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  • Buckskin designs

    I have a couple of cloth dresses and have finally decided to put the time, effort and money into my first buckskin dress. I tried to buy one (don't yell at me, I have two small kids and finding time to cut all that fringe was a bit daunting! ) but everytime I almost made a deal with someone, it fell through. I gave up and figured that was a way of telling me to make my own and do my own beadwork.

    To make a long story short, I have only attended the smaller powwows where everything is kept really simple and not always traditional. What pieces do I need to make everything "proper." I am not enrolled in any tribe, but have Cherokee, Cheyenne and Powhatan (strange combination, huh?) that I know of and I'm sure there is some I don't know. The true knowledge of exactly which tribes has been lost with my family because none of them were registered. I mean no disrespect by this whatsoever just that I have no one to really teach me. I am not a cookie-cutter type person so I was thinking of buying the Missouri River pattern for a buckskin dress and then altering it to look how I like. Would this be acceptable?

    I know everyone says, "Ask an elder" but I have asked the ones that I know and feel comfortable with and all I get is, "Follow your heart and you'll know what to make, as long as you make it and it's respectful, you'll be ok." Grrrr......

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much.

  • #2
    Originally posted by cherokeemom06 View Post
    I have a couple of cloth dresses and have finally decided to put the time, effort and money into my first buckskin dress. I tried to buy one (don't yell at me, I have two small kids and finding time to cut all that fringe was a bit daunting! ) but everytime I almost made a deal with someone, it fell through. I gave up and figured that was a way of telling me to make my own and do my own beadwork.

    To make a long story short, I have only attended the smaller powwows where everything is kept really simple and not always traditional. What pieces do I need to make everything "proper." I am not enrolled in any tribe, but have Cherokee, Cheyenne and Powhatan (strange combination, huh?) that I know of and I'm sure there is some I don't know. The true knowledge of exactly which tribes has been lost with my family because none of them were registered. I mean no disrespect by this whatsoever just that I have no one to really teach me. I am not a cookie-cutter type person so I was thinking of buying the Missouri River pattern for a buckskin dress and then altering it to look how I like. Would this be acceptable?

    I know everyone says, "Ask an elder" but I have asked the ones that I know and feel comfortable with and all I get is, "Follow your heart and you'll know what to make, as long as you make it and it's respectful, you'll be ok." Grrrr......

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much.
    If you use the Missouri River patterns be warned that I've heard their hard to follow, but some people don't seem to have a problem following them. Another thing to try ask the people you were going to buy a dress from and see if they will draw out a pattern and give you some pointers on how to do it.
    Another thing to I've always been told that if you are doing southern that you only do applique beadwork and if your doing northern then you can fully bead the cape. Pieces you'll need is a purse, shawl, some women have paryer drags, and there are things hanging from the back of the belt, but I never asked what they were for, and of course your fan. I might be missing something but I'm not sure.
    To have you checked the forums there probable already threads that tell you how to go about making a buckskin dress. I hope this helps at least a littl bite.
    The look on a baby's face the first time they hear the drum is priceless.......

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    • #3
      Making a dress is a significant undertaking. Each nation has their own way of cutting a dress. And there can be significant differences between contemporary and traditional clothes. The Missouri River pattern for the southern dress shows how to make distinct tribal styles. As for northern, to my knowledge, there is no good pattern for any nation's northern buckskin dress.

      What I have been told is that among many people you have to be given the right to wear a buckskin dress. If you make a specific nation's you may well be asked who dressed you and gave you the right to wear their clothes.

      That said I would study very carefully what is considered acceptable attire for the circle before altering a pattern too much. Some folks -- I am not pointing a finger at you -- jump in with more imagination and hollyweird than knowledge. That is when the buckskin hits the fan.

      As for your outfit. Most ladies carry a shawl (some Crow ladies carry beaded robes instead of shawls). You'll need a purse, both to be properly dressed and for practical reasons. You'll need a belt and dragger. From which hangs a knife sheath, a strikes a light bag, an awl case and for some folks a wetstone case. You'll need mocs and leggings, or boots. There is a breast plate, hair ties, otter ties, and a back drop.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for all of your input. I've asked tons of questions around but thought I would get some more opinions considering one of the elders I talk to regularly is so traditional and simple, she thinks having hardly any accessories is too much (and I am quoting her!) "dog and pony show." She doesn't like much beadwork at all, so I feel a bit odd asking her about my buckskin and my plans for it.

        I know the dress will be an undertaking and don't plan on getting it done before sometime in 2009! I already have my shawl and beaded flat fan and beadwork (hair ties, back barrette, choker and earrings) and am in the process of having a knife made. I have my pouches for my cloth dress but just wanted to make sure there wasn't something I was missing. I currently have a tobacco pouch, strike-a-lite and awl case. I have my mocs already. I'm planning on ordering enough buckskin to do my pouches and everything to match my buckskin since my pouches are currently turquoise leather.

        I know not to jump in. I've studied and asked questions and probably driven the elders that I know crazy with questions. I wouldn't be altering the pattern much at all (if any) if there are different variations in there. I never want to offend anyone because I love my heritage and have always wanted to honor it. I've been attending powwows for years and watched, danced cloth for the last couple of years and am ready to get my buckskin done.

        Sorry my post is so long! Another question for you helpful ladies - I am rather tiny (only 5'3" and 118 lbs.) so the majority of native designs that are big and bold look a bit overwhelming on me. Any suggestions on how to make it look like it fits me?

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        • #5
          You say you respect your Heritage, which is great, but WHICH heritage are you respecting? Im just trying to clear about this. You named three different tribes, so you kind of have a few choices available to you. It could be possible to create a dress that is significant to YOU, considering your entire Native Heritage. Dont get to bogged down with "rules and regulations", and dont over think this whole thing. Its a dress....its a material thing. Only you can put significance on it that is truly important, not anyone else. So, in a sense, the elders you spoke with were absolutely correct. You should do what you feel is good for YOUR dress. Its not like you can be entirely "tribally accurate", unless you only follow one of tribes in your heritage. Good luck, and post pics along the way!
          Ipsica Waci
          Wicahpi Eyoyambya Olowan

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          • #6
            Thank you so much for your response! I guess I am trying to honor all of my heritage by honoring all the tribes. Since my heritage is so mixed, I don't feel right just honoring one tribe. I do have a tear dress that I love but I also have a ribbon dress (I know the simplicity pattern is horrible, but I altered it slightly by changing the sleeves a little and of course the ribbon is my own design) and a southern t-dress that has beaded appliques on the sleeves with an apron.

            I will post pics as I get working on the beadwork. I can't sew worth anything so my hubby makes all my dresses and I do the beadwork for the family. May I ask some opinions on my beadwork designs? The larger design is going to be on each of the sleeves (the one with the rose and feather) and the other one will be my hair ties, drop for my choker and back "rosettes" (even though it's an octagon). The long design is the drop for my belt. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. Of course, they will all be cut out along the edges.

            Comment


            • #7
              OK, here I am, ready to open my mouth and probably insert my foot, but I don't think a simple buckskin dress or top and skirt (which I prefer) is going to offend anyone. What it comes down to is that you are honoring YOUR elders by getting back into the circle. Many Native legends come from vision dreams that brought tribal changes, which then became traditions. What I'm saying, girl, like the elders you've already spoken to, is follow your heart.
              I sell fancy girls/ladies which I sell on ebay, but I've made everything for the kids I work with. What I do is from the heart. If you would like to email me personally at [email protected] I can draw out some simple patterns with instructions for you to follow or actually make & send some patterns to you (no charge).
              Cutting into an expensive piece of leather can be daunting, just be prepared before you do and remember it's easier to trim it down smaller than to figure out how to make it bigger once it's cut.
              Cutie's mom, Maggie Littlejohn

              Comment


              • #8
                Awww, dancinggirl, you're a sweetheart! I may just have to e-mail you. I just realized I spoke to your mother about trading some cedar boxes and things for a fancy shawl for my little one. I've seen your work on ebay and it's gorgeous. I really can't sew worth anything but I love the beading and my fiancee does all of my dresses and his stuff but he can't do cloth applique to save his life.

                I'm not sure why the pics didn't attach but we'll try this again. The more elaborate design is for my sleeves, the other octagon is for my back pieces, my hair ties, my drop for my choker and my barrette. The long piece is my belt drop. Give me some opinions please...

                Thanks again for all of your support!
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am Maggie, dancingirl's mom. I forgot my password & didn't want to mess with it so logged on hers! Thanks again for the compliment. I do try hard to make outfits so they'll fit right & look good so the little ones are proud & comfortable.
                  I think the beadwork designs are beautiful and definitely unique. Most people would put butterflies, or like one of mine, hummingbirds, with flowers. The dragonflies will be a nice change.
                  I never wear dresses, always skirt & top, that way I can change up easily, but yeah, send some measurements & I can make up a tradish pattern for you.
                  You'll have to let me know also when you are ready to trade the cedar box (!!!) for the little fancy, colors, designs & such. Maggie

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                  • #10
                    Maggie, both the dragonfly and the rose/feather designs are very special to me. My grandmother loved pink roses so the rose is for her but my father always bought be light purple roses for valentine's day so I guess it's for both of them. My grandmother passed away a few months ago and I immediately made a dress to honor her (my pink southern t-dress with an apron) and it's almost done. I'm doing a complete set of beadwork to go with it with hummingbirds and pink roses. I have the purple rose and feather tattooed on my ankle and a pink and purple dragonfly on my other ankle.

                    I've always loved dragonflies for some reason. It just made sense to incorporate them into my most treasured dress. I'm a simple girl (hence the white with bright colors).

                    I like the idea of a buckskin skirt with a cloth tank top attached with a top/cape to go over it so it looks like a full dress but much cooler. Plus I can make cloth tops to match with it.
                    E-mail me and we'll talk more about the cedar box trade. What size would you like it and would you like it to have drawers and such? Mine is three levels with the top opening, two smaller drawers in the second and a large drawer in the bottom. It's great because all of our jewelry fits in there, my fan and feathers, my leggings and my smudge pot with sage.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Finally got started

                      Ok I officially have the first piece of beadwork sort of completed to go with my buckskin.

                      Drum roll....I actually finished a hair tie (except the fire polish and hairpipe bone bead dangles) Sorry for the crappy coloring in the pic. I took it with my computer.

                      I've almost got my earrings done too.

                      Any comments?
                      Attached Files

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have to agree with your elder, do what your heart tells you. I think that keeping it simple is the best thing that you can do since you have several tribes in your heritage.

                        I do love your bead work that you have planned and the piece that you posted is great. These mean a great deal to you and that is what is most important. Be an original!!!

                        My buskskin is very simple, no bells, no jingles, no cones, no beadwork, just appliqued leaves on the yoke. My cloth regalia is also very simple and unadorned. I do have my pouches and my knife and case that are on my belt. All very plain and very few beads. This is a personal choice for me, I do not feel led to bead everything that I have. I feel more comfortable staying simple, as did my Grandmothers. So I guess what I am gettting at is pray and meditate and what is right for you will come to you.
                        Thankful for the blessing from the Creator in my life!!!!

                        Life should not be measured by the number of things that we aquire on our journey but by the number of lives that we touch along that road.

                        I am a bridge on the red path between my ancestors and the future. I am a bridge between my white heritage and my native heritage. A bridge joins two sides together and provides a way to move on..... A.K. O'Pry-Reynolds

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cherokeemom06 View Post
                          Awww, dancinggirl, you're a sweetheart! I may just have to e-mail you. I just realized I spoke to your mother about trading some cedar boxes and things for a fancy shawl for my little one. I've seen your work on ebay and it's gorgeous. I really can't sew worth anything but I love the beading and my fiancee does all of my dresses and his stuff but he can't do cloth applique to save his life.

                          I'm not sure why the pics didn't attach but we'll try this again. The more elaborate design is for my sleeves, the other octagon is for my back pieces, my hair ties, my drop for my choker and my barrette. The long piece is my belt drop. Give me some opinions please...

                          Thanks again for all of your support!
                          Those are great designs, would be ok for a tattoo as well, I hope you don't mind me saying so either

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks! My tats are very special to me as each one means something personal and none are just for the sake of having a tattoo. I'll upload more pics as I get them done.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wanna know how you made you designs? did you use a comeputer? looks cool. And also where on ebay is teh beadwork mentioned? I have a horrible time working my way arounf e-bay bt always hear of alot of nice beadwork and dance outfits on there.
                              I got a fevah! And the only cure is more cowbell!!!

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