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Sewing Part 1    Sewing Part 2    Sewing Part 3    Sewing Part 4

About Doukhobor Sewing

In Dorothy Burnham’s detailed account of “Doukhobor Textile Traditions in Canada, Unlike the Lilies,” she states, “Home sewing was done by hand in Russia, but sewing machines were obtained by the Doukhobors very soon after their arrival in Canada. The surviving simple garments are neatly sewn by machine – a fairly sure sign of Canadian origin.”


Most Doukhobor pioneer women sewed day-to-day clothing for their family from the traditional wool, hemp and linen heritage fabrics as well as cottons, either recycled from the sugar and flour sacks or from materials that were provided to them as gifts. Recycling was a necessity in the difficult first years, so available second hand items were often sewn into children’s clothing. As the villages became more established, experienced Doukhobor seamstresses/tailors provided services that produced more tailored clothing, especially for the men.


Today, in the beginning of the 21st century, Doukhobor women continue to sew, more as a hobby rather than a necessity. Creating a traditional woman’s Doukhobor suit has become a work of art. Some Doukhobor women continue to sew this unique costume, but many choose to have the “expert” artisans fulfill this task.


The USCC Cultural Interpretive Society is proud to feature instructions and suggestions from two local seamstresses, Irene Tamelin and Emma Kavaloff, both from the Kootenay region of British Columbia, in the construction of this unique garment. Also, although the Doukhobor “zanaveska” is no longer part of the traditional Doukhobor ensemble, Florence Swetlikoff shares her mother’s pattern for the purpose of documentation and preservation. Florence’s mother, Helen Poohachoff (nee Kabatoff), an avid craftswoman, probably developed these guidelines around the 1930s when taffeta and nylon fabrics became stylish.







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