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  • Mrs. Loutit shredding caribou sinew to make thread
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Mrs. Loutit shredding caribou sinew to make thread, Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, 1984.
Photograph by Tessa Macintosh.
NWT Archives/G-1995-001: 5301

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  • Carrier moccasins production
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Carrier moccasins production. Mocassins made by Martha Patrick, 1978, Smithers British Columbia.
Photography by Ray Webber.
© Bata Shoe Museum.

Clothing Materials

Traditional Sewing and Decorative Materials

“..My mother made everything. When someone killed a moose, she would cut out the sinew and hang it to dry, when it dries she splits it into strands. She then makes sinew Sinew is usually hard to the front and softer towards the back. The hard end of the sinew is twisted to a pointed end. So, when you make a hole in the hide with an awl you push this end through the hide to sew.” Sarah Hardisty, Jean Marie River, Northwest Territories, 1994

Garments were sewn together with sinew thread. To make sinew thread, the back tendon of a moose or caribou was scraped clean, dried, and split into fine strands. The seamstress moistened the sinew, and then twisted it by rolling it along her leg. To sew a seam, she pierced a hole through the skin of both garment pieces using a sharp awl made from bird or animal bone, then pushed the sinew thread through.

Clothing was decorated with other products of the land: animal hair, bird and porcupine quills, seeds, feathers and ochre. Leaves, bark, flowers, berries and charcoal were used as natural dyes.