How To Make A Traditional Native American Ribbon Skirt

To make a traditional Native American ribbon skirt, you’ll need a pattern, fabric, ribbon, thread, and elastic. Cut and sew the fabric, attach the ribbon, and add the elastic waistband. Choose the right fabric and ribbon, and customize the skirt to your liking. Respect the cultural significance of the ribbon skirt and seek guidance from Native American communities if needed.

  • Materials Needed
  • Measuring and Cutting the Fabric
  • Preparing the Ribbon
  • Sewing the Skirt
  • Adding Finishing Touches
  • Conclusion

Ribbon skirts have a significant cultural and spiritual significance to many Native American tribes. These skirts are worn during important events, ceremonies, and powwows. Making your own ribbon skirt can be a beautiful and meaningful experience, and in this article, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step.

Materials Needed

Before you begin, you’ll need to gather the following materials:

  • Cotton fabric (amount will vary depending on your measurements)
  • Ribbon (amount and color will vary depending on your design)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Waistband elastic

You can purchase these materials at most fabric stores or online retailers.

How To Make A Traditional Native American Ribbon Skirt
Measuring and Cutting the Fabric

The first step is to measure and cut your fabric. You’ll need to measure your hips, waist, and desired length of the skirt. Use these measurements to cut the fabric to the appropriate size, being sure to leave room for a seam allowance.

Next, fold the fabric in half and cut a small slit in the center of the top fold. This will be the opening for the waistband.

Preparing the Ribbon

Once you have your fabric cut, it’s time to prepare the ribbon. Ribbon skirts traditionally have seven rows of ribbon, but the number and colors of ribbon can vary depending on your design.

Cut the ribbon into strips that are twice as long as the width of your zfabric. Fold each strip in half and iron it to create a crease in the center.

Sewing the Skirt

Now it’s time to start sewing your skirt. Begin by sewing the two short ends of the fabric together to create a loop. Be sure to leave the slit open for the waistband.

Next, sew a seam along the top of the fabric, leaving enough room for the waistband elastic. Then, sew the ribbon to the fabric, starting at the top and working your way down. Be sure to pin the ribbon in place before sewing to ensure even placement.

After sewing each row of ribbon, iron the skirt to create crisp, flat lines.

Once all the ribbon has been sewn to the skirt, sew the waistband elastic to the top of the skirt. Be sure to measure the elastic to fit your waist comfortably.

Adding Finishing Touches

To complete your skirt, add any finishing touches you desire. You can hem the bottom of the skirt for a clean edge, or decorate it with additional ribbon or beadwork.


Making a traditional Native American ribbon skirt is a beautiful way to honor and celebrate Native American culture. Whether you’re making a skirt for yourself or as a gift for someone else, this process is a meaningful and rewarding experience.


What kind of fabric is best to use for a ribbon skirt?

Cotton fabric is a popular choice for ribbon skirts because it’s lightweight and breathable. Choose a fabric that is comfortable to wear and easy to work with.

Can I use a sewing machine to make a ribbon skirt?

Yes, a sewing machine can be used to make a ribbon skirt. However, if you prefer to sew by hand, that is also an option.

How long does it typically take to make a ribbon skirt?

The time it takes to make a ribbon skirt will vary depending on your skill level and the complexity of your design. However, it typically takes several hours to complete a skirt.

What are the different meanings of ribbon colors in Native American culture?

The meanings of ribbon colors can vary between tribes and individuals. However, generally, red symbolizes life, blue symbolizes the sky, yellow symbolizes the sun, green symbolizes Mother Earth, black symbolizes the night, white symbolizes purity, and purple symbolizes spirituality.

Are ribbon skirts only worn by women in Native American culture?

Traditionally, ribbon skirts are worn by women in Native American culture. However, some men have also begun to wear them as a way to honor their heritage and express their creativity.

I hope you find this article informative and helpful. Let me know if you have any additional questions or if there’s anything else I can assist you with.

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