Pattens for my 1470-90s dresses


Research and Inspiration

The reason to make a pair of pattens in a haste was that I do not own a pair of proper historic shoes. I realised one night I could probably, with some help, manage to make a pair of simple wooden pattens and wear them just with my hose. It would make me feel a lot better than by using modern shoes!

A nice collection of links for documentation of pattens can be seen here. Marc Carsons shoe site has a section on pattens. And there is a wonderful german site on pattens and shoes. It is from this drawing (from the german site) I decided to base my pattens! Although, without the hinge.



Construction and Materials

This first pair of pattens were made of alder wood. I did not make them by my self, but had good help from a collegue with a wood workshop and also a friend who had made a pair of pattens before. The main form was cut out with modern machines, but the final work was made with hand tools. A scrapbit of leather, approximately 3mm thick, was used for the upper parts. It was originaly cut out like the drawing above, but the leather broke and I had to improvise. I cut away the overlapping bits and made two lacing holes on either side and used a hemp cord to tie them up. Maybe not a proper way of closure, but at least I could use my fancy pattens.

The most important part I learned was to try out where the heel part and the front part should be cut away. This is most important for walking in the pattens. They should be easy to tip back and forth just moving your weight slightly. If they are correctly balanced you can walk in them as in any modern shoe.

We also cut a small hollow for the heel and the ball of the foot, which gives a bit more comfort!


Due to my weak ancles I realised I need to make a heel closure too. Also, using pattens with hose without shoes is more slippery than using pattens with shoes with a leather sole...


And when I someday manage to make myself a pair of proper long pointed shoes, I want these...

... made out of leather and cork. sounds nice and comfy! Aren't they PRETTY?!? (also from the German site above)


Myra ©2004