Authentically Handcrafted Buckskin Clothing & Wampum Weaving
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Sewing Original Buckskin Clothing

Type & Colors of Buckskin Used Previous Page in Series Next Page in Series Native American Buckskin Clothing
On This Page: Original Sewing Lacing
Sewing Today Thonging Caution!

eagle feather Sewing Today
"Authentic" sewing of fur or buckskin clothing today is most often done with a glover's needle using either artificial sinew or a waxed natural fiber, like linen.  Though the tools and thread have changed, the types and sizes of "authentic" stitches have not.    [Top of Page]

eagle feather Original Sewing
Original sewing was done with smaller, more time-consuming stitches than most people today are willing to imitate.  Running stitches (drawing 1 below) should be 1/8" to 3/16" (4.8mm) long, and Whip stitches (drawing 2) about 1/8" (3.2mm) apart.  We have seen a few originals, but very few, with running stitches up to 5/16" long.

Many originals, especially fur items, were made with even smaller stitches.  Patching tears or holes was also done with small stitches.  Exceptions to these were rifle cases, and neck flaps added to shirts.  On these the Running stitches were up to 3/8" (8 - 9.5mm) long, and Whip stitches about 1/4" (6.4mm) apart.   
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Stitching methods

eagle feather Thonging
When we say "thonging" many people think of "lacing".  Thonging (drawing 3 above) is like "spot" stitching, except a thin 6" long (15cm) strip of buckskin is used instead of thread.   Thonging was used to make buckskin clothing of western native men until the mid-to late-1800's (depending on the nation).    [Top of Page]

eagle feather Lacing
Lacing (drawing 4 above) is also a thin strip of leather, but about 1/3 longer than the length of the seam.  Matching holes are punched about 1/2" apart (12.7mm) in both pieces of buckskin the entire length of the seam.   Many today first glue the seam to hold the buckskin pieces in place while working.   The lace is then inserted up and down through the holes in both pieces of buckskin the entire seam.  With a couple rare exceptions lacing was NOT used to make original buckskin clothing.  Even on those rare exceptions lacing was only used for a small portion of the garment, with the majority of the garment being sewn.

Lacing is used by most makers of buckskin clothing today, because it significantly decreases the time needed to make an item.   Lacing also decreases the quality and eliminates authenticity.  Machine sewing reduces manufacturing time even more.  If someone is charging low or very low prices compared to authentically made products, you can be sure they are lacing or machine sewing.   
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Caution!  Some use a little tool called a lacing "needle" to lace their clothing.  Then they claim their buckskin clothing is hand-sewn, because they used a "needle".  It is still lacing, no matter how they do it.  Others simply use the word "sewn" to give the impression of authenticity when, in fact, their products are machine sewn.  Still others use a large glover's needle and sinew, but make 1/2" (12.7mm) long stitches.  Technically their buckskin clothing is "hand-sewn", but such long stitches are nothing more than unauthentic lacing with sinew to cut their time in making an item.  Ask about their methods of workmanship before buying, or you may get something of low quality and much less than authentic.    [Top of Page]
Type & Colors of Buckskin Used Previous Page in Series Next Page in Series Native American Buckskin Clothing

Copyright Jan 1999-2008, Gary A. Reneker. All rights reserved. All text, graphics, programming, and coding are protected by U.S. and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without explicit permission from Gary A. Reneker.