Alaska Native culture

Making Beaded Slippers

Beaded slippers by Angela Gonzalez

I’ve been at it again. I have been beading and sewing like a madwoman for the past month! I don’t sell my slippers, but do make them as gifts for family and friends. I have enjoyed designing them, picking out colors.

I buy the slippers and sew the beadwork and fur trim. I went shopping on Black Friday specifically for slippers. It takes me approximately 2-7 days to finish a pair. I work full-time, so I  bead and sew in the evenings and weekends.

Beaded slippers by Angela Gonzalez

I donated a pair for an Alaska Native art auction, but have mostly been sewing for my nieces and friends. It is my new hobby and maybe an obsession. 🙂 I will likely slow down and after the holidays. It feels great to be making handmade gifts.

Beaded slippers by Angela Gonzalez

I usually ask what are people’s favorite colors to make it specifically for that person. My niece is a basketball player, so I made a basketball themed pair of slippers. Another person loves picking blueberries, so I made him a pair with that theme. Check out the latest slippers I have been beading in this Facebook album:  beaded slippers.

Over the years, my family has gifted me with moose skin hide, beaver fur, beads, thread and wax. I shop at local craft stores in Anchorage to get the supplies I need.

I have learned a lot about beading, sewing and working with hides and furs. I have made mistakes along the way, but learned how to fix them. I have learned fixing your mistakes and problem solving is a part of the process.

I shared some instructions and a video a couple years ago. How to Bead Moose Skin Slipper Tops:  http://athabascanwoman.com/?p=2348.

Overall, I’ve learned a lot and it has been fun! I may make glove tops to sew onto gloves for my nephews. That will be my next project. Happy Holidays!

Alaska Native culture

How to Bead Moose Skin Slipper Tops

These are the first pair of beaded slipper moose skin slipper tops I completed. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
These are the first pair of beaded slipper moose skin slipper tops I completed. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

I wanted to make some extra special gifts for my daughters for Christmas gifts this year. I ordered slippers from Land’s End and ‘indigenized’ them with beaded moose skin slipper tops.

My mother taught me how to do beadwork on tanned moose skin when I was a child. We also learned from Johnson O’Malley Indian Education sewing nights. I remember beading on felt to practice when I was in kindergarten.

I received beadwork supplies and moose skin from family and a memorial potlatch. My daughters picked out the colors of the slippers and beads. I finished the red slippers for my older daughter. Then, I started on the second pair after Christmas. I decided to make an instructional video and share it. I know if I was learning for the first time, a video like this could be very beneficial.

Here are the supplies you will need to make beaded moose skin slipper tops. Depending on your experience and level of expertise, you can get bigger or smaller beads to start with. You can also use other hides (leather) or felt. Depending on the thickness of the moose hide, you may need a razor to cut it (vs. scissors). It is a particularly thick skin, you might need pliers to pull the needle through it. 

Supplies list for making beaded moose skin slipper tops. Photos by Angela Gonzalez
Supplies list for making beaded moose skin slipper tops. Photos by Angela Gonzalez

Here is a step-by-step video of the process of making beaded moose skin slipper tops. The flower pattern used was from the Athabascan Beadwork Patterns, collected by the late Catherine Attla of Huslia, Alaska. You may also draw your own designs or Google a favorite design.

I hope you enjoyed the video and learned a few new tricks! My daughters love their new slippers.

I sewed beaded moose skin on Land's End Kids slippers. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
I sewed beaded moose skin on Land’s End Kids slippers. Photo by Angela Gonzalez