Wednesday 26 June 2013

Medieval Toddler’s Boots

Last year little B didn’t need any shoes, but this year he most certainly does. We have our first all-weekend medieval event coming up, so a couple of months ago I tried to make a pattern for boots like this one from Medeltidsmuseet in Stockholm. 

A few weeks ago I made the first shoe, but as I don’t like making shoes very much, and my fingers were sore from the sewing, I postponed making the other one until last week. I then had to redo them slightly so they wouldn't fall of, but last night I finished them. I didn’t manage to make a perfect pattern, and the sewing didn’t turn out ideal either (I’m certainly not a shoemaker) but the shoes will do well enough. 

The shoes are stitched together using saddle stitch and medium thick, waxed linen thread. They are turn shoes, meaning they are stitched inside out, and then turned while still wet. I chose not to make the decorated border at the top, as he would then have much fancier shoes than his father and I, who both have very plain shoes, and that would look a bit odd. I’m keen to try it some other time though, on shoes both for B and myself.

As the shoe I based these off don’t have any extant lacing I wasn’t sure how I’d do it. After asking around amongst my 14th century living history friends a bit I decided on this method, one string for every two pairs of holes.

I’ve put thick inner soles in them, to protect from damp and the hard seams. Now I only need to have them greased a few times and he’ll be good to go. Or his feet will. I still have some finishing touches to do on his new cotte.

The shoes also fit under the Historical Sew Fortnightly's latest challenge:

The Challenge: # 13 Lace and Lacing

Thin leather found in our often visited charity shop, and thicker leather for the soles cut down from one of my sisters’ old medieval-ish shoes.

None. Made my own.

The boot I based these on were found in a 14-15th century deposit in Stockholm, Sweden, and as we do late 14th century it’s perfect.

Linen thread.

How historically accurate is it?
Pretty much; the material and stitching is all period. I’m not positive about the pattern, but the boots looks a bit like the original, so I’m not that far off.

Hours to complete:
Including making the pattern, six perhaps?

First worn:
For the pictures.

Total cost:
Just counting the bit of leather I used for the shoes, 30 SEK ($4,5; £2,9; €3,4).


  1. They look lovely. You are far braver than I am to attempt leatherworking!

    (Incidentally, my husband was just discussing that sort of lacing. Apparently lots of the men in our reenactment group had been moaning about the short lifespan of their shoe laces. He pointed out to them that the problem was because they lace their shoes like modern trainers. If you use multiple laces, like you have here, then they last longer as they have less strain on them.)

  2. those are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Sarah wow!! I love how your reproductions turned out and they do look so much like the original you based them off of. I have toyed with the idea of shoe making for a while, but can't seem to gather up enough courage to actually do it. These are really lovely - what did you use for insole?

  3. Thank you!

    Sarah Jane: I wanted to use thick wool felt soles, like Tobias and I have in ours, but it's the wrong time of year to find any... I had to make do with fleece-covered rubber :/ They, apart from not beeing even historically plausible, will not keep wet feet warm as wool would (and will likely be far more sweaty than wool), but I bought soles large enough to cut two pairs of small soles, so we can change them if needed. Not ideal, but it will have to do. At least it won't be seen...

  4. Sarah - would you mind posting a photo of the wool felt soles in your shoes? I often suffer from wet feet and any suggestions/inspiration would be much appreciated.

  5. How adorable! And don't say that you're not good at shoemaking, they do resemble the originals very much and look like period children's shoes!


  6. Panth: the felt soles I have are bought in a shoe store - they are found everywhere here during the autumn and winter months.

    Sabine: I believe I must study the art of shoemaking a deal more than I have done (which is hardly at all) before I can call myself a shoemaker. The book you sent helped a bit in making these, but I'm sure there's a lot more to learn :)

  7. This is exactly what I need to make. How did you figure out what the pattern is? Thank you


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