New Boots!

A place for pics and tutorials on making Soft Kit (clothing and accessories like buckles and cloak pins).

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Manveruon
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New Boots!

Postby Manveruon » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:45 am

As some of you know, I have been looking for a new pair of ranger boots for a while. I previously used two different pairs. The first pair I had made back in 2003 or so, which were modified from a pair of old work boots my step-dad gave me. These are obviously not very "period correct" in both style and construction, and furthermore they are painful to wear for long periods at a stretch because my step-dad has a very different gait and foot shape from me, so the soles and insoles were worn in a way that's basically incompatible with my anatomy. Ouch. The second pair I bought off a friend of mine who deals in the buying and reselling of screen-used movie costumes (he used to own the screen-used leather coat Tristan wore in the 2004 King Arthur movie with Clive Owen, and I actually got to wear it, which was pretty rad), and we know those boots came from the production of SOME Middle-Ages themed film, but we aren't sure which. I really dug these, but when I wore them to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival this past May they became completely water-logged (it rained a lot that weekend), and the soles both totally came off. Bummer.

For a while I had been toying with the idea of making my own boots, either from a period turnshoe pattern, or from a pattern of my own devising. In the end, I decided against this, because I know the project would have been a real test to my leatherworking skills, and when it comes to footwear I have learned not to screw around. Instead, I decided to buy a pair of existing boots from a reputable seller and modify them to my needs. I am happy to say that I just finished them two days ago, and the results are everything I had hoped for and more!

The stock boots I used for the basis of my modifications were the "13th Century Men's Boots" from Viking Leathercrafts ( http://www.vikingleathercrafts.com/13th ... boots.html ) with an added vibram sole for better traction and longevity. They accidentally sent me the wrong pair at first, which irritated me somewhat, but they were very apologetic and fixed the mistake quickly. The second time around I got the right ones, and I must say that they are beautiful, well made, and they look extremely durable. After now having carefully examined two of their boot styles I would highly recommend purchasing any of their products (with the caveat that I have yet to see how well these boots hold up over prolonged use).

I nearly forgot to take any pictures to document my project, but here are the first two, after some slight modification (re-shaping the tongue slightly), but still being mostly stock:

http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... a.jpg.html

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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 1.jpg.html

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At this point I started the heavier modifications. First I re-dyed the natural colored boots with some Eco Flo "antique black" gel dye. Even though it says "antique black," it's actually more of a really, really, really dark brown. Incidentally, it's the same color I used for my quiver. This actually went on better than I expected, since the boots appeared to already have some kind of finish on them, despite the "natural" look.

After dying the boots themselves I used some really nice milled oak-tan leather from Tandy, which I had left over from another project, to add longer leg-shafts and tongues. This was also dyed with the same. I decided to use a heavy synthetic braided thread over artificial sinew or waxed linen because I feel it will be a little longer lived, and I used a light color intentionally so that it would contrast nicely with the dark leather:

http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 4.jpg.html

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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 0.jpg.html

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Once the new shafts and tongues were on, I replaced the top straps/ties from the original boots with 1/2" wide leather straps I made from the same material as the new uppers, and after cutting the lacing holes a bit wider to accommodate, added them to the boots to complete the package. The last thing I did was to cut two little strips of soft leather scrap and glue them to the inside of the ankle seam in order to strengthen it, and to ensure that the two ends of the leather would butt up against each other properly without slipping around.

Here are a ton of pictures of the finished boots from different angles, just to give you an idea of what they look like when I'm wearing them. I made the shafts tall enough that, if I wanted, I could turn them down at the tops as well (though I would need to dye the interiors to make this look better):

http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 7.jpg.html
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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... c.jpg.html
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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 6.jpg.html
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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 4.jpg.html
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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 3.jpg.html
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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... 6.jpg.html
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http://s39.photobucket.com/user/scyfygy ... b.jpg.html
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Overall, the process went really smoothly, and was surprisingly easy. I'm ridiculously glad I went with this method instead of making boots from scratch though, because I think that would have been a nightmare. The only thing I may still do to these (other than dying the insides to turn them over at the top) is to cut out some lacing slits up the shafts so as to hold the leather straps in place throughout the day, since I'm afraid they may decide to slip down on me over time.

My only real regret with these boots themselves is that the toe is so pointy. I am NOT a fan of pointy-toed boots, even if they are period for what I do (13th century English, when I'm not doing ranger stuff). If I ever do another project like this I will likely ask to see if Viking Leathercrafts would consider making a pair of these with a slightly more rounded toe. Still, I think the overall effect came out basically EXACTLY like I wanted it to. They look extremely medieval, as well as quite suited to ranger use, and I'm thrilled!
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Mirimaran
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Mirimaran » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:47 am

I love what you have done there! :) They look great and I can't wait for a review after you spend a day in them, it looks like a project! :)

Good job!

Ken
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Eric C
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Eric C » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:55 pm

Okay, here we go. My impressions as I read this and looked at the pics.
1. The pics of the original boots from Viking Leathercrafts : Meh, nice boots. They would work I suppose.
2. When you started working on the shafts: Hmm, this shows promise.
3. finished product: HEY!!! That turned out really nice!!!

I think you took a good, workable "canvas," so to speak and did a wonderful job with it. Like Ken, I can't wait to see your review of them later. Fine job!

Oh, and yes, footwear can keep you in the game, or take you out very quickly with life-long effects.
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Sindara » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:21 pm

I've been trying to think of how to 'boot' Turnip and myself. I love the way your boots turned out Manveroun! Maybe I CAN do this!
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Manveruon
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Manveruon » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:05 pm

Thanks guys! I'm still quite excited about the project! They came out basically exactly like I wanted them, and I can safely say that nobody out there has boots quite like mine now. I think they've got real character, and will compliment my kit and costume extremely well. Now I just need an opportunity to actually wear them somewhere. Maybe an upcoming SCA event - we'll see.

I do need to find a way to seal them, incidentally. This dye has an unfortunate tendency to run when wet, and I'd like to find something to seal them really well to either eliminate this, or at least reduce it as much as humanly possible - also just to make them more durable and increase their lifespan. Does anyone have any suggestions for what's best?
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Cinead » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:57 pm

NICE!

Makes for an affordable boot that you can customize for your own liking!

Let me know the longevity, esp. if you are getting out off the manicured lawns and paths of the Ren Faires and head out into the damp and wild of the woods!
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Sindara » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:20 pm

Okay, I KNOW it's not period, but when I was on the Search and Rescue teams, I just coated my leather boots ('course, they were store made - not homemade/home-dyed) with plain ol' Vaseline. It waterproofed them, kept the leather supple - those boots lasted for YEARS (finally just plain wore them out)! Some may argue about the modern-world petroleum product on the leather, but it worked. I was in every kind of weather, often for days; and as I was the only EMT on the squad at that time, I was out on every call. I'm sure that others Rangers may have better ideas for your boots - but thought I'd throw that out.
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Re: New Boots!

Postby mcapanelli » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:20 am

The boots came out awesome dude. You really outdid yourself. Great job man.
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Greg
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Greg » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:13 am

Bravo. Can't wait to see them with the rest of your gear!
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Greg » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:08 pm

Did a little digging for you. Andy used Pecards leather treatment on his boots, and claimed that they were as waterproof as his military-issue gore-tex boots. I'd take that as gospel.



I've looked at these a little more, and thought about it for a night or so, waffling between using this as a basis for my own boot replacement, which I'm still pacing around about, or simply taking a few leaves out of your book, so to speak. I'd considered modifying a pair of these to accept laces and extend the uppers, but I really don't like the pebbly texture. I don't think it'd be right to copy you outright, but frankly, you made that looks SO stinking simple, it would save so many headaches...

I just don't know. Grrr.
Last edited by Greg on Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Straelbora » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:14 pm

Wow, those turned out great. The scariest part of trying to make shoes or boots was solved- getting a well-made sole and shoe portion. Not only do they look great, but you've shown some great ingenuity in putting them together.
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Manveruon
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Manveruon » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:47 pm

Thanks again everybody!

I'll definitely have to check out Pecard's. Not sure if I should do something more to set the dye before I totally weather-proof them, but either way that looks promising.

And Greg, copy away my friend! The whole reason I wanted to share my this process in such great detail was to help other people do the same if they wish, and I would be honored if you chose to take a similar route. Seriously, just as you say, it really IS stinking simple, and not even that time consuming, as major leather projects go. Straelbora was absolutely correct in saying that the scariest part of making shoes is making the actual "foot" part (at least for me), so I was really pleased to let someone else - someone with experience - take that part for me. Then I just stepped in and did all the fun stuff, haha.

I must say that I really like the 13th Century Men's Boots, but the pair you mentioned above, Greg, look absolutely fine for this sort of project as well. I'm totally confident you could make the necessary modifications without any problems whatsoever. The only thing is, they're a tad more expensive.

Oh, and as for the pebbly texture, it seems all of their boots actually have this. It's not my favorite thing in the world, and when I was working on these, I was really concerned that the uppers I was making would contrast harshly with the texture of the stock boots, but as it turned out, it's barely noticeable in the final product. I think the key here is finding a leather to use for the new parts that has a nice texture to it, and will sort of blend a little with that of the stock boots. Tandy is now selling milled, un-dyed, veg-tan leather sides that are absolutely beautiful, and very soft. This is what I used, and it matched nearly perfectly. They're a bit on the pricey side, but you can use one of them for many different projects, and in my case I justified the expense by selling a couple of those projects in my Etsy shop, thereby allowing the leather to pay for itself.

Anyway, I hope that helps! Definitely let me know if you decide to go this route! There are a lot of possible variations on it too, so it would be neat to see how other people interpret it and what they do with their own pair.
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Greg
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Greg » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:26 pm

I've got a rough idea on my potential upper sketched out. I'm waiting on an email from Viking Leathercrafts to see if they'll make an accommodation for me...I'll let you know how that goes. If they're willing to go along with my request, I'll be doing a version of this. My current boots are custom uppers stitched onto Armstreet Boot lowers. They've held up well over the years, and the lowers looked good, but like you said, the texture of the stock boots and the upper material I used didn't match at ALL, and I think they're hideous now.

How are they wearing thus far? I assume you've worn them a bit...how's it feel on your feet? And how are the vibram soles...are they patterned at all (ie. would they leave a clearly modern imprint in mud, like a zigzag or something?)
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Manveruon
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Manveruon » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:52 am

Hmmmm... that's fair. I don't seem to recall what your current boots look like. Can you share a quick photo, just for my curiosity's sake?

So far I haven't actually had a chance to wear them anywhere outside the house. inside they're comfy, but the insoles do make them a tad snug. However, I'm sure they'll break in over time. As for the vibram, it's definitely got a modern pattern. It's not like a modern lugged sole or anything, but it is sort of "ribbed" I guess. And the heel (which is a separate piece) has a sort of "checked" pattern. It's not extremely prominent, but it's enough to make your footprint look rather un-authentic.
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Greg
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Re: New Boots!

Postby Greg » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:44 pm

The vibram sole print is a small matter...I was just curious.

Here's what I currently have, photo taken on their first day out. They have since atrophied, and begun to look worse, etc. Nothing ever as classy and legitimate looking as what you're wearing now. Definitely in need of replacement.


I heard back from Viking Leathercrafts...they sub-contract their shoe orders out to another company, based in Pakistan, who makes them in bulk orders. Solid construction and all that good stuff, but it makes them unable to accommodate customized requests. I don't know if they'd be able to round off the toes of those boots as a result...they certainly weren't able to fulfill my request of using my leather to make a pair.

I may still wind up ordering a pair direct from VL...it's just too easy to pass up on for too good a result. I think my current material would match those better than the two materials used in my last pair.
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