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Iron age shoes (previous 'viking shoes')

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Picture of Iron age shoes (previous 'viking shoes')
Edited to add: Due to alle the comments regarding the title of this instruction, I've changed the name to 'iron age shoes' which might be more historycally correct.

I learned to make these 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 (European 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 photo here shows 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. You'll find it at the end of this tutorial. 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 :)
Important: Look through all the photos before you start drawing!
 
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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of supplies
A large piece of leather, about 2,5 - 3 millimeter thick.
X-acto knife or sharp scissors.
An awl or other tool to make holes in the leather.
Pen or pencil.
Ruler.
A cutting board (I use a wooden one).

Step 2: Before you start

Picture of before you start
By following the description, you should end up with something that looks like this (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).
hseth113 days ago

Thank you! Amazing tutorial! Nearly number 1 on my Next-things-to-do List ;)

crickleymal4 months ago
I've seen something pretty similar in the Roman museum at Caerleon. That puts the basic design back another 1000 years.
bailywolf1 year ago

I've been looking at different styles of minimalist running shoes, and found this instructable invaluable in my first efforts at making my own.  I made a pair from a cheap floor mat (around $4 from lowes) because I didn't want to waste good material on freshman efforts.  The laces I swiped from my chucks. 

They ended up surprisingly comfortable for floormat shoes (where any comfort probably rates as surprising).  with sock, the nerd factor skyrockets, but so does the genuine comfort.  Do I have the moxie to rock this look?  We'll see. 

I made a simpler fan toe, and the result is a hybrid of this instructable and something like a BeNat shoe. 

Next step, run in them a little to see if I can cripple myself with blisters, and then when I recover, start looking for a source of cheap or scavable leather.  Current thinking is to paint one side with something like truck bed liner or some other paint-on tough and grippy material, and then make them soft-side in for more comfort.  

-Ben
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HAAAHAHA.Major moxie indeed: did crowds spread before you in awe, riotous laughter, fear?
So? Did they stay together? The laces look like they'd be a tad painful after a long run. I haven't seen them being marketed. Did they work for you?
The prototypes held up for a couple of runs. Perfectly comfortable. I ended up ordering some leather and making my pair for running from a suede split, with a second layer for the sole. Later, I added a crumb rubber and contact cement sole for more grip. And I made a pair for my daughter to run in as well. I guess I have a few hundred miles on them at this point, mostly on trail, and they've been fantastic.

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I have made many pairs of these. We do reenactment and they are my favorite shoes. We have made ours out of about a 8-9 oz latigo that is pre-dyed as part of the tanning process. This seemed to wear better than tooling types of leather. We had tried using deerskin but it seemed too elastic and the shoes stretched. I use a pair of those athletic insoles for extra cushion and arch support. We wear ours with either wool socks done in nalbinding (a type of knitting) or felted wool liners. The beeswax helps with waterproofing and traction. The easiest way is to rub the beeswax into the leather like it is lip balm and then use a lighter to waive near it to melt the wax so it absorbs into the leather. Be careful not to start your shoes on fire wax burns. Those people asking about the origins. I think they were from an anglo bog find that was very early dark ages. I have also seen the same shoe in some of my Viking age Irish archaeology books. Of course there are also the well established gillies shoes also. As for the medieval moccasins person, they are full of it. But the notion that she is bullying people, I will make sure I tell everyone I know not to do business with her.
You can also get the leather to absorb the wax by putting it in an oven set to a very low heat, or even microwaving it a bit... less danger of scorching than using a lighter.
danderson267 months ago
Thanks so much for this great tutorial! I was so worried how this would turn out, but I really wanted to make a pair for a Shakespearean play I am in. Take a look! I think they turned out quite well, and mostly because your instructions were so clear and thorough. Thanks a bunch!
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khaotik5 years ago
Please excuse my impolite suggestion that anyone jump in a lake, although there is no inherent danger in doing so and the activity is actually quite enjoyable on a hot sunny day...

Anyway I did some research because the idea of anyone claiming ancient knowledge or craft as their personal intellectual property is extremely irksome to me.

The person who posted this instructable is not in violation of copyright law, nor is anyone who makes these shoes from this instructable to wear OR to sell, because its her particular pattern drawing that the MM lady has a copyright on.

Medieval Moccasins vs. Reality

Read all about this issue at http://tribalcostuming.tribe.net/thread/fb092514-2074-4df8-b4dc-364a8560e644

Making Ghillies
Tue, April 24, 2007 - 11:54 PM

...See, we could post pictures of the patterns we've made, but the lady at midieval moccasins is REALLY determined that her copyright extends to any type of pattern drawing made any way by anyone, of that whole kind of shoe, as well as any shoe like it...

Now, technically, the guy at the copyright office said what was in the file was a copy of her (medieval moccasins lady's) catalog...she insists to her lawyer that she sent in a copy of her pattern drawing, but copyright law only applies if we were to get a copy of THAT drawing, and made copies to sell. If you draw your own, it's called reverse engineering, and the lawyer giving classes on copyright laws told me that anyone can go get a thing, take it apart, make a copy of how it's made, and make them, and even sell them, and not violate the law.

Re: Making Ghillies
Wed, April 25, 2007 - 8:58 AM

You can copyright a specific pattern drawing (same as any other artistic drawing) but you cannot copyright the "look" or the functionality of clothing. The fashion knockoffs you see in Walmart and similar stores are perfectly legal.

If you make your own pattern and happen to recreate the exact look of Medieval Moccasins' ghillie and wear them or sell them, they can do nothing. If you take THEIR pattern drawing and post copies of their pattern drawing on your website causing them to lose sales of their pattern drawing because people can get it from you for free, they can invoke the copyright laws against you.
"he guy at the copyright office said what was in the file was a copy of her (medieval moccasins lady's) catalog."
EXACTLY. I did what this guy did - traced my foot, made a pattern, made a tester, tweaked it... I put the tester on eBay, and got a cease and desist order with a demand for damages, etc from her lawyer. I talked to the guy at the copyright office too, and was told the same exact thing. Sadly, she had the money for a lawyer, (who seems very ignorant about copyright law, actually) and I didn't, and it's not like I don't make a million other things, so I dropped it. It was funny, but the lady lawyer looked at my page and was all friendly and impressed (her client IS a one trick pony, after all), but seemed confused that the copyright office would tell anyone anything, so the feeling wasn't mutual.

And actually, you could take their pattern, post it, etc and you aren't violating what she copyrighted, or there'd only be one brand of jeans, one type of car, etc. You just can't print a copy of her catalog.

What it comes down to is that she's a nasty bully and scares a lot of people away from doing anything remotely like hers because it's ALL she can do.
maeve khaotik4 years ago
This design does not belong to medieval moccasins- if they are marketing them as medieval, then the designs been around alot longer than the company! For all we know you could have inherited a pair of Irish dancing shoes from a long lost relative, and ou could be using that pattern! That's like saying using someone else's recipe for mashed potatoes and cream is subject to copyright. Great instuctable!
aseaheru maeve2 years ago
or a pattern from a diffrent company
SHE MUST BE NUTS!
if she did not invent it then it is not hers to copyright.
 your pretty anal arent you?

but thats besides the point, these shoes are cool!!
Well said, my friend!
3frog khaotik4 years ago
Good for you for sticking up for this GREAT INSTRUCTABLE!
espdp21 year ago
Favorite! I got here from http://paleotool.com/2009/04/15/ghillies/. I like the general philosophy of being able to make things for yourself.
rspaziano1 year ago
This made my day! Thank you!!!
metiswoman1 year ago
You rock! Thank you so much for taking the time to make this instructible for us. We are making ours this week.
In step 14, you mention that you "tanned the leather" then rubbed it with beeswax. Please tell me, how did you tan it?
eyesee1 year ago
I also have a pair of
penny0491 year ago
I like your shoes & think the tutorial will be very helpful in making my own pair.
Gadisha1 year ago
Cool, I would like to make some out of felt, as baby/toddler shoes, with some anti-slip latex on the soles!
Darcy7771 year ago
Ahhhhhhhhhh! I love these! I so want to make a pair or 13. Sorry for the rather useless comment. I drank too much Rock Star this morning.
Biggsy2 years ago
I made a similar pair to these using re-enforced wool a few years ago, very comfortable. Well done nice instructable.
shortone2 years ago
http://www.instructables.com/id/Gifts-For-Guys/

Put you in my gift guide for guys! Just thought I'd let you know :)
cbullows2 years ago
I'm hoping to make some of these for myself and my bridesmaids for my wedding next year. I'd like to make the knee length ones so been looking at lots of pictures to figure out how it's done, I have a couple of ideas but still not entirely sure. Either making them on a right angle so that the length is attached to the outside of the shoe and then sewn into the heel or just having a seam running up the back by making them in two halves.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Also any suggestions of where and what to buy in the West Midlands (UK)?
mogg3 years ago
ouff no lutefish for any of you! reef knot will untie with any strain across it. You want a butterfly/surgeons knot. You add an extra turn on one side of the reef knot and it wont untie itself unless you intentionally brake the back of the knot. If you want something pretty a true-lovers knot is better, though it wont untie easy.
aseaheru mogg2 years ago
lutefish?
im hungry now.....
He must be referring to Lutefisk. If you were a true viking you'd know. These shoes by the way are Gaelic, not Scandinavian. They are however nice, I am going to try my hand.
This comment is my favorite. Oh, the beauty of the knotty arts!
YAY!
rienan2 years ago
These are awesome! Thank you for making this Instructable!
polymarkos3 years ago
What provenance is there to show these were shoes used by Viking peoples?

I have yet to find this pattern of shoes associate with any Viking finds, but my research has been very limited.
look like gilles, which are used today for scottish dancing.(i knw because i know.)
Association with similar shoes from Scottish dancing is not Viking provenance.
ok.....................................
I agree with the ghillies comment. With some modification, this pattern would be almost perfect for making a pair of 18th century Scottish ghillies (Or modern dancing ghillies.) As for Vikings, historical Norse people wore "Turn sole" shoes, which were in my opinion, much simpler.
jakerox433 years ago
I'm thinking of doing this, but I can't find any smallish amounts of suitable leather... or even what kind of leather is suitable... can anyone point me to a link?
Thanks
mogg jakerox432 years ago
you want about roughly 3' square (leather is sold in square ft), check the off cuts bins, they tend to be sold by weight, not size and you should get it a lot cheaper than a whole skin.
You want about a 1.5~2mm thick skin, it'll likely be cow hide. Deer skin is also good.
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