Learn how to weave a Cherokee pattern from items found around your home! This video tutorial will show you how to weave a flat mat using the traditional Cherokee pattern called “Chief’s Daughter.”
Cherokee people use materials gathered from nature to make flat reed to weave into mats and baskets. Common materials used are white oak and river cane. Cherokees gather these materials and scrape them down into flat pieces that are then dyed and woven together. The “Chief’s Daughter” pattern is comprised of diamonds.
(Ideal) Rivercane splits or white oak splits
(Realistic) 1 sheet of white paper, 1 sheet of colored construction paper
Part 1: Preparing the Base
1 sheet of white paper
Fold the white piece of paper in half, longways.
Use scissors to cut slits in the paper. Leave around 1” between your first cut and the edge of the paper. Start cutting at the folded edge to the opposite edge. Make sure the leave around ½” at the edge of the paper. DO NOT cut all the way to the edge. Cutting like this will create slits to weave the pattern into. Cut the slits ¼” all the way down until you reach 1” from the other side of the sheet of paper.
Unfold the sheet of paper and press down the crease so that the paper will lay flat.
Part 2: Weaving Your Pattern
1 sheet of colored construction paper cut into ¼” strips
Chief’s Daughter Pattern (printed out or on a mobile device)
Cut your paper into ¼” strips along the longer side. If it is difficult to weave with strips of paper this small, cut them to the width that is comfortable for you to use.
Using the Chief’s Daughter pattern, count the white and black squares on the first line. To help you keep track of what line you are on, place a ruler above the line you are working on so the only line you see is the one you are currently on. We are going to start weaving from the bottom and go up the pattern. The pattern on the first line is 11 white, 1 black, 11 white, 1 black, 11 white.
To weave the pattern, you will weave the colored strip of paper through the slits. If the pattern shows a white square the colored piece will go under the sheet. If the pattern shows a black square the colored piece will go on top of the sheet, or “over”. For the first line we are going to start by going under 11 slits of paper with our colored strip of paper and then over 1 slit. Then repeat and go under the next 11 and under 1.
Move your ruler up so you are now looking at the next row above the first. Count this row. We start with 2 black and then the pattern goes 9 white, 3 black, 9 white, 3 black, 9 white, and finishes with 1 black. We are going to put our colored strip on top of two slits to start our row and then weave under 9. Next, weave under 9, over 3, under 9, and finish over 1. If your paper is not large enough to do the whole row just weave as much as you can.
Continue moving your ruler up the pattern and weaving the colored strips of paper into the white sheet base until you reach the top of your sheet. To keep your pattern from moving around you can glue it to another sheet of paper like cardstock, put it in a plastic page protector, or laminate it!
Cherokee people were and still are surrounded by traditional patterns like the Chief’s Daughter. While the designs are beautiful, every item woven also had a purpose, whether it was a basket to gather food or a mat to cover the ground. There are many different Cherokee weaving patterns to learn. After you have mastered the Chief’s Daughter design, find other patterns to try out by searching our online collections website. You can even create your own patterns. Try out different patterns and color combinations and don’t forget to share your artwork with us on social media!