Say KECH-KEH-MEE. Here’s a textile museum definition of quechquemitl?
Some people call it a shawl. It isn’t. Others say it’s a poncho. It isn’t. It’s not a scarf … exactly. It’s two pieces of rectangular cloth sewn together at a counterintuitive place for the likes of me, finished with a bound hem or some fancy crotched edging or fringes to become an elegant summer drape over a sleeveless dress. A wool one does just fine in winter to keep necks and shoulders snuggy warm.
Women from Mexico handy with needle and thread embellished their quechquemitls with incredible embroidery and fringes. Some patterns were woven into the cloth as it was formed on the loom.
Today, I finally got to the piece of Tenancingo ikat handwoven cloth I bought a few weeks ago in the Tlacolula market. I don’t crochet, but I do sew (when there’s time). I find it very relaxing and creative!
First, I started with two pre-washed and dried pieces of cloth, 14-1/2″ wide x 27″ long. Here’s the pattern I took a photo of at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca where their show featuring quechquemitls is a knock-out. Images above are from the show.
Sew together at the dotted line. I used a sewing machine.
Here’s the tricky part — where to connect the remaining seam. Do you see it? The short edge connects to the long side. The dotted line in Diagram 4 below shows you where the stitching line is located.
Wearing the finished product and trying to take a photo of it! I don’t have a suitable model or mannequin. On the right, I pieced it together with pins before sewing. Here’s the prototype sample (below left) at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.
Then, I discovered, there’s an entirely different way to sew the pieces together, so there’s a flap at the neck opening. See if you can figure this one out (below).
There wasn’t a diagram.
This handy little cover-up is great for the beach, pool, or to keep your shoulders protected from the sun. When I wear it in a V, it doubles for a nicely draping scarf. Some indigenous women even wear theirs on their heads.
Let me know if you make one and send me photos of how yours turned out.