Category Archives: Clothing Design

Flouncy Aprons of San Miguel del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

Oh, gosh, how to resist these extraordinary aprons of San Miguel del Valle.  The Zapotec community is nestled into a steep hillside 8 km up into the Sierra Juarez from the Tlacolula crossroads on the way to Cuajimoloyas. Remote but accessible by car.

Merry modeling the flounciest apron, which is for sale.

This is a small village of about 1,000 people many of whom are rug weavers that do contract work for Teotitlan del Valle resellers and exporters.

Four Aprons For Sale, Below.

Church on the plaza, San Miguel del Valle, open every day but Friday

But the fashion has turned to heavily embroidered flouncy aprons and this is becoming a more substantial part of the local economy. These are aprons for us to dance in, to wear to parties, to adorn oneself in the color Oaxaca is known for. When I come back to Oaxaca from North Carolina in November, I’m going to have an apron party! Or, maybe I’ll have one in NC, too.

Me, Epifania and #3 Flouncy Apron (for sale)

These are aprons with lots of gathers, pleats and tucks embellished with flowers and birds, scallops and pockets. They take hours to make even though they are machine embroidered. They take a seamstress of considerable skill to manipulate and change the threads, follow the curvature of the pattern drawn on cloth. No two are alike.

Work in progress on the sewing machine

I made my second visit to San Miguel just a few days ago with friend Merry Foss. I was on a quest to find an apron for Barbara Anderson. My first visit was a couple of weeks ago on an Envia Tour with Jacki Cooper Gordon, and I decided I needed to go back on my own, take my time to meander the streets and discover other apron-makers. Merry likes to meander just like me.

Barbara Anderson’s apron — SOLD

When Barbara saw that Envia post, she wrote to ask me if I would find her an apron. I did at Epifania’s workshop. Fani and her husband both sew and embroider. This one, that I knew would be a perfect fit for Barbara, was sold. Someone in the village had given Fani a deposit to hold it for her. I said, sell it to me and make another one. She did. A bird in the hand, as they say.

SOLD. #1 apron for sale, size M, $95 USD plus mailing.

Now, full disclosure: The beauty is in the embroidery work. The cost is in the time to create the design and work it at the sewing machine. The fuller the embroidery, the more expensive the piece.  Though, the finish work leaves much to be desired! Across all the workshops and on the best embroidered pieces, seams are unfinished and ragged. No pinking shears or sergers here. The pieces are sewn together quickly, it seems.

SOLD. #2. For sale, size S-M. $85 USD plus mailing.

How to Buy

  • Send me an email. norma.schafer@icloud.com
  • Tell me your name and mailing address
  • Tell me the Number of the Apron that you want to buy.
  • I will send you an invoice that includes apron and USPS priority mailing cost.
  • I will ship between September 17-20, after I return to the USA

Finished seams and dangling threads are a problem for quality control throughout our Oaxaca region. But, these garments — as in many other towns — are made for the local women. It’s the embroidery that matters most to them. Many of these pieces are used for daily wear — washing, cooking, baby-tending, cleaning, going to market. So they get used up fast. Another version of FAST FASHION? Perhaps. Is it up to us to influence the quality of something in order to meet a global fashion demand? What changes in the process?

SOLD. #3 apron for sale, size M-L, $95 USD plus mailing.

Perhaps it’s only gringas like me who want a piece to last, with finished seams, edges that match, dangling threads clipped.

I must confess, this type of fanciful, flouncy stitching is a departure for me, but it has also captivated me. Fun to wear. Frivolous. Brings a smile. The fabric can be a cotton-poly blend, or pure polyester or maybe even rayon. Not the best. Shiny — brillo — is what the women here like. Wash it, dry it fast, wear it again. My tendency is to go for natural dyes and hand-woven cloth. But, I’m smitten.

#4 apron for sale, size S-M, $70 USD plus mailing.

A beautiful hill town with a corner chapel

We arrived in San Miguel del Valle around 2 p.m. Just in time for comida — afternoon lunch. The fare of the day at Comedor Tere — an Envia supported enterprise — was fish. Mojarra to be precise. A whole fish, deep fried but not greasy, served with nopal salad, delicious black bean puree, rice, salad and homemade tortillas, plus a pitcher of fresh guava juice. Total cost for two, 100 pesos (that’s about $5 USD total, $2.50 each).

Tere disinfects everything and I eat lunch with confidence.

Meal of the day, mojarra, tender and moist.

Tere used her interest free Envia loan to expand her hours and offerings, opening a family-style restaurant beyond the carry-out service she used to do exclusively.

Recycled bottle recycling bin. Now that’s creative.

In Mexico and anywhere, I find it’s important to have time to wander villages, meet people serendipitously and see what one can discover. Time and being open to a new experience gives us a chance to explore possibilities beyond the beaten path. It’s the approach I like to take on my tours, too. Keep enough open time to see what and who pops up!

Niche in the church wall. How old is this? Centuries.

Leslie’s Regrets Sale: Clothing From Chiapas and Oaxaca

I had this crazy idea of starting an on-line e-commerce website marketplace to sell and resell new and like-new Mexico clothing AND my own dress design.

(Skip the story, if you like, and scroll down to the goods.)

(I’ve been making and wearing the same dress pattern in different fabrics for the last several years. I thought, oh, I could make and sell these dresses too, because women have stopped to ask me where I bought  it!)

I bought a domain name and tried to set up a Shopify store for the last two weeks. I’m frustrated. I can’t seem to get it. Too complicated. Too much time invested without decent results. Not good enough to publish, yet.

Meanwhile, I promised my friend Leslie, who did more than what was required to support artisan weavers and dyers on trips she took with me to Chiapas and the Oaxaca coast, to help her sell what she bought and has not worn.  So, here are six beautiful pieces of clothing. You buy from me and Leslie ships to you from Denver, Colorado. Easy. You get it in a few days! See below on how to buy.

#1. San Antonino embroidered and crochet blouse in black and white

#1. SOLD. Flowers galore like a summer garden filled with pansies in a subdued palette of black, white with a tad of blue/gray for accent and depth. A masterful piece of embroidery work from one of the greats in the Oaxaca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco. Brand new, never worn. Easy wash by hand or in machine on gentle, cold water, hang to dry. No ironing needed. Size Medium. $225 USD includes 3-day priority shipping in continental USA.

#1 detail of B&W San Antonino blusa

#2 San Mateo del Mar double-weave shawl, deep purple

#2. This stunning shawl was made on the back-strap loom in the Oaxaca Coast community of San Mateo del Mar. In 2017, the town was hit by an immense earthquake and the village was decimated. Many weavers suffered, losing their homes. We bought this at an earthquake relief sale on our Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour to benefit the weavers. It is 100% cotton and 100% made-by-hand. One-of-a-kind. For those of you who love graphic design and making a fashion impact, this shawl will fulfill all your wishes. Note: The shawl photographs black but it is a deep purple. New and never worn. 22-1/2″ wide x 75″ long. $200 includes 3-day priority USPS mailing in lower 48 states.

#2 has a beautiful drape, fine details

#3 Rayas Red and White, Chiapas back-strap loom

#3. This is a comfortable, 100% cotton blouse made on a back-strap loom from finest quality mercerized thread. It’s brand new and one-of-a-kind. The traditional design on the white stripes are added during the weaving process (not embroidered) and is called supplementary weft. Very fine and detailed needlework to embellish the neck and sleeves. We bought it at one of the best cooperatives in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, where Mayan weavers create extraordinary textiles. Machine wash on gentle or hand wash and hang to dry. No need to iron! Measures 23-1/4″ wide across the front and 26″ long from the shoulder. Size M. $110 includes priority USPS 3-day shipping to 48 states.

#3 shoulder detail with finished neck edge and sleeve cap

#4 Rayas in Red and Yellow, Chiapas

#4. This is a comfortable, 100% cotton blouse made on a back-strap loom from finest quality mercerized thread. It’s brand new and one-of-a-kind. The traditional Maya frog design on the yellow stripes are added during the weaving process (not embroidered) and is called supplementary weft. Very fine and detailed needlework to embellish the neck and sleeves. We bought it at one of the best cooperatives in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, where Mayan weavers create extraordinary textiles. Machine wash on gentle or hand wash and hang to dry. No need to iron! Measures 23-1/4″ wide across the front and 26″ long from the shoulder. Size M. $110. Includes USPS priority 3-day shipping to lower 48 states.

#4 Rayas Red and Yellow detail

#5. Fine Cotton Gauze Huipil-Tunic, San Pedro Amusgos

#5. SOLD. Fresh and refreshing: a breathable top, simple and elegant. We visited the remote village of San Pedro Amusgos high in the mountains about eight hours from Oaxaca City. Here they weave cotton on back-strap looms just as they have for centuries. This is a beautiful, lightweight collector’s garment with a white-on-white bodice. Called supplementary weft, the design is woven into the cloth, a difficult maneuver by a master weaver. It is not embroidered! This is new and never worn. Perfect over a skirt, jeans, silk or linen slacks. Wash by hand with a mild soap and hang to dry. Measures 23-3/4″ wide x 29″ long. Size M. $200. Includes USPS priority mail shipping to lower 48 states.

#5 detail of bodice, Amusgos tunic

#6. San Juan Chamula Cape, Chiapas

#6. SOLD. Shades of Gray. This is a traditional cape or shawl, called a Chal, hand-woven in the Chiapas village of San Juan Chamula. This particular textile is one of the finest examples of back-strap loom weaving, coming from the Sna Jolobil Cooperative at the Museo Mundo Maya. The wool is hand-carded and spun using the ancient drop-spindle. This is a total made-by-hand garment. The warp threads are cotton and the weft is a soft, pliant natural gray and cream color sheep wool. The edges are strongly woven with very colorful cotton threads to accent the gray body of the garment. Tie it closed with a hand-made tassel and VOILA. Fun to wear or to use as a bed or sofa scarf. Take the tassels off and make a pillow! Measures  24″ square. $145 USD includes USPS 3-day priority mail to anywhere in the lower 48 states.

#6. Detail of San Juan Chamula cape

How to Buy!

Send me an email: norma.schafer@icloud.com

  • Tell me which piece(s) you want by number.
  • Tell me your complete name, mailing address and email.
  • I will send you a PayPal invoice.
  • As soon as I receive payment, I will confirm and we will prepare for mailing. You should be receiving your order within 5-7 days.

 

Video: Chinas Oaxaqueñas at the El Tule Guelaguetza 2018

The “alternative” Guelaguetza in Santa Maria del Tule started with the crowd-pleasing favorite, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas. I don’t know how the tradition of the name originated. Can anyone out there offer an answer?

Chinas Oaxaqueñas at El Tule Guelaguetza 2018˜

Perhaps it is simply Oaxaca’s version of the Chinas Poblanas of Puebla. Their beaded blouses had origins in the Philippines and were likely imported on Spanish trade galleons coming from Asia to Mexico. Women from the Philippines came to Mexico in this fashion, too.

Goods landed at Acapulco and shipped overland to Veracruz, with a cross-roads stop at Puebla. It is said that the mantilla and rebozo/shawl with hand-knotted fringes had its origins in Asia, too. Spanish women loved this look then. We love it now.

Mexico Summer Mixed Clothing–Last Sale of the Season

Thanks to alle who picked a Mexico textile treasure this week! My storage containers are lighter now! Still more to go. I missed a few dresses, wraps and blouses on the first pass — oops, another box found. So, I’m going to squeeze in one more textile sale. Then, perhaps, I’ll have time to post a few pieces of jewelry before I leave for Oaxaca.

My departure date is June 22, so please, if you want to make a purchase, let me know immediately, and I’ll mail to you as soon as I receive payment. Mail deadline is Wednesday, June 20. Eleven pieces offered below.

How to order:

  1. Send me an email: norma.schafer@icloud.com
  2. Tell me which piece(s) you want by Number.
  3. Send me your mailing address.
  4. I will send you a PayPal invoice that includes $8 USD postage (unless you are international and I’ll calculate cost and let you know).
  5. I’ll mail to you within 24 hours.

#1. San Miguel Soyaltepec, Oaxaca, hand-embroidered huipil/dress

#1 is SOLD an embroidered dress from the island of San Miguel Soyaltepec that sits in the middle of Miguel Aleman Dam in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca between the valley and the Caribbean. I visited there some years back. There was a small group of us, only eight travelers, and 40 women selling at least four huipiles each. Do the math! On top of that, only three of us were buyers. In my desire to support a very disappointed group, I bought several. I guess it’s what I do! This one and #2 were stand-outs. Never worn. Cotton embroidery floss on 100% natural manta cotton. Hand-wash. Hang to dry or dry clean. Measures 29″ wide x 49″ long. Size L-XL.  A steal at $195 USD.

#1 detail of Soyaltepec huipil, teeny, tiny stitches

SOLD. #2 is this Olive Green Huipil also from San Miguel Soyaltepec. This village is not easy to get to. First, it’s 12 hours from Oaxaca city. Then, one needs to take a boat launch to the island! Same story as above! Measures 27″ wide x 45″ long. Another steal at $195 USD.

#2 San Miguel Soyaltepec huipil

#2 detail, huipil from San Miguel Soyaltepec

#3 is a San Antonino blouse, embroidered with deshillado

#3. The Oaxaca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco is known for its fine embroidery and pulled thread deshillado designs that show a little skin on the bodice!  This blouse is finely done, measures 24″ wide and 25″ long. I’m selling it for $65 USD.

#3 San Antonino bodice detail

#4 cotton embroidered blouse from Yalalag, Oaxaca

#4 is excellent embroidered doll figures on natural manta cotton made in the village of Yalalag, Oaxaca, about two hours from the city. Note the hand-tucking detail. Measures 22″wide x 27″ long. Priced to sell at $45 USD.

#4 bodice detail

#5 intricate embroidered blouse, San Bartolome Ayautla

#5 is a knock-out, densely embroidered with the finest stitches I’ve ever seen. Pale yellow birds and flowers are framed in black thread on excellent quality 100% cotton manta cloth. San Bartolome Ayautla is also in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca. Some say they started this embroidery tradition that has been copied by other villages. It can take 3-4 months to make this. Measures 23-1/4″ wide x 27″ long. $250 USD.

#5. See all those little invisible puckers on the inside? Those are stitches!

#6 Zinacantan machine-embroidered blouse

#6 is SOLD a contemporary blouse from the Chiapas village of Zinacantan. It is machine-stitched floral pattern on easy-to-care-for polyester. Full disclosure! Now, it’s what all the ladies wear. Measures 28″ wide x 29″ long. $65 USD.

#7 SOLD is from Amantenango, Chiapas, the ceramics village

SOLD #7 is a traditional blouse embroidered in Amantenango, Chiapas. This is the village “uniform.” When you see someone wearing this blouse you immediately know where they are from. I was mesmerized by the very graphic, contemporary pattern and thought it might make a great pillow cover. But, I never got around to it. Definitely wearable, too. Or, hang it on the wall like a painting. Poly thread on poly cloth. Measures 28″ wide x 28″ long. $65 USD.

#8 is an indigo and coyuchi blouse from San Pedro Amusgos

Come with us to San Pedro Amusgos in January 2019.

# 8 is all natural dyes, native, hand-spun organic cotton dyed with indigo and woven with coyuchi native cotton to offer the contrasting caramel color design. From the cooperative studio of Arte Amusgos and Odilon Morales who represents his cooperative at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. Threads are spun with the malacate drop spindle and woven on a back-strap loom. New. Measures 25″ wide x 30″ long. $250 USD.

#9 Cuetzalan, Puebla, blouse with embroidered bodice

SOLD. #9 is from the Puebla state mountains near the village of Cuetzalan. I was there for the fair a couple of years ago and bought directly from the maker. Bodice is embroidered with sheep, birds, ducks, swans, pigs and flowers, trimmed with embroidered edging. Sexy, off the shoulder look. This is traditional for the region. Note the hand-smocking. Measures 24″ wide x 26-1/2″ long. $85 USD.

#9 bodice detail

#10, Shiny Quechquemitl from Chiapas

#10 is the traditional pre-Hispanic women’s cover-up called a quechquemitl. You pull it on over your head as a should and bodice covering. Adapt as a shawl or scarf. Very comfy to wear. This one is all synthetic fibers woven on a back strap loom with shiny, glitzy gold threads. A night out on the town, perhaps! Measures 28″ long from the neckline V to the front point, and 35″ wide across the triangle. $65 USD.

#10 detail

A few spaces open for the Chiapas Textile Study Tour 2019

#11 is a cotton blouse from San Andres Larrainzer, Chiapas

#11 a very warm caramel brown with hot pink accent design that is an integral part of the weaving on the back-strap loom.  This weaving technique is called supplementary weft and the women of San Andres are masters. The seam joinery is all done by hand. I love the color contrast and the ample amount of bodice design. Measures 26″ wide x 30″ long. $65 USD.

Thank you for looking and shopping. Buy today and I’ll mail tomorrow.

 

Summer Wraps from Mexico for Sale

In my getting ready to go back to Oaxaca from Durham, NC, I’m going through the boxes of my collection to decide what I’m ready to send off from my house to yours! My departure date is June 22, so please, if you are interested in making a purchase, let me know immediately, and I’ll mail to you as soon as I receive payment. Mail deadline is Wednesday, June 20. Eight pieces offered.

How to order:

  1. Send me an email: norma.schafer@icloud.com
  2. Tell me which piece(s) you want by Number.
  3. Send me your mailing address.
  4. I will send you a PayPal invoice that includes $8 USD postage.
  5. I’ll mail to you within 24 hours.

Also see my last post for Summer Frocks — big price reductions!

1. From Pinotepa de Don Luis on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica

#1. SOLD. This is a hand-spun native Oaxaca cotton gauze shawl embellished with local coastal figures like crabs and seahorses along with traditional symbols of fertility and wildlife. The brown is rare, native coyuchi cotton and is part of the woven cloth, called supplemental weft. Measure’s 22-1/2″ wide x 86″ long — long enough to serve as  shawl, rebozo or stole or a throw over a favorite chair or bed. $125 USD.

#1. Coyuchi and white cotton rebozo detail.

Is there a summer wedding or garden party in your future?

#2. Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca shawl woven on a fly-shuttle loom, indigo + cochineal

#2 SOLD is a fine quality jacquard rebozo, hand-woven on a fly-shuttle loom with the finest cotton hand-dyed with indigo and cochineal and banana bark. It comes from the Oaxaca village of Tlahuitoltepec where one weaving family creates all natural dye cotton textiles. Measures 25″ wide x 88″ long (including the macrame hand-knotted fringe called the punta). $145 USD.

#2, detail of Tlahuitoltepec rebozo

Will you be dining al fresco and want the perfect wrap?

#3 Chiapas shawl of many colors, from the Oxchuc people

#3 SOLD is a multi-colored shawl/rebozo that includes hand-twisted fringes. It will go with anything! The textile was hand-woven on the back-strap loom in a remote Oxchuc village by Catalina, a young mother who learned from her mother, who learned from her mother! To keep the tradition going it’s important to have buyers, so I chose to support them and bring their work to you. The village, where I visited, is about an hour and a half up the mountain from San Cristobal de Las Casas. Measures 23″ wide x 78″ long. $145 USD.

#3. Detail, Oxchuc rebozo, called a Chal in Chiapas.

What about that summer concert under the stars?

#4 is a lightweight gauze shawl from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas

#4 is a beautiful white shawl hand-woven on the back-strap loom and embellished with red, rust, yellow and purple accents in designs unique to the village of Venustiano Carranza. The region is closer to the Pacific coast and gets pretty hot and steamy, so the fabrics woven there are lightweight cotton and comfortable. Drapes beautifully. Measures 26″ wide x 76″ long. $135 USD.

#4, full view of soft, white shawl from Venustiano Carranza

#5 is a Venustiano Carranza wrap in luscious pale peach

#5 shawl from Venustiano Carranza is a beautiful, subtle luscious peach color cotton woven on the back-strap loom. Imagine this draped over your shoulders. The design that is woven into the textile is also a contrasting peach color using thread that has a sheen. This gives a lovely matte-shiny finish to this piece. Measures 26-1/2″ wide x 80″ long. $135 USD.

#5 Peach rebozo detail

#6 is an ikat scarf hand-woven by Luis Rodriguez from Tenancingo de Degollado

SOLD. This #6 ikat scarf features warp threads dyed with indigo and wild marigold. The pattern created on the loom looks like a Matisse painting. The blue and yellow together offer a range of shades from yellow to chartreuse, a great compliment to the indigo blue. The punta, or fringes, are hand-knotted. Measures 16-1/2″ wide x 72″ long. $75 USD.

#6 ikat scarf detail

#7 Coyuchi cotton quechquemitl from Khadi Oaxaca

#7 is a luxuriously soft native brown coyuchi cotton hand-spun on the charkha — Ghandi spinning wheel — in the Oaxaca mountain village of San Sebastian Rio Hondo. The intricate needlework trim and joinery is forest green. The quechquemitl is a pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican garment favored by women as an over-the-head short poncho. I call it a pull-over scarf. It is perfect to wear of an evening or to cover the bodice or shoulders of a sun dress. Measures 21″ long from the V-neck to the point and 31″ wide across the front. Rotate it to get a different look. Wear it like a scarf, too. $95 USD.

#7 detail of coyuchi cotton quechquemitl

#8 Indigo and Wild Marigold Quechquemitl from Khadi Oaxaca

#8 SOLD Quechquemitl combines cotton dyed with Oaxaca-grown indigo and native wild marigold flowers. The iridescent color combination sometimes tricks you into thinking there might be some green in there. Because the cotton is hand-spun, it offers beautiful texture and slubs. Similar measurements as #7. $85 USD.

#8 Detail of indigo blue and wild marigold quechquemitl