Thursday, August 12, 2010

Makin' Mukluks

I get asked on a regular basis to make mukluks for folks and I have turned down every request. It is not that I don't want to, it is that I don't really know how and the cost of making mukluks is a lot. I have no clue if people would be willing to pay what they are worth. The most common request is for canvas topped ones with smoked moose hide bottoms and also for ones with the top made out of beaver. Smoked moose hide is beyond expensive and sometimes just finding a quality piece can be a challenge.

But I wanted something new to try.

So this week I went through some patterns I had been given and tried the first one- a canvas top one with moose split on the bottom. The plan is to use my cheap hide for the process of perfecting the pattern and then shell out for the pricey stuff. But a fail. Wholy crud was it ever ugly. Not what I wanted at all. So then I pulled out the pattern a friend in Whitehorse gave me and wow! Perfect! I ended up recycling a beaver coat I had purchased and again using the moose split for the bottom. I think I did alright for my first try! The pattern is nearly the same as what I make my baby booties from.

Check them out:
I still have to make linings for them and ties for the top. I have no clue how to make yarn ties, so thank goodness for the internet. I am betting someone has a tutorial online to teach me how to do it.

Normally on the top of the foot that would be fur too, but I didn't have enough beaver to do it. I kinda like the look of the increased leather. Other more talent people would add beadwork, but even though I was taught how to bead when we lived in the NWT, I really don't like doing it. I have no talent for making pretty pictures out of beads.

For my first pair of fur mukluks, I am impressed with myself! Now readers- I need feedback on ways to make these better. Any suggestions? Or maybe you have a fantastic source of smoked moose hide that you want to share with me? Or idiot proof directions for making yarn ties? Please share!

And my friend in Whitehorse who gave me this pattern is going to send me her pattern for canvas mukluks. How lucky am I! Thanks Lena!


Fawn said...

Nice job, Kara! Whose feet did you make them to fit? My guess is that trying them out for a while will be the best guide for improvements! Are you going to use the same thin material for lining as you use for the kids' booties? I think often a thicker wool duffel is used in this type of footwear, plus a store-bought insole, which adds enough padding to make them much warmer... so make sure there's room for those inside.

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Thanks Fawn! These should fit a woman size 8 with liners. I am ordering the wool duffel tomorrow- we think alike! Great idea on the insole- thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

I'm so crazy about your new photo. What a gorgeous family. Susan/Kayah

Erica said...

Maybe we can negotiate a trade?

Seriously, they are gorgeous! Good job, you!

yukonmusher said...

Kara can you take a picture of the back? Speciffically the spot where the ankle sits in the boot. This is a VERY inmportant sopt for shapping the foot, I bet you have it already, but I just want to make sure BEFORE you find your smoked hide.
Also you can buy brian tanned hide, and smoke hide yourself and save tons of $$. Smoking hide is REALLY easy and I will find pics and walk you through it. The real trick to smoking yourself, is ROTTEN SPRUCE! NOTHING ELSE! So start picking it up when you find it. You are looking for the golden brown stuff, for best color. I will try and get pics too so you are able to see exactly what I am talking about.
Where the seam in indented is nice, but having that extra peice of hide in the middle (between the top and the bottom will help hold them tighter and together longer. I can get a pic to show you what I mean if you do not know.
very nice job though! I like the stripes that come with using 2nd hand furs! :)
I have some numbers at home for the hides, but forgot them, so I will check in on Monday-ish with you.The best is from Alaska so far, I saw an add in yukon news as well, but have no expericane with them. I got mine from alaska and smoked them for the wedding dress. I used deer, for being lighter. Smoking is smoking though and easy!
I know it is popular as well to use boot felts, for faster & easy drying, so this can be an option for you to not have to do so much extra work, where they can add their own liners and for what ever temp. rating they want.

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Thanks for all of that Sarah! I will get a picture of the back up and I know what you mean about having that little piece inbetween the layers. I will do that for my next one for sure.

I would love a step by step guide for smoking my own hide!! That would definitely be an option. And where have you found just brain tanned hide?

Thanks for sharing!!

Morena said...

Beautiful job! Congrats...

jill spyker said...

of course, my input comes in the form of yarn :) I'm not sure what kind of ties you're looking for, but probably an "i-cord" which is an idiot cord... you basically just knit it and it makes a cord... if you can knit at all it's super easy and makes a GREAT cord!

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

But I don't know how to knit! wwaaaahhhhhh :(

Megan said...

Re The yarn ties: I've never seen mukluks with icord ties. They've all been twisted or sort of braided in the round. My suggestion if you are going to use yarn as ties to try not to make them really ugly colours. That's one thing that makes a really beautiful pair of mukluks ugly is horrible yucky clashing colours.
Otherwise, they look great and you can't go wrong with a pattern from Lena!