Preparing and Sewing With Real Back Strap Deer Sinew

Fibers being loosened, dry method
There are two methods for loosening fibers from the solid dried backstrap of a deer.

One way is to grasp the strap firmly between the hands and briskly twist and scrub the fibers until they loosen on their own.

This will result in blisters and incredible pain on your fingers. Use gloves if you insist on loosing fibers this way.

Fibers loosened dry method
The next way, and the way I recommend, is to soak the strap in lukewarm water for half and hour and then start peeling off the fibers. I promise it will not dissolve or weaken the thread!

The fibers come loose with less fraying and you can get a more and longer consistent thread.

Fibers loosened wet method not rolled yet
I generally separate threads until they are small enough to fit through the eye of a glover's needle, this makes them four fibers or so thick. A glover's Needle has a tri-corned point and is exceptionally easy to push through hide, they are available at any craft store and sometimes even Walmart!

Once you have your fibers separated, if you haven't soaked them yet, do it now, (they won't dissolve, this is not spaghetti here).

The you take each fiber, grasp it at the tip of heavier end with your left hand and roll the fiber on your right thigh briskly a couple of times to remove water and to twist the fiber and stretch the thread.

Fibers twisted by rolling wet on thight
Lay each thread flat on a surface to dry. Once dry you can either roll each thread into a loop and store this way, (traditional), or you can just bundle loosely until needed to sew with.

When using for sewing you can punch holes with an awl and push the dry thread through, or you can dampen the loosely coiled thread in your mouth, (traditional) and thread it on a needle and sew away.

Fibers separated according to size, yield of one strap
If you damped the fiber, sew loosely as it will shrink a bit on drying.

This makes a very tough thread, I have been in museums where the cloth thread is falling apart, (cotton thread has a 75 year life, silk even less), and the sinew still looked fresh!

Some people oil the fibers or use beeswax on them, especially black beeswax, this keeps the fibers more pliable, I recommend wax, but frown on oil, it will eventually bleed onto the garment and leave a stain.

Raw straps and fibers from one strap
I have just used them as they are and have had no problems, try it waxed or dry and see what works best for you, to wax, you melt the it and dip the thread, then roll against the thigh again to remove excess wax. Warning! This can be messy!

I do not recommend artificial sinew of any kind, not only isn't it historically correct, it is plastic garbage and won't hold a decent knot.

If you are going to do a historical garment , go the whole way and do it right! It's not that difficult!

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