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sewing with deer hide and beadwork

timeatlast | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I am looking for input from veteran seamstresses that have worked with deerhide.  I have little experience with this, only one vest years ago, and would like to make myself a really cool western style jacket with some beadwork, sort of like Steven Segal style from one of his movies, except it’s for a woman.  Would really appreciate any thoughts or suggestions for this project.  Thank you. 


  1. KharminJ | | #1

    I don't really have any experience 'sewing' it - limited to pinning pieces together at the shoulders! But maybe, this will "bump" the topic up where someone else will see it! 

    Hope you show us what you do come up with!


  2. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #2

    deer hide

    Years ago -- so many, I can't remember for sure, but it'd be about 30 +/-   --  I made my DH a buckskin "mountain man suit" which consisted of a pull over shirt and pants, both with fringe.  We were shooting muzzle loading rifles in competition at the time, and some of the shoots were rendevous style and one had to dress in the period.  But I digress.  I cheated a bit in the construction.  I overlapped the seams and (the cheating part) glued the two layers together very lightly to hold them in place.  Then I punched holes and sewed the two layers together with long strips of buckskin about a quarter inch wide.  The needle did not have an eye, it was flat and in two layers.  One layer was shorter than the other with the longer layer having a couple of prongs that would grip the leather strips, with the needle end of the strip actually lying between the two layers.   Gosh, I hope that makes sense.  My brain is old, and I can't recall they name of the needle, hence the elaborate description.   This was all hand done, no machines involved.  I've got some pictures around here somewhere, and also still have the suit which my DH often wore hunting when he was going to be in rough territory because it protected him from the elements.

    1. KharminJ | | #3

      Thanks for the memory-jog, JQ!

      I  guess I DO know a couple of things about sewing with leather of any kind ~

      1) Use a "leather needle" - whether by hand or machine. The shape helps keep the material from tearing so easily.

      2) Be careful of the type of thread you use - polyester or nylon will cut through the leather -especially soft ones like deer.

      3) If you're machine stitching, use the absolutely longest stitch-length available - you don't want your leather to look like the edge of a postage stamp - it WILL tear at the seams!

      (Hmmm - my cursor seems to have become invisible!  It still works, but I can't see it? Anyway ...)

      I hope you'll let us know how you're doing -


    2. krichmond | | #4

      leather lacing needles

      Hi JunkQueen:

      I inherited some of those very needles you are describing.  My husband's grandmother used to do a lot of leatherwork (embossing, purses, moccasins, etc.) and left us her stash of supplies.  Some of the needles are marked "Arrow" which I presume is the name of the manufacturer.  My little girl (3 year old) uses the needles to string beads - they work much better than the toy plastic needles.

      Best regards,


  3. lou19 | | #5

    Gosh! where do you get the deerhide from?

    1. lizziesews | | #6

      Sewing with leather

      From the deer!  (What can I say?  It's 5 a.m.  I'm weird at this hour.)  I also have elk hide, cow hide, and even some camel left.  Living in  Wyoming and Colorado, they're  not too hard to come by.  Well, the camel didn't come from here.  If you want some, contact some hunters, or a taxidermist.

      I've been trying to learn how to do beading directly on the leather.  Every person or book I've checked out, says you have to sew the beads on fabric and the fabric to the leather.  The old examples I've studied have the beads on the leather witih no fabric.  The only idea that sort of works is to poke a hole with a stronger needle and then try to put the beading needle/thread through the same hole.

      Any ideas?

      1. lou19 | | #7

        Thanks for your reply!!!!!!!!!! Stiil laughing.

        I live in Brighton, Sussex   in the UK  ................a few deer in parks here but I've never seen deerhide...........or elk!!!!!!!!!! Yet alone camel hide!!!!!!!!!

        Would love to see pictures


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