Preparing to Cut the Fold Over Yoke Edge on The 2 Hide Dress

Taped 2 Hide Pattern Front

Here you can see I have taken the yoke I cut off in the last posting, flipped it over and draped over the under dress. In the meantime, I restitched both shoulders using a blind weaving stitch using real sinew for thread. Using the invisible stitch got rid of the bulk a whip stitch or seamed stitch would cause at the shoulder line.

I carefully lined up the seams on both under and overdress yoke out to the finger tips and lightly pinned to prevent slipping.

Taped 2 Hide Pattern Back
Masking tape is a seamstress' best friend. I had struggled with pins for several weeks now and I just couldn't get the results I needed. It was too darn hard to pull the dress off the form and try it on, and the pins never really gave me a good solid outline to work with on my design. Also the pins left marks on the hide.

Gauntlet taped front
I finally struck upon using 3/4 " masking tape. It turned out to work great! It stuck when I needed it to stick, and also was easy to pull off and rearrange when needed. It re sticks easily with repeated use and doesn't leave a residue. I wouldn't leave it on the hide for months, it could get messy and come of in chunks, leaving residue eventually.

Anyway, I am finally at the point where I am ready to cut hide, masking tape made the fussy adjustment phase soooo much easier!

I taped out my design borrowing from two dress designs I especially liked, but I put my own twist to it so my design is original, yet keeping with tradition.

Final Trial fit
There is a reason for keeping to the old lines, the dress will drape funny if you just make arbitrary changes to the layout. Keep this in mind in designing your own garment. Key points are neck, bust and elbows.

I also made a decision about the sleeves, as you know, when you wear this dress, the ends of the arms actually come out to be where the masking tape indicates on the form to the right, shown here. You can tie the sleeves and force the arm to terminate at the peak, but I will bunch in front and completely change how the dress looks on you. If you must have this design, tie it up and try it on before cutting.

Final trial fit front
Here I am with the dress on, and as you can see, the sleeves come out at the taped lines. I decided to cut and keep the hide on this line, the under hide is short and thin on one side, and would create and uneven appearance.

Final Trial fit back
This is a major alteration to the original design, but I'm sure the Elders would agree, there are dresses where the entire flap is left on an stitched at the waist. My hides are too thick for this, so a modification is in order and proper.
Dress Final refit to form Back
In order to balance, I also added the taped flap to the back. It wasn't necessary, but if you do something to one side, you should also do it to the other. It also helps balance out the sleeve ends here too.

As you can see, shlepping this dress off and on the form has loosened up and altered the body of the garment. It is now loose fitting and twisted.

The final thing you must do before cutting your hides is refit the dress to the form completely.

It takes time, but you must have your hides hanging proper to check to see if your collar design has twisted the garment.

Here you can see I have properly refitted the dress to the form so the hides hang well, and luckily for me, the design still looks straight too.

Dress Final Refit to form before cutting Front
This is a BIG detail you should never skip. I know it takes a lot of nerve to start whacking away at your hides and once you're committed you just want to get it over with, (because you can't put it back, once it's cut), but taking the extra time to pin it properly on your median lines on you form, (the seams down the sides of the form itself), will tell you if you've done a good job of getting the collar straight and the design plumb before you do start cutting. Also make sure your shoulder seams match up between the over and under hide. A few strategic pins hold it in place while refitting and when you cut.

Now the dress is refitted to the form, and hopefully it will look as good on me as it does hanging here.

Another priceless tip is to take pictures, front back and side during all phases, the camera often catches mistakes missed by the naked eye.

In the old days, a woman would be fitted by her relatives, all standing about with a critical eye. We usually don't have that luxury, we have to have a second set of eyes, and the camera works well for this.

I have spotted design problems on the computer screen I would've never caught just looking at it.

Now having done all of the above:

1) Line up shoulder seams of under and over dress all the way out to finger tips, pin lightly

2) Lay out your design with masking tape.

3) Try on the dress and make sure it looks as good on you as it does on the form.

4) Refit dress to form one last time before cutting.

You may be wondering how my form has arms that stick out. I have an old dress form with open, (hollow) arms, I just took an old bow and ran it through the center of the form and draped towels over it to the desired thickness. I got the idea from traditional homes I have been in, they often use old bows as hangers to display dresses on the wall. It works like a charm.

Garment design review:
This is a Two Elk Hide dress. The dress is make by fitting the hides to the form, attaching it at the shoulders and folding over the excess hide at the top. The shoulder seams are sewn and the top cut off, flipped over and reattached so both finished sides are out. Since my hides were very long, I can't use the original tail line, but have created a tail line at the neck, I am now in the process of cutting away the left over hide, which will be used elsewhere on the garment.

Here are the dresses I am borrowing my design from:

Both are Yakima dresses but the design is relatively universal through out Plains Tribes of the Era.

Note the folded over edge and the deer tail design incorporated at the neckline and down the arms.

To make a Pre Contact dress, one would leave off the bead work altogether or use dentalium shells in place of bead work or porcupine quillwork.

There are many small details I will be covering in future articles to make this a genuine dress. One must have deer feet at the tip of the sleeves, is one detail I will be covering as I get to it.

Stay tuned!


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