How Do I Clean These Moccasins?
Your moccasins are made of a high quality top-grain-leather. They are designed to breathe, allowing moisture to escape. They also are designed to shed water, due to their thickness and the natural oils in the leather. When they are worn, your feet perspire, and they get dirty. They also get weathered by the sun, heat, rain, wind and dirt. Your feet give off toxins and salt as they perspire, which builds up in the leather, and with the heat and moisture of your feet, start the rotting process. If unattended, in time they will become dry and crack or split, usually in the toe box region. To get the longest and most comfortable wear out of these moccasins, they need to be clean, oiled, and free of the toxins and salt buildup. If maintained properly, they should give you 10 - 20 years of wear. I recommend washing them a least a couple times a year, if you wear them for any appreciable time throughout the year. If you wear them most every day, they will need more washings. If your feet perspire more than average, again, they will need more washings.
They are designed to be hand washable, inside and out. They can also be spot cleaned on the outside as well. Remove the insoles and completely submerge them in a tub of lukewarm soapy water. It is important to use a non detergent agent, such as Woolite or Ivory Soap. Once they are completely saturated, lightly scrub with a wash cloth. The most important area is to get the inside toe box area. The idea is to rid the dirt and dust, but mainly to remove the toxins and salts that permeate the leather from the inside out. They need to be rinsed well to remove all the soap and then air dried in a warm area out of direct sunlight. I recommend placing a broom handle in them and hanging them upside down. It will take about 3 days for them to dry completely. Another excellent method is to use a boot dryer, which provides a low heat.
A simpler method is the Washing Machine, which will do a better job most likely! Again using Woolite or a non-detergent soap, on gentle cycle, with warm water. Be aware that colors can run, and they should be washed separately from other articles of clothing. Remove the insoles and wash by hand. Drying is the same as when hand washing.
If you just want to clean a spot or get the dirt or dust off the exterior only, they can be wiped with a washcloth with water, no soap. Leather will darken and leave a ring around and moistened area once it dries. To avoid this, after washing the area in need, slightly dampen the whole exterior with the damp washcloth - just enough to slightly darken the leather. This technique can also be used if they are dry and have a spot ring. Go over the whole Moc with a damp cloth, once dry the spot ring will be gone.
Proper storage is very important. If they are placed in a bag or box after perspiring in them, especially if they are well oiled, they won't be able to breath or rid themselves of the moisture. This will cause them to mildew, and will destroy them in a very short time. So, don't throw them in the bottom of your closet, or stuff them somewhere in the garage etc. The best thing to do is hang them up to air dry in a cool-to-warm place, out of direct sunlight.
How do I oil these Moccasins?
When you first get the new Mocs, there is no need to do anything to them but break them in. See: “Lacing & Breaking In of Moccasins.” After a bit of use, they will loose a bit of their natural luster, especially in extreme weather conditions. They will need a bit of conditioning. If they are dirty and in need of washing, do that first, and wait till dry.
They should be clean and dry to start. Any good leather dressing that adds oils back into the leather will work. The oils in the dressing will darken the leather. Once dry, the natural color will still be slightly darkened. I do not recommend any product that has any silicone, such as Snow Seal. Silicone will seal the leather so that it will no longer breath, and will dry the leather and cause it to crack. I also don't recommend Saddle Soap, which is more of a cleaner than a conditioner. I sell a leather dressing which I have found to be unequaled by anything I have found on the market, it's called "Montana Pitch Blend" and can be purchased on the Order Page in the Accessories section. It is a unique blend of pine pitch, mink oil, and beeswax. Follow the leather dressing directions. Generally I recommend putting on a small amount and rubbing it in while wearing them till the oil soaks in well. You will want to avoid getting them dusty or dirty till the oils have been absorbed. If you get too much on, wait a while and wipe off the excess. Heating them will also help absorb the oils. Remember, they don't usually need much!
Montana Pitch Blend's directions are as follows: Apply with hand or soft cloth. Melt wax with hair dryer or place in warm area until dressing is absorbed. Repeat with second coat.
One more note about general moccasin care, when off your feet, store in an area where they can breath. If they are thrown in a closet after use, they will start to mold because of the moisture in them.
The “How To DVD’s & Manual" Apprentice Program”comes with 4 DVD’s with over 5 hours of video that takes you through the complete construction of a pair of kneehigh moccasins from the cast to the finished boot. It is comparable to an Apprentice Program, short of hands on training with a personal instructor. I instruct you in all aspects of the process as we go through each step. No step is excluded. All steps are well covered.
The steps in the process include: The Cast, Patterns, Leather Types, Tools & Materials, Cutting, Gluing & Sewing Leather, Soling, Buttons, and Finish Work.
In the “How To Manual” you will be able to read over the process, and more importantly, there are 60 photos of the moccasin making process to use as a visual guide while making your first few pair of boots. You will also have an extremely valuable Resource Guide in the back with Names, Addresses and Phone Numbers of Suppliers of all the needed Tools, Equipment, and Materials needed for completing the process, including leather, buttons, soles etc.
If you have ever wanted to make your own Moccasins/Boots, or go into business for yourself, you can with this "How To DVD’s & Manual" Apprentice Program. If you are willing to apply yourself to the instruction as presented in this video, in a short time you could be making some fine custom footwear for yourself and others.
I would not try to mislead you, making this style of custom boot is hard work! It is also very rewarding work. When I am able to make a pair of custom fitted boots for someone with hard to fit feet, their joy to finally have a pair of boots that are comfortable to wear, is my reward. I have been able to make a comfortable living at this trade as well, and plan to continue making boots well into my retirement years.
This video is not professionally produced, you are purchasing my expertise and training in boot making, not my skills in cinematography. You are also purchasing Ongoing Consultation Support via e-mail or phone.
The New Digitally Produced DVD’s are much easier to navigate through and review the chapters, making the How To Video an even greater value and apprenticeship tool.
Do I need Two Fittings?
This is fairly easy to determine when you compare the tracings you will make. You will be instructed to trace both feet on paper that when held up together to a light will reveal any differences in length or width in the sole of both feet. You are then instructed to cast the larger or longer foot. You will need to do casts of both feet if you choose to have two separate patterns made.
You may want to consider two fittings if: 1. There is more than a 1/3" (one standard shoe size) difference in length. 2. There is a difference in width in the toe box area or the heel.
You should have two fittings if: 1. You have differences in more than one area of either foot. 2. One foot is longer and the other is wider.
If a pair of boots is ordered using only one fitting for the final pattern and there is a major difference, such as noted above, there will be excess room in one or both boots in these areas. This will allow the foot to slide around and can cause discomfort or blistering. The additional cost is $30 and well worth it if needed. If there is only a slight difference in only one area of length or width, this is not needed. Some people choose to do this regardless, because they don't want any excess room in the smaller foot. The boots will be slightly different in shape as well, and some people choose to have only one cast because they want both boots to have the same shape. I can't make this choice for you, I can only give you my recommendations.
Lacing & Breaking In of Moccasins?
It is crucial that you lace moccasins right, and break them in correctly.
When you receive your new moccasins they are already laced properly. The lacing process always starts by pulling the lace from the top of each tab tightly (not pulling around the button), and wrapping it over and around the top of the button above it. The lace will cross over and form an "X" between each button and tab (not a ladder).
The process for tying the slip knot at the top is not too unlike that used on your regular shoes, but with only one lace! The drawing shows a simple slip knot. Start just like the example, pulling at the top of the tab and going over the top and around the button, then form a loop and tuck it behind and through the hole, pulling the loop tight up to the button.