Viking shoes, like all period shoes, should be some sort of turn shoe. Meaning they are sewn with the wrong side out, and then turned right side out. This allowed the medieval cobbler to hide his seams so that they would not be exposed to extra wear and tear thus making the shoes last a lot longer. A number of different styles have been found in Viking contexts ranging from low ankle shoes to over the ankle boots. I would recommend trying to make a pair of hide shoes for your first attempt . Not only have they been found in much of Scandinavia, but also in Ireland, Scotland, and York. The biggest reason I recommend these however is their ease of construction and comfort. They can be put together in a couple of hours, and after a few uses you may find yourself wearing them around the house as slippers.
For leather I would recommend using thick buckskin, elk, or moose hide for these shoes. These are very flexible leathers, and will be the easiest to work with. Mine are made of elk and are holding up wonderfully despite frequent (sometimes daily) use. Waxed linen threat is very appropriate for stitching your seams.
Because of there similarities with center-seamed moccasins, I based my pattern on moccasins. I would highly recommend you make your pattern on paper, and then transfer it onto the leather.
1. Draw a center line on your piece of paper.
2. Place feet on either side of center line of paper with 1" between heels and bottom edge of the paper. Each heel should be 1/2" away from the center line, and the balls of the feet below the big toes should be 1/4" away from the center-line of the paper. Trace your feet.
3. Even with the heels, mark points E and E' (1/2" from the center-line and 1" from the edge of the paper) Also mark points D and D' (1/2" from the center-line at the edge of the paper).
4. Mark point A by following a line from the base of the big toe to the center-line.
5. Draw curve around top of foot 1/2" from toes from point A to just above little toe.
6. To find points B and B', measure the circumference around the (widest part) ball of the foot and place half the distance on either side of the center-line where the ball of the foot is, mark this point. Now measure 1/2" straight down and 1/2" straight out.
7. Finish drawing the curve around the top of the foot to point B and to point B'.
8. Drop an imaginary line straight down from each of the marked points for the circumference of the foot. 1/4" from the edge of the paper mark points C and C'.
9. Connect point C with point D at the heel by drawing a slight curve.
10. Make sure paper pattern fits foot around instep and at heel before cutting out of leather.
I would highly recommend lining your shoes with wool. It will not only make them a lot more comfortable, but will add a very nice decorative touch. Archaeological evidence of shoe linings have been found in both York and Birka. To do this, cut out identical pieces of wool fabric and leather. When you sew the shoes together, layer it with the wool on the outside and have your stitches go through both the wool and the leather. Once the shoes are finished and you turn them the wool will make a nice lining. It should also be noted that the flesh (or smoother) side of the leather should be on the outside when you are finished. This means that the flesh side of the leather should be on the inside of the shoe while you are sewing it.
(a table of stitches is included at the end)
1. Start with the seam A to B/B'. Use a very loose running stitch to start. Pulling on your thread should make the toe of the shoe pucker. Use this to fit the toe of your shoe. Feel free to try it on. Once your are happy with the amount of pucker and the fit, use a whip stitch to add strength to this seam and keep your puckers in place.
2. Use either a whip stitch or a butted edge seam to sew the heel of the shoe. Sew from points D/D' to C/C'.
3. Cut slits (for heel tab) from D to E and D' to E' only after the toe is stitched, and proper fit is checked.
4. Turn the shoe so that the leather is on the outside, and the seams on are the inside. Pull the leather tab through the slit so that it is also on the outside but leave the wool tab on the inside.
5. A number of Viking shoes have the soles of the shoes forming a point at the heel. This can be done by trimming the tab to a point, and then sewing it down to the upper part of the shoe.
6. Don’t forget to go back and sew the wool tab to the lining on the inside of the shoe.
7. To finish off the shoe with a nice decorative (and very period) touch use either a whip stitch or a blanket stitch to attach the lining to the leather around the top opening of your shoes. For this I would recommend using a nice contrasting color wool yarn.
The opening at the top of the shoes may become a bit loose, either now or later after the leather starts stretching. To solve this problem cut small slits around the top opening and pass a leather cord through to make a simple drawstring. This drawstring is then tied at the front.
|Running Stitch||Whip Stitch||Butted-seam stitch|