October 8th, 2020 Last Updated on: October 8th, 2020
Brightly-colored ribbon skirts are a traditional piece of clothing for many Native American women and girls, as it honors their heritage and is a way to represent themselves as well as causes, such as the missing and murdered Indigenous women and children.
“Skirts in Native American communities are more than fashion, they represent resilience, personality and are used to highlight social issues,” (Farmington Daily Times).
Tala Tootoosis, a motivational speaker and ribbon skirt creator — says her goal is to empower girls and encourage people to understand and know the true stories of Native American women. Tala has gone through trauma in her past; she now finds healing through written word and by using her ribbon skirt as a symbol to make a powerful point—to encourage Native women to be proud and not to be afraid, she wants them to fight. The ribbon skirt, to her, is like “battle gear”—she doesn’t want to be afraid of being a woman; she wants to be able to walk around with confidence, and she wants her little girl to feel safe in her community. To Tala, wearing a ribbon skirt isn’t about being a “pretty princess”—it’s about a lot more.
Tootoosis states the Ribbon Skirt is almost a declaration of being a survivor of attempted genocide. “They tried to murder my grandmother. They cut her hair. They tried to beat and rape the language out of her. But she still taught me that it’s okay to wear a skirt. She told me she was so proud of me. She was able to say that from her own lips. That’s resilience. That’s power,” (Anishinabek News).
In a separate video, Tala shows viewers how to make a ribbon skirt and the steps are outlined below.
- Typically you want to start out with 2 meters of fabric.
- Tala shows how to measure the fabric and where to cut it by wrapping it around your body and stepping forward.
- You then fold the material you are left within half then cut the folded side to make two pieces.
- Fold it in half again longways.
- Next, take a measuring tape and measure the biggest part of your midsection.
- You will now use the measuring tape—watching the video will give you a visual of what to do with the tape.
- You will then cut a diagonal line from one side, starting at wear the measuring tape is, to the other side.
- You then will have your skirt sans ribbons, of course.
- Tala uses 505 fabric adhesive spray to adhere the ribbon to the fabric.
- You will still need to sew the ribbons on to the fabric, but using adhesive first is the way to go.
- Once you have sewn the ribbons on, you flip the fabric and do the same thing to the other side.
- Next, turn the ribbon skirt inside out, take your pins, and line up the ribbon from each side.
- Hem the sides using a zigzag stitch.
- You’re almost done! Take the top part and fold over to make the waistband area; which you will need to hem as well so there is room for the elastic.
- Lastly, turn it inside out the other way and hem the bottom—then your skirt is finished!
Show your individuality by making a beautifully-colored ribbon skirt; it doesn’t take too much time to make—you only need basic sewing skills to do so.
In the meantime, follow Tala on Instagram to see many more motivational and inspirational posts.
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