5 cm behind the toe).


>"A shoemaker's last (494) of alder forms an interesting complement

>to other leatherworking evidence from the Lloyds Bank site.  The

>profile is typical of several of the shoes discussed above, except

>that the heel of the last is cut off rather squarely....


I just wanted to stress that bit        


>"Although these are the first such finds from the British Isles,

>a number of Continental parallels can be cited:  Schia (1977, 321,

>fig. 35) illustrates on example along with other evidence for

>shoemaking in medieval Oslo, although firm dating evidence for the

>last itself is lacking; another last from Wolin in northern

>Poland, very similar in appearance to 494, is described by

>Kostrzewski (1949, 278, fig. 149).  About 200 lasts, ranging in

>date from the 10th to the 15th century, were found in excavations

>at Novgorod (Izyumova, 1959, 198f., fig. 1).  These varied over a

>wide range of sizes and also showed clear distinctions between

>right and left shoes.  Stylistically, 494 compares most closely

>with a last from Novgorod which is rather higher in profile and

>would have been used for making boots but which incorporates [p.

>145] the same general features, including a squared-off heel and


>a flat top lacking any socket or peg for attachment to a bench;



>the type is said to have been current there from the 11th to the

>13th century (Izyumova, 1959, 199, fig. 1, 2)."


>The references MacGregor cites are, in full:

>Izyumova, S.A., 1959.  'K istorii kozhevennogo i sapozhnogo

   remesel novgoroda velikogo' in A.F. Artsikhovskii and B.A.


   EKSPEDITSII 2. Materialy i Issledovaniya po Arkheologii SSSR

   65 (Moscow), 192-222.



   Publs. de l'Institut Occidental 1 (Paris).


>Schia, E., 1977.  'Sko som arkeologisk kildemateriale', HIKUIN 3,



However, in the same work, MacGregor states on page 138:

   "From its general shape it is clear that this boot was worn on

the right foot, with the toggle fastening on the inside [he is, of

course referring to the inner ankle side -- Diarmuit]  A similarly

arranged toggle on the other foot would have made walking rather

tedious since the two fastenings would have been prone to catch on

one another [debatable -- Diarmuit].  It seems, however, that no

distinction was generally made between shoes for the left and right

foot before the later medieval period (Groenman-Van Waateringe,

1974, 113f), so that the toggle may have been on the outside of the

corresponding left shoe (see, however, the evidence for

differentiation between left and right in the lasts discussed

below, p. 144 [or above in this post -- Diarmuit])"


The source he cites is:


Groenmann-van Waateringe, W., 1974. "Die Eintwicklunge der

   Schuhmode in 2500 Jahren", DIE KUNDE, new ser. 25, 96-119.


I therefore reassert my suspicion that these lasts are used for

something other than their modern function in early medieval show

manufacture. Or is there something I'm missing?


"Mihi Satis Apparet Propter     Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn

Se Ipsum Appetenda Sapientia" University of Northkeep

-- St. Dunstan                    Northkeepshire, Ansteorra

                              (I. Marc Carlson/IMC at vax2.utulsa.edu)



From: brithyla at aol.com (BriThyla)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period knives and shoes (was jurying merchants)

Date: 12 Jul 1996 20:42:53 -0400


There are a couple of patterns for  Plains Indian high top moccasins that

are readily adaptable to period use. The method of construction of the

soles and uppers is in line with the museum of London examples. Adding the

shaft may or may not be correct for our period. The one thing that one

needs to know about the museum of London patterns is that the X shaped

cuts in the uppers were placed there for the comfort of the wearer. They

were placed so as to relieve pressure on bunions and corns. This technique

is still used today for quick fixes until a modern custom fitted shoe can

be made. (This last bit of information was not researched in a library but

rather at the shop of a gentleman who has been repairing, making, and or

selling orthopedic shoes for probably 40 years. Therefore documentation is

not available. I didn't get the job, but we did have a fun conversation.)

Sorry, with Pennsic coming, I've been spending far too much time sniffing

leather fumes. But my backroom smells sooo good.



Brian Broadaxe



From: LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.EDU (I. Marc Carlson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: How to attach hobnails to hobnailed boots?

Date: 25 Oct 1996 09:18:32 -0400


<P. Cornelius Nauta<palmer at ansoft.com (Palmer Davis)>>>

>I am attempting to make a pair of Roman _caligae_, which looks like

>a fairly simple task from the pattern that I have...

>I have seen metal tacks with

>rounded caps at the mundane hardware store that look like they

>ought to fit the bill for the hobnails...


If they are the sorts of tacks I am thinking of, you may have some

problems with the heads coming off at the slightest excuse.


>...but am uncertain about the

>attachment of the soles and hobnails.  Are the hobnails simply

>nailed into the sole with the points toward the sole of the foot?


Yes, and no.  They are nailed upwards, unil the point runs into the metal

of the Lasts the Romans used to do this on, which turned the point away

from the foot and back into the sole.  On TOP of this, you wear an inner

sole that is not nailed.


>bottom two layers together.  But that arrangement makes it difficult

>or impossible for a soldier on the march to replace missing or damaged



Why? I can think of several ways to solve the problem, not the least of

which is (since the head's coming off, or wearing away is the most likely

damage to occur that would require replacing the nail) pushing the nail

all the way though (after removing the inner sole, of course), just as you

are alleged to do when removing arrows.  Then, if you don't have the

real equipment, you find some convenient rocks.  Hammer the new nail in,

and, if necessary, turning it over and hammering the nail point flat.

Replace the inner sole and put it back on.


>as various references indicate was a period practice.  And do

>I stitch the sole layers together?  Use some sort of a glue?  Trust

>to the hobnails?


As far as I know, from the archaeological remains, you trust your

feet to good Roman smithing.


I. Marc Carlson, Reference Librarian    |LIB_IMC at CENTUM.UTULSA.EDU

Tulsa Community College, West Campus LRC|Sometimes known as:

Reference Tech. McFarlin Library        | Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn

University of Tulsa, 2933 E. 6th St.    | University of Northkeep

Tulsa, OK  74104-3123 (918) 631-3794    | Northkeepshire, Ansteorra



From: gunnora at bga.com (Gunnora Hallakarva)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: How to attach hobnails to hobnailed boots?

Date: 26 Oct 1996 06:02:06 GMT


Ave,   P. Cornelius Nauta


In constructing a Roman (or other variety) of shoe, you are

not usually dealing with a single layer of leather.  There is

normally a sole, which is a thick, tough piece of leather.  And

there is usually an innersole.  There may be several layers.


For your hobnailed sole. you'd want to drive the nails through

the sole leather, points up.  I cut the point off a short

distance above the surface and then peen the nail down

smoothly like a rivet.  Depending on the thickness of the

nailshaft, sometimes I use a washer over the nail, then peen



The two-layer construction has several other benefits.  For

example, the straps of the sandal are usually trapped

between the inner and outer sole layers.  This means that the

rough strap end is not rubbing against your foot, or making an

uncomfortable lump underneath your shoe.


If you want a thicker sole, you can use several layers of

leather, slued and stitched together.


I recommend that anyone learning to build cobbled shoes of

any variety go to a thrift store and buy and old pair of work

boots, Red Wing or the like.  Then take them home and

carefully take the boot apart into its component pieces.  You

can learn a lot about the basic construction of a cobbled shoe

in this manner.  Once you have done this, go find a shop that

does on-site shoe repair and ask the proprietor to let you

observe. Tell them why, many are older folks who are glad

and amazed to see a younger person with an interest in his

art. If you are not acareful, you may find yourself an



Good luck!


Gunnora Hallakarva




From: "Peter N. Biddle" <peterbi at microsoft.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Sole nails and a good leather supply reference

Date: 21 Jan 1997 23:34:13 GMT

Organization: Microsoft Corporation


Awhile back there was a thread on what sort of nails were/are used for the

leather soles of shoes. I never saw an answer; my own research has turned

up the following:


They are called "clinch" nails. They are specifically designed to be

pounded through leather on a steel last or anvil. The nail itself tapers

through most of it's length and the tip of the nail is quite thin and

sharp. It rolls up into a fiddlehead when it hits the steel, leaving only a

tiny speck of metal exposed. The fiddlehead itself stays in the leather and

acts much like a peened-over rivet to keep the material together (and the

nail in place). According to my information, they should be appx 1/8 - 3/16

of an inch longer than the total thickness of the materials you are

attaching together. They are not big nails like upholstery nails - they are

more like brads.


Clinch nails are available in both steel and brass. I bought them by the

pound from Terry at Macphersons leather in Seattle WA. Macphersons also has

a huge selection of leather and findings; I have a full suit of wax

hardened leather armor I built with materials from there and I have been

very happy with the service and the prices. (I have NO relation to them

beyond that of a customer.) Tell Terry you are from the SCA and that I

referred you.


Macpherson Leather Company - Terry Lee Durbin

519 12th Ave S

Seattle, WA 98144




206.328.0859 (fax)


Good building,




Subject: Boots and Shoes

Date: Mon, 06 Apr 98 11:52:08 MST

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: Merryrose <atlantia at atlantia.sca.org>


Since someone asked for information on boots:


For those truehearts who wish to make their own -


The premier site for make your own medieval shoes is:

Footwear of the Middle Ages by I. Marc Carlson,


(For the Mongols there is a plan for Mongol boots.)


Marc also contributes to Leather Crafter's Corner:



(Both the above are reachable from http://www.sca.org/ .

The stockclerk also sells some patterns for shoes.)


Then there is Paul Lalonde's Burgundian Court Shoes:



Regia Angolrum's page on Medieval Leatherworking:



Costume Designs Footwear page for the Renn boot how to's is

not really medieval, but tastes vary... (read his ethics page).



Some opinion and references on Scottish and Irish shoes at:



Basic Viking Footwear at:




For those who wish to buy -


Shoes and Boots from Historic Enterprises (Swan and Lion):




Museum Replicas sells shoes and Boots that aren't too bad:



Then there is Chivalry Sports, also not too bad:



(Above are fairly good. Christian Fletcher Armory was selling Medieval

Turnshoes, but not in the current catalog.)


For those in cold climates, Mystic Caravan's Aussie Dogs sheepskin

boots and shoes: http://frognet.net/mystic-caravan/Aussie1.htm

They have a fairly primitive look to them. I think L. L. Bean sells

them too in season.


Minnetonka sells what they term Renaissance Boots:


Many folks buy these reasonably priced boots. Not really period but...


Tandy Leather: http://www.tandyleather.com/ has plans and supplies

for moccasin styles and leather.


*(Before the Authenticity Police (TM) come after me, I do not endorse

the Renn Boot styles but tastes vary. Anyway, I have the

MoLondon book, MoDenmark book, and others on real period shoes.

I'd like to see them walk Pennsic in one thin layered sole.) ;8^P


Catskill Mountain Mocassins for really outrageous Renn Boots:



Some of the Dream Shoes from Bald Mountain Moccasins are not too

far OOP looks, but with thick soles: http://www.dreamshoes.com/

  I would think that some of these might be good for Pennsic rocks.


And more outrageously styled Renn Boots from those folks:



Put on your dark glasses for these Renn Boots:




International Internet Leatherworkers Guild pages: http://iilg.org/

for general Leather Information.


This was written for the web enabled to find sources, especially the



M. Magnus Malleus, Atlantia and the GDHorde

Permission granted to repost within the SCA, (but OFF the Rialto).



Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 23:18:44 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: mail2news-19990105-rec.org.sca at anon.lcs.mit.edu,

       sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu, ANSTEORRA at ANSTEORRA.ORG,

Subject: Honorable Company of Cordwainers site


For those who are interested in shoemaking, there is a (unofficial as

yet) web site for the Honorable Company of Cordwainers at

"http://www.bootmaker.com/hcc.htm";. Also there is the Chrispin

Coloquy, a web-based forum for those who want to discuss things about



Marc Carlson



Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 14:14:41 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: mail2news-19990222-rec.org.sca at anon.lcs.mit.edu, H-COSTUME at INDRA.COM

Cc: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Medieval Shoe comment...


Something that just came up, that may or may not be obvious to everyone making

or wearing medieval shoes (and to be honest, I'd never thought to mention

before) -- the edge closing seams on the uppers are called "flesh-edge"

seams for a reason.  They are on the flesh side, which makes them on the

INSIDE of the shoe when it worn.  In most sorts of medieval shoes, you

won't see the thread in any of the seams unless you take the shoes off and

look inside.





Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 02:44:41 -0400

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Plaster lasts


>I was just wondering how plaster lasts work. Can you tak the leather on

>like you can on a wooden las t and if you can't how do you keep the leather



You can tack the leather on but it will give eventually, I used my plaster

last to make a aluminium one from, but you can tack that either, I made

mine mainly to use as a pattern aid.


If I needed to tack I would use one of those foams used for insulation, I

have hat blocks made of similar material and they work really well





Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 08:43:24 -0400

From: "Gregory Stapleton" <gregsta at perigee.net>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: RE: heel stiffeners?


> As far as I've been able to see heelstiffeners where sewed on with tunnel

> stitch(right term?) a stitch that doesn't go all the way through the

> leather. I find it really hard to sew this kind of stitch

> especially with a

> normal straight needle so I was wondering. Are there any other documented

> way that they sewed on heel stiffeners (we're talking 12-16 century here)?

> If you have any tips on what type of needle to use or any other tips would

> be appreciated. Maybe I'm using leather that is too thin for my

> uppers. How

> thick leather do you cobblers out there general use?

> Anna de Byxe, who's kind of nervous since she's going to be holding a

> beginners class on shoe making at the Dubbels wars in May and she's never

> done that before :-)


You could use a curved awl to make the tunnel stitches or, lacking that, try

about a number 3 glovers needle.  I've been working with 2.5 to 3 ounce

leather for my shoes recently and can do tunnel stitches in this.  Good luck

with your class.  If it's hands-on, my recommendation would be not to take

on more than 6 students for your first time.


Gawain Kilgore / Gregory Stapleton



Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 08:59:58 -0400

From: "Gregory Stapleton" <gregsta at perigee.net>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: RE: shoemaking vs. cobbling?


> What is the difference between a Shoemaker and a Cobbler?

>    Anna de Byxe


A shoemaker MAKES shoes.  i.e. new ones.  A cobbler only REPAIRS shoes.

i.e. doesn't make new shoes, fixes old shoes.  That's about all there is to



Gawain Kilgore



Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 15:33:54 -0400

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: LIST Medieval leather <medieval-leather at egroups.com>

Cc: LIST SCA arts <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Shoe & Boot designing


A while back I said I'd try to find out where this could be got, well I

just got my copy , which is great ! I'm not sure  if I posted the info or

not so here it is again:


Shoe & Boot designing Manual - George Koleff GBP48.00 (special order

includes shipping)





Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 21:35:18 -0700

From: Tim Bray <tbray at mcn.org>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Shoemaking question


Ooopsie! Marc has gently reminded me that rands were used in the 12th -

15th centuries.  Attaching a sole using a welt is apparently not earlier

than 15th century; that's what I must have been thinking of...


The rand is a narrow strip, skived down to be sort of triangular in

cross-section, sandwiched in between the upper and the sole, so that when

turned the thicker part is to the outside.  It partially fills in the gap

between the sole and the upper and protects the stitching.  It is what was

done in the 12th-15th c to prevent the sort of early failure that Stefan

was describing.




At 11:39 AM 7/26/99 -0700, I wrote:

> Another is to insert a

>"rand" when you re-stitch the shoes (this is only authentic for the

>15th-16th centuries).



Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999 09:37:47 -0500 (CDT)

From: Lorine S Horvath <lhorvath at plains.NoDak.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Shoemaking question


Greetings to all from Tarrach!  Just as an aside note, rands were used

much earlier as well.  According to work published in R. Bruce-Mitford's

The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial Vol.3: Late Roman and Byzantine silver, hanging

bowls, drinking vessels, cauldrons and other containers, textiles, the

lyre, pottery bottles and other items (1983) on pages 788-811 at least one

of the shoes found in this 7th century Anglo-Saxon burial had not only a

rand, but what appeared to be a hazelwood shank!  Just goes to show that

some rather advanced techniques were used quite early.



Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999 19:07:04 -0500

From: Marc Carlson <marc-carlson at utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Shoemaking question


<Lorine S Horvath wrote:>

>of the shoes found in this 7th century Anglo-Saxon burial had not only

>a rand...


Excuse me, but the material on Sutton Hoo point out that the leather

*might* be a rand, or a result of the delaminated leather.

Considering that it would be the only example of a rand in Europe at

that era, I'm not sure I'd be inclined to accept it as such -

especially considering the condition of the shoe finds.





Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 12:39:59 +0100

From: "Melanie Wilson" <MelanieWilson at bigfoot.com>

To: "LIST Sca-arts" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>,

       "LIST Encampments" <MedievalEncampments at onelist.com>

Subject: Liquid Last


A note sent to me which might be of interest ?


Note when making a last you should fill the shoe with liquid last

(Liquid Plastic) it can be found by calling 1-800-331-8040 in the USA

and (514)521-5071 in Canada. they sell Liquid last.  when you use liquid

last you can use the last over and over for making real shoe like the

factory do.  This is just a tip and there are many people wanting to

learn how to make last.


Also see www.prolisting.com/video




Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 08:44:41 -0000

From: "Melanie Wilson" <MelanieWilson at bigfoot.com>

To: "LIST Sca Arts" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>,

       "LIST Medieval Leather" <medieval-leather at egroups.com>

Subject: Shoe Lasts


I've been playing around with various materials to make these and come

across something that works pretty well.


It is called Amaco Sculptamold, from American clay co Inc, 4717 W 16th St.

Indianapolis Ind 46222 Order no 41821C


It is a sort of papier mache /plaster or clay mix, which will not chip when

nailed. The good thing is it can be added too once your master is dry so

what I've been doing is making a cast from the latex mould. (to do this I

spread petroleum jelly in an old boot, filled it with plaster till it set.

Coated the plaster with liquid latex to make a mould, it might work direct

with this stuff but I did it before I knew about this !) then take away or

add bits to make the shape I want, eg points square toes etc etc


Hope it is of interest to some of you, and if anyone finds a web site for

the company do let me know as I can only get it in 3lb bags here (UK) which

is a bit of a pain !





From: rmhowe <mmagnusm at bellsouth.net>

Date: July 5, 2005 4:21:14 PM CDT

To: - Authenticity List <authenticity at yahoogroups.com>

Subject: medieval shoemaking list


Happened to notice this list on an email today.

medieval shoemaking list <medievalshoemaking at yahoogroups.com>


Of course the Medieval Leatherworking list has been online since

at least 1998 and also talks shoes [as does the more modern

Crispin Colloquy].


Subscribe: medieval-leather-subscribe at yahoogroups.com



From: Psycho Dave <Priscus.Forem at gmail.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Leather Sewing By hand

Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 12:43:12 -0700 (PDT)


Well, I've made shoes before, and sewing by hand is really the only

way to do it. There are ways and tools to help you do it without

feeling like you're getting arthritis, though.


First of all, assuming that you already know about making a test shoe

out of paper or fabric, once you figure out the right size to cut the

pieces into, you need to really carefully plan out where all the holes

will go. You can do this by carefully measuring, and counting the

holes on each of the pieces, to ensure they will line up.


You should buy a multi-hole tap tool. This is a small tool that has 4

or 5 hole punchers on the leather-end, and you use your hammer to tap

the other end to drive it into the leather. The multi-hole tap tool

will cut the time it takes to punch holes dramatically, but better

than that, your holes will all be evenly spaced, and the final product

will be much cleaner and neater.


You should punch all of the holes into your leather parts before you

start sewing. As with good carpentry practices, measure twice, cut

once, so to speak. Also, test all the parts before sewing, and keep

checking the holes every 10 to 15 holes, to make sure that the holes

in the parts parts are still going to line up correctly.


If you have some thich sole leather in the shoes you are making, you

may want to consider another tool, which is a groove tool. The Groove

tool is another hand-held tool that you run along the edges ofthe

sole, to make a channel that your threads will come out of (some shoe

designed have the stitches come out the edge of the sole, while others

don't. Check your shoe style to make sure you're doing the correct

type of sole-stitch. What you want to do with the groove tool, is make

a channel around the edge of the sole, and the holes for the stitches

should be on the top (foot-side) of the sole. The holes need to be

close enough to the edge so that when you do the groove, you 'll be

able to see through the holes that you punch. This will allow you to

sew the upper onto the sole, and have the threads be proteected by not

being exposed on the edge.


Sewing the uppers onto the sole should be done with a "Saddle stitch".

This is where you have one long waxed thread that is threaded on both

ends with a needle on each end, and you do a kind of figure-8, with

one needle going from the upper to the sole, and the other needle

going from the sole to the upper. You can actually buy uniform lengths

of special sole stitching (it's thicker and more durable than the

thread you would use for other parts of the shoe), which will make

things easier. Since you should have already punched all the holes,

sewing them should be a lot easier and a ton faster, since you're not

using the needle to poke through the leather. If you don't poke all

the holes first, you will cut up your fingers, and experience a lot of

pain and broken needles.


So the key to sewing leather shoes can be summed up thusly:


(1) measure where all the holes will go before before poking them.

Measure twice, punch once.

(2) Use a multiple-hole punch (not a period tool, but well...) tool to

ensure uniform spacing and hole size.

(3) Test the alignment of the holes every so often to catch mistakes,

and make corrections easier.

(4) Use one long thread, with a needle on each end, to do an over-

lapping cross-stitch known as a saddle-stitch.


This link has most of the info you'll need, right down to popular shoe

designed from various periods.




and of course, the ever-useful and popular Florilegium, where you can

find more links than I can provide on nearly everything...





From: jbrashear <jbrashear at me.com>

Date: October 20, 2010 3:08:31 PM CDT

To: Barony of Bryn Gwlad <bryn-gwlad at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Bryn-gwlad] shoe making


I had a few emails about this already this morning so here is a single reply. I hope this helps to get you started:


Below you will find some great online resources along with links to books, you might be able to view through Google Books.

I have made a few pairs of shoes so far and working on a Cow Toe Shoe at the moment. Shoe Making is really fun.

So when making a turn shoe I don't believe that using a last is always needed. That being said, it makes the job go a bunch easier.


It is a whole lot easier to pattern a shoe over a last for starters. And it helps to keep your shoe formed and in place while constructing/stitching it together.

Steps I go through in making a shoe:


1) Get foot dimensions:

Trace out the foot. Get measurements around the bottom to the top of the foot. I usually use a string.

I also measure the ankle.

With these three measurements I can make a good replica of the foot.

2) create the last.

Here is a top level of the last; I use a single block of wood and carve/rasp the foot out of the wood. Micro Planers are awesome for this and work fast.

I trace the foot pattern onto the block and cut away the major excess with a band saw. I then carve/rasp the foot into shape.

If you plan to use the last for many pairs of shoes I suggest a hard wood unlike pine for this. Note that you should make the sole a uni foot design, not left not right.

Marc Has a great example here: Making a last


3) Selecting the leather

Choose the leather that you want to use for the upper as well as the sole of the shoe. Period shoes were usually made from vegetable tanned leather.

If you want you could stick with Goat over cow if you can get it. Why? Goat was a more readily available leather in period. 3 to 5 oz leather for the upper is a

good place to start for the upper. The sole you can use a heavier leather between 7-8 oz is a good weight.


4) the pattern (turn shoe)

I like to pattern with felt, it lays well over the last and you can stretch it into the shape you need from time to time!

There are usually three main pattern pieces to making a turn shoe. the vamp, heal and sole. Depending on the style and period you may also use a Rand or

welt. Decide on what period/style of shoe you are going to make and pattern according. It is possible to make the upper into a single pattern piece.

For the example please look at the pictures linked below under My Link to 14th Century shoes.


5) Cut out your shoe patterns out of leather. The sole is the foot tracing Note that you should make the sole a uni foot design, not left not right

6) sew the vamp to the heal using a butt stitch from the inn side of the vamp and heal.


8) with small nails or tacks attach the sole to the bottom of the last. The inner side of the sole needs to be facing up. The inner side of the sole is the non finished

   side of the leather.  You will want to create your stitching wholes along the top edge of the sole and exiting through the middle using an awl.


9) Not attach the upper that you have created with the vamp and heal inside out over the last tacking it down over the sole. My Link to 14th Century shoes.


10) Start in the arch of the foot and work your way around the heal first and around the toe. The stitch used here is can be a single spiral stitch or using a lacing stitch using two needles. When stitching use an awl to help ease your sewing. I would take my time here as you can get fatigue in your hands rather quickly if you do not do this all the time.


11) remove all your tacks and pull your shoe off the last.


12) turn your shoe right side out!


You are Done!

OK I am sure you will have many questions as this was a brief overview so please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.




Marc Carlson

Marc proves an excellent online resource and was the beginning of my research into period shoe making.


Shoe Designs and Discussions:


a.     Dark Ages, Northern European (c.700-1000)

b.     Anglo-Norman Era (c1000-1200)

c.     Middle Ages (c1200-1300)

d.     High Middle Ages (c1300-c1480)


Not Medieval:

a.     Early European (c3500 BCE)


c.     Roman Shoes

d.     Rennaissance/Tudor Era (c1480-1550)

e.     Saracen (c1000-1300)

f.     Miscellaneous Other Shoes


My Link to 14th Century shoes: (PIctures)



Basics of turn Shoes



Butt Stitch 101



Tools of the period



Books for resources:

Shoes and pattens By Francis Grew, Museum of London, Margrethe de Neergaard, Susan Mitford




Stepping Through Time: Archaeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times Until 1800 [Paperback]




This Book is great for looking at leather tooling teqniques


Purses in Pieces: Archaeological Finds of Late Medieval and 16th-Century Leather Purses, Pouches, Bags and Cases in the Netherlands [Paperback]





From: bealexan at gmail.com

Subject: Re: {TheTriskeleTavern} RE: Summer A&S and Father's Day

Date: June 24, 2011 9:03:53 AM CDT

To: the-triskele-tavern at googlegroups.com


If you are not tramping along rocky, sandy roads, forging trails through the woods or fighting on the listfield, you can make lovely court shoes with fabric and trim and lighter weight materials.

If you are interested in learning on your own before the next workshop I highly recommend


for the novice!  It is full of helpful patterns, instructions and discussion on period footwear.  It is not the beginning and end-all for documentation by any means, but it DOES give the novice a perspective on period footwear and a place to start!


(Life in the SCA keeps me young!)


<the end>

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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org