What Is a Native American Ribbon Shirt Design?

A Native American ribbon shirt features ribbon accents around the collar and cuffs, with one or two horizontal ribbon stripes across the breast and strips of ribbon hanging vertically from the left and right sides of the chest. Ribbon shirts represent cross-cultural fashion, a mixture of Native American €” especially Cherokee €” clothing embellishment applied to a shirt style of European settlers.

One of the easiest ways to make a ribbon shirt is to add ribbon embellishment to a pre-made tunic-style shirt. These shirt styles are basic in design and require minimal skills to make from scratch. A basic shirt requires at least 3 yards of 45-inch wide fabric.

The body of the shirt starts with a large rectangle long enough to extend past the hips, over the shoulders and past the bottom on the back side. Cut a hole in the center for the head. Sleeves are formed from rectangles sewn onto the larger body piece. Sew up the sides of the body piece, leaving 4-inch slits at the bottom for ease of movement.

Ribbon shirts can have traditional collars added, and yokes to strengthen the shoulders. For a more basic design, cut a V-neck slit in the neck hole and attach ribbon around the neck and slit to strengthen the collar.

Pin the ribbon or ribbons in place on the shirt where desired. Secure them with straight stitches along the edges. In addition to ribbon details, ribbon shirts can also be embellished with applique in Native American themes, usually across the back between the shoulder blades or on the front below each shoulder.