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Old 12-27-2001, 11:25 PM   #1
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Question What fabrics do you recommend?

Hi everyone, I was wondering what fabrics you use for your cloth dresses and the best type of ribbon to use? I'm hoping to spend the winter making a dress and wanted to get some hints from everyone here.

Thanks so much!
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Old 12-28-2001, 11:34 AM   #2
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Are you making a T-dress or a blouse and skirt combo? And what tribe?

First, research the traditions of the tribe that your outfit is to represent. Generally though, tradewool is the traditional fabric for skirts and for some dresses. Wool can be rather hot and hard to launder. For this reason, lighter fabrics have been adapted as the basis for skirts, like cotton blends and some knits. Whatever you choose should be a wrinkle-resistant material. The fabric should be heavy enough that you can't see your legs through it, LOL!

The T-dress can be made of wool but is often made of satin or taffeta. Cotton calico can also be used but this is not a first choice. Missouri River Patterns has a sewing pattern for the T-dress. Check the Links section.

Traditionally, dark colors were used for dresses and skirts (navy, black, sometimes red) but this rule no longer applies.

For the ribbonwork, taffeta is most common but nowadays you also see satin and other synthetic fabrics being used. There are some good discussions on ribbonwork in the Crafts section and in the archives for more info.
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Old 12-28-2001, 09:34 PM   #3
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Thanks Czechy, I'm Lakota and my husband is Mohawk so it will be a decision between the two. I like the T dress myself so that's what I'll make. The dress I'm going to make will not be for pow wow dancing (though I hope to find time to dance at some point). It will be more traditional for use in educational programs. I would love to make it with trade cloth but I have a horrible reaction to wool!!! Drives me crazy! A good friend of mine is a seamstress and she told me to go with chamois as it closely resembles the look and weight of wool but is washable and much more comfortable. Have you ever tried this type of fabric? I know my husband has a shirt made of it and I snag it all the time since it's so soft.

I've been trying to find photo's of Lakota and Mohawk cloth dresses to help me figure out what to put on it but havn't found any good close up photo's.

Thanks again!!!
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Old 12-30-2001, 04:29 AM   #4
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Mohawk is part of the Iroquois Heals...an large and long overdress over a wrap around skirt and leggings that tie above the knee....http://www.site.uottawa.ca/~kavanaug...ow/Powwow.html
Here is a good pic of an Iroquois dancer at a powwow. The tops are calico and the skirts are either broadcloth or velvet..depending on who is making it. Moccasins are made of one piece with a u-shaped vamp which is beaded and long sides ..both the vamp and the sides are usually covered with velvet and beaded.... well anyhow take a look and you will see what I mean.
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Old 12-30-2001, 12:00 PM   #5
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hey, Blackbear, I couldn't get that link to work...
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Old 12-30-2001, 03:32 PM   #6
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most of mine are calico, and tear easily(hence tear dress)
i helped my cousin do some dresses, but me personally am not a seamstress,
buti lvoe my dresses and they are cotton, haven't tried really any other material so i will read what everyone else has to say.
D
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Old 12-30-2001, 03:58 PM   #7
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Thanks so much Blackbear! The photo is incredible! I went ahead and picked up some of the chamois anyways at my local Joanne Fabrics. It was on clearance because of it being more of a winter fabric, only 3.49 a yard!! To me, it does look like wool but of course, no allergic problems. It's relatively heavy too so I think it will lay more like wool too.

I love all the help, thank you everyone. Please keep it coming! I love having so many ideas to choose from! I'm still hoping for some photo's of Sioux dresses too so I can choose, or better yet, make 2!

Your all the best!!!!!

Happy New Year!
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Old 12-31-2001, 07:20 PM   #8
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http://www.site.uottawa.ca/~kavanagh/Powwow/Powwow.html
Here is that link again..it should work this time...sorry all!
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Old 01-03-2002, 05:08 PM   #9
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Wonderful site

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Really enjoyed this site. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-03-2002, 07:06 PM   #10
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Heals the Wild, I somehow thought that you wanted to do a Southern Cloth ribbon outfit and my posting was based on that. Sorry 'bout that.

If you decide to do an Iroquois outfit, I can copy for you some articles that were done for Muzzleloader Magazine. The articles offer a detailed description of the different parts of the outfit with general drawings of patterns.

For a Lakota-style dress, trade wool is the classic material. The yoke is often decorated with dentalium shells, cowrie shells, coins or elks teeth.

I'll see if I can find some pictures of both of these styles.
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Old 01-03-2002, 09:53 PM   #11
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No apologies Czechy!!! I have so very much to learn and that is why I'm here. Everyone has been so helpful. I need to learn all the differences between the dances and tribes. I love hearing all the ideas that everyone has, it has helped greatly. I would love to see the photo's if you can find them. I've searched all over the web and havn't found too awful much as of yet. I am really hoping to be able to go to some pow wows this year and learn all I can. We are invited to one near us but we'll be bring our birds of prey to display and won't be able to dance.

My thanks to you for your help!:Thumbs
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Old 01-04-2002, 11:36 AM   #12
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Can anyone help me to find photos of Northern cloth lakota syle and not trade?
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Old 01-04-2002, 02:32 PM   #13
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Here's another picture of an Iroquois woman's outfit:

http://www.martinscrafts.com/TraditionalClothing.htm

For the Lakota dress, I'll have to scan it in.
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Old 01-04-2002, 02:55 PM   #14
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Oh, I'm bad!
I forgot that I made a Lakota style dress 10 years ago. Its navy wool tradecloth with buffalo nickels decorating the yoke. A very similar dress is in the Denver Art Museum but has Indianhead pennies instead of nickels. Shells and elks teeth are more common decorations than the coins but you get the idea at least. Anyway, the open sleeves and the dropped hem are features you will see on most Lakota cloth dresses.
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Old 01-04-2002, 07:38 PM   #15
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Thank you so very much Czechy!!! It is beautiful! I love the site with the iroquois clothing too. My husband has already let me know that he's waiting on me to make him his outfit, just like the one in the photo. Do you happen to know where I may find patterns for these? I have a pattern for the T-dress but don't know where to look for the others.

Thanks again!!!
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Old 01-05-2002, 03:39 AM   #16
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I don't know if there is anyplace that sells patterns for the Iroquois dress...but there is a book you can get from www.iroqrafts.com that is called Clothing of the Iroquois and how to make it. It is about 3.75 american (it is on the grand river rez in canada). I have it. I don't know how handy you are at making patterns, but imagine a ribbonshirt with the bottom long and flared and gathered above the breasts and that is your overdress. The skirt is a wrap around and usually the bottom front edge is cut rounded as well as the front slit opening of the leggings that tie above the knee. I have a pattern I made, but I am quite short and HEFTY (to be nice to myself) so I don't know what size you would want. Most people won't share thier patterns because not alot of people make them and they can make big bucks making them for people.
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Old 01-05-2002, 09:21 AM   #17
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Blackbear, thank you so much for that web site! What a great place with tons of information. I could go broke buying things from there!!! ha ha. I'm pretty good with my sewing machine, my mother made sure of that! I think I could probably make a pattern. I'm really short too!!! Only coming in at 5 foot 1ish. Wearing a ladies large though I'm working on making that smaller!!! (I think I've been working on it forever). I understand about not sharing patterns, though I would never have time to make more to sell anyways. I'll get the book you recommended and give it a try. I might have to call on you for pointers if you don't mind.

Have a great day today!!!
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Old 01-06-2002, 04:30 PM   #18
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Iroquis

Have you tried writing Whispering Winds? Years back they had good article on the outfit you are looking for. Sometimes they have extra copies left over or they pur them into booklets with others articles. There is also a material out called Trigger. (Found it in Joann's) I live in Florida and allergic to wool. It is a good sub for wool. Some men have to have the legging on a straight dance out fit lined. It can be used for the set itself or it will stand up to the wear and tear will as a lining:)
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Old 01-09-2002, 01:16 AM   #19
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Czechy, What a beautiful dress! I made my first cloth dress for dancing this past summer. It was a stright line traditional dress and I just used ribbon to decorate it. I plan to make a Lakota style dress sometime this year and seeing the pictures and reading the information about the traditional cloth dresses will help me decide just how I want to make it. Any help you can give is much appreciated.

Thank you
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Old 01-09-2002, 11:22 AM   #20
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I'll root around in my picture collection and see if I can find other Lakota style dresses.

In my years of sewing and beading, I've made all kinds of regalia. When I lived in Wisconsin, I had some contact with the Oneida community there and was inspired to make 2 Iroquois ladies outfits. I studied museum examples to help me make my own patterns. One of the overblouses I made is in the photo Gallery under Crafts>Miscellaneous. Its red calico with a black wool collar and cuffs and decorated with beadwork and silver brooches. It shows what Blackbear has described regarding the gathered yoke. You could make the collar and cuffs separate if you wanted to. Good luck!
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