How to Make Cherokee Pucker Toe Moccasins

Materials Needed:

Leather (or similar thick material)
Scissors (for cutting cardboard)
Sharp scissors (for cutting leather)

Take a look at a variety of moccasin styles that represent different tribes in the United States in the Gilcrease online collections.

Step 1: Creating Your Pattern

After gathering your materials, create the pattern for center-seam pucker toe moccasins. Get a piece of cardboard that is at least four inches longer than the length of your foot. Make a mark 1” from the back of the cardboard with your sharpie and place your foot here in the middle of the cardboard (see 3:20). Next, trace around your bare foot while you place your weight on this foot. This step is easier if a friend can help trace your foot.

After tracing your foot, make another mark 1” above the tallest part of your outline (see 4:25). Cut a piece of string 18” long to use as a tool. Place one end of the string at the mark above your foot and lay the string down your right foot. Outline to the bottom edge of the cardboard. This is the width measurement. Fold the string in half and place the sharpie in the loop. Place the sharpie at the mark above your outline and then hold the string down in the middle of your foot (see 5:30). Holding the string down in the middle, drag the sharpie to make a circle around your outline. Take the string you just used and make a circle to measure your foot. Place the string around your foot where your foot meets your ankle. This measurement is the widest part of your foot. Place this measurement at the widest part of the circle. If the measurement is smaller than your circle, bring the sides of the pattern into your measurement. If the measurement is bigger than your circle, make the side of your pattern wider.

To make the flaps, find the middle of the pattern and draw one line out 2” (see 7:00) and another line down to the edge of the cardboard. Repeat on the other side of the pattern. Cut out the pattern on the cardboard (note that cardboard can dull the blades). This pattern will be used for both the right and the left foot.

Step 2: Cutting Out the Leather

Gather your leather (German-tanned leather from is featured in the video), a pencil and your pattern. Lay your pattern toward the edge of the leather. Make sure that there are no holes or flaws in the leather under your pattern. Using a pencil, trace around your pattern on the leather. DO NOT use the Sharpie as it will stain the leather. After you have traced one moccasin, place your pattern on another section of the leather and trace a second pattern.

Now you are ready to cut! Take your sharp scissors used only for leather cutting and cut along the pencil line you just traced on the leather. After you have cut out both moccasins, cut out two thin pieces of leather string that are 18” long and 1/8” wide (see 6:30). You will use these to sew the moccasins. Stretch the strings out by holding them at each end and pull. This checks for weak spots and thins out the string. Weak spots in the leather string could cause it to break while sewing. On one end of your string, cut a long point and on the other end tie one knot. Do this to both strings. You now have two moccasin cutouts and string to sew up the moccasins.

Step 3: Sewing up the “Toe” of the Moccasins

Take one of the moccasins and fold it in half, placing the edge of the flaps together. At the toe, push the awl through the leather 1/4” from the edge of the leather. Take the string you created in the last step. Pull the awl out of the leather and push the string through the hole you just created with the awl. Pull the string all the way through the hole until you get to the knot on the other end of the string (see 1:35). Lay the moccasin down in front of you. The knot should be facing towards you. With every stitch, you will push the string away from you. To create the next hole, take the awl and make a hole ½” to ¾” to the right of the knot. Pull out the awl, bring the string around and push the string through the hole away from you. Push the leather down the string and this will create the first pucker (see 4:00). Now make a hole ½” to ¾” to the left of the knot. Pull the awl out and push your thread through and push down the leather. Continue to make holes and sew up the toe of the moccasin. Every time your make a hole you will make it on the opposite side of the hole you just made.

Stop puckering about 1 ½” away from the flap and tie a knot next to the leather. Make a simple whip stitch up to the flaps (if you have wide feet, it will give you more room in your moccasins). To do a whip stitch, hold both sides of the leather together and make your hole right next to the last one. Do not leave any room to pucker. Then push the string through and away from yourself and make another hole right next to the last hole. Whip stitch the rest of the leather together until you get to the flap. Finally, tie a single knot right next to the leather and cut off the excess (see 8:15). Repeat step 3 on the toe of the other moccasin.

Step 4: Sewing up the Back of the Moccasins

The last step of making pucker toe moccasins is to sew up the back. You will repeat the same process that you did on the toe. Fold the moccasin in half and make a hole with the awl ¼” away from the edge of the leather (see 3:33). Push the leather string through the hole until you reach the knot. Pucker the same way you did on the toe, moving from right to left and back and forth. You will pucker until you get two inches away from the end. This is the width of the flap (do not pucker all the way to the end of the leather). The flap will be free (see 3:08). To finish the moccasin, tie a single knot right next to the leather and cut off the excess string. Finish the back of the other moccasin the same way.

Congratulations on creating your own pair of moccasins!