I’m re-sharing an older post of some experimental turnshoes I made quite a few years ago. These were based on some Scandinavian examples from the archaeological record. They came out pretty good for a first try. My only modification would be to tighten the width through the arch and lengthen the toe area slightly. I have since learned that this problem has been well-understood for centuries by shoe makers and is why modern shoe lasts often look long and narrow to the amateur eye.
Finally “finished” enough. These were rubbed down with a “tea” made from walnut juice, worn dry, and later oiled.
This was my first attempt at a proper turnshoe. Basically a variation on the shoes worn in Europe and parts of Asia from the Iron Age (ca. 500 B.C.) through the early modern times (ca. 1700s). This pair is made without a last (form) so construction is similar to other moccasin-type shoes. There are quite a large number of early shoes found in archaeological contexts in Europe so many designs are known. This is inspired by, but not slavish to, shoes found in the British Isles and Scandinavia in the early part of the last millennium.
I was sorry to not document the pattern making but, as can be figured, the upper is a single piece side-seam make by wrapping the foot, marking a rough outline of the plane where the upper meets the sole, cutting off the wrapping, and cutting to shape. Really, I’ll try to make record of this in the future but, for now, I suspect there are other tutorials out there. Besides sewing, the turning is definitely the toughest job as this was some very thick, tough leather.
9 thoughts on “Medieval Turnshoes”
You may want to take a look at Jason Hovatter (laughingcrowe.com) for a course in making a turnshoe.
Thanks! Will do.
Ah yes, I have his page bookmarked already. Thanks again.
I have taken 3 of his courses. He approaches the history and detail to make a quality shoe. I highly recommend taking the course at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
Thanks Fred. It’s good to get a first hand recommendation. Hopefully I can get up there sometime.
Beautiful, thanks for sharing.
Do you have printed directions on how to make these? I have wanted to try this forever and these are the best turnshoe I have seen yet
Sorry, no. There are many variables. Keep trying!
Sorry, no. There is information out there but it will take time and some failures to get the fit just right. Maybe look for a class?