The Story of the Native American Triad Dress
The Native American Triad is a term applied to the three vital plants that have made up the basis of much of North, Central and South
American Indian farming and diets for thousands and thousands of years. Also sometimes referred to as The Three Sisters or Milpa Farming,
these blessed crops are corn, beans and squash. Like my ancestors in Northern Mexico and the American Southwest have done since time
beyond recall, I grow these wonderful foods on my small farm today and my love for them goes beyond just having something tasty
to eat. Corn, beans and squash have lived side by side with the people and the connection is such a deep one that some Mexican Indian
people refer to themselves as corn walking. Native peoples on both continents love and revere these crops so truly that they
are part of many ceremonies and spiritual teachings. These are very important plants.
Working the earth, planting seed, watering, caring for my plants, harvesting their gifts, preparing and eating them; this cycle is very
meaningful to me and I wanted to find a way to celebrate a relationship that brings me so much joy in life...Enter the Native American Triad Dress!
In designing my embroidered cornstalk, I was inspired by an extremely ancient work of Southwestern rock art which I saw. It is
such a powerful image and I feel very strong and good when I am wearing corn on my shoulders. An embroidery template for this
design is included in your purchase of The Native American Triad Dress Pattern Instruction Booklet.
The Squash Blossoms
If you are an admirer of the stunning silver work of the Navajo (Dineh) People, you may recognize my inspiration for the squash
blossom embroidery. The squash blossom featured in Navajo silver jewelry is actually said to have originated in an Arabic design
brought to the Americas by the Spanish. It is a simple, beautiful form and the template for it will be included in your instruction
The Blossoming Bean Vine
The stepped pattern of the bean vine is a variation on a design that has been present in various forms of Indigenous art for
millennia, from South America to Canada. Here, simple scarlet bean blossoms add grace to the neckline of this dress and the template
The Native American Triad Dress is completed with a simple pieced border made up of rectangles and all of the embroidery
stitches are very easy. Instructions are given in the booklet that will help beginners understand how to do basic stem and satin
I have drawn inspiration from places and peoples I honor most, and have worked to create something that truly shows my respect
for the Native American Triad and its importance in my daily life.
More About The Style And Sewing Of The Native American Triad Dress
The photograph shown at left is of an unbelievably beautiful traditional Plains Indians dress. It is carefully pieced
and beaded with thousands and thousands of tiny beads. From the first time I saw this photograph, it stuck with me. It is a
well-known fact that Native American women of just a few generations ago created some of the most elegant and artistic clothing
imaginable. Traditional regalia shows a level of skill that baffles most modern people...how could they have done something
so perfect, with so many little beads, with such wonderful colors and sense of design? Anyone who has a chance to see work of
this kind simply marvels at it.
As a woman who loves to sew, I make no bones about the fact that creating a dress like the one shown in the photograph would
be so far beyond my powers to do. Additionally, this is likely a ceremonial garment and it would only be appropriate for such a garment
to be worn by members of a specific tribe. Each color and symbol has its own religious meaning, appropriate to the people who
wear both antique and modern Native regalia. So, while it would not be respectful to copy this type of clothing, with the greatest
respect, every woman can learn something important from seeing the sensible and elegant construction of a dress like this for
graceful wearing, modesty and beauty. I kept thinking about all of these things, and slowly my idea for a sun dress, which every
woman can make and wear, came clear in my mind.
Interestingly, the construction of the Native American Triad Dress is similar in its simplicity to The Mexican Dress with
which I first launched this website. It is made of just 3 rectangles! Nothing could be easier. I made my dress from 2 contrasting
fabrics - cornflower blue and butternut. I chose a dress-weight organic canvas which feels like light linen. Linen, cotton batiste
or even a printed fabric would work very well for this dress. The dress is embroidered in three colors of embroidery floss: sky
blue, cornflower blue and red. The pieced border above the hem is made out of 1/4 yd. of red cotton and 1/4 yd. of sky blue
cotton. You can follow my exact embroidery pattern to celebrate the Native American Triad crops with me, or you could make up
your own design with motifs and symbols that have a special meaning to you. Or, you could use a printed fabric with this pattern
to make an incredibly comfortable caftan or muumuu. Make something you will feel especially good wearing!
This dress is very loose fitting, providing great ease of movement and coolness on the hot days of summer. It
can be worn un-belted or with a belt such as a concho belt or scarf. Wear it in the
garden, on the beach, taking a walk in the sunshine or doing your errands. You will always feel well-dressed and comfortable.
Like The Mexican Dress, this is not a typical sewing pattern.
There are no paper pattern pieces to cut. The dress is made by taking your
own measurements and following the simple directions in the downloadable instruction booklet. Because of this, the Native American
Triad Dress will fit whomever makes it. Whether you wear a petite or plus size dress, you can make this dress and I know it will
become one of your most cherished summer sun dresses!
What The Native American Triad Might Mean To You
When I first created The Mexican Dress, I embroidered a gown with flowers and birds that have a special meaning to me. Since
first publishing the instruction booklet, so many women have embroidered the designs I created. Others came up with their own
designs to further personalize the significance of their gown. I encourage you to think about the meanings of the designs you
embroider. It will make your clothes more unique to you. A big and satisfying change from grabbing whatever happens to be on sale at the nearest
big box department store!
Maybe you are from the South and love your black eyed peas. Maybe you are an Easterner who grew up munching johnny cakes.
Maybe your Western family relishes butternut squash soup, or your Northern clan eats succotash for supper every Sunday. Or,
maybe you're just a lady who ate about 20,000 peanut butter sandwiches growing up. If any of these scenarios describe you,
you've been eating from the fruits of the Native American Triad all along. Corn, beans and squash have circled the globe and become
staples in countless nations. I think it's important to take a moment to remember that all of this goodness began in Native hands.
In places like Peru and Mexico, the greatest farmers the Earth has ever known took the best things they found in the wild, cultivated
and hybridized them and turned the continents into one giant garden, bursting with corn, beans, squash, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes...
basically, the most delicious foods imaginable! Journey to New Mexico, to Oaxaca, to the outskirts of Lima, and you will find that
the tradition goes on, with the Native American Triad still holding pride of place in Indigenous gardens everywhere. I know these plants
will always be dearest on my farm.
When you wear the Native American Triad on your beautiful dress, you are connecting with history and making a gentle statement
that landrace foods are precious. You are showing that you care about the simplest and most important things - foods for families
and a green and healthy Earth. Knowing this may make you feel a little happier, a little stronger, a little wiser each time you
put on your Native American Triad Dress, and I am wishing you joyful wearing!
Download your Native American Triad Dress Instruction Booklet Now!
A Special Note
This dress pattern is NOT being sold as a Native American Craft. Many people, unfortunately, try to sell products as Native-made
when they are not. This is something that has always bothered and concerned me. Though I am a woman of mixed ancestry, like many people in America, I have no federal tribal affiliation due
to cultural upheaval, lost people and lost records. Because of this, I want to be especially clear in stating that this sun dress pattern
is not being sold as Native-made, nor is it being sold as traditional regalia. That being said, should any women wish to use the
pattern for Powwow regalia or other traditional wear, I would be very honored, as the basic construction should provide a very nice
dress to start with that can be embellished with trims or symbols with meanings appropriate to your tribe. Thank you.