How to make Mohawk Indian clothes

Written by rebecca boardman
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How to make Mohawk Indian clothes
The Mohawks were known for their distinctive headdress and hairstyles. (Image by Andrew Brannan; Flickr.)

The Mohawk people are one nation of five sister tribes in the north-east of the United States, which together are called the Iroquois. Forming an alliance that remained unbroken for over 200 years, this group of sister nations ruled the area east of the Great Lakes in the US. Their culture, dress, language, religion and society was unique, and although other tribes would have similarities, the Iroquois and the Mohawk tribe had characteristics that could be found nowhere else.

Things you need

  • Calico, wool or broadcloth
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and thread
  • Coloured border cloth
  • Beads
  • Patterns
  • Scissors
  • Tailor's marker
  • Awl

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  1. 1

    Buy your material. The most economical and practical choice will be broadcloth, wool, or calico -- calico being the most common. If you wish to be authentic, you may buy treated deer skins. If you do buy skins, choose the best quality you can afford and make sure they have been treated for waterproofing.

  2. 2

    Select a pattern for Mohawk clothing. The clothing will differ depending on sex, age, and occupation. Women's clothing consisted of a nearly ankle-length skirt, and a long overdress that reached nearly to the knees. This would be followed by knee-length leggings and moccasins. Men's dress would consist of a breech clout, leggings from hip to ankle, a large overshirt that would hang down past the waist, and sometimes a cape-like blanket, tied around the throat. The variations on these are complex, and it is important to know exactly what you want before you begin on your pattern.

  3. 3

    Measure your body as a tailor would: neck, chest, arms, legs, inseam, waist, hips. These must all be written down in order to apply them to your pattern.

  4. 4

    Draw your pattern on your material and cut it to the measurements taken in the above step. Always make sure you cut so that if you err you do so on the larger side, as you can always remove some material, but cannot add it back on.

  5. 5

    Sew your material to the pattern, trying on the clothing at each step. If you are using standard materials, and sewing machine will suffice. If you are using traditional animal hides, you will need to use an awl to punch holes in the hide and an artificial sinew to sew the clothing together.

  6. 6

    Decorate your clothing. Unless the clothing you are making is strictly utilitarian, as though being used for daily chores, it is necessary to put some decoration on your Mohawk clothing, as the people took great pride in their clothes, their looks and their workmanship. Beaded floral patterns were common.

Tips and warnings

  • The more preparation and planning you do, the better. Measure and measure again. Make sure you write down everything and check it twice. Otherwise you are likely to end up having to buy more material.

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