How to Make a Traditional Indian Dress

Written by jeana kemberling
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Indian dresses are beautiful pieces of artwork made from buckskin. Even with the numerous Indian tribes, the overall design of the dress stays the same. The decorative aspects of the dress change in different parts of the United States due to the different Indian tribes and animals found in each area. Traditional Indian clothing is still worn today when there are re-enactments, powwows and tribal ceremonies.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 3 buckskin hides
  • Brown paper
  • Marker
  • Sinew thread
  • Buckskin needles
  • Scissors for leather
  • Awl
  • Pliers
  • Shells
  • Beads
  • Dyed quills

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  1. 1

    Look at different pictures of dresses to get an idea of what you want your dress to like. This will help you when you're making your pattern.

  2. 2

    Take your measurements and make a pattern with brown paper. Add an inch and a half to the outside for seam allowance.

  3. 3

    Lay out your hides with the pattern on top. Trace the pattern on lightly. Move the pattern to a different area and trace again.

  4. 4

    Using your leather cutting scissors cut the patterns out. Use your awl to poke holes in the leather where you will be sewing the pieces together. If you need to piece together any of the hides to make the pattern complete, sew those pieces together first.

  5. 5

    Put the two pieces together and make sure that they match up. Thread your buckskin needle with sinew and begin to sew the dress together. If you find that you have a hard time in pulling the needle through the leather, use pliers and pull the needle through. Continue sewing until you have the whole dress completely sewn.

  6. 6

    Cut fringes into the bottom of the dress and along the sleeves. The fringes should be about 1/4-inch wide, and 2-inches long.

  7. 7

    Decorate your dress with different beads, shells and dyed quills. Decorate along the bodice and the arms. You can also add shells and beads to the fringes.

Tips and warnings

  • When you're choosing your buckskin choose something that is sturdy, without any holes in it. You can use deer, elk or sheepskin, but deer hide is the more traditional choice.

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