Resoling Custom Leather Boots

Today I’m going to go through how I resoled my custom Catskill Mountain Moccasins, and show you up-close pictures of their construction (because I was curious and I figured others might be, too). Catskill Mountain makes truly amazing footwear – they are custom shaped to your feet, and are incredibly comfortable.  To be clear: I did not make the shoes above (though I’m in the process of making a pair of boots for myself).  I just learned how to resole them after a shoe repair place in Ypsilanti completely botched the resoling.

These shoes have three layers on the sole.  First is the leather that is part of the actual turnshoe.  Second, there is a leather layer that is carefully stitched to the sole: the midsole. Last, a modern sole is glued to the midsole.  Somehow, when resoling, the Ypsilanti shoe repair place managed to cut all the stitching holding the midsole to the bottom of the shoe, which quickly came apart as I started to wear them.

Being a leatherworker, when I heard that a complete resoling by Catskill Mountain Moccasins (including re-stitching the midsole) would cost $227, I decided to do the work myself.  And let me tell you: $227 is definitely a very fair price for this amount of work.  It took a long time to do.

Above is a picture of the bottom of the shoe, once the modern sole and midsole are removed.  A picture of the midsole is below.

The edge of the shoe, with the broken stitching removed.  You can see how tight the stitching is on these, and the welt inside the seam.

With the soles removed, it’s easy to look around inside the shoe now.  Here’s a picture inside: if you’re familiar with shoe construction, you can see how it’s a turnshoe.  The leather was sewn right-sides together, with a welt in the seam (an extra piece of leather to make the seam stronger, so stitches won’t rip the leather), and then turned inside-out to move the seam to the inside of the shoe.

I made new midsoles out of veg-tanned leather.  It’s durable, stiff leather that will add structure to the bottom of the softer leather soles.

Holes were marked and punched to match the holes on the bottom of the shoes.

Then I painted them black.

Now, for the truly time-consuming part: I sewed the stiff veg-tanned leather to the bottom of the shoes.  This was particularly difficult in the toe region of the shoe, as it was hard to reach the holes.

I purchased modern soles from DIY Footwear, cut out the right shape, and glued them on with barge cement.

Adding modern soles to the shoes was really easy.  Here’s an Instructables on how to do so, if you want step-by-step instructions.

My shoes have soles again!

I’m so pleased to be able to wear my gorgeous Catskill Mountain Moccasins again.  I highly recommend them – their shoes are worth every penny.  If you have any questions about how to re-sole your shoes, feel free to ask!  It takes time, but saves you a lot of money on labor costs.  ~Kell

Author: Wynter

I'm a scientist from Ann Arbor, MI! Leatherworker. Sewist. Exuberant gardener. Board game addict. SCAdian. Huge nerd. :)

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  • Thanks! I'm very happy with the results. I get to do the same on the other pair soon – need to add patches to the toes, which are getting worn out, and to do so I need to remove the soles to wrap the patches underneath. Another adventure! Those need to be re-patched before I have to deal with wet grass at summer events and patches, as a hole is slowly growing in one of them.

  • Will I sell this particular pair? Nope! If you're interested in having a pair custom made to your feet, here are my thoughts:

    I am currently making my first pair of shoes for myself – hopefully will be a wonderful pair of sheepskin-lined winter leather boots! They are my first pair, and it would probably take me a long time to make a set for another person.

    My advice currently would be to order from Catskill Mountain Moccasins. They will custom make shoes to your feet, too, and they have years of practice. I just don't have the skill yet to match them. Their product would be better made, and also probably cheaper (or of similar price) to any pair that I would make (see again: my current lack of practice and knowledge in this department of leatherworking).

    If you are interested in paying a few hundred dollars for me to make you a pair of shoes, I would consider it and be honored. But I think you're better off going with Catskill for now.

    That said, if you want to spend money on quality artisanal leather goods, I'm currently working on a line of products for an online shop. They include items like:

    – leather and fur patchwork dice bags (

    – hand-stitched luxury leather and fur medieval hoods (

    – patchwork leather water bottle holders (

    And more! I am happy to custom-make any pieces. If you have another other custom leather projects, let me know.

  • I come from a google search for "DIY turnshoes". I had written a big ol' comment but it got deleted when i tried to submit it 🙁

    Basically, I am really excited to see your blog post here, and I appreciate the photos and details very much, as I am currently really into making shoes and I have to do some construction on some Bald Mountain Boots (same style as Catskill), and, well, thanks for taking the time to make a post about this!

    I am also going to try to make some boots of this style. I found a few instructions on the internet. I think my one concern was how to sole them, but your post has helped me feel more confident about that!

    Exclamation marks!!

    Have a good weekend 🙂


  • Gretta,

    Thanks for your wonderful comment! I'm glad this was helpful. I should have another post up on Thursday about repairing another pair of similar shoes, which you might find useful.

    Hope your weekend was great! I had two SCA events back to back, so that was nice. 🙂