I've been mulling over a couple of topics to write about. It has been a difficult coin toss as there are so many things which deserve attention. Leggings (they need to have flaps!), paint, tools, guns, mocs, fingerweaving, & etc. I ended up landing on fingerweaving because it is something almost every Native interpreter uses, but most do not understand.
Like most everything in life, there were (are) trends in fashion, which means changes to styles. There are some pretty substantial and important variations in weaving patterns seen in the 18th century. Sadly, a heck of a lot of Native interpreters get it wrong. The easiest patterns to weave, such as the chevron, diagonal stripe, lightning, and arrow patterns are the least appropriate for the majority of the 18th century.
It is important to look at the original pieces in collections and period artwork to determine what styles are best for what area and era. For the vast majority of the 18th century, the oblique style of weaving dominated. The oblique pattern is typically single colored, or a single central color with borders of a different color. Bead patterns were woven in, directly on the yarns. There are no pieces from the 18th century yet known with the beads sewn in after the weaving is completed.
What does the oblique weave look like?
A powderhorn and strap set from the 1759-61 Cherokee War survives in a European collection as well. Below is a reproduction of the strap, done by Nathan Kobuck for Ft. Dobbs, NC. Someday, if I obtain permission to share pictures of the original, I'll post them.
But there are styles commonly used by reenactors which are not found in the mid-18th century.
Now, the diamond pattern is of limited use to folks who typically interpret mid-18th century SE Native culture.
An important element to notice in the above water color is the solid colored edge. There are surviving pieces with this exact same feature. Commonly, the border is woven separately and then sewn onto the central panel. Anyone considering a diamond woven piece needs to strongly consider this element.
So all of this writing is to create a basic outline of fingerweaving styles used during the 18th century SE. For folks interpreting the French and Indian War period, fingerweaving should be limited to oblique patterns with beads woven into the design. A wide range of colors were available to the weavers via trade, such as green, yellow, brown, blue, red, and black. Like the majority of surviving pieces, the yarn should be thin/tightly spun and the beads should be small.
Interpreting the Revolutionary War period in the SE allows for a little more variety. Oblique woven items certainly still dominated. However, it is clear that the diamond pattern began to gain in popularity. The designs should be kept relatively simple, like the Sarah Stone image shown above. Other designs should be avoided at all costs.
Utilizing these guidelines are a great way to demonstrate changes in fashion, just like changing from predominantly white shirts in the early part of the century to mostly check shirts by the mid-1750's. But folks should be careful not to cross over time periods and muddy the waters. There is already a lot of bad information out there. It is our responsibility to interpret these cultures as accurately as possible. Wearing a diamond woven sash for F&I interpretation would be just like wearing a World War II style helmet to a World War I event. Its wrong.
And a postscript about "European" style sashes and garters:
A final, parting thought... Looking at the length of most original "sashes", I am forced to wonder how many of them were ever actually worn as sashes. I believe that sashes were actually a rarity, especially on a daily basis, for the majority of the 18th century. More than likely, I believe that most sashes were probably straps for powderhorns or bags and that sashes are over represented in most cases by historical interpreters.