Chinateco Huipil

24 January 2015

I bought this huipil at the Juarez market last Saturday.  I’m trying to get examples of different styles of brocade, at a price I can afford and in a piece I can wear.  This Chinanteco huipil is wide enough for me to wear, I just took out a few stitches to make the armholes bigger.

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It is a three panel huipil, long and woven on a backstrap loom.  Each panel has four selvages— the bottom has no hem, it is a selvage with little loops in each warp— and a terminal area on the back below the last brocade motif and above the stripes.

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The terminal area is where the weaving is ended, as the unwoven space shrinks it gets harder and harder to get the tools in the space and open the sheds. First one changes to tiny tools, then one has to give up on tools and just needle weave it.  Needless to say this areas tends to be a bit more loosely woven.  This is only done when weaving four selvage cloth on backstrap looms.

The ground warp is 16/2 natural unmercerized cotton.  The warp is sett at 22 epi.  The weft is the same yarn as the warp but used doubled, in the plain weave areas there are 21 ppi.  The ground cloth is 7 picks of plain weave the one of 1 over 1 leno.

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The brocade is big motifs that nearly cover the whole width of each panel, and very colorful although red dominates.  The motifs are either birds or geometric.  The brocading weft is mostly a fine acrylic yarn used doubled. 
This brocade covers such large areas that tie-downs are needed to limit the length of the floats.  This is overlay with tie-downs.  The brocade wefts goes over 6 ends then under two.  There are two sets of tie-downs and the there are off set in a brick like fashion.  Each set of tie- downs is used for two consecutive rows.  The brocade continues over the leno rows.

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The central panel is wider than the side ones.  Central panel is 11.5″, and the side ones are 8″ for a total width of 27.5 ” or a circumference of 55″.  It is 38″ long.  This means that three warps were made: two were  78″ x 8″ and one 78″ x 11.5″.  You could make this on a 12″ wide RH  loom.

The three panels are sewn together , by hand using the same yarn. It is a standard seam but only about 1/8″ deep.  It is a loose running stitch.  The seams that join the side panels to the central panel are also covered in red embroidery.  The embroidery stitch used is the Roumanian  stitch

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  Except in this case the stitch zigzags back and forth over the seam.
The neck hole is cut into the fabric and the turned under twice and basted in place with  the 16/2 yarn.  It is held in place with more red embroidery stitches.

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This huipil is typical of the traditional garments here, made on a backstrap looms with just some sticks and string.  Then assembled  into a garment with just scissors, needle and thread.  Oh yeah, done by one smart woman.

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One Response to “Chinateco Huipil”


  1. […] This is the Chinanteco Huipil and details here, […]

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