Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


The scene is a battlefield. In a time before modern methods of communication, how do you tell who's who? How are commanding officers identified in the heat of the fighting? Army dress is functional, protecting the body and facilitating combat. It also includes design elements that identify groups and rank. Military sashes were frequently the mark of command on the field. Well into the 1800s, non-commissioned officers, as well as generals, wore sprang sashes. Reenactors of the War of 1812 have created a demand for these items. What is sprang? And how were these sashes made? Sprang is a technique, partway between braiding and weaving. Each row of work moves across the warp to produce two rows of mirror-image fabric. The author has been using the sprang technique to replicate military sashes based on pieces in museum collections. How are the patterns created? What materials best imitate the original sashes? How, exactly, would a person set up a small test piece? What kind of frame best holds a larger work? The author investigates these questions and speculates on qualities of sprang that would have recommended it as the method of choice for these sashes.