Native Crafts

My son Jonathan and I have been making our own regalia for a while now. He is young, and not long on patience, and has not spent the hours at it which I have. He did help make a beaded choker which he later gifted to someone.

I have made him a couple of breech cloths, a vest, two chokers (beaded and bone), leggings, a hunting-style shirt, and angora anklets. His Indian dance group has assigned him a set of Oklahoma style bustles, a hair roach and moccasins.

I have three bone chokers, one plain, one with a coin pendant of an Eagle (with Butterfly on back), and a more ornate choker with an Eagle pendant. I have two shirts which I made from scratch, some other shirts I have modified to my liking, a vest I decorated, several breech cloths and aprons, and leggings. The breech cloths, aprons, and leggings I also made from scratch.

It is a goal of mine to have several complete from-scratch outfits to wear at pow wows and other get-togethers, covering warm and cool conditions, as well as casual to more formal settings.

My regalia is very much a work in progress.

I plan to make moccasins, another set of leggings, more ornamentation for some of the shirts, and further ornamentation for the vest.

On a previous page, I mentioned "re-inventing" an old item of Eastern Woodlands attire. Inventing is an overstatement though. I knew there were cultures elsewhere that used the idea, so my "invention" was the application of the idea to American Indian clothing.

I found out that the idea was actually very old in the American southeastern woods.

My idea was a more comfortable alternate to the breechcloth for casual wear - like doing yardwork around our rural home, for instance.

I find they are called aprons. They look like breechcloths at first glance, but there is a significant difference. Breechcloths are one continous piece of material, about as long as the wearer is tall, which passes over a belt in the front, between the legs, and back over the belt in the back. Aprons consist merely of separate front and back flaps of material, with nothing connecting them underneath. (Both breechcloths and aprons are held in place with a cord or belt.)

Breechcloths can become surprisingly uncomfortable in hot, humid weather. Aprons are much better suited for the weather, but wearing just aprons in a public setting nowadays- like your local pow wow - could prove problematic. A prankster, or curious child could generate some awkward moments. Even just a strong gust of wind could be a problem unless the aprons are seriously weighted.

While some sort of shorts might be necessary underneath aprons nowadays, some people choose to wear pants under breechcloths as well. To me that defeats the breechcloth's practicality (worn with pants they are less comfortable than the pants alone - so why not wear one or the other?).

The picture above, and at the top and bottom of this page are photos of actual beadwork I have done so far on this "project".

I originally started beading in my early teens, and beaded sporadically into college.

I then entered into about a 25-year hiatus. Not intentionally, mind you. It just seemed there were so many other things to do. I always intended to get back into beading. Even before we began to introduce Jonathan to his Cherokee heritage, I had begun preparing to start beading again by making a new bead loom and purchasing beads.

While I won't go into details here, beading is not difficult. It is time-consuming. I find that it is a good antidote for that pesky idle-time spent in front of the television. If you can read a book while driving, you can easily watch TV and bead at the same time. Actually, it's not really that bad (I guess).