Sunday 13 June 2010

A Sad Excuse for Shoes

In three weeks I’ll be going to an event with a late 14th century group I’m hoping to join. I have ordered a pair of shoes from England, but they won’t be arriving in time. My old ones are impossible to wear, being more holes than anything else – a picture of them can be seen in this post. So, there’s nothing to be done but to make a new pair. And I really, really dislike making shoes.

Furthermore, I have a few problems. I have a good material for the soles, but not the uppers. There’s no way I’m wasting good leather on shoes that are just made as a last resort, and would have had really bad uppers. So what I’ll do is making a pair of rather ugly, thin shoes with the other material I have at hand. They won’t be pretty (in fact, the first one is so ugly right now, still wet as it is, that I won’t even post a picture of it just yet), but they’ll be better than nothing at all. It’s a good thing they will mostly be hidden by my skirts.

I made most of the first one yesterday, and even if the material is thin, and I made holes for the sewing beforehand, and using pliers to pull the needles, my hands are so sore today that I could hardly open the right one this morning, and my nails had dug deep into the palm, which really hurt. A piece of the skin on my right little finger is torn of from pulling the thread. The shoe is turned and drying, but I won’t start the other one for a few days yet.

Since the shoes are so thin and could use some protection in case of gravel, asphalt, rain or mud, yesterday I took up an old project again. Some years ago I started making a pair of very basic pattens, but not being very good with wood work, it ended with the ER and three stitches. Yesterday I felt brave (or desperate) enough to start working on them again. It went better this time; at least there has been no shedding of blood so far.

If I had started them now I would have had the front “heel” further back (making the movement of the foot more natural), but I think I’ll be able to walk in a somewhat normal fashion anyway. At least it worked tolerably well when I tied it on yesterday.

The only tools I have for this has been a saw, to get the shape of the soles, and a knife for carving out the heels. Pathetic. Let me tell you, it is hard work for someone with no talent in this area, and probably quite dangerous as well. I’ll try to be careful, and hopefully I'll get them done in time. Right now I feel scared of working with the knife again, imagining every kind of accident that could happen, so we'll see what I'll do...


  1. Oh dear, poor shoes!!

    The same thing happened to me over the weekend.

    we moved interstate, my medieval clothes were all packed away. The dresses are fine but my new 14th c shoes were COVERED in mould and were very very out of shape.

    I washed and scrubbed them in soap, and dried them out i hope they will be ok.

    If not i shall have to make a new pair myself.

    I agree, shoe making is hard work. I would like to do it though.


  2. Excellent post, well done. I look forward to futher posts on this subject.
    Regards, Le Loup.

  3. Nej, det känns inte riktigt "jag"... Förresten är den ena skon klar nu, och ser på det hela taget inte riktigt lika illa ut som den gjorde i går, så det vore dumt att inte göra den andra. Men jag kommer inte att göra den på en dag som den första.

  4. Amazing and incredible! WOW! I can't wait to see the finished product but oh, do be careful!

  5. Starkt av dig å kämpa på med träslöjdandet även om det känns avigt. Klart bästa man kan göra.
    Litet tips bara, försök om det går å inte känna rädsla inför verktygen för det är garranterat då man skadar sig. Respekt däremot skall man ha för både verktyg å material men rädsla gör handen osäker. Sen är nog kniv ett svårt verktyg att skära patinor med, du har ingen i närheten du kan låna yxa eller skåljärn utav, för det tror jag är klart lättare att arbeta med och säkrare också för den delen. lycka till hur som helst!

  6. Wow, how clever of you to make your own shoes!
    God bless you,


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