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Shoe the Shire Project

Page history last edited by Anne McKinney 9 years, 2 months ago

This project is for anyone in our shire who would like to chip in to get a pair of period-style shoes. Chip in towards the cost of the supplies, and we will work on getting your measurements for patterns and lasts, with the goal of eventually getting a finished pair of shoes. If you are willing to work on your own pair, you can get experience in shoemaking -- and if not, I'll work on them for you (albeit a bit slower). This project is also a way for me to get some more experience points in leathercraft, so you don't have to do the work if you don't want to. :-)


DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NOT YET COMPLETED MY FIRST PAIR OF SHOES. I AM LEARNING HOW TO MAKE MY FIRST PAIR AT THE SAME TIME AS EVERYONE ELSE. THIS IS VERY MUCH AN EXPERIMENTAL PROCESS, AND IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT I COULD BE STEERING EVERYONE IN A HORRIBLY WRONG DIRECTION. That stated, if you don't mind the uncertainty, then this will be a fun journey, in which you may get a pair of turnshoes for your money -- or possibly Mickey Mouse doll shoes. I hope they won't turn out like that, but I can't guarantee that they will be perfect.


Our basic instructions manual will help create a basic turnshoe based on the kind found prominently in medieval York. But if you would rather go with another style more suitable to your persona, you might find some inspiration in one of these sites:





Next Session: April 27, 2015

Previous sessions:

April 28, 2014 -- more patterns created, a few more have cut leather and started sewing

Feb. 17, 2014 -- canceled due to bad weather

Dec. 7, 2013 -- Yule Party: 7 shire folk making progress and one new starter

Nov. 25 2013 - progress and new beginnings!

Oct. 25 2012 -- first session
Nov. 29 2013 2 -- 2 more started, 8 more moving forward

Photos of prior shoemaking


Materials & shared costs

Initially I guessed that it would cost $10-15 per pair for the materials. This figure was based on an initial number of 7 people chipping in for sole leather, and I would "spot" the rest in terms of upper leather and supplies. Needless to say, the project has grown a bit since then! By the time we actually started moving forward in Fall 2013, we had 12 people at $10/each. As we get more people to the leather-cutting and sewing stage, we may need to see how much extra we should spend for leather, thread, etc., or if we need to reimburse a percentage to any folk who have already contributed. Any help from someone better at math than Sofya would be much appreciated! :-)

  • sole-grade leather - $70
  • canvas for the patterns - $38.97 for 5 yards
  • masking tape - $1 per roll, 10 rolls purchased
  • Top leather, thread, dye, etc. (Sofya should have enough on hand, but donations wouldn't be turned away if we need to buy more of any of these)

Total spent so far: $118.97


Still need to buy:

  • more posterboard


Other expenses -- you will need to bring these when we create your pattern

  • any padding or inserts (optional, but a good idea if you want a more comfortable footbed. I'm planning to use a combination of sports inserts with arch support.)
  • 2 pairs of socks -- 1 that will be cut up to create the pattern, the other needs to be about as thick as what you want to wear with the shoes.



  1. Roana - paid $10
  2. Eadric - paid $10
  3. Alyse - paid $10
  4. Gerhard - paid $10
  5. Kate (Cindy) - paid $10
  6. Sofya- paid $10
  7. Genevieve - paid $10
  8. Hrefna - paid $10
  9. Tomaris - paid $10
  10. Lynette - paid $10
  11. William / Nigel- paid $10
  12. Kate  - paid $10
  13. Oswynn - paid $10
  14. Rebecca - paid $10
  15. Elizabeta
  16. Marketa - paid $10
  17. Shaun
  18. Colten Jackson (Makerspace) - paid $10



Starting from scratch: Oswyn, Cindy


Feet taped, need to trace onto posterboard: 


Posterboard measuring seam allowance, cutting: Becky, William


Posterboard patterns cut, need to trace onto canvas: ?


Canvas patterns cut, testing the fit: Roana, Eadric,


Canvas patterns re-trace onto posterboard: Tomaris(?), Shaun, 


Cutting leather: Marketa, Elizabeta, Colten, Sofya, 


Skiving / boring holes / cutting lacing slits / other embellishments: Hrefna


Stitching / basting: Lynette,


FINISHED: Genevieve, 

Comments (2)

Anne McKinney said

at 11:53 am on Nov 5, 2013

I will try to pick up some more posterboard, masking tape, and permanent markers for the upcoming session at the November A&S. Those of you who want to get started, plan to bring two pairs of socks and any other padding/inserts you might want inside your shoes. If you've already started, bring what you have and we will see what you need to work on next.

I think most folks either need to start from scratch or cut out fabric patterns, though I'm afraid I've lost track officially. If you know you're ready to start cutting out leather, please let me know prior to the meeting so I can be sure to bring supplies for that.

Anne McKinney said

at 7:52 pm on Dec 3, 2013

I was recently asked about any hints or tips we've learned as we go along on this project. Here are my notes so far -- please fee free to add any of your own here, too.

When taping a foot for a pattern, do both feet in the same session instead of taping one foot a week after the other foot. They will turn out differently and they won't match. (I still don't know how this would impact the final shoe; I ended up re-taping rather than finding out)

After the taped sock is off the foot, get it onto the posterboard sooner rather than later. The sock fabric will distort the taped shape. I was barely able to fix mine after two weeks; one of our team had hers sitting around for a year (this has been a postponed project, my fault) and she is starting over again because we couldn't make it work.

The Compleat Anachronist's instructions for foot taping don't mention taking measurements around the shape of the foot, but it does for making a last. If you want to transfer your taped shape to other patterns beyond the one he uses in his example (14th c. English), it would probably be a lot easier if you have those measurements. (The alternative is to cut the tape off your foot in the shape of the pattern you want, which is what we've done for the Anglo-Scandinavian shoemakers.)

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