Prior to the middle of the 19th century, most Columbia River twined bags were made using Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum) for their foundation fabrics and various natural grasses (such as bear grass, Xerophylum tenax) for their false-embroidered designs.  After 1860 or so, many weavers began using cornhusk, which was cheaper and stronger than hemp, for the foundation fabric, and expanded the range of materials used for decoration to include cornhusk as well as woolen yarns.  

Toward the end of the 19th century, commercially produced cotton string became widely available as a third type of foundation material, while after 1880 glass beads emerged as an increasingly popular decorative material.  Additional substances that are often seen in twined bags include leather, which was typically used for edging and for carrying straps, and various types of trade cloth (like cottons, flannels, and velvets), which were used for both interior linings and exterior finishings.  

Traditionally, the dyes that were used to color twined bags were all derived from natural plant materials.  However, during the latter half of the 19th century, many weavers began to use synthetic chemical dyes as well, which provided a broader range of brighter, more vivid hues.