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Side Stitch

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  • Side Stitch

    I am guessing you are describing the beaded streamers traditionally worn by the women of the Hochunk, Potawatomi, Menominee, Mesquakie and neighboring groups. I have only seen two of these sidestitch drops for sale and this was ten years ago. They are very rarely seen on the market because they are so tedious and time-consuming to make. (Literally one bead at a time!) One of the pair I'd seen was a child's size and had a $100 price tag on it. I don't remember how much the adult one was. At least $175, I'm sure. If we are talking about the same thing, then you probably know these drops are made in pairs. Each drop splits two or three times so that starting at the top there is one band of beadwork which splits into two and then each of those splits into two and then each of those splits into two as well. (Did ya follow that?) The ends usually had little bits of ribbon or Canadian dimes or something decorative to cover the thead ends. Many of these drops originally had a short connecting band of loomed beadwork which wrapped around a lady's hair binder so that the two beaded streamers or drops hung down the back. Most modern examples lack this central beaded section. Many ladies today simply attach the drops to the back of a necklace or wear it around the neck so both ends are in the front of the wearer, one on each side.

    I started one of these drops myself about four years ago and I have about 8 inches and part of the first split done. The project got buried somewhere when I moved and then was forgotten. Hmmm... I'll have to go find it and dig it out again.

    As for makers, I can ask around and see if anyone might be willing to take on such a project. Otherwise,I can send you some detailed directions if you want to try your own hand at sidestitch beading. The only hard part is keeping the tension even and I said, it is indeed very slow. It would be WAY faster and cheaper to do loomwork drops instead but the sidestitch ones sure are pretty!

  • #2
    I saw several sets for sale a Parson's Indian Trading Post at Lake Delton, Wisconsin last year. They even let me take pictures of them. I sure they still have some in stock. They cost a lot because of the time it takes to make them.


    • #3
      Side Stitch

      Does anyone on the board do or know who does side-stitch drops for the back of Southern women's outfits? I'd be interested in who and how much.


      • #4
        Thanks for the info. Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about. The loomed pieces, although pretty, have nothing on the true side stitch drops. Barth has an excellent portion in his book on the side stitch, but I don't have enough brain cells left to try to do it myself.


        • #5
          For those exceedingly patient souls who wish to try this kind of work, I could copy a detailed article that came from Threads magazine. The author had come up with a way to do the weaving without dozens of needles getting tangled all over the place! And don't forget, you have to make TWO of these things! I've already got a big project on my hands otherwise I'd offer to help...


          • #6
            I have to teach myself how to do this kind of work. The one person that I know that does this is Sally Gaither who lives in Santa Fe NM. She is orginally from Wisconsin and might be up to the task of building a set. If anyone has any information on this stuff let me know as I would like to try this. Chicago Field has a couple of sets of women's hair binders.


            • #7
              Hey, I found the drop I started 4 years ago and want to work on it again but can't find the beads I was using! Oh no! They better be around here somewhere...

              Anyway, there are photos of beaded streamers/drops including some with hair binders in two books. "Dancing Colors" is one book and the other is "Beads and Their Use by the Upper Great Lakes Indians". That second book is unfortunately out of print. I don't have the books here or else I'd give page numbers.

              The article on the sidestitch technique I have from Threads magazine is written by Sally Gauthier. The other article is a short but nice one about Algonquian women's hair wrapper ties along with the sidestitch drops. I think Dave Kracinski (sp?) was the author.

              Whoever wants a copy of these articles will need to PM me a mailing address.

              To map out patterns for sidestitch, use graph paper and start in one corner and graph row by row down toward the opposite corner (well sorta, since paper is rectangular and not square), shifting each row over a bead space just like you will do when weaving. In other words, the graph will progress diagonally across your page. Designs are traditionally geometric with diamonds, trapezoids and triangles being rather common. Quite often, the designs change at each split in the work. The degree of change can be subtle or dramatic but I think it looks better if there is some continuity between all the sections.

              Because the work splits twice, you'll need to start out with an even number of beads. In the majority of drops I've examined, the top starts out with a width of 24 beads. You weave this width for about eight inches and then start the first split. You then weave two sections with 12 beads each. About twelve inches down from there, each of those sections splits in to two sections with 6 beads across. After another foot of weaving, you finish off the ends and are done. The drops normally end at about the back of the knees when worn.


              • #8
                Originally posted by straightdancerinaz:
                Hi. Seein as how I'm all into doin tedious stuff, fingerweaving and such, I wouldn't mind trying my hand at this side stitch business. Does anyone have any instructions on how its done?
                It's basically a modified fingerweaving technique. I remember watching people do this and like somebody mentioned about 17 needles and threads getting tangled, the person used a piece of ceiling tile for the needles after a row was completed. This obviously provided the proper tension for the work.
                Sidestitch has limited applications as mentioned in other notes, i.e. hair binders and drops but was also used on chokers and earings. Would you believe early examples used horsehair for the thread?
                If you try your hand at this, study historic examples. The old color combinations can't be beat...and use small beads!
                The items being produced today all seem to use 10/0 beads. Looks OK but it doesn't come close to historic pieces ;-(
                Cat & Dog ...Another white meat.


                • #9
                  hEy thanks to the person who sent me the side stich instructions!! I recieved them fine!! A thank you card will be in the mail!!
                  Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                  • #10
                    I looked back and saw that it was I said thanks a load!! This looks like a fun one to learn!
                    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                    • #11

                      Now that we can include (small!) pictures, here's my first piece of side-stitching. A bit crude, compared with some old masterpieces I've seen.

                      I've seen that article by Sally and it's a good one.

                      Another great instruction (and that's where I learned this technique from) is George Barth's book "Native American Beadwork." Only wish it had more color pictures, but you'll find much more Native beading techniques described than in any other how-to beadwork book!

                      Good discussion here!


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