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Creative Clothes Made from Scratch
Imagine life without shopping malls, with no place to buy ready-made clothing. What would you do if you had to make all of your clothes from what you could find in your natural surroundings?
First Nations and Inuit peoples were able to create beautiful clothing from animal hides, fur, quills, feathers and even trees! They made the clothing as comfortable as possible while making sure that it was warm in cold weather and cool in the summer. Each tribe had different kinds of clothing designs, mostly to suit the weather where they lived.
For the Inuit, warm clothing was a must in the extremely cold temperatures of the Arctic. Since caribou fur was considered the warmest, it was used to make their layered parkas for the winter. Some groups also made coats from polar bear fur. Seal skin was used to make waterproof boots, as well as lighter parkas for spring, summer and fall.
In the Eastern Woodlands, Algonquian tribes used deerskin for clothing. Men and children wore leather robes in the winter. Moccasins made with buffalo hide were worn by everyone.
The Plains tribes used buffalo hides to make warm robes and moccasins, but they preferred to use the soft skin of elk and antelope to make most of their clothing. Their clothes, tipis, shields and many other items were beautifully decorated with porcupine quills, feathers and dyes made from soil and vegetables. Some plains people even had skin tattoos, and they painted their faces with handmade dyes.
Many tribes living on the northwest coast made a kind of yarn out of the bark of cedar trees and made skirts and cloaks out of it!. Northern tribes made decorated blankets from cedar bark and the wool of mountain goats, which they wore on special occasions. Other groups used goat wool and dog fur to make blankets for cold weather. And everywhere on the coast, fur cloaks were used when it got really cold.