I had a pile of faux leather on hand when I first bought this pattern, so I whipped up a few pairs in that. It worked just fine, but depending on what exactly you are working with, the moccasins can be pretty stiff. They also made Kina’s feet kind of stinky! I found some soft faux leather at Hobby Lobby, but after awhile the color rubbed off. So I tried some real light-weight leather fused to a synthetic backing from Fabric.com. That material was soft and held up pretty good. It did stretch quite a bit so it made sewing on it slightly tricky. The backing slightly frayed after multiple wears, nothing extreme, but it was there and I noticed it! So finally I decided I was going to try real leather. I went into a local Tandy’s leather shop and found a purple grey leather hide for $42. It was a smaller animal, I think maybe sheep? So I decided to try it out. It was a dream to sew with, smelled super yummy, and was sooo soft. It held up very nicely. My most recent leather purchase was from Peggy Sue Also’s Etsy store. I bought a 18″x12″ metallic leather hide and a box of scrap leather. The scrap leather is perfect for moccasin making. Tons of colors come in it, but you run the risk of not having enough of one color to make a pair. For $15 I figured it was worth it to try. I have made 2 pairs out of it so far and will be able to make many more. There are definitely scraps I won’t be able to use, but it is cheaper than buying a hide and you get more options. You can make lots of newborn moccasins from it, which I love for gift giving. I have also heard the 20″x20″ pieces from Peggy Sue Also is great for Moccasin making.
Tips for Sewing Moccasins
1. If you are going to make your little one lots of pairs and continue making them as they grow, investing in a Teflon foot for your machine will be a life saver. The leather tends to stick to the metal making it a nightmare to sew if you don’t have a teflon foot. If you don’t want to buy one, you can always put painters tape on the bottom of your foot, or sew over tissue paper/wax paper then rip it away. But seriously, teflon feet are the bee’s knees!
2. For real leather moccasin making, you will want to roll the seams in your fingers to get nice curved toes. To do this, after you have sewn your top and heal piece to your bottom piece, turn the moccasins right side out. Then take the seam between your fingers and roll that baby, working all the way around the moccasin! It will soften the seam and help it to lay nicely.
3. Use clips to keep your leather in place, not needles. Needles won’t even poke through that tough stuff. Use a denim or leather needle in your actual sewing machine to penetrate the leather and not bog down your machine/ break needles.
4. To get the toe and heel piece to line up perfect, fold the sole in half and mark the center on the toe and heel. Then repeat for the heel piece and the toe piece. Line up the markings and clip them in place. Sew slowly and raise your pressure foot often to adjust the moccasin so you can get a nice smooth seam line.
5. When sewing the toe piece on it can tend to bunch up. Just gradually sew around the curves keeping the toe piece and sole edges lined up. Don’t worry about the toe piece bunching as long as there are not bunches under your stitching. This is where it comes in handy to stop often, raise the pressure foot, and adjust the pieces so they line up nicely and don’t bunch under your stitching. If there is not bunching under your actual stitch line, there won’t be any bunching when your done sewing.
6. Threading the Elastic tips:
-I have had some major problems threading the elastic at times. I notice it is when the material I am using is heavier with less give. Next time I have a heavier stiffer material (like the bronze bow pair in this post) I think I will make the fringe piece a little taller to make the casing bigger. Not sure if that will solve the problem, but I figure it’s worth a try!
-Tape your safety pin closed once it is attached to the elastic, that way it won’t pop open in the middle of the casing when you are threading it!
Altering the Pattern
So all the pairs I have made for Kina I have attempted to alter the pattern. I finally feel like I found a way that really works for me.
The bow method:
These alterations are for 12-18 month moccasins, so you will have to take the alterations and apply them for your own size. I cut a bow piece that was 7″x2″. I then folded it in half so the two short ends were right sides together. Stitch them together. Flip it back right sides out. Cut your tiny piece that goes on top of the toe (the tiny square) wider and taller. You can kind of eyeball it compared to your bow size. You will need it to be tight to keep your bow in, but not too tight that it doesn’t fit! Sew the square (should be more of a rectangle once altered) on as directed. Position the seam on the bow so it is in the middle back. Fold the bow right sides together, then fold the edges back again. Thread the bow through the piece you just sewed on. I find tweezers to be helpful for this! Thats it, follow the pattern the rest of the way like it says!
You will want to cut the fringe piece shorter than the pattern. I line my fringe piece up with the top of the heel piece and fold the pattern piece on one end so the entire fringe piece is just slightly longer than the heel piece. Next you will need to make the front fringe piece. For 12-18 months I made mine 2″ wide by 1 1/2″ tall from the point to the top edge. From the top edge I drew down about 3/4″ then drew a diagonal line to the middle (point). Cut it out and sew it to the toe piece then follow the directions as normal.
I hope these tips and tricks I have learned will be helpful for you to make your own baby moccasins! Once you start making them you will be addicted! They are truly my favorite shoe for Kina. Check out Peekaboo Pattern Shop for the actual pattern!