Friday, August 29, 2008

iron age shoes: a tutorial, sort of

EDIT march 2011: due to tons of comments (over at instructables.com) on the historical correct period for this shoe, i've changed the name from 'viking' to 'iron age' shoes. i've also closed the comment section here, due to spam.

this is an attempt to make a tutorial for making your own iron age/viking shoes. i don't have a pattern for these; i learned to make them by using my own foot as a template. therefore, all the measures given here are highly approximate. if your foot diverges a lot from mine (size 39, long and narrow/slender), some sewing experience might come in handy. that said, there's no reason to be too specific in making these. as you can see, the 'laces' can be loosened or tightened to fit, and the basic idea is really very simple.
the picture above is of my own, good old shoes, made in 1997. i always use them with these thick, felted socks inside; to me, they're part of the shoe. they are soft, comfy and i simply love them. based on my original 11 year old, several times altered, water damaged drawing, i have made a kind of template as a sort of guideline - sort of. you'll find it at the bottom of this post. i had to scan it in two operations as it was so big, then paste the parts together on my computer, so this adds to the imperfection. you should go for the thick, black lines and not pay too much attention to the rest :)

by following the description, you should end up with something that looks like this (above. never mind the red dots in the picture - they will be explained later). the uncut shoe is my left foot (wrong side out), but the cut, dark one is my right foot shoe (right side out). (i'm sorry for the bad quality photos. i don't know what's wrong with my camera - the top photo was taken about two years ago; crisp, clear and fine. all the photos i take these days come out pale and grainy).

look through all the photos before you start drawing!
you start by purchasing some good leather about 2,5 - 3 millimeter thick. thinner than this will be like wearing a thin but stiff plastic cover on your foot. not good.
start with drawing a line around your foot.

then mark the center point under your forefoot; the part that you use to kick off when you walk. (wow. pay attention. more bad english will follow). using a ruler, draw a vertical line through this as shown.

draw another line under this one. using my foot as a measure, this will be approximately 2,5 centimeters below the first line. yours might be different, but take a look at where the line is placed on the foot; just below the big knuckle on the inside of your foot. the top line is just above it.
draw a line about 1 cm outside the foot line, around the toe area. omit the bumps (your toes...)
mark several points about 5,5 cm outside of this again. draw a line through the points (i forgot to do it at this point and did it later on, see below. it's hard making a tutorial; you have to think in logical steps instead of doing the messy thing you usually do!) .

draw the heel cap, about 2 cm wide and 4 cm long. mark three lines (the dotted red lines) - these points mark the end of the heel part (the bottom line), and also between the 'ears' that comes next (the two upper lines). again, there is little point in giving measures here, but look again at where the lines are placed on the foot. and remember it's all very approximately. the shoe can be made with both two or three 'ears'. these are made with three. if you're good at eye measurements (?), this step can be omitted completely.

here comes the free hand drawing. sketch up the 'ears' using a soft pencil. i have given measures here; again, only guidelines. i have marked the outer most point of the ears with red dots. you can (barely!) see here where the three lines from the previous photo are; in between the three ears, and at the end of the heel ear.

when you are happy with your drawing, make a more solid line.

the next step can also be omitted, but is helpful as a visual guide: using a ruler, draw a fan from the middle point of your forefoot to the line you made 5,5 cm outside your toes. in addition, you will draw lines in the 2,5 cm area below the toe area, as shown. this will be the 'fingers' that wraps around your toes. as you can see from picture #2, there is some space between some of the 'fingers' in the top section of the fan. there's no rules to this; the point is just to make them fit nicely around your toes. the only thing i would make sure of, is not to cut the fingers slimmer than 1 cm. but differing somewhat from each other in size is not a problem.

start cutting.

and here's why drawing the fan can be omitted (at least by me); you might just decide to ignore the lines while cutting. but they're good as a visual aid. cut he fingers up until the 1 cm line, as shown by the red dot at the tip of the knife.

cut the fingers so that they seem functional, with a little space between some of them. you might wish to round off the tip of the fingers just a little by cutting the corners, but this is optional.
in this picture, i have tanned the leather, rubbed it with beeswax, and punched holes in each finger, ear and along the heel cap(s). EDIT: i'm lying. there's no holes in the heel caps. go back to picture #2, click to enlarge, and use the red dots as a guideline to making the holes. i also realise that there's no pictures of the heel cap with string. i'll be back with that. EDIT: part 2 of this tutorial has been added here.

draw a leather string through the holes as shown here and in picture #1, and try the shoes on (preferably on your own foot :) )
the worst mistake you can make is cutting the length too short (too long is not a problem; just cut the heel to fit) or make the fan fingers too short so it won't wrap around your toes. if this is the case, sell them to someone with a smaller foot and try again :)

shoe tutorial; part 2

54 comments:

Christy said...

Stupendously creative shoes!

randi K design said...

Dette er så fantastisk! Sendte blog adressen din til min datter som planlegger et "Viking brullupp" neste år! Vi skal alle kle oss i viking klær, gøy, men hjeeelpp..... Symaskinen må vel ut fra kottet tenker jeg!

randi K design said...

Var det dere som solgte garnet, og kanskje sønnen din som hjalp å selge? Han var skikkelig flink!
Vet ikke om du husker meg igjen, satt der og hvilte meg litt med en ettåring på fanget..
Samme kvelden gikk jeg på nettet og lærte meg nålebinding også. Det er så artig, legger snart ut resultatet av min første lue..

Ravenhill said...

Those are some gorgeous shoes! How sweet you are to make this tutorial to share!

Raymond said...

Wow, this is cool...I loved the shoes when you posted the photo over at deviantART; I'll be getting my hands on some veg tan leather this weekend and will have to have a go at making a pair of these for myself!!

Helene said...

Er det her Huldremor har blitt av altså...

Masse fine bilder fra Gudvangen! Så flere kjentfolk der gitt :) I år "skulka" vi for første gang på evigheter, og fant på noe annet i stedet. Var det du som holdt plantefargingskurset kanskje??

Raymond said...

I have a favour to ask of you...I've been working on my own pair of these shoes and am at the stage where I need to stitch up the heel part; could I impose on you to post a picture of the back of the shoe, so that I can see how to do it? Thank you!

THIPYUTH said...

I'm THIPYUTH from THAILAND.
It's very nice shoe.

Green Kitchen said...

This is awesome! Just my kind of tutorial. I'm totally making some. Thanks!!!!

Green Kitchen said...

forgot to mention I came her via the Rinrins to read the Red Riding Hood post.

Lady Galadriel said...

Nice work! They look so comfortable. I bet, for the lazy like me, they'd be great with an elastic cord for the lace.

Are you wearing through the sole on the original? Do you wear them much on abrasive ground (asphalt, etc)?

You call them Viking shoes. Are they based on a historical design?

Lanea said...

Great tutorial! I've made a few pairs over the years and worn though many many pairs, and I don't think I've seen anyone explain them as well as you did.

Sara said...

Wow. Just WOW. My hubby is getting a pair of these for our anniversary next month. I'll have to trace his foot, but since this is so far from my usual craft sphere, he'll have NO IDEA what i'm working on. Thanks so much!
Sara in Salt Lake City
IbbySkibby.com

Prpldy said...

Thanks for this great tutorial. I will be making a pair of these for myself! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely amazing. a beautiful product with an incredibly clear tutorial.
Would you consider posting the same at instructables.com?
It's got a huge readership and would be a great way to drive traffic back to your site!
Let me know if you have any questions and once you've posted so I can make sure it gets featured!

Best,
Sarah

sarah@instructables.com

Di said...

Fantastic tutorial- very inspiring!

Nicole said...

Thanks for the tutorial, I think I will have to try to make these this spring. Do you have any suggestions for the wet felted slippers?

susan said...

this is awesome, i love the idea of making my own shoes
i need to find some good leather now! thanks so much

Neea said...

I saw these shoes in deviant art, and was looking for a tutorial to make them. Glad I found your page! This is a wonderful tutorial. Thanks! I will make my own when I find good leather.

rduht said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
zime said...

Great tutorial!! I love it! Thank for sharing!
(^v^)

Thymedremr said...

I think you did a wonderful job on the tutorial. My son and his family is moving in with me. I hope to be able to try out the pattern before the end of the year after every one gets settled in. Thank you.

Neea said...

I finally got around making my own shoes. Thanks again for this tutorial!

retroBohemiene said...

I love your blog!!! It makes me want to move to Norway and be a viking! thank youxx

Zarinaia said...

Thank you for this gret tut! I've linked your tut on my blog.
Eleonora, an Italian girl in Sweden.

Rythm of life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rythm of life said...

Thank you for this beautiful Craft work, We featured it on www.Craftsource.blogspot.com, You are awarded as "Craft star".

Please add the below link to your site if you wish :)

<a href="http://www.blogger.com/www.craftsource.blogspot.com" target="_blank"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5387228108153887186" style="DISPLAY: block; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; WIDTH: 169px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 199px; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_HmejQXcUxDw/SsNHa-6DGdI/AAAAAAAABtI/P2cDGMMG-Mw/s400/craft+star+logo_craftsource.png" border="0" /></a>

silvia said...

This tutorial is amazing! Probably the most original one I've seen around so far, FIRST PRIZE!!! Thank you SO much for sharing your great idea. Love from Italy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
charleslemelingladu said...

how do you do for the part of the back, you sew it?

Maahiska said...

Thank you! Just what I needed <3

thankee said...

Excellent!

Nono said...

I'll try these out.

I know that those "bundshuhe" are some kind of "do it like it looks rigth" but this tutorial gives quite a help.

Do you have a dev account? if you do, I can show them to you when it works.

(Ps. I made a german translation for myself and some friends of your tutorial. hope you don't mind)

nadiel said...

très bon tuto, testé et approuvé.

alexandra said...

This was a great tutorial, I made some and I love them

alex said...

Thank you for your blog!
That is the best introduction i ever found in the web!!!!
if you wear the shoes without any socks: make every line 1cm shorter

LG alec d'schwob

käselotti said...

Dear Therese! Thanks for posting this great tutorial! I made the shoes from fabric and had to improvise in some parts, but you were a big help! See my fabric shoes here:
http://kaeselotti.blogspot.com/2010/09/mittelalterschuhe-aus-stoff-ein.html

Greetings from Germany!
Kathrin

käselotti said...

Hey Therese, you wrote "I also wondered why you cut your 'fingers' by themselves, but I guess that sewing them back on helps make it sturdier, right?"

Yes, you're right, they are not so wobbly when they're double-layered. But the main reason why I sewed the "fingers" is that the fabric would frazzle if I just cut the shape out. There was not enough space inbetween the fingers to sew them in one piece, so I sewed them individually. What an effort... ;o)
Thanks for your comment!

Greetings
Kathrin

Naviana said...

Takker så mye for at du delte denne. Har hatt lyst til å lage meg slike lenge. Har tidligere laget noen andre typer sko :)

Anonymous said...

Do you have a tip/adres for me where I can find suitable leather for this project?
I live in Holland.

greetings from Mir

Anonymous said...

AWESOMEEEEE!Thank you very very much!

Pinne said...

Hei, jeg snublet over denne tutorialen, og lurte på om du har noen tips til hvor man kan få fatt i skinn som det i Norge? Jeg er lenger nord selv (Bergen), men kjenner en del folk på østlandet og sørlandet hvis du har tips om butikker der.

På forhånd takk!

-Eli

therese said...

Hei Eli, fant ikke mail adr din, så håper du kikker innom igjen. Borge garveri på Osterøy er hvor du burde dra, evt bestille over tlf. Lykke til!

Exploriment said...

Terrific tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to do this and sharing.

SchuylerJack said...

This is wonderful! I'd like to make a pair for my girlfriend. I'm having a hard time trying to find leather. Any suggestions on where to buy?

Pinne said...

Hei Therese
Tusen takk! Det skal definitivt sjekkes ut! :)

-Eli

therese said...

Hi there Jack, I'm sorry, I live in Norway so I really wouldn't know. If you check the comments here, there's a guy called Raymond, I know he made a pair. Maybe you can ask him. He's got a deviant art account, try sending him a note here: http://raedmund.deviantart.com/

Anonymous said...

They're actually late antiquity/late roman. Up to 3rd century A.D.

You don't find these in the viking age anymore.

April Kam said...

Cute! :)

Myluvalways said...

I was wondering how you made your wool socks? Or where did you get them? Great tutorial btw!

Myluvalways said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flibble said...

wanted to thank you, I followed your tutorial via instructibles *then* found this blog and the better quality pics... d'oh lol!
I love them, they're so comfy. I'm going to wear mine to a school trip tomorrow.

Simon R said...

Thanks very much, this was really useful. We are off to Lejre next week for a week in a living history iron age village so I had to make five pairs of authentic shoes for us. Unfortunately I only found your tutorial after I'd made three pairs but the last two are definitely the best and they are far more comfortable. Skol.

Hilary said...

I used your tutorial to make slippers! Thanks so much, I love them!

I posted some pictures, if you're interested:
http://executivequeenoftheworld.blogspot.com/2011/08/hobbit-of-sorts.html

Thanks again!

Hilary

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