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My Beaded Vigil Sash

From the time I first saw a beaded Order of the Arrow sash, I knew I wanted one. As a beader, and more generally, as a 'maker', I knew I wanted to do it myself. Of course, I only wanted to do it once, so I decided I would wait until I became Vigil and/or until I realized I would never be Vigil (since the honor is bestowed upon you, and not earned).

I became a Vigil member my first summer of college, and regular 'life events' got in the way of starting the project. So the beaded sash got moved to the back burner. Now that I am a father, with a son active in scouting, and I have become active with the lodge again, and time to start the sash.

A lot of credit for this particular design goes to Shawn J Ashe. I found his posting at when I was looking for ideas/patterns. I loved the lighting effect used on the arrow, and the idea of using something other than the legend down the back.

In case the link moves/website goes down, I did create a PDF of the page.



If you wish to use my patterns, feel free to do so. But please do not trust the overall count. Before you use my pattern, please see the section about placement.

When I work on a loom, I do the beadwork in reverse. That is I am actually looking at the back of the beadwork. So if you look at the arrow patterns, you will noted that they are all inverted. The vigil arrows are going clockwise in the picture below, but when you look at the sash, they are going counter-clockwise.

Not all images below are inverted, such as those with words. I did invert before printing them out for use, but they just seemed odd to display here.


As noted, I loved Shawn's lighting effect, so I wanted to use his pattern verse the other 'one color' designs I had seen on the web. Since his pattern did not include the vigil triangle, I had to start there. His design has a 4-column arrow shaft, and odd number of column width. This combination means any vigil triangle will end up being off-center of the shaft, or the sash. Because of this, I added one column to his design. So although it sounded simple enough originally, it did require me to redo the arrowhead and fletching pattern some. I added 1 row down the center of the arrowhead, so that it would stay centered on the sash, and I added one row beside the shaft so the fletching would remain centered.

Click on image to see details and/or download original.

The 'pink columns' seen in the pattern represent the translucent beads.

OA Sash - Arrow Head

OA Sash - Vigil Triangle

OA Sash - Fletchings

When I printed out the patterns, I found that two of the three shades of red were too hard to 'read' while beading. So modified the originals, and made the light red 'dark pink'. Here are my “Printer Friendly” versions of the Arrow if you would like to use them. Top, Vigil Triangle, Bottom

Since I earned the “Centuries of Service” award, I figured I would put this on my beaded sash as well. You can grab that pattern if you like.


For the back, I knew I did not want it plain. (Have you ever tried to bead a large, one color section? Extremely tedious, on the verge of painful, not to mention very boring to look at afterwards.) I have never been a fan of the beaded legends, can't really put a thumb on why, just never really liked it.

After seeing Shawn's design, it gave me the idea of doing “My Own Legend”. Fill in the back with things that reflect my history within the order. My original idea of my legend was really hard to work with. How would I reflect things like Vice-Chief, or Dance Team Chair, or (now as adult) Dance Team advisor. That is when I realized my lodge's history would be work. While I have been in the OA, my lodge has merged twice; creating 3 different lodges and 2 main camps (one of which I worked at, and one of which I currently attend every summer). As an added bonus, the colors of the various totems work well together.

Click on image to see details and/or download original.

The 'pink columns' seen in the pattern represent the translucent beads.

Tanacharison #67 - Wolf

Wolf The totem of my original lodge, Tanacharison #67. Almost all of my youth OA time was spent with this as my lodge, including my nomination for Vigil honor.

Camp Twin Echo Thunderbird Logo

Camp Twin Echo Tanacharison's camp, and the camp I worked at as a youth for 5 summers.

 Enda Lechauhanne #57 - Fork in River

Fork in River The totem of the lodge when Tanacharison merged with Kiasutha to form Enda Lechauhanne (#57) *. This is the lodge where I received my Vigil.

 Heritage Reservation Logo

Heritage Reservation The current “official” council camp. The troop I am with now (as a leader) camps here every summer for summer camp, and this is the council's 'main' summer camp (so by default, the lodges 'main' camp).

Allohak Menewi #57 - Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion The totem of the lodge currently. In 2011 when Enda merged with Nachamawat to form Allohak Menewi (#57).

Gentgeen Takachsin Vigil Name Gentgeen Takachsin (Dancing Leader), my vigil name.

*NOTE: Many people think the totem for Enda Lechauhanne is the Indian, or the canoe, or the Indian in the canoe - but the actual totem was the river fork - representing both the merger, as well as our home town of Pittsburgh.

Design Placement

It is important to note that if you are using my design, the 'white space' is not shown correctly in the pattern elements. If you were to place the 3 arrow element patterns side-by-side, it would not represent the finished product correctly. There is more space between the bottom of the arrow head and the top of the triangle then shown in the pattern.

I knew that my pattern was going to produce a sash that is a bit wider than the cloth sash. So I wanted to make sure everything scaled correctly. I started with beading the vigil triangle, and this allowed me to find that the overall width of my beaded sash was going to be 2.75“. The cloth sash is 2.5”, so now I have my ratio: 2.75/2.5 = 1.1

Now for every 1 inch of cloth sash, it will be 1.1 inch of beaded sash. For example, the distance between the bottom of the vigil triangle to the fetching on my cloth sash is just a tiny bit more than 2 inches. So when I was beading, I made that same space a tiny bit more than 2×1.1=2.2 inches. (i.e. I beaded for 2.25 inches)

So I did not worry about how many rows were in my pattern for those 'white space' areas, I simply beaded until the length of that section was 'enough'.

For the back, I also ignored the 'white space'. I was able to use the completed front as my reference, and count the number of TOTAL rows I wanted the totems to take up. I then simply did the math. Subtracted the number of rows used in my totem patterns from the total rows desired, and then divided the remainder by 5 (i.e. the number of spaces between 6 items). In my finished product, I have 9 rows of beads between each totem.


Some numbers …

rows per side 341
beads per row 40
beads per side 13,640
total beads (front & back) 27,280
Total # of hanks ~8
Total days 92
Finished length 57.5“

Started project 2015-04-26, completely finished on 2015-07-26. (Yes, surprisingly exactly 3 months. The lodge had an event on 7/28 that I wanted to make sure I had it finished for- and I made it :D )


How I mounted, how I joined


The shadow effect

View the work in progress…

Although the crafts seen on this site are 'Native American Inspired', they are not created by an enrolled member of any tribe. All crafts seen are made by me, unless otherwise noted. Feathers of protected species shown here are either repoduction, or natural alternative.

craftwork/beadwork/vigilsash.txt · Last modified: 2016/04/13 15:00 by Kevin Squire