This was standard wear for Eastern woodsmen from the French & Indian War until well after the Revolution. Includes several options for cuffs, cape and fringe treatment. Sizes M, L, XL and XXL.
About Your Plains War Shirt Pattern
“Among the Cheyenne, only the bravest of fighting
men were entitled to wear ‘Metaxeszehen’, the sacred scalp shirt.
Sacred tradition links the origin of these shirts to Sweet Medicine,
the Prophet, to whom Ma-heo-o Himself (Creator) first gave the
Sacred Arrows and the Cheyenne code of law. Thus, the making
of such a shirt, trimmed with hair from enemy scalps, was both a
holy and solemn occasion. Only a warrior, who himself possessed
a scalp shirt, could make one for another warior. However, the
holiest of these shirts, was made by a great holy man such as Box
Elder, Crazy Mule, or White Bull, all of them noted warriors as well
as holy men.
“Among the Lakotas & Ogalalas, the Shirt Wearers, (as
they were called), were the men who best exemplified the four
great Lakota virtues of compassion, generosity, bravery, and
wisdom; and they must have undergone the four sacred Lakota
ceremonies. They were the leaders and grand councilors of the
tribe, and were required to advance first in battle and be ready
to assist a comrade at all times. Along with these hard obligations
went abundant protection for the Shirt Wearer, for the blessing of
Ma-heo-o or Wakan Tanka (the Great Mysterious) rested upon
these holy war shirts, as did the blessing of the lesser Sacred
Powers as well. This holiness was reflected in their rich beauty,
being painted with sacred colors and decorated with quilled or
beaded strips with sacred designs. Thus, the owner of a war shirt
had a possession not only of great beauty but also filled with great
power and, in this way, was abundantly blessed.”
This pattern will help you create a beautiful war shirt in
the tradition of those described above. Complete with information
on the layout and cutting of a Sioux, Cheyenne-Arapaho,
Blackfoot, or Crow style shirt. It also covers sewing, fringing, and
decorating in the proper tribal styles. This pattern produces a highly
authentic war shirt with easy-to-follow instructions and complete
illustrations on each step involved. Also included is a section of
tips on working with buckskin and other leathers.
Notions & Tools
Thread or simulated sinew, wool tradecloth for binding
edges and/or making the neck flap, horsehair, tin cones, seed
beads, beaded or quilled strips, ermine skins, ermine tails, paint,
and other decorations, as you desire.
NOTE: For our shirt, on the front, we used two 2½”
X 18” beaded strips on the arms, two 2½” X 30” beaded strips
over the shoulders, a 4” beaded rosette, ½ oz. of horsehair, 72
tin cones, 8 imitation eagle feathers, seed beads (less than ½ of a
hank), a small amount of red felt, and sinew.
War shirts were generally made from 3-4 hides; however,
a shirt can be made from 2 extra large hides if they contain
enough usable area. If using 3-4 hides, the smaller hides are
used for the sleeves and the larger hides are used for the body
of the shirt - 1 for the front and 1 for the back. Sizes shown are
approximate, as the natural shape of hides can vary consideably.
Areas shown are the usable areas of the hides. Remember that it
is better to have slightly too much, than not enough. Extra leather
can be used for more fringe, patching holes, etc.
By far, the best material for making a war shirt is genuine
buckskin; however, several other leathers are suitable, such as elk,
lamb, goat, sheep, and soft tanned cowhide. A heavy suede cloth
can also be used if an inexpensive substitute is desired.
See the related products listed below for links to other items that can help
you in researching your Native American Plains War Shirt.