The original Cherokee tear dress was printed on cotton fabric with dark and the lighter colored flower figures within the pattern. The choice of fabric served three purposes providing washable cotton for everyday wear, wool for winter and velvet or satin for formal wear. It is called a tear dress because all the square or rectangle pieces of fabric use to make it are torn from a single length of fabric. The fabric was torn because scissors were a rare item in many of the home and only the more experienced seamstresses would have had the knowledge of pattern drafting. Today, the dress is usually worn floor length.