How to: Make a Medicine Bag

Category: Shelter / Difficulty Level: 1
Posted: 2012-05-23 09:47:13
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A Medicine bag is a traditional Native American bag or pouch usually worn around the neck that contains items that the wearer considers holy, sacred, or important to him or her and thus containing super natural powers for the wearer. These items were traditionally obtained through a vision quest the wearer would undertake away from the tribe that consisted of prayer and hardships such as fasting for a period of time, and sometimes after taking hallucinogens.

The purpose of the medicine bag is to hold items that contain personal power for the wearer or that strengthen the connection with The Spirit for guidance or personal growth, and are sometimes symbolic towards certain attributes and goals the wear wishes to ascribe, such as healing allies, aiding fighting skills, aiding hunting abilities, protection from enemies, etc…

Also, the wearer could carry items of endearment to remind them of home, or where they come from when on travels

Here, I would put in maybe a small picture of my daughter, some of my plant-allies such as, yarrow, plantain, and nettles, for use when needed, and maybe some extra money for emergency phone call or bus-fare. It’s up to you what you put in yours.

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Instructions

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1). You will need:

  • Buck-skin, leather, or material of your choice
  • Paper to make a pattern, or you can eyeball it
  • Drawing utensil
  • Awl & needle (leather needle shown here)
  • Cordage for thread (waxed nylon [artificial sinew] shown here)

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2). Layout pattern on wrong-side of material, and trace. You will need one “T” for the welt and fringe, and two “U”-shapes for the front and the back of the pouch pieces

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3). Sometimes you have to layout pattern in different ways if you have limited material. Be sure to label your pieces. Here I marked one “u”-shape “F” for FRONT and the other “B” for BACK on the pouch pieces

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4). Cut out your pieces. Be sure to utilize or save any extra material. Here I will be using the two round pieces to make cordage for thong other embellishments.

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5). Lay back piece WRONG-SIDE DOWN, then welt and tassels WRONG-SIDE DOWN on top of it. Then lay the front part WORNG-SIDE UP on top of both. Be sure to match the side and bottom edges.

Note: The tassel bottom lays in the direction of the pouch tops

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6). Begin to sew using a whip-stitch from the middle of the bottom of the pouch, stitching through all three pieces. Be sure to run thread half-way through; we will sew up one side, take out the needle, then sew up the other with the remaining length

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7). Pinch the material together and be sure all three edges line up.

Warning: Be sure to NOTE sew tassel part to front and back pouch pieces. Sometimes it helps to fold the tassel part to keep from that happening.

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8). Continue to whip-stitch all the way to the top of one side of the pouch.

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9). Note how here, one side is stitched up to the top, then knotted off. Then remove the needle from the thread on the right, and re-thread it with the length of thread on the left, and continue to sew up the left side of the pouch in the same manner as the right.

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10). This is how it should look once sewing is complete.

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11). Trim any extra welting at the top of the pouch as well as excess thread.

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12). Now turn bag right-side out. Using your fingers, work the bag and tassel in to shape by gently pulling and pushing until it is completely right-side out.

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13). Trim excess welting, be sure to NOT cut the front or back side of the bag in the process.

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14). Match the side seams together…

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15). Using a needle, or awl poke holes through the pinched front and back sides. Repeat the same on the seam sides. There should be a total of 8 holes – 2 in front, 2 in back, 1 on either side of the seams; so 2 on the left, and 2 holes on the right.

You can widen the holes using a thicker awl…here I am using a chopstick.

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16). Thread your thong from the front through the holes. Here I have added an optional embellishment that has been threaded through by the thong as well. Now you can carefully cut the tassels.

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17). The finished bag with tassels cut and twisted for an additional touch. You can do this by wetting the tassels then twisting with your fingers, so they become little spirals

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