Still learning from the textiles from Oaxaca

1 May 2015

I adore the Amuzgo hand woven textiles I saw in Oaxaca.  Backstrap woven, they have brocade, leno and patterned gauze or leno.

Amuzgo gauze or leno with designs woven in

Amuzgo gauze or leno with designs woven in

 

I bought a lovely Amuzgo shawl, all natural color and wanted a sample of their color work.  I found a blouse with a colorful center panel of Amuzgo hand-woven and the side fronts and back in manta, a heavily sized muslin common in Oaxaca. The blouse I thought might be small but I had extra manta from one of the classes I took at Museo Textil de Oaxaca, so I brought the blouse home.

So last week I’m ready to tackle the blouse and make it wearable for me.  I get the blouse and the manta all on the sewing table and the manta I have doesn’t match the manta in the blouse. So maybe I’ll just take it apart and put in all new manta.  I began looking at the seams, done in a variegated turquoise embroidery thread.

turquoise embroidery seam, hand woven on left, manta on right

The neck and armholes are also finished with embroidery stitches, a variation of buttonhole stitch.

neckline finished with a variation of buttonhole stitch

neckline finished with a variation of buttonhole stitch

I saw many embroidery seams and learned a few, but this simple one was new to me.  Embroidery seams are done by hand, the only equipment needed is an appropriate needle and the embroidery thread.   And this one added a bit of charm to the blouse.  I decided I needed to learn how to make this kind seam before I ripped it out and it was gone, just a fading memory.

First I looked inside

inside of embroidery seam, hand woven on left, manta on right

inside of embroidery seam, hand woven on left, manta on right

Both the handwoven cloth and manta have raw edges, and little stitches of turquoise show.

Raw edges!!- they are unraveling a bit but the narrow seams are not in danger of coming undone.  Do we worry too much about raw edges here in the US ? Granted we tend to weave with coarser threads, but this is not ultra- fine, 16/2 cotton I would guess and the sett is 30 epi in a pretty balanced weave.  Or was this  short cut to make a cheaper piece to sell at a lower price point?   I don’t know.  Their fine huipils are seamed selvage to selvage and if the bottom edge is cut and not a four selvage piece, then it is turned under.

I thought I needed to make a sample to be sure that I understood how it was done. I  have some scraps of the manta and some aqua embroidery thread.  I ironed  and cut the strip in half.  I used the serger to cover the cut edges— I hate loose threads in my seams, I’ll have to see if it makes a difference.

manta with serged edges

manta with serged edges

I then pressed the serged edge under and pinned the two pieces together, wrong sides facing each other.

ready to made the seam

ready to made the seam

I used the full 6 strands of the embroidery floss and a sharp needle.  The seam looks like a series of overcast stitches fairly separated and the diagonal as the carry between the stitches.  So how far apart are their stitches?

det

detail of the stitch size

The overcast stitches are about 1 cm apart and the bite into the cloth is about 1/8th of an inch ( I know, insane with the units). I started my seam with the overcast stitch, making the needle go through the same hole twice then move up about a cm and go through twice there.  I started taking the tiniest bite into the cloth seam I could manage but tried a deeper bite for the second half of the seam.

my seam, right small bite, left bigger bite

my seam, right small bite, left bigger bite

The seam looks like the original! Yeah! very simple seam to make and looks nice.

After I pressed it open I like the tiny bite stitches better; the seam lays flatter when press open.

finished seam pressed open; bottom tiny bite, top bigger bite

finished seam pressed open; bottom tiny bite, top bigger bite

So one last question: did the serging effect the seam?  Yes, I think it added a bit of bulk to the seam.  Would I serge the edges before making the seams in a garment?  Yes, I would.  I said I hate loose threads, I always go over any garment I make looking for loose threads or tails just before I do a final press.  But those are personal esthetics.

I have a new seam in my repertoire to use with hand wovens.  Simple to do and adds a splash of color to the seam.

 

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