On Canadian Ground - Stories of Footwear in Early Canada See more of the Virtual Museum of Canada
ExhibitionMemorable Shoes

KAMIKS OF THE INUIT
HUNTING SEAL & CARIBOU
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING OF SEAL SKIN & CARIBOU SKIN
PROTECTIVE LAYERS OF FOOTWEAR
MAKING KAMIKS
PATTERNS & STYLES
DECORATING KAMIKS
SEWING & DECORATING TECHNIQUES
MOCCASINS OF THE FIRST NATIONS
CHANGING STYLES - THE ROLE OF TRADE & VOYAGEURS
SHOES FOR A NEW LAND
SHOES MADE IN THE AGE OF THE CRAFTSMAN
CANADIAN FOOTWEAR IN THE AGE OF THE MACHINE
Tunnel Stitch
Diagram of tunnel stitch
Sewing and Decorating Techniques

Traditionally the Inuit used sinew from caribou and bone needles to sew together the parts of their kamik patterns. They acquired steel needles a few hundred years ago from trading posts. Today many women use waxed thread and dental floss, although these do not possess the desirable characteristics of natural sinew.

They make seams with a tunnel stitch to avoid puncturing holes to the outside of the boot. In addition, sinew swells when wet, making the boot waterproof.

"For caribou, seal, and other skins with the hair left on, I use overcast stitches. For shaved seal skin, I use a different stitch so water can’t leak through the holes made by the needle. The needle never goes all the way through both layers of skin."
Annie Okalik, Pangnirtung, 1985

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Needle, thimble and sinew
Needle, thimble and sinew
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