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How do you make a buckskin dress??

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  • How do you make a buckskin dress??

    Hey i do southern cloth tradtional but i want to make a buckskin dress. Like with the top part of it being cloth and it being decorated and the bottom being buckskin. I hope ya'll understand what i am trying to say. I want to know what i need to make it besides the buckskin lol. Like how i make it, what do i use etc. If anyone would please reply to this i would appreciate it b/c i have no idea how to make a buckskin dress.

    ~Ayita~:Angel: :Chatter :devil

  • #2
    hi there, i`m making buckskin dresses since long,its not at all that difficult as you know what to do.
    First you need deerskin hides,i would say,since you only want the bottom part buckskin,you need 2 hides.
    Make sure them hides dont have to many holes.
    Cut the parts you need NEVER to big,couse deerskin will stretch big time.
    Cut laces from the left scraps,best way to do this(you make the most laces)is cut a scrap in a circle,and cut the lace from that,going around and around,until you have left about a size off a nikkel,that little piece thats left,is of no use.
    Put the frond part and the back part to each other with some leather glue,than punch holes with a puncher at the sides,with the handcut laces you put the two pieces together,going in and out with the lace down the pinched holes.
    This is the way you always put pieces together,you also can do cross stitches with them lace,but than you need to punch 2 hole on top off each other,leave about half inch between the holes you punch.
    If you like to make fringe,ever so easy to,just cut the leather into fringes,be sure to practice a bit before you start to cut in the expensive deerskins.and DONT forget,that leather WILL STRETSH,
    For decorating,you can best use glassbeads,dont use them plastic stuff,would be such a terrible thing on buckskin,cheap.!!!
    If you have any questions,or like to see some pic`s from how it has to look,just e-mail me:
    [email protected]

    Have a bright day,


    • #3
      Buckskin dress

      Take the buck down town. Take him to a ladies wear shop.
      Make him buy a beautiful evening gown Tell him to take you out for dinner and get rid of the sewing machine and the buckskin.
      Then have a beautiful evening


      • #4
        :guns: :guns:

        A sewing machine?????boy you sure must be stupid!!!!
        i might let the bucksin go and try to get your hide.


        • #5
          My apologies

          You got that right Mary I am kind of stupid thanks for the reminder. I didn't think you would take offence, just trying to be funny. So sorry
          Wayne........p/s my hide? probably too thin but lots of material.


          • #6
            Making a buckskin dress

            I have planned to make one for several years now. So far all I have done is to look at different kinds of natural skins available in craft shops. I have found some that have been processed by traditional fabric manufacturers. They are prepared like any other fabric and are easy to work with because they have been worked until they are quite pliable.

            The skins that are prepared by hunters and sold by craft shops are often not worked down so that they are soft and supple. It is an art to make buckskin into a beautiful garment and takes a lot of time. The skin must be stretched just right so that all it does not lose it's shape. I have worked only with belts and small items of that sort so am not quite ready to take on such a project.

            There are patterns that one can buy that would tell you how to use the manufactured cloth. If you don't want to go that way, you could take apart a dress or a skirt and follow it as your pattern. As a child, this is how I learned to make skirts. But it is trial and error. If you have someone near who could guide you, that would be great!

            It would help to look at several already made. Feel their textures and ask the person who made them for advise. I always do this when I can for it helps to make it in your mind before you actually begin to make it for real.

            Good luck! I hope to hear how it all goes. I would like to make my self one someday. Many people still make beautiful things by hand. The stitches are so even that they look like a machine did them. My grandmother use to sew like that. You couldn't tell her stitches from a fine machine stitched garment.

            Friend of Bear
            Friend of Bear


            • #7
              Re: My apologies

              Originally posted by Wayne Sturgeon
              You got that right Mary I am kind of stupid thanks for the reminder. I didn't think you would take offence, just trying to be funny. So sorry
              Wayne........p/s my hide? probably too thin but lots of material.

              Wow,it takes a REAL man to give a answer like this.
              :Angel2 :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)


              • #8
                Hi! I make Buckskin Dresses for a living and work on them everyday!
                I agree with Friend of Bear that the best way to learn to make one is too look at a good dress and see how it was put together. I took my Mother's dress and studied every part of it (without taking it would have meant death!!).
                Ask someone's hands-on help because there is a lot of feeling the hides and looking at the hides which will tell you which hide is good for which, skirt, fringe.
                One thing that we never, ever, never use glue on any part of a Buckskin Dress!!!! And we do not use a hole punch either!
                There is no need for glue if you are going to tie a skirt and you use an awl for all holes. I hand sew my dresses unless specifically asked to be tied at the sides. If you sew the seam, you cut the side fringe separately and sew it into the seam inside out, of course, the the hides back to back...smooth side in. Work with will find the right way.
                The most important thing is to use good tools. That would be my best advise. A very good, very sharp pair of leather scissors. Good buckskin needles, awls, a small pair of gripping pliers (don't know the real name) to help you pull the needle through 3 layers of buckskin when it is stubborn. Sometimes just a firm grip is all you need. Good strong thread or sinew.
                I cut all my strings straight, not in a circle.. and I harldly ever stretch my commercial hides. If you cut the dress right and fit it right...they will never be stretched on the body! The current Comanche Nation Princess is wearing a dress I made for her when she was 13 and she is now 19 and she always sits properly, so that the back of the skirt has never "pooched".
                The only part of the dress that does get stretched are the fringes when I am cutting them. This is good to do so that gravity does not pull the fringes too long as they wear the dress so they become uneven and have to be trimmed all the time.
                Making a Buckskin Dress is a constant learning experience. I find new and better ways of doing some part of it on each new dress I make. I also listen to comments and ideas from other Dress makers and from wearers and I am always open creative thinking. And of course the elders. Even though the dress has evolved so much from the old days...there are always reasons for a dress being made a certain way and by listening to them you can learn so much, or realize why you are doing something...or, what makes me feel good, is when they validate something you are already doing, by saying they do it the same way.
                Make your own patterns..start with your own shape (especially if the dress is for you, duh!!) and take your measurements and transfer them to paper. Then go through the hides that you have to find the right one for the right piece and cut it from your pattern. I am not a professional seamstress, I've never made anything from a Simplicty pattern, and I don't know how to use a sewing machine, but I figured this out and you can do it too!
                I am so sorry to go on and on...I just wanted you to have the takes me two weeks to put a dress together...choosing the hides to making the pattern and cutting and sewing and that is with my life and cooking and talking to customers and going to Pow-Wows in between (notice I left out cleaning house), and if I am diligently using every other spare moment on the dress.
                It has taken me 10 years to get to be asked to make dresses for some of he best Championship winning dancers in the country and I have a waiting list one year long, but I would be glad to share any info that I can in writing.
                If you are ever in SW Oklahoma, drop in on me and we'll do it together!
                You know, I forgot the most important thing!!! I pray before I ever cut a hide in thankfulness for the deer (or elk) that the Creator gave us (I learned that from a 90 year old dress maker Alice Littleman) and I thank God everyday for the talent and vision and the strength and the health that he allows me to have that I need to make dresses. All Glory goes to God!!!


                • #9
                  Buckskin Dress Making

                  :) The previous post is a real Indian Woman speaking! No pronged speech in this good lady! Thanks for the factual truth on working with natural materials!

                  When reading your instructions, I followed in my mind and can see that if you use the material in the correct manner that no stretching would be required! I would adore sitting at your feet to learn how you work each garment. It must take years to become expert at the art! I am going to save that challenge till I can no longer walk about on two legs. Then I can sit in the shade in the summer and make beautiful clothes for beautiful young Indian women and fine leather shirts for strong brave Indian men!

                  In the love and light of Gulan Lati...


                  Friend of Bear


                  • #10
                    Hi again! Thanks for your very kind words Friend of Bear..if you really want to make a dress, I wouldn't wait that long!!!
                    Your hands and back and eyes might be worn out by then!!!
                    Aaaayyyy! Seriously, I feel very fortunate that I do what I love for a living and I do thank God every day. Of course, I don't get a steady paycheck or perks and I drive an NDN car and don't get to take cool vacations (except if you call workng at Pow-Wows in different states a vacation) like I would get to have if I had a real job...but I guess I need to be my own boss. My own idiocy is the only one that I can tolerate. Aaaayyy!
                    But what I really wanted to say was that I did not realize at first that our friend mofi48 was from the Netehrlands, and I didn't mean to be so harsh about usuing the "g" word (glue), but there really is no place for that in a Buckskin. She did say she uses only glass beads and no plastic, so I appalud you, mofi48, for that and please continue to give us your input because every one who is serious about something has something valuable to share.
                    Uh, just don't use glue! :D Or a sewing machine!! Yuck!! No!!!

                    I guess I also wanted to add more info. When I first read the original post by Ayita16 I thought, "Oh no! Such a huge can you answer it without going on for a year!!!" But I guess, just like step at a time. If everyone wants to continue this and we all add our two cents...we can make this a v-e-r-y long "thread"!!!
                    About the hand stitches...just in case someone doesn't know....they are not the flat stitches that machines a basting or a running stitch. It is called a WHIP stitch and it is done over the top (edge) of the two (or 3) pieces of buckskin that you are holding together. You just go over the top and don't make them too long...about less than a 1/4 of an inch from the top and continue along trying to space them pretty closely and evenly but not right on top of each other. Spacing is hugely important, it is the first thing critical people will look at.
                    Pull it firmly, but not too tight and it will make a perfect seam, with no stiching showing on the "good" side. Uh, we use the "suede" side out here, never the slick side (on commercial hides). Many reasons, number 1 being that is traditional and number 2 being that your beads will nestle nicely in the rough nap. They will slide if you bead on the slick side. I really don't know of any tribe that uses the slick side for ceremonial or contest dresses, but please let me know if you know of any.
                    If you pull too tightly it will pucker and if your stitches are too loose or if they are too far will not have a tight seam and you might even see some "air" in there.
                    One other thing that I still struggle with..when you hold the skins in your non stitching hand, try to too pull too hard, because you will stretch the bottom skin and then you will wind up with skin longer on the bottom piece when you get to the end.
                    Well, there are most of my secrets about stiching. Anyone else?
                    Last edited by buckskinlady; 11-12-2001, 03:54 PM.


                    • #11
                      Hand Stitching

                      Thank you for I have enjoyed so much getting to once again think about the joys of sewing afine garment. It has been years since I applied myself to making clothes. I had forgotten about the stitch you described. It is a miracle stitch for it makes a beautiful design when applied on top of the cloth when creating design stitch patterns. I remember using it for so many things when, as a young woman, I made clothes for my family and other pretty ornamental things for the home. Your words brought back those memories of how happy I felt when finally learning how to produce something uniquly beautiful.

                      Presently, I am learning to make walking sticks from pieces that have fallen in the woods. I find them when out on a walk. Their shapes seem to speak to me to take them home. I am very particular about which ones I chose to carry from the woods. So far, I have made 2 and 1 is in process. It was an old cast away thick branch and had lain in the woods for a while. The ants had made little trails under the old bark, taken all the moisture and food out of the wood and left it to rot. I found it in time and am truly being blessed by the work of restoring it to a beautiful and useful form.

                      Like you, I thank the earth, the woods and God for the gift before taking it from it's place and pray about the work as it progresses. I then give them away when it has found it's new owner. I don't make monetary gain. I guess I should try but haven't the heart to charge for something I have grown put so much of myself into making. It seems to bless me to give it away.

                      Maybe one day everyone on this thread will meet together and see each other's faces.

                      Friend of Bear


                      • #12
                        What you do with the wood you find sounds really cool! I'm glad it gives you joy to do it!
                        I was reminded to talk about the stitching from what you said about your Grandmother's stitching being so beautiful!
                        I always work hard to make the stitching even, but it really wasn't until I saw a Buckskin that my Aunt received. It had belonged to a lady who was very well known for her Buckskin Dresses. The lady had passed away some years before and we were trying to repair the dress. When I looked at her stitches it took my breath away! They were absolutely perfectly uniform, with the same spacing between them and probably the same amount of prewssure to pull them through. I was so impressed that I made it my goal to try to make my stitches as beautiful as I can. It really makes a difference on how your finished product looks. And like I said, I always learn something new! Isn't is so cool that even after she went Home, she was still passing on her wonderful knowledge and talent??!!:2:
                        Yaw!! It gives me chills!


                        • #13
                          pathway of excellence


                          Hi! I know exactly what you mean! I have always looked with eyes to see the beauty in the work of others then charted a pathway to follow in that direction. It is the best way to find the road to long life and happiness.

                          Last evening I began working with lemon oil to restore the beauty of the oak limb. It was totally amazing and electrifying to my spirit to see life be restored in the fine piece of dried out oak.

                          After many coats of the oil, the wood began to take on a sheen and show it's texture. My eyes literally began to hunger to see more of the oak's brilliance brought to the surface so I polished and rubbed in the oil until the color began to glisten in the light.

                          Working as an artist is quite an exciting journey of discovery. The artist has to become one with the object. Then and there is the magic of life!

                          vicki :2:
                          Friend of Bear


                          • #14


                            • #15
                              Just re-read this thread and felt it was too important to let it die. There is a wealth of information here.

                              One thing I would like to know it what kind of hides you use. What makes the best dresses. Where do you find your hides.

                              My daughter is 17 and I would love to make her wedding dress myself. Since she isn't engaged yet. now would be a good time to start, eh? I want to learn it all. :)
                              "We see it as a desecration not only of a mountain but of our way of life. This is a genocidal issue to us. If they kill this mountain, they kill our way of life." ~Debra White Plume


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