Last Updated: 10-15-2006
I'm about a quarter Native American, and as such I've always wanted to do a native costume. When some friends and I decided to do a "Cowboys and Indians" theme for Halloween this year, I took the oppertunity to do Pocohontas - the quasi-historical Powhatan figure. I didn't particularly want to do the Disney version, so I went with my own design instead (although the arm tattoo is similar to Disney's).
Despite my historical inspiration, however, I certainly wasn't going for historical accuracy with this costume. Since I was planning on wearing it to a dance party, I needed something I could move in and not become overheated easily in - something which happens quite often at these gatherings, given the lack of space and ventilation. Therefore, I decided to do a two-peice design, and set to work.
I started out with several yards of light brown suade, and about half a yard of dark brown suade for accents. The skirt is just a simple two seam design, with fringe along the bottom. It laces up each side with dark brown fabric. I then created a beaded design using glass and clay beads along the bottom edge, and threaded about 15 strings of beads in between the fringe as decoration. I didn't want to do anything TOO fancy (I was going for semi-realism), but I wanted to break up the fringe which tends to make things fake and store-bought looking.
For the top, I started out with an old strapless bra as a base, and built the top over and around it, so everything would be safe and secure up there. Remember - this is for dancing! The edges and straps were accented with the dark brown suade, which laced up into a bow at the center of the bodice. I also stiched on some subtle bead patterns in the corners of the cups.
I then stiched a long strip of brown suade to wear as a belt/wrap, from which I attached three faux fur "pelts" I made. I also added fringe and more clay beads to the belt, which ties around the waist.
Since I wanted my Pocahontas to be an archer, I used the rest of the light brown suade to make a "quiver" sachel, with fringe and beading which I can sling across my chest with a dark brown belt. I then made about 15 arrows, whittling sticks I'd found in the woods, and attaching stone heads to them with faux leather thongs. The bow I made from a pliable curved tree branch, which is bent with some cotton yarn and decorated with beads and fringed cloth. The bow actually does SHOOT the arrows I made, just not very far.
Finally, I added the accents. The necklace is a stone pendant which has an engraving of a native riding a horse and drawing back his bow - although its hard to see the design from the pictures. It's strung aroudn a leather strap and ties around my neck. For my hair I recycled my Arwen wig, and tied a couple of strands of beads, feathers, and ties to bobby pins which are stuck in wherever they look best. My main accent feather I had found on a walk in a field several years ago, and I love it. For makeup, I used brown lipstick and eyeshadow, to give a more natural look. I also used brown Halloween makeup to paint the "tattoo" around my arm with a brush. Once it dried it looked very real.
All in all I love this costume. Walking around the woods for the photoshoot, I really felt like I was part of my surroundings.
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