Michael and I were fortunate to have spent ten days in Oaxaca, Mexico recently. Oaxaca is a city in southern Mexico with a rich combination of peoples and languages, and with an equally rich textile tradition. Embroidery and weaving are important parts of several indigenous groups as well as part of the mestizo population
I noticed women in public embroidering printed tablecloths like the ones above, which I photographed at the Sunday market at Tlacolula. I also saw a woman selling these tablecloths from a street stall in the center of Oaxaca. While we were there there was an on-going protest of teachers in the main part of town, and I noted that a number of them embroidered as they occupied the zocalo.
Women of all social classes wear embroidered blouses, and some of the styles are associated with specific indigenous groups. Blouses are available in a range of price points from the 10 dollar blouses sold on the street, to elaborately hand embroidered blouses sold for hundreds of dollars in chic boutiques. Aprons are also worn in public by indigenous women as well as by middle class mestizo housewives, often with detailed embroidery.
There's an impressive textile museum in Oaxaca, with examples of embroidery done by women in the region going back to the 1700s. I noticed a blouse that incorporated both hand and machine stitching, the machine stitches were free form embroidery used to fill in empty space.
All this reminded of an unfinished project I began months ago with Debra Dixon, who does machine embroidery on commission and who has a line of embroidered aprons. After some brainstorming back and forth, I cut out a blouse pattern I found the rough sketches of on the internet, and sent her the relevant pieces for her to machine embroider.
|You can see how I marked and made notes on the fabric|
The pattern was a good starting point, but I had to Mac Guyver the underarm gussets and the skirt pleats to make everything fit through the bust.
I love these vibrant colors! The blouse remained unsewn for months since it was too cold to wear it at home, but now that summer's here, and with renewed inspiration, it was time for its debut.
The possibilities for machine-embroidered garments are endless. I'm inspired to considered some new ideas for embroidered blouses, both in folkloric and in contemporary styles.