Gulf Wars Class Schedule

Below are the classes I will be teaching at Gulf Wars:
As always, please check the site booklet and class boards for the most up-to-date information

Beginning Shoemaking: Eastern Felt Shoe Making LECTURE ONLY

    Introduction to Middle Eastern Shoes: Come learn what shoes your Middle Eastern Persona would wear. First part of the class will cover documentation and extant examples (mostly Turkish and Egyptian), as well as social and religious customs. Second part of the class, participants can learn how to pattern their own Middle Eastern Shoes with instructions on how to make them out of felt or leather. Class fee $5 covers handouts and materials to pattern shoes.

  • Location: Al-Mahala Middle Eastern Area
  • Time: Friday 1:00PM
  • Length: 2 Hours
  • Class Fee: $5
  • Class Limit: 25
  • Under 14 with a parent only.

Beginning Shoemaking: Eastern Felt Shoe Making. HANDS ON

    A hands-on workshop to make a pair of wool felt shoes or boots worn in both the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Techniques taught in class can then be used for most other shoes or boots worn throughout the SCA time period. Should expect to work on shoes on own time to finish by end of war.

  • Location: Textile 1
  • Time: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 10am – 11am
    1. Monday Class 1: General Shoes Pattern Making
    2. Tuesday Class 2: Cutting, Sewing, and Decorations
    3. WEDS-OFF
    4. Thursday Class 3: Sewing (part 2)
    5. Friday Class 4: Finishing
  • Class Fee: $30 for boots & $20 for shoes. Cost covers all materials (felt, soles, needles, thread, handout)
  • Class Limit: 14
  • Ages 12 and up (12-17 with parent)

Funny little cordial

    A look into the properties of humors in brewing: Medieval food and drinks were chosen and arranged based on their “humors”, a classification system of hot to cold and moist to dry that was thought to influences their temperament and health. Class will cover the classification of typical medieval beverages such as ales, beers, wines and mead as well as how to create a personalized cordial based on a desired humor. Over 21 Only. $5 for handout and samples

  • 1 hour
  • Over 21.
  • $5 for handout and samples

History of Drinking: common medieval drinks

    A look at the history of drinks, especially those in the between 3rd-16th centuries and how they affected society and culture. Class will include samples (and recipes) of the most common drinks found in the Middle Ages ( and in the SCA). No instruction on brewing provided. Over 21 Only. $5 for handout and samples

  • 1 and 1/2 hours
  • $5 for handout and samples
  • Ages 21 and up

Buying Leather For Shoes

I always like to have people do their patterns before they buy leather, mainly because leather can get expensive and they can take their pattern pieces in with them and get just as much as they need.

I ALWAYS recommend to go to the leather store, especially in the beginning, so you can touch and feel the leather. However sometimes you just can’t make it there, or don’t have a good one near you and you have to order online. I also have quite a few friends following this tutorial along at home so I took my camera phone on a Tandy-Field-Trip to touch, feel, fondle (it is leather after all) and document the things I think they should get.  Below are the items ( and the Tandy leather #) for the items that are a must have and recommended for making a pair of shoes.

Necessary Items:

  • Scratch Awl– It does not matter if you are sewing or doing leatherwork, you should have an awl in your supply closet. Normally around $5 or less, you can’t really share this with a group, so make sure you get your own. Tandy leather #3217-00
  • Waxed Thread- For shoes, for beginners, I recommend waxed thread or waxed nylon thread. Don’t get artificial sinew and Don’t get the braided cord. You want a minimum of 25 yards per pair of shoes . The number depends on the color.
  • Stitching Needle– You will need a minimum of 4 needles per pair of shoes. You will break needles, people new to sewing break more needles. They sell them in packs of 10 for $3.29 or 100 for $30. Tandy Leather #1195-00

Recommended ( you can do without but it makes life so much easier, a must for serious leatherworkers)

  • Adjustable Groover– The adjustable groover measures in a certain amount from the edge (ie your seam allowance) and grooves into the leather a line which you will follow with your punching to sew the leather together. These are more expensive at $20, so you can share one with a partner or in a group. However if you become serious about leather working, I recommend you get one for your toolchest. Tandy leather #8074-00
  • Stitching Chisel 5/64 or 2mm– Yes, you can do it without ever punching the holes first- yes you can still get even hole distance by using a fork. However, I HIGHLY recommend getting either the 4 or 6 prong chisel. It will save time, it will save your awl, it will save your hands, it will save your patience. They run about $14 for the 4 prong and $15 for the 6 prong. This is one of those tools you can share with other people, and I have some that people can use in class. However if you are doing the shoes at home I recommend getting one as you will use it for other leather projects as well.

Leather- The leather you use will depend on what kind of shoes you are making. Here are some general tips:

  • No Suede- Suede is a post period production technique…plus suede is harder to keep clean
  • If your fighting in your shoes, a heavier weight is better ( which you take into account with your patterning seam allowance). ie those in the 4-6 ounce range.
  • Don’t go above 5/6 ounce
  • Don’t go below 2/3 ounce
  • Don’t order a belly, they are to long and thin.
  • Look under tooling or finished leather
  • If you want to dye your shoes yourself, go with tooling leather
  • Yes you can get upholstery leather, but it will be thinner, so know that you will have thinner shoes.

Walking around Tandy, here were just a few different leathers I would make shoes out of.

  • Aspen Bison Sides– 5/6 ounce. $14.99 Sq Ft. Tandy Leather #9285. Good for heavy or fighting boots.
  • Tooling Sides -4/5 ounce. Tandy Leather #9157-94 or 9157-54 or any tooling side. Good for heavy or fighting boots/shoes.
  • Tooling Side– 3/4 ounce. Tandy leather #9157-93 or any tooling side. Good for fighting boots or regular shoes
  • Tooling Side– 2/3 ounce. Tandy leather #9157-92 or any tooling side. Good for regular boots or shoes.
  • 8+ ounce for soles. You can use 7/8 ounce leather-16 ounce “sole/armor” leather for the soles.

What are these sides that you keep talking about?

subdivisions-of-leatherLeather is sold depending on the part of the animal it comes from. To know what kind of piece you can use, you will need to know how many square feet of space your pattern will take up. However, you will want to order a bit more than just the amount you need, in case you need to work around imperfections.  For a pair of ankle boots-size 9 I needed 4.166 sq feet. HOWEVER, unless you want to piece your shoes together, order more than you need- normally 20%. So I would want to order at least 4.99 sq feet . If you say you need a 5 square ft of leather, you could get a piece that is 2.5 ft by 2 ft or you could get a piece that is 1 foot by 5 foot. This is why I recommend you call and let them know the sizes of your pieces or go in person.

  • Back – A side with the belly cut off, usually 15 to 18 sq. ft.
  • Belly – The lower part of a side, usually 4 to 8 sq. ft.
  • Bend- The top part of a side, average 9 to 11 sq. ft.
  • Single Shoulder- 6 to 7 sq ft.
  • Double Shoulder- 12 to 14 sq. ft.

IMG_20130925_133555I would never order a belly or a single shoulder for shoes as they are normally thin and long. However double shoulders, backs, sides, ext. are all fair game.

And of course- this is the #1 reason why I recommend going in person. If I had a pattern and time to go through this, I would be able to walk out with enough leather for the shoes for under probably $10.

Shoe Making Tutorial #1 A Tape Pattern

There is a weekly arts & sciences (A&S) night at the place I am staying. I routinely send out announcements on facebook as a reminder, in one of my recent posts I mentioned that I was making my viking boots but people could bring whatever they wanted to work on. At the proceeding A&S night, 2 of the regulars mentioned they wanted to make boots and I am not going to lie I was thrilled! I let them browse some of my books,they hit the internet looking at different possible styles, and I told them next week to bring tape (duck, packing, or masking) and an old sock that could be destroyed.

Sabine taping up a foot. If you are going to be making a pair that goes higher then the sock, just use a piece of saran wrap as a base to tape onto Once the foot is completely taped up, you can start making the pattern pieces. Start with the sole of the foot.
 Taping up a foot. If you are going to be making a pair that goes higher then the sock, just use a piece of saran wrap as a base to tape onto  Once the foot is completely taped up, you can start making the pattern pieces. Start with the sole of the foot.
Mark where you want each of the seams to go. You will also want to make additional comments such as where the big toe is, which side has buckles, ext.
Mark where you want each of the seams to go.   You will also want to make additional comments such as where the big toe is, which side has buckles, ext.
 Once all the seams and markings are on you will want to carefully cut the person out of the sock. DON'T do this ( using a pocket knife to cut)  Once the pieces are off, you will want to lie them flat. Occasionally the sock will stretch. Simply cut the sock ( NOT the tape) where it is stretchy, the tape will hold the proper shape. If you used enough layers of tape it will be stiff enough to remove the sock entirely.
 Once all the seams and markings are on you will want to carefully cut the person out of the sock. DON’T do this ( using a pocket knife to cut) Once the pieces are off, you will want to lie them flat. Occasionally the sock will stretch. Simply cut the sock ( NOT the tape) where it is stretchy, the tape will hold the proper shape. If you used enough layers of tape it will be stiff enough to remove the sock entirely.
 Once the pieces lie flat, you then trace them onto a piece of paper and add your seam allowance.

Here is a copy of the handout I use when I officially teach this class

Early period Germanic Shoes- Part 1

So I am assuming the sinew thread on my all purpose leather shoes for SCA wear are tasty… so tasty in fact that my rabbit Fizzgig the Destroyer decided that he needed to nibble on them.  He did not damage them enough that they aren’t wearable or fixable, but it did get me thinking that maybe its time to have a backup.

As my current shoes are generic Middle Ages, and just under half my outfits are 10th century Norse, I figured I really should have a pair of shoes for Viking ( yes, viking as in the verb). This also works out well as I have been updating my Viking wear for Harvest Days where they are doing a Viking Demo (Note, the event is in just under 2 weeks)

10th century shoe. Page 150 from Stepping through time.

After polling friends whether I should do a pair of shoes or boots, it was unanimously decided that I needed boots. This works well as I could use a pair of boots for the slightly wetter events.

I chose a style found in Germany between the 9th-10th centuries as the type of boot I was wanting.

I started out by using the Tape Pattern Method . Unfortunately I wanted the boots to be taller than the socks, so I needed to find some way to wrap the duct tape and not tape my skin. Enter in saran wrap! Worked like a charm, and I am going to start using it in addition to just taping socks.

Here you can see my finished pattern after I traced out the cutting lines with sharpie. You can also see the finished pattern with the SA added to it.

I had a nice heavier green leather that I wanted to use, but when I pulled it out, I did not have as much left as I remembered. I really wanted dark green boots, so I figured I would piece the leather. ( You can see the whole piecing process by clicking on the picture which will take you the construction journal)

Upcoming Middle Eastern Shoes Class

16th Century Ottoman Turkish Felt Shoes

16th Century Ottoman Turkish Felt Shoes

At the Shire of Dark River- 35th Anniversary event! I will be teaching  “Introduction to Middle Eastern Shoes”. The first part of the class will cover examples of extant shoes, two different Middle Eastern styles ( an earlier period Egyptian and a later period Turkish Ottoman), patterns, materials, decoration, and the similarity between Middle Eastern Styles.

The second part of the class will cover how to make either a pair of Egyptian or Ottoman Turkish shoes. For those wishing to make a pattern in class, please bring an old sock ( it will be destroyed) a roll of duct or packing tape, and 2 sheets of wool felt ( or 1/3 yard). There will be  handouts on the documentation of Middle Eastern shoes and how to create a pair of shoes from your pattern.  $1 handout donation.

As an added bonus Baroness Brigid Murchadha will be teaching a Middle Eastern Beginning Embroidery class later in the day, so you can start to decorate your felt shoes.

I will upload both a Middle Eastern Shoes Tutorial and the handouts for this class AFTER the event ( so if you want to put your best foot forward, you should really attend the Shire of Dark River- 35th Anniversary event!

Shoe making supply list

Supplies List For the Shoe Making Class:

Links will take you to the Tandy Product Page

  • A way to make your pattern- will need each of the following
    • Something to make your pattern out of
      • Felt (best)- will have some available in class
      • Wrapping Paper – Cheapest option
    • Sharpie or pen
    • Measuring tape ( and preferably a straight edge ruler)

The following supplies should be purchased AFTER you make your pattern but before the 2nd meeting ( or you won’t have anything to work on)

  • What you’re making your shoe out of:
    • Vegetable Tanned Leather either neutral or dyed. Recommended 4-5 ounce. Choose one of the following:
      • 3-4 ounce leather for lighter shoes
      • 5-6 ounce leather for heavier shoes or combat boots.
    • 8-16 ounces for soles ( we will purchase this as a group)

All other tools will be available for use in class

If you are local ( IL ) and ordering your tools and supplies over the internet/phone- make your list online but call the Elgin Tandy directly (847-289-5227) . That way you know it will ship from Elgin arriving the next day instead of coming from New Orleans.

A 12th Century Viking Heraldic Coronet

Now that the recipient has received this I can post the creation journal of another leather coronet.

This coronet is a a 12th Night Gift for Baroness Brigid Murchadha.

Design Baroness Brigid belongs to a household that has skull elements as part of their household device. 9 months ago, Brigid gave me 6 red skull beads that were given to her, that she wanted built into an earlier period coronet.While researching 12th-13th century coronets it was decided that the coronet’s shape would be taken from 12th Century French coronet designs with 12th-13th century edging.

Besides the red skulls beads, Brigid also wanted the Saint Brigid’s cross incorporated into the coronet.

For the design there would be the traditional 6 points lined up with each of the 6 Saint Brigid’s Crosses, and an embedded skull bead between each of the crosses.


 leatherwork Brigid’s other coronet’s are on more the dainty side ( one is metal one is stained glass), so I wanted to make this one a little more durable. Basically I wanted to make a coronet that she could go out drinking in. I figured that if she wore it out while camping at Gulf Wars or another spring/fall event she would wear it on top of a Norse cap with fur. Taking that into account, I wanted to create a coronet tall enough that it would not be hidden by the fur of her Norse cap. In order to do that, the coronet came in just shy of 4 inches ( it’s a good thing the Midrealm does not have any rules about Coronet Height)
 Tooling  I have a cat who thinks he is a rabbit, and a rabbit who thinks he is a God. Luckily both my pet’s have no issues with the loud noises I make while doing leather work.Pictured is Nyx, my cat whom Brigid watches while I am out of town. Nyx knew I was working on a gift for Brigid and so had to help out.

Once researched, designed, approved and transferred onto the leather, the item is tooled. For this particular coronet I stippled the entire background and raised both the border and the Saint Brigid’s Cross.

 Finished Tooling  Here you can see a close-up of the tooling work, and the depth put into the crosses. Next time I do a Saint Brigid’s Cross I would do if much differently. On this project i drew it, and filled it in where I should have started from the inside drawing out. I have a feeling I have many more Saint Brigid’s Crosses in my future (insert grumbling here)
 20121222_123455  Once tooled and the edgework done, I started to dye the coronet. I personally don’t like painted leatherwork, I think you get much more detailed beautiful pieces by dyeing and using the dye to shade it.For this particular piece I tried very hard to match the red of the dye to the red of the beads.
 Shading  This closeup shows a detail of the finished shading done by dyeing prior to doing the background black. You can also see the stimpling on the background. 
 Finished Coloring  The finished dye piece prior to inserting in the skill beads. Here you can see the red (perfect match to the beads) design elements and the black background.
 Finished Design  An example of the coronet prior to sewing up and waxing. You can see how I was able to match the red dye to that of the beads fairly well ( this is very important later on). I also try very hard to make my finished projects look as close to the designs as possible, so people know exactly what they will be getting.
 1st baking  The finished sewn, waxed, and formed coronet.Notice the coloring of the crosses and the beads…. NOT THE SAME COLOR RED!!!!!!!!!

Waxing leather darkens it…..a lot! What was once a beautiful shaded red cross turned into a burgundy design that is so dark it bleeds into the background.

 2nd waxing  I really could have left it the way it was and Brigid would have never have known. However after speaking with a couple of people who know leather a little more than myself ( Thanks Jeff!) I went back through and painted it and re-waxed it.

Here is the finished coronet.

A Baronial Coronet Fit For a Pirate

I like a good challenge, and I like helping out my friends even more. Therefore when good friends who happened to be sitting on the Throne of the Middle Kingdom came to me with a last minute project it was hard to say No.

It turns out, another friend was going to be getting their Court Baronage, and each of the Royals thought the other one had already commissioned the coronet. One week before the event, it was discovered that there was no Coronet for the award.

Below is the photo journal of having one week to design, create, construct, and finish a Court Baronial Coronet of the Middle Kingdom.

Drafting The Midrealm does not have any sumptuary laws concerning Court Baronage Coronets except that they be “of silver with six pearls (spheroids),
ornamented as they see fit.”I don’t know how to work in silver (yet), so I designed the coronet to be made out of leather and large enough to be worn with the recipients hat (he never takes the hat off)
 Transfer to leather  Knowing the recipient, I figured he would commission a beautiful metal court one in the future, so for the design I kept it fun and piratey. I also incorporated the Fleur-delis into the coronet as it is the main element on his device.Here you can see the cut out leather with the beginning stages of the tooled fleurs.
 Placing  Even though the coronet was leather, I wanted to add in some silver elements. Because this was for a pirate coronet I figured I would add in some metal “Pieces of Eight”.As I don’t work in metal I went to my go to metal guy, Kith and commissioned 6 pieces of eight. Kith has come through for me more times than I can count when I have needed some sort of last minute metal projects, I don’t know what I would do without him.
 Bead  For the “pearls” I went to my favorite bead maker Rois (of the Bead Rescue Project). Besides being one of my dearest friends, she also is able to do wonderful beads quickly. She made up 6 pearl like beads (white) each with their own piratey themes to them (flags, treasure chest, parrot). The one in the center of the coronet is a heart for the recipients fighting household who’s device is a heart.Here you see it pictured set inside the tooled and dyed Fleur.
 research  IMG_4952
 An Image of the research done for the custom pieces of eight  And just for a little more historical accuracy  each piece weighs the correct amount for each of the pieces of eight. Yes me and my cohorts are historic nuts and proud of it.
 20120706_231806  An image of the finished waxed coronet with the pirate flag bead set inside the fleur-delis and two of the pieces of eight on either side.The background of the leather was painted a deep burgundy as the recipient wears a LOT of burgundy and black.
 20120706_231857  An image of the custom poured piece of eight
 20120706_232033  The coronet after it was waxed and finsihed and cooling on my head in order to get the correct shape
 20120706_232227  I was not able to go to the event where this was being awarded. Instead I sent it via carrier with the Court Herald. Somehow I randomly had enough pirate fabric in my house to wrap the coronet in.

On this one I need to give a HUGE thanks to both Kith and Rois whom I could not have done this coronet without them. They are not only great artists (whom I abuse way to often by asking for last minute things) but are great friends who bring so much to my life.