A historic photograph showing the crowded but neatly organized living area of Lt. Adolphus Greely. Books, clothing, and scientific instruments hang from walls and bookcases.

How Fast Can You Sew Traditional Skin Clothing?

Inuit seamstresses used complex stitching techniques such as the overcast stitch, tuck stitch, running stitch and waterproof stitch. The overcast stitch was the most common, and used on the majority of garment seams. The fur sides are placed together and sewn so that they are neither too tight (should they tear) nor too loose (should they work and split). A gathering or tuck stitch was used when a larger piece must be attached to a smaller piece. A running stitch is used to attach facings to the garment, as well as stiffen the heal of boots. However, the most famous and intricate of these was the waterproof or ilujjiniq stitch – it is unequaled in annals needlework. The needle only partially penetrates the hide in the first line of the stitch, and then travels completely through in the second. This produces a tight waterproof seam because the needle and sinew thread never penetrate both skins at the same hole.

Click on the Options button and select Play! Your job is to use some of these stitch types to successfully sew a suit of traditional hide clothing for your expedition to Fort Conger.

  1. Select either an Amouti (Women’s Parka) or Mitts
  2. Choose a portion of the pattern and drag the piece over to where you think it fits on the pattern.
  3. If you successfully matched the piece to the pattern, PERFECT! If not, try again until you get it right.
  4. Once the section is sewn, return to the side bar to choose the next piece and match it to the pattern.
  5. Repeat this process until the entire garment is sewn.

A timer provides you with an indication of how long it takes you to finish the garment. Can you finish before winter comes?