by Jerry Smith
published as CIHA Indian Craft Series No. 1013
The following instructions for a “Ribbon
Shirt” will be useful for both Feather Dancers and Straight Dancers. Feather
dancers will want to leave off the ruffle cuff and make it tighter fitting
and a little shorter. Straight dancers be sure it hangs to the crotch.
Cotton, taffeta, rayon, brocades, and many
other materials may be used in making this shirt. Since the dancer usually
wears a different shirt at each dance of a powwow or war dance, he may own
six or more shirts in various solid colors, paisley prints, polka dots, and
stripes. The color of the ribbon trim chosen for the yoke, neck opening, and
the cuffs contrasts or picks up an accent color of the shirt material.
Shirts are always cleaned and pressed before each powwow to give that
The following instructions will assist in
the construction of one popular style of shirt. The measurements for shirt
length, sleeve length, and the cuffs may have to be adjusted for some
Construction: To make a shirt, three yards
of at least 45” wide material are needed. Complete the shirt as follows:
- Cut out the shirt using dimensions in
- Sew yoke in place leaving a ¼" of the
5/8" yoke ribbin showing, Fig. 2
- Sew sleeves in place, but remember to
fold excess ribbons under so that they show on the finished product.
- Seam up sides and sleeves leaving 9” for
the sleeve opening and 5½” for the side slit, Fig.3.
- Hem side slit and sleeve opening, then
hem bottom of shirt and end of cuff, Fig. 4.
- Pleat or ruffle ends of sleeves. Then
sew on cuff and two or three ¼" cuff ribbons. Complete cuffs with buttons
or snaps. Cuffs should fit snugly around the wrists.
- Cut out neck hole and neck opening. Fold
back neck opening slightly and face with two 12” pieces of 1” wide ribbon.
- Bind the neck hole and add hook and eye
at the top of neck opening.