Monday, September 7, 2009

Viking shoes #1 - an experiment

Okay, I know that there are things that are not "period" about these shoes.

#1. The vikings did not use 'moc' leather for shoes.

#2. The vikings did not sew up their shoes with flat rawhide thread. They most likely used linen strengthened with beeswax. I checked.

#3. The use of the 'baseball' stitch is not supported by historical evidence.

So, why did I make them this way? I'll tell you why. I made them out of moc leather because I am new at leatherworking, it is easy for a beginner to work with, it is light, (and best of all) it is on the cheaper side. Moc leather also comes in a staggering array of colors.
I used rawhide thread because it is large, easier to work with, and cheaper than the round leather thread (which I used on the front and top, just to see what the stitch would look like with that thread. I'll pass.).
I used the baseball stitch because I haven't done it before, and it seemed like something cool and new to try out. Simple as that!
Here they are, then:

Here is the Front view:
Viking Shoe #1 Front View

The Top view:
Viking Shoe #1 Top View

And the Back view:
Viking Shoe #1 Back View

What they look like on my feet:
Viking Shoes #1

You may notice in this picture that there is a lot of room in the toes; a bulge there even! Why do they look like this you ask? Well, it was really cold in Northern Europe, and the climate wasn't very dry. To keep their feet from freezing, they would shove cloth, wool and straw into the toes. For an "insole" they would use straw on the bottoms, to repel wetness. They may have also worked beeswax into them, in another effort to repel moisture.

People in Europe had worn shoes much like this for centuries. Viking ankle boots were made out of tougher leather (of course), and possibly had a thicker sole (although some Viking-Age excavations turned up shoes made of one piece of leather, hence this pattern.

I've come to a conclusion while leatherworking: I am NOT going to end up a master leatherworker. I've tried it several times, and it's something that I don't particularly enjoy, although, in a survival situation, if I had to make my own leather clothing (well, shoes anyway) I could.

This is only the first pattern. I found another, taller pattern that looks a bit more cozy and stylish. Pictures will be soon as I finish the shoes!

Hope you like,


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