How to Make a Jingle Dress

by Contributor
Cone-shaped metal is used for making jingling cones.

Cone-shaped metal is used for making jingling cones.

Although one may buy a jingle dress, traditionally a dancer or her family made them. The most important aspect of the dress is the jingle cone, which was traditionally rolled from tobacco can lids but can now be purchased. Although time consuming, many dancers prefer to roll their own cones so they can achieve a specific sound while they dance.

Choose a simple dress pattern. Dresses can be made of cloth (in the older days prints were common), leather and even velvets or satin. Most are fairly straight and simple dresses when seen without the ornamentation. Make the dress.

Plan the placement of the jingle cones. Often, jingle dresses have multiple rows of cones from the waist down and one or two V shaped rows across the chest. Some dresses also use jingles along the lower arm seams and even across the back in a manner similar to fringe on a common buckskin jacket.

Determine how many jingles should be used. Many traditionalists say that a dress should have 365 jingle cones, although many modern dancers use as many as they feel necessary.

Make jingle cones by gripping the edge of a snuff can or chewing tobacco can lid (other lids are too heavy and not melodic) at the edge with a pair of needle nose pliers and wrapping the lid tightly around the pliers into a cone shape. Slide the cone off of the pliers.

Knot a ribbon or thin piece of cloth at one end leave three or four inches on the unknotted end and thread it through a jingle cone. The knot should keep the cone from falling off the ribbon. Sew the end of the ribbon onto the dress.

Cover the ends of the ribbons fastening the jingles to the dress with a wider piece of ribbon or decorative fabric.

Warning

  • This is a very basic jingle dress. As with all regalia, they get very fancy and expensive. Remember that tradition is the real purpose of the dress and the dance.

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