Making Ghillies

topic posted Tue, April 24, 2007 - 2:34 PM by  Amy
I know, it's not technically tribal, but you all are so crafty, I was hoping you could help me out. Anyone know of a pattern/instructions to make ghillies? I have no idea if it's possible for me to do, but I'd like to learn more.
posted by:
offline Amy
  • Re: Making Ghillies

    Tue, April 24, 2007 - 3:42 PM
    I think it is copywrited... I remember a discussion on this once before, either in this tribe or in the Crafty Vixen tribe. You might try a search.
  • Re: Making Ghillies

    Tue, April 24, 2007 - 6:15 PM
    I had some lovely one when I did highland dancing, and my sister-in-law appropriated them for SCA wear... any Scottish dance supplier would sell the basic black ones.
  • Re: Making Ghillies

    Tue, April 24, 2007 - 8:10 PM
    They look prety simple. You'd have to trace your foot accurately, and then find the point where the center knot would be, a little behind (looks like 3/4"?) the web between your 2nd & 3rd toes. Using that point as the center of a circle and a popsicle stick or something, you'd have to draw a bunch of lines radiating outward from there to a little over double the distance to the edge of the foot outline.

    Basically, you're going to be cutting a bunch of little strips radiating from the edge of the foot outline, to the outside edge of the shape you just drew with the popsicle stick. You punch a hole about 1/4" from the end of each strip, and use some sort of lacing to run through each hole, drawing it all back up into a rosette over your instep. Then the lacing will go through the tabs that hold the heels, but I haven't thought out how one would construct that part. Looks like a box constructed with two seams at the back of the heel probably, and then everything cemented to a sole and another layer for a heel.

    Here are some places that sell them, with fairly clear pictures.

    I'd get something like oilcloth to experiment with patterns, since ther'd probably be plenty of mistakes until you draft one that works- you don't want to be ruining a bunch of skins.
    • Re: Making Ghillies

      Tue, April 24, 2007 - 11:54 PM
      Margaret's got it in one. The only trick is getting that slant around the base of the pinky toe, and the tilt of the heel piece. I used really soft upholstery vinyl for my prototypes. Took may 3 tests, and only that cause I was picky about the fit.

      See, we could post pictures of the patterns we've made, but the lady at mideval moccasins is REALLY determined that her copyright extends to any type of pattern drawing made any way by anyone, of that whole kind of shoe, as well as any shoe like it, so be careful. If you make them, be careful about how you post the pictures, or pictures of your pattern. She'll send you nasty emails and have her lawyer send you letters.

      Now, technically, the guy at the copyright office said what was in the file was a copy of her catalog, 9so don't make copies of her catalog, or else!) and she insists to her lawyer that she sent in a copy of her pattern drawing, but copyright law only applies if we were to get a copy of THAT drawing, and made copies to sell. If you draw your own, it's called reverse engineering, and the lawyer giving classes on copyright laws told me that anyone can go get a thing, take it apart, make a copy of how it's made, and make them, and even sell them, and not violate the law. So had I sent a picture of my choli pattern in to register copyrights, and you got hold of that picture, you couldn't sell copies of it, but... people who buy an outfit (like my cholis, yes it's happened, no it's not worth suing) and take it apart to make exact duplicates, rather than come up with their own stuff. And if they can afford to get the made in mass quantities, they can put a small businessperson who did the work of creating it out of business...we had a big discussion about it here a while back.

      HOWEVER - that is NOT the same as seeing something, saying "that shouldn't be that hard" and making one for yourself, and as we've seen, lots of people do that and sell the results as well.

      These really are NOT that hard, and as long as you make a couple test shoes to tweak your pattern, you should be fine. You can draw them out, cut them and sew up the heel in about an hour.
      And no, I can't send you a picture of my pattern, how dare you ask, even if you PM me here on tribe, and I will not send you measurements or tips on how its' done, so don't send me any addresses where I can send them to you as a .jpg, really, and really really don't tell me your shoe size to check if you can wear mine, or ask me for suggestions, cause i respect her and her lawyer too much and would never help anyone after they were so nice to me... or... what else can you NOT do... hmm... definitely don't try it yourself and don't... hmm... take anything here seriously?
      I have got TOO much time to waste, can ya tell?
      • Re: Making Ghillies

        Tue, April 24, 2007 - 11:57 PM
        Oh! ShoeGoo is supposed to be good for soles, if you need traction, and cheap, and flexible, as well as Sole In A Jar (Google that) which you just spread on like layers of thin peanut butter to the bottom of your shoe.
  • Re: Making Ghillies

    Wed, April 25, 2007 - 5:03 AM
    Well, in the SCA making ghillies is pretty common. I've never done it, but I'm sure if you search through all the on-line SCA A&S stuff you'll find tons of information on it. I know lots of folks who have done it and they all said it was pretty easy.

    There is an SCA tribe or several, I believe. So you might try asking there.

    Good Luck,
    Halleyah :)
    • Re: Making Ghillies

      Wed, April 25, 2007 - 6:04 AM
      Ahh, but not like those, cause she keeps a close watch, and sends them all notices if she gets wind of it.

      "It has been brought to our attention that the ghillie-brogue pattern we had acquired free through the historical re-enactment community, and was formerly posted here, may have been copied from a copyrighted design owned, and sold by In order to honor their 1985 copyright we have removed the pattern from this site."

      She's very thorough. Try a google for 'ghillie pattern'.

      This is the best you'll find, and it's nowhere near as pretty, and I've never seen a dancer wear them.

      Anyone reading this would wonder 'then how can she claim to have copyrighted a 'design' if "Designs for useful articles, such as vehicular bodies, ***wearing apparel***, household appliances, and the like are not protected by copyright. " but all she has to have is money to drag you to court when you don't. Don't mind me - just tired of hearing 'mine mine mine' when no-one else seems to be able to get that same protection.
      • Re: Making Ghillies

        Wed, April 25, 2007 - 8:58 AM
        You can copyright a specific pattern drawing (same as any other artistic drawing) but you cannot copyright the "look" or the functionality of clothing. The fashion knockoffs you see in Walmart and similar stores are perfectly legal.

        If you make your own pattern and happen to recreate the exact look of Medieval Moccasins' ghillie and wear them or sell them, they can do nothing. If you take their pattern drawing and post copies of their pattern drawing on your website causing them to lose sales of their pattern drawing because people can get it from you for free, they can invoke the copyright laws against you.

        It may take a lawyer to understand the difference. ;-)
        • Re: Making Ghillies

          Wed, April 25, 2007 - 9:06 AM
          Yup, that's my understanding (though I don't start Intellectual Property till the fall). Clothing is a useful item, so it has no protection.
        • Re: Making Ghillies

          Wed, April 25, 2007 - 9:09 AM
          After I posted, I checked out the website but did not see any indication that they sell patterns. In that case, their proprietary pattern might better fall under the category of "trade secret." In a nutshell, when a company's employees steal or disclose "trade secrets" then the company can take legal action to prohibit further disclosures or use of those trade secrets. A little bit different from copyright per se, but again it may take a lawyer to understand the difference.
          • Re: Making Ghillies

            Wed, April 25, 2007 - 9:38 AM
            An invention has to have a degree of secrecy to qualify as a trade secret - and the product is sold, it's out there, a rosette-style shoe isn't a trade secret. (I had shoes like that 20 years ago in Germany, and I can buy them at Pennsic, without signing any confidentiality agreement.) Buying the product without any restrictions on tracing the shoe to make a pattern and then reverse engineering it is absolutely legal under trade secret law: that activity does not qualify as misappropriation, and the other party is free to disclose the legally obtained information. I'd suspect that the vendor is using scare tactics more than anything.

            Similar example: if I buy a bottle of Coca Cola and through some stroke of genius can reverse engineer the recipe just from the purchased product, I can publish that recipe. And, I can sell the exact copy of the beverage in that case. But, I can't call it Coca Cola, that name is protected as a trademark.
            • Re: Making Ghillies

              Wed, April 25, 2007 - 11:19 AM
              "the product is sold, it's out there, a rosette-style shoe isn't a trade secret. "

              I recently found some commercially made silver leather ones on super markdown at a local Shoe Pavillion, last pair for $10! The only difference being they were held on with round elastic instead of the wrap-and-tied leather thongs.
            • Re: Making Ghillies

              Wed, April 25, 2007 - 5:06 PM
              You're right, of course. I guess it is just pure intimidation then, to increase the potential market demand. (Hmm, sounds like Microsoft.)
      • Re: Making Ghillies

        Wed, April 25, 2007 - 11:06 AM
        It seems odd to me that someone can stop the free exchange of information regarding the cut and construction of a thousand year old garment design. I mean, I see how maybe someone's very specific alterations and adaptations would be intellectual property, People Have Worn Ghillies For Hundreds Of Years! They were not the invention of a modern businesswoman.

        But then, if someone can "own" the DNA of a wind-pollonated plant . . . .okay, I need to go away and think happy thoughts.
        • Re: Making Ghillies

          Thu, April 26, 2007 - 12:15 AM
          "I recently found some commercially made silver leather ones on super markdown at a local Shoe Pavillion, last pair for $10! "
          Yeah, I heard about those AFTER they were all gone. Bugger bugger bugger...

          Her thing is that she created "that look" with the cut out toe strips rather than just gathered leather. (man, can you imagine the work it took just thinking of cutting out around the toes of a regular ghillies pattern? I'm surprised she survived.) Somehow that makes it 'original' and cancels all copyright laws the rest of us have to deal with. and nowadays, all anyone has to do is contact web owner X, or ebay, or tribe, or youtube, or whoever, and say "That's mine! I have a copyright! I'll sue you!" and pretty much everyone caves.
          I had made one pair of these stupid shoes, cause I wanted a pair, and didn't like how the prototype looked, but everyone else loved them, so I listed them on ebay. She yelled and had them take it down, and ebay will NOT do jack to view the facts - they just don't want the trouble themselves, and no matter what the law may actually say, her lawyer insists that she does have it, and will threaten all kinds of nasty stuff.

          Considering my nature, and the fact that my web page is FULL of all kinds of other cool stuff I made FROM MY FROM SCRATCH PATTERNS, it's not like I was looking to mass produce these, ya know? If she hadn't said anything, I'd have made mine, maybe a pair for my hubby and my kid each, and pretty much forgotten about them. They aren't THAT amazing... and I never would have bought a pair at her price, nor would anyone who bought a pair I made. Just like Melos... you either will or won't and if you can make them, you will. Melo just has the class to say 'man, that's so uncool' and move on to the next great thing she can do. (Then again, she's not limited herself to one pattern for the last 20 years - she's not a one trick pony like the ghillies maker. Ability to create makes you less afraid of competition.)

          If I had the money for that kind of legislation, I'd have called her on it and after I won, I'd have posted my patterns picture on my server for everyone to get free, just for all the hassle she gave me. (And anyone else who crossed her path.) If anyone were to make/get a pattern like that and post it that wasn't worried about the court battle, I would love to help them make the pattern from scratch. So there. ha!
          • Re: Making Ghillies

            Sun, June 17, 2007 - 8:50 AM
            wow, you all sound like you would rather steal someone elses idiea than use your head and come up with something on your own. I am thinking this is NOT the place I want to be.
            • Re: Making Ghillies

              Sun, June 17, 2007 - 11:52 AM
              You're missing the point. The shoes are *not* her idea. It's a 1000 year old shoe design. And they're not trying to steal her pattern, they're discussing their own, which are likely somewhat similar, because IT'S A THOUSAND YEAR OLD SHOE DESIGN.
              • Re: Making Ghillies

                Sun, June 17, 2007 - 2:02 PM
                wow, Juni, you sound like an alt! Just joined, no friends, no pics, only belong to this one tribe to make this one post. No, this probably isn't where you want to be. We find trolling alternative personas insulting and offensive.
                • Unsu...

                  Re: Making Ghillies

                  Sun, June 17, 2007 - 7:29 PM
                  Am i the only person who thought carnations? as in gillie flowers? Ooph, I'm out-of-date.
                  So what the crap are gillies if not camo and not flowers?
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Making Ghillies

                    Sun, June 17, 2007 - 11:27 PM
                    An early period shoe, scotch irish, "with laces along the instep and no tongue" usually one piece.
                    Imagine a peice of leather that wraps up around the toes with a drawstring to pull it snug. The romans had some shoes that were similar, but most people are more familiar with the word ghillie, which is being used by a lot of modern sellers. Capezio makes some lovely ones, but they aren't very much like the antique version.
                    • Unsu...

                      Re: Making Ghillies

                      Mon, June 18, 2007 - 4:47 PM
                      Those shoes from that moccassin store advertised in Renfaire mags. Now I get it. There's a pattern for those in a children's book at my library!
                      • Re: Making Ghillies

                        Mon, June 18, 2007 - 10:56 PM
                        Exactly. It's a historical shoe, with so many variations on the pattern your head would spin. But some people need to insist that they invented the wheel.
                        I've about decided the hassle of getting the heel right in a solid peice shoe is greater than the pleasure of the finished shoe, and there's no toe space to decorate. A modified slipper is just as comfortable, and I can put some tribal decoration on it to match my costume. Just as easy, spend about half an hour sewing bias tape around the edge to finish it, and it's a soft comfy shoe that is much prettier. In case anyone was wishing they could make shoes - it's REALLY easy.
                        • Re: Making Ghillies

                          Tue, June 19, 2007 - 9:19 AM
                          So does this mean you're going to add slipper making to your repertoire?

                          Because, you know... I need some shoes for dancing. My feet are too wide/thick for ballet slippers, and their chunkiness makes spinning less than thrilling. I would LOVE to have a slipper type shoe to wear so that I could actually spin on carpet AND the slickery floors.
                          • Re: Making Ghillies

                            Wed, June 20, 2007 - 7:10 AM
                            I have my pattern, in my size, and I've fiddled around, but please remember, I'm HORRIBLY lazy. (Or overworked... I'll decide which later.) I have done a pair or two custom, but I'm booked for the rest of this month. And the first couple are fun, then it's work... but if I was asked real nice like, with kissing up and ice cream, I might be tempted into posting a scan of my pattern once my vacation is over next week. They really aren't that hard. As long as you keep the peices from twisting around so the toe of one peice doesn't end up at the side of the other, it's really just sewing a rounded thing to a rounded thing. And I put elastic across the instep. I used denim for the sole, and upholstry velvet for the top, and put bias tape around the edges to make it look nice.

                            Actually, try this - trace your foot on paper. Then smooth out the front a bit. Copy the front half onto another peice of paper, and split it down the middle. Then spread it out over the top of your foot and tape it so it stays however far apart it lays. Then draw where you'd want the top to lay across the top of your foot. The back is usually a mostly straight peice that's as wide as you want the back to come up on your heel, and as long as you want it to come around on either side.

                            Again, like cholis and everything else, youll want to make a test run in something cheap and ugly, and adjust your pattern from there. But if you get one you REALLY like, you can put Sole In a Jar on the bottom (it spreads like peanut butter) and you have a rubberized sole on your perfect shoe. Then decorate it, of course. I actualy put tassel trim and mirrors on a pair for someone.

                            I'm outie. Today starts my vacation, and I'm pooped. Have to pack for an event tomorrow... SO not ready.
            • Re: Making Ghillies

              Wed, August 27, 2008 - 5:58 PM
              Well don't be here then.
              The truth is the design has been around for thousands of years it is a traditional garment, so you are saying that any one who makes an item that is in the style of a traditional item has no imagination and is just copying others ideas? Hmmm what do you where when you dance then? did you truly invent every peice of clothing you make?
  • Re: Making Ghillies

    Mon, January 21, 2008 - 12:58 PM
    i know this is an old post, but i was running a search for making ghillies and ran across this. there is actually a commercial pattern out there ( i have it but haven't tried it) that makes a ghillie type boot . .actually there are two. McCall's M5130 makes boots of varying heights, i have not tried this pattern and know it will need tweaking so that's why i was looking for pointers from other people. There is also a simplicity pattern ( i have it but can't put my hands on it at this moment) that is a full peasant costume including a ghillie type low shoe. This one i tried YEARS ago and made a pair out of an old leather skirt from goodwill for my son to wear to Renn Faire. Also made some out of vinyl for the production of Romeo and Juliet they did at school. It also needs tweaking to get a really good fit, but is a great place to start and remarkably easy to do. thanks for all the pointers here on making . . .will come in handy when i start tweaking the patterns . . .too lazy and/or busy with the day job to start from scratch.
    • Re: Making Ghillies

      Tue, January 22, 2008 - 1:34 AM
      I have that - found it cheap somewhere and never tried it. I like that it also has a couple Minnitonka style moccosins, and that mid height boot.

      Figure, you take that ghillie shoe, and where it gathers up over the toe, you just cut it out between the gathers and make those more like fingers, and it's the same. And on the tall ones, cut in deeper between the tabs around the calf.

      Seriously, folks, it's really not that hard to make shoes and slippers.
      • Mo
        offline 12

        Re: Making Ghillies

        Tue, January 22, 2008 - 4:39 PM
        hmn. cobblery and trademark law in one thread. so much to learn... ;)
        i am TOO BUSY TO MAKE SHOES, but believe me i will follow y'all's links to good vendors.
        • Re: Making Ghillies

          Thu, January 24, 2008 - 2:53 AM
          Wow....What a thread!

          If you decide to buy rather than make, I recommend pedralta danceshoes. They took two years to get to market, having been tried and tested on many dancers. Soft, sturdy and comfortable and with worldwide shipping included in prices. It seems it's the materials that are hard to come by in Europe. We have managed to source the leather here and have them manufactured in Europe but it took a while.

      • Re: Making Ghillies

        Mon, January 28, 2008 - 2:17 PM
        thing is after i did that post i was trying to refer a friend to the pattern on the McCalls website and i don't think they are selling it anymore. couldn't find it in their online catalougue. but yeah, my thoughts exactly regarding the modifications . . . .. a pattern is just a jumping off place after all, lol.
  • Re: Making Ghillies

    Wed, August 27, 2008 - 11:23 AM
    Resurrecting this post: I've decided to study this topic for my law school substantial paper. Can y'all snd me the letters you received from this woman, claiming she can copryight these shoes?
    • Re: Making Ghillies

      Mon, September 1, 2008 - 9:45 AM
      Put up some instructions yourself and see what happens :)
      Seriously, though, this guy seems to have his act together, maybe he has had interactions with her:
      • Re: Making Ghillies

        Thu, September 25, 2008 - 12:28 PM all know that you can buy the scottish ghillies already premade from numerous dance sites. New York Dance Supply has them really inexpensive. I always wore gillies (moved on to Sketchers Mary Janes because of outdoor dancing). If you can buy them for under $30..why would you want to go through te trouble to make them?

        If you want the Renaissance Style Ghillies, E-bay has a lot of them that can be hand made for your size. But I found those to not hug your feet as much as the Scottish Ghillies do.

        Just my two cents..these are easier bought then made..

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