Friday, 2 May 2014

Since my last post I have been working odd jobs and various contracts. I recently wrote an article which I am copying here:

Striking your Fancy: The Aboriginal Ceremonial Shawl

Recently I took on the project to sew up a ceremonial shawl for a friend and I am going to walk you through the process.

This shawl was made to celebrate the passing of a daughter of the Earth. I only met her a couple of times, and on each occasion the joy, wonder and vibrancy of life could be felt radiating outward from her.

My friend, who was closest to her, spent a long time finding the materials that would make up this wonderful shawl. The colors represent her spirit and soul, the fabric and ribbons made wonderful swishing sounds of her footsteps and her totem animals.

The size of this shawl was cut to seventy (70) inches and shortened to thirty-six (36) inches not including the length of the fringe. A standard size I've seen is 60-68 inches by 60 inches.

Gathering of the materials:

While on many trips to the fabric store during their sales days, my friend found the material that would make up this beautiful shawl. She had walked by this bright pink fabric numerous times only to stand in front of it near the end of her shopping time to find her friend's spirit urging her to buy this one. She also bought ribbon in 4 colors (one that was the same pink) for a total of eighty-five (85) meters. The ribbon was cut to twenty-five (25) centimeter lengths. My friend had purchased in Tucson, Arizona, another ribbon in a pattern from the Natives there. Next she found gold, white and a beautiful purple fabric for the applique pieces.

The layout:

My friend spent time with pen and paper to map out all the pieces going on the shawl. This was the final design.

The applique pieces:

The center piece comprised of four (4) arrow bands cut out of white and purple and 4 feathers cut out of white material and gold felt. This piece matches the pattern of beadwork on her regalia.

The bottom left applique of purple and white material with gold embroidered paw prints of her friend's pets.

The bottom right applique was cut out of the gold felt in a goblet shape and white material for the wings which were embroidered to accentuate the feathers. One extra feather was cut out to be placed falling from the wings.

Strips of purple satin bordered the whole shawl.

The sewing:

First up was sewing the purple border onto the pink shawl.

Next I glued the ribbon pieces onto the ribbon band and then sewed that onto three (3) of the four edges of the shawl. Each of the ribbon pieces were side by side with no gaps between like you do for the chainette fringe cording.

 NOTE: If you are going to do the fringe properly you cut the cord in 14 inch lengths and attach it to the shawl by punching holes along the edge of the shawl a finger-width apart. You attach each fringe length by folding it in half and pinching a loop to push through the hole. You then pull the dangling strings through that loop and tighten the knot at the shawl edge. You can knot one, two or more in one hole to give the lengths of cord a fuller fringe.

Since the main fabrics were satin I used hot glue to attach pieces and fabric glue for the edges so it wouldn't fray. The completed applique emblems were then sewn onto the shawl.

The photo above is the finished shawl. It took two days to make since there needed to be a second infusion of ribbon to finish the sides. Even after that run, there was only enough to do two-thirds along the sides.

Each and every shawl is unique to the spirit guide/person it is intended to represent during the dances at the powwow. This spirit is happy that that spirit had a wonderful ceremonial dance to send her on her next journey.

Mína ka wapamitin
(I will see you again)

*View the full article with images on my website www.animatedlady.com (click Metis on the main page and the Dance Shawl link on the left)

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