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Material Culture is the physical manifestation of what  comes from the Spirit World that has guided the hands of The People to bring into this world the material works that nourish and sustain The People. There is no separate word for "Art" in most Native American languages because "Art" is part of everyday life for The People. This page contains information that teaches and gives resources to help bring this sacred beauty into being. Articles written here are presented by people who are experienced in the material cultures of The People.

Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the material for research and educational purposes. This is in accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. section 107.

Click Here for More Info on Seminole Indian Patchwork

Please click on the Seminole Indian Patchwork link above to see the examples that are talked about in this article, and to see other designs and info on this beautiful cultural legacy.
There are more links at the bottom of this article to click on to learn about other syles of dress and dance clothing styles. Scroll to the bottom of this article to click on other links.
Seminole Patchwork

by Eglclan

Photo courtesy of the Seminole Tribe of Florida

The beautiful patchwork still being produced today originated from very humble beginnings. Some patchwork pieces date back to the 1830s when the Seminoles sought refuge in Florida's Everglades.

Cotton fabric was obtained through trade which usually happened only once per year. Early patchwork began out of necessity. Since trade was so infrequent, the women began to piece together small strips of cloth from remnants of fabric. When these strips were hand-sewn, Seminole patchwork was born!

Due to the amount of hand sewing required, most clothing articles had only one strip of patchwork. In the 1900's, hand crank sewing machines became available setting off an explosion of Seminole patchwork. Machines made it possible to finish several strips of work in less time than sewing only one by hand.

Garments were adorned with patchwork that sometimes reflected the wearer's clan. Then,as in now, many garments were made for the growing tourist industry.

Explaining the patchwork process is not enough, especially for those of you (like myself), who need a good visual. Many thanks to Nea Dodson who provided these instructions and diagrams. ( )

Seminole patchwork is very complex geometric designs made from fabric strips which are sewn together, cut apart, and sewn back together in new formations. The most basic design is a quick way of making blocks on point. For the scrap quilter, it is a good way of making a border of scrap blocks set off by a neutral fabric.

1. Cut your scraps into equal sized squares. Accuracy is key in Seminole patchwork.

2. Next, cut a neutral fabric into long strips, which are as wide as the scrap squares.

3. Sew the scrap squares between two strips of neutral fabric, like this:

4. Cut the strips apart so you have a rectangle made of three squares: a square of neutral, a scrap square, and another square of neutral. It is important that the edges be straight and the two neutral sides are even.

5. Shift one rectangle down so that the top edge of the uppermost neutral square on the right is even with the top edge of the scrap square on the left. Sew the rectangles together. Keep adding rectangles in this manner. You will get a strip that looks like this:

Keep adding rectangles until you have a strip as long as you want. Turn the strip so that the scrap squares are all on point (standing on one corner). Trim the upper and lower corners off the neutral squares (see the dotted line in the previous picture).

You now have a strip that looks like this.

Here is an animation of how strips are put together.

This excellent website shows the patterns and stories that go with them.
The Mathematics of Seminole Patchwork

Link to the Seminole Tribe of Florida website.
Seminole Tribe of Florida: Culture: Seminole Clothing: Colorful Patchwork

Click Here To View and Learn About Native American Indian Clothing, Modern & Traditional Dance Styles

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