How to Make a Parfleche

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Awning canvas
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper punch
  • Rawhide laces

How to Make a Parfleche. The parfleche was a staple of Native Americans in the seventeenth century. A beautifully decorated rawhide storage bag, it was used to store dried meats, clothes, sewing supplies, and other important items. This is a great craft for children to make when studying early American history. The following instructions and a few supplies will get them started.

Cut a piece of the awning canvas into a 28x36 inch rectangle. This canvas can be found at most fabric stores. Measure 6 inches from each corner of the long side and make a mark. Measure 4 inches from each corner on the short side and mark. Draw a diagonal line across each corner connecting the marks. Trim off the triangle that is formed by this line.

Instruct the kids as they draw their own design on the untreated side of the canvas with a pencil. The treated side has a slick feel and won't allow the paint to adhere. Mountains, rivers and geometric designs were favorites among the Native American women, but let them use their own imagination.

Paint the design with acrylic paints. Use a minimum amount of colors, three is best, and let each color dry thoroughly before adding another.

Find the center point of the long edge and place a mark on both sides 1/2 inch in. Use a paper punch and make holes at the marks. Fold these sides to the center and connect by running a rawhide lace through both holes and tying a loose knot.

Fold the short ends in to meet each other at the center. Make 3 equally-spaced marks on these ends, making sure they line up. Punch holes through these marks. Run the remaining rawhide laces through these holes. Add a bead or beads to the ends of the laces and tie off with a knot. Tie the ends together loosely to form the parfleche.