Permission to copy for other than personal use may be obtained by contacting the author of this tutorial at cougarwoman1 (at) hotmail (dot) com
Part 1: Introduction
This tutorial provides instruction for making the one-piece hightop moccasins pictured above. This is just one way to make a pair of moccasins. Obviously there are many styles, many teachers, and many books from which to draw inspiration and instruction. I offer this tutorial as a give-away in gratitude to all who have shared their wisdom and knowledge with me. Please read through the entire tutorial before beginning. The degree of detail provided is with the beginner in mind. If you have some experience you will be able to skim over much of it. This is the first of five parts.
I would like to acknowledge the work of George M. White in his book "Craft Manual of North American Footwear" (1969). Particularly the chapter entitled "Salish (Flathead) Side Seam" (p. 48-49) influenced my work in this tutorial. In addition, big shout-outs go to Warrior Yeti, Texscout, and my awesome husband, all of whom provided me with valuable suggestions, personal insights, and necessary editorial recommendations. Their feedback boosts my confidence that the beginner craftsperson will find this tutorial helpful. Thanks a million guys!
There are two basic moccasin styles used frequently by Nations whose traditional lands extend across the Plains of North America. In my own region of southern Alberta, the one-piece style (aka side-seam) is used by Blackfoot, Plains Cree, Stoney Nakoda and Tsuu T'ina Peoples. A search at amnh.anthro.org revealed these examples of one-piece moccasins from times past. They are marked as originating with Sioux, Blackfoot, Cree and Flathead Peoples, respectively:
Benefits of the one-piece moccasin include ease of pattern preparation and moccasin construction, as well as flexibility in the height of the attached upper. A drawback to this style is that a worn-out sole cannot easily be replaced. The first moccasins I made were this style (note the Blackfoot "keyhole"-design beaded mocs below). I feel that beginner and advanced craftspeople alike can enjoy successful results with the one-piece moccasin style.
The following 3 photos demonstrate options for completing the one-piece moccasin. The first picture is of a moccasin with no attached upper; the ankle portion is simply folded and stitched down with beadwork covering the fold while the tongue is long and decorative. The second photo shows the side-seam with a short 2" upper, a single thong wrapped around the ankle, and a much shortened tongue. The third photo shows a 12" high upper, again with a single thong for wrapping, as well as a thong at the ankle and a tie at the top. These photos help demonstrate the versatility of the basic one-piece style.
The tools you need are outlined in the next section called Part 2: Gathering Your Tools.