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Velma's Work
Ribbon Work

    Velma studied sewing at Chilocco when she was a girl. While she was there, part of her training included the sewing of uniforms for the students. These sewing classes were geared for teaching a girl to become a seamstress. Every thing about putting a garment together was taught whether making bound button holes, studying different fabrics, cutting patterns and so much more. The sewing machines at Chilocco were upstairs at Leupp Hall. The room was quite large with machines placed around the room and lined up through the middle of the room. Many of the girls were home economic students in the 1930's.

    In this photograph Velma stands holding a Ponca dress. The collar is like the sailor's middy. Fabric is satin, or some fabric to catch the lights while the dancing  in the arena. Behind Velma is a man's ribbon shirt. In the background are two pillows with Native American designs on them. Very often people will make a request for something like this or maybe towels, sheets for whatever other place they can be used. These are used for showers  and honor dance give-aways as well as other celebrations.

    Ribbon work is difficult and tedious to do and takes a special dedication for sewing these garments. The fabric is slippery and slides  around while the seamstress tries to work with it.  Very much thought has to given to the blending of the colors because one is upon another. Actually ribbon work can be called applique. The Ponca and Osage differ in craftmanship but is similar, too. Ponca work is applique and Osage is a folding of the ribbon to get a design and pattern in this way. Ponca designs are usually quite large but often the Osage has smaller design, but then, of course, not always. There are pictures of designs on honor blankets that show a larger design by the Osage.

    At 92 Velma's vision is limited. Sometimes she has to feel the fabric and design on the machine as she sews because she cannot see. Regardless,  she continues to work with an attitude toward a labor of love more than great monetary gains.

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