Manataka American Indian Council





Lėnape Ribbon Dress
Shared by Tlemeha (Bat)

The Lėnape Nation is well known for the decorative ribbon work on their clothes and blankets. With the arrival of the Europeans and the fine art of bartering, the women became skilled for their ribbon work as well as their bead work. Many times when beads were not available, ribbons were used to decorate.

As you can see with the picture, ribbon was used in many ways. Back in the days of old, ribbon was not like the ribbon used today. Ribbon then was strips of fabric of various widths and lengths. Fabrics used could have been cottons, wool's, silks and satins. The designs were simple and colors were bright. Often times you could tell which clan that person was from by the designs and colors used on the article. Ribbons today are usually made of polyester material and have limited widths.

All the ribbons were hand sewn onto the article. Sometimes beads and shells were sewn directly onto the ribbon to add a special touch. Articles of clothing themselves were made of fabrics and leather. To honor a person was to gift them a pair of moccasins decorated with beads and ribbons.



Piece of felt ( 8 x 11 inches, dark color)

4 to 6 pieces of ribbon, different colors and widths and at least 36 inches long

craft glue


pinking sheers (scissors with a tooth edge)

hole punch

Lay out your piece of felt on a flat surface. Take the widest ribbon first and pre-measure and cut the ribbon to fit the 8 inch end. Take the pinking sheers and careful cut the edge of the ribbon. Glue this ribbon even with the edge of the felt. ''teeth'' facing towards the center of blanket. Let dry.   

Take the second ribbon that should be narrower than the first and repeat the last step. This time you will take the hole punch and make a hole near the ''tooth'' edge, spaced evenly apart. glue on top of first ribbon and let dry.

The last ribbon to be used will be narrower than the 2nd and you will just glue it to the edge of the felt, leave the edge plain.

Repeat these steps for the other 8 inch wide end of felt. trim the edges to make the ends even.

If you like, repeat these steps for the other edges (11 inch side) switch around the colors and designs.

There you have it, your first Lenape Ribbon Work Blanket!

Shared by Mčssochwen Tėme

The same pattern is used for both feet so you only have to make one pattern.  Once you make the pattern you're all set, and you can save it for making more moccasins in the future.

On a piece of poster board draw a line down the center from edge to edge.  Be sure The line is square to the edges.

1)  Stand on the poster board with one foot on each side of the center line, your heels should be 1" from the edge of the poster board.  Your heels should be 1/2 " away from the center line, and the balls of your feet (below the big toe) should be 1/4 " from the center line. Now have someone trace the outline of your feet on the poster board.

2)  Mark points E and E' even with the heels, (1/2" from centerline and 1" from edge of poster board). Mark points D and D' 1/2" from centerline at the edge of the poster board.

3)  Mark point A by drawing a line from the base of the big toe to the centerline.

4)  Draw a curve around the top of the foot 1/2 " from the toes, draw this curve from point A to a point just above the little toe.

5)  Finding points B and B'.  measure the circumference around the widest part of the foot (the ball of the foot), and place half that distance on either side of the center line where the ball of the foot is.  Make a mark at this point on each side of the center line.  Now measure 1/2" straight down and 1/2" straight out.  Mark these two points,  these points are points B and B'.

6)  Now finish drawing the curve from Step 4 around the top of the foot to points B and B'.

7)  Drop a line ( I use a hashed line) straight down from each of the points marking the circumference of the foot to a point 1/2"from the edge of the poster board.  Drop another hashed line from these points to points B and B'.  This 2nd line marks the fold of the cuffs.

8)  Now draw the front corners of the cuff.  Draw a line 2" from point B, perpendicular to the fold  line. repeat for point B'.

9)  Maintain a 2" cuff width to find point C- the rear corner of the cuff.  Connect point C with point D (at the heel), by drawing a slight curve.  This curve should excede 1/2" from the edge of the poster board.

10)  Now cut out your pattern and trace it onto your leather. If you'd like, you can practice by making some moccasins out of felt or cloth before moving directly to leather.  

11)  Sew the seams inside out.  Sew seams B/B' (from point A) and D/D'.  After sewing the toe seam, cut slits for heel tab from point D to point E, and from point D' to point E'.  When sewing the seams use a combination of the running stitch and the whip stitch. 

13)  Turn the moccasin right side out.  Sew the seam for the heel tab using the whip stitch only.  The heel tab can trimmed in any of the illustrated manners.


14)  Attach a thong at the back of the ankle.  Punch 2 holes in the back of the ankle.  Thread the thong through these holes to secure it to the moccasin.  The thong should wrap around the front of your ankle and be tied in the rear of the ankle.  Fold the cuffs down over the thong.


Repeat steps 11-14 for making the moccasin for your other foot.  As mentioned earlier, the same pattern is used for both feet, so you only have to make the one pattern.

(Pictures from