Many Ways to Weave

27 March 2017

When I have started people weaving on a backstrap looms, I start them with a narrow warp that doesn’t require any sticks. Once they can do plain weave, warp-faced, I show them how to make a pick-up design with  paired floats. Laverne Waddington has a good description of this process on her blog.  Mostly we use our fingers and maybe a popsicle stick to beat the weft in place. There is just a shed loop and heddles and the pick up is done either with fingers or a large needle.   Here  in Oaxaca a large needle is a common tool for pick up.

Here in Oaxaca de Juárez, the capital of Oaxaca state, a group meets weekly to weave.  This year every one has been working on narrow warps and either plain weave or paired float designs.

This technique is used here in Oaxaca by the indigenous people who live on the northern coast of Oaxaca.  Here I have not seen many narrow bands woven in this technique but  wider cloths with multiple design bands are common.

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photo by Karen Elwell. I think these are natural dyes.


photo by Karen Elwell

We went to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca on Saturday to register for a backstrap weaving brocade class in April given by a woman coming up from Carranza, Chiapas.   Bonfilia Bautista Tapia from Pinotepa de Don Luis, was finishing a workshop on  this paired float technique and she and her students were weaving away.  Here is a picture of her loom:

It is very interesting that she has a second set of heddles and a second shed rod behind the usual ones used to do plain weave. Both of these extra shedding devices deal only with the red warps in the design band; the shed rod has all of the odd numbered pairs over it  and the second set of heddles raises the even numbered pairs. Here is a close up so that you can see the pairs of red warps going over the second shed rod and the sparse green string heddles are around the other pairs of red warps within the design band.  One usually uses a second weaving sword   when using the second set of heddles/rod, but I don’t see one in the photo maybe because she doing plain weave at this moment.

Here on this student loom  you can see the second smaller sword. It is right behind the plain weave string heddles.  It looks like it still has the warp pairs he picked up to make the bar design he just wove.

two sets of heddles/shed rods and two swords are visible here

All of these lovely woven critters are made on 25 pairs.  Here is some more student work with enough detail that you could make the same designs.

And one more photo of a fragment of an interesting critter woven in this technique, the brown is hand spun brown cotton, coyuche,  that has been grown here since pre-hispanic times.

And yes, there are 5 pick floats in the bars between designs.

So there you have another way to weave paired float designs  using pattern heddles and shed rod.  Might be especially useful when doing multiples of the same design.



I have been looking for a hand woven huipil to buy since I’ve arrived in Oaxaca de Juarez in December 2014.  I finally found one! 

black cotton three panel huipil with coyuche and purpura pansa brocade

I found it at the Festval of Artisans that the state organized just above the Santo Domingo Church for Holy Week. 

I do have my criteria:

  • Back strap woven
  • Good craftsmanship 
  • Three panels
  • A colorway that I would wear
  • A size that I feel comfortable in. 

The size has been the stumbling block. Most are made for Señoritas, I need twice as wide to feel comfortable.  I did a turn of the whole festival and came back to an Amuzgo booth. She had many beautiful, well woven huipiles. Mostly on a natural or off- white ground, which looks lovely with their black hair but I don’t much like with my all white hair, too monochromatic.   She did have a pale pink one that looked a little greyed and a Mexican Rose one with black brocade. I love Mexican Rose but the craftsmanship  of this one wasn’t top quality, particularly in the construction. She had an elegant black on black  huipil, sized for a small señorita. 😟

She hung up a very beautiful  huipil in a cinnamon brown with natural colored brocade.   It was very fine brocade and the colors were spectacular, the brocade almost looked golden. Very elegant and special. When she got it down so I could see it closer I recognized the color as that from nanche, a tree that has an edible fruit and the bark can be used for dyeing. Unfortunately the nanche color had already stained parts of the natural colored threads that were used for brocade and construction. Yes, it was natural dye but it was not well dyed. 

Reluctantly I left that booth and went to a booth that had some lovely small utility cloths with brocade style I associate with San Juan Colorado, but wasn’t from San Juan. There were several styles of brocade in the booth, which I think was a coop. Some pieces had women’s names on them, which I thought was the maker’s name. She began showing me huipiles too and some were lovely but small. She finally showed me a “large” three panel black huipil with brocade in coyuche, that is always hand spun, and purpura pansa, the seashell violet. Excellent workmanship.  Price I could afford. Perfect except it was too small. She thought it was big enough, but I insisted that it was only as wide as the top I had on and the top had slits from the waist down. The black huipil was ankle length and I had to convince her that it was going to catch on my hips so I wouldn’t wear it.  As I was ready to walk away she said she had a very large one.  I said let me see it, she had to root around a bit to find it and when I saw it it was perfect. Big enough, well made, black ground with Leno and coyuche and purpura pansa brocade.  It is now mine!


detail with purpura pansa dyed yarn used for brocade and construction

The ground cloth is 16/2 black cotton in plain weave and leno. The cloth is light weight and drapes well. Not hot because of the open work, leno. Each panel has a few warps of purpura at each side selvage. The panels are joined by hand with a faggoting stitch in the same purpura.  The neck edge is carefully made and decorated with the same purpura dyed yarn. 

The purpura dyed yarn is commercially spun yarn that is taken to the seaside. The wet yarn is held in the hand and the sea snails are pried from the rocks and their excretions rubbed on the yarn. The snails are returned to their rock. The secretions slowly change color, in the sun and air , until the yarn is a pale red- violet color. 
The coyuche is a brown cotton that grows here. It is short staple and thus hand spun.  Both colors are from prehispanic times. 

The brocade technique is discontinuous inlay. This inlay is done with the weft turns on the top making tiny scalloped edges around each motif. 

  • detail of the brocade with coyuche and purpura

This brocade style has a neat backside that is only slightly different from the front. 


here is the fourth selvage carachteristic of back strap weaving and the neat backside of the brocade

 Blessing on the weaver that made my cherished huipil!

I decided to work with a black warp which made my teacher roll her eyes.   So hard to see. So I decided to make a sample first to see if I could see the black warp to make the brocade. 

I started with the Zapotec delicate inlay that I studied last year.  

last years first attempt

So I made a black warp, same size yarn, 16/2, same number of threads,  same width. I tried four colors of inlay- white, pale pink, light grey and Mexican Rose

my favorite.  
The grey and pale pink are hard to tell apart. The Mexican Rose and white show a little better.  I went from 2 strand to 3 for the brocade weft.   Last year I used a thinner ground weft, 16/1, behind the brocade to  make it more visible, but this year I didn’t have any thinner yarn in black,unfortunately. 

Technically this is discontinuous inlay. I don’t think this is working. 

The traditional stripe pattern in the Rose is lovely. 

Then I decided to try a different technique that  has the supplemental weft on top of the ground cloth then it goes back into the shed. The design should be much bolder. It is a continuous supplemary weft that is either on top of the shed or in it.  It is called tejido Huave or Huave weave where Huave is the name of the ethnic group that uses this structure extensively.  

photo by Karen Elwell


I was working with this structure last summer and one of the trickey parts is the contrast between the ground and brocade weft.   I want the inlay part to almost disappear. Best try the Mexican Rose to see how it works. 

 The color works well but I was just making up designs and changing the scale. 

Then I took a class at Museo Textil de Oaxaca with Noe Pinzon Paradox , backstrap weaving  Huave style.   

Noe with his loom warped with 60/2 cotton. This is the wrong side that you see.

Noe is a gifted weaver, he has been weaving for 18 years, since he was 4.Obviously part of a weaving family.

He is also an excellent and patient teacher.  

one orange and three blue designs done in class

So using what I learned in class I returned to my black warp.  Repeating the best of the 3 blue designs done in class in grey:

 The doubled grey brocading warp, same as I used in class, is too bulky for this warp and looks irregular. So I reduced the brocading weft to a single strand of embroidery floss ( all six threads, just like it comes in the package). 

a smaller Huave design


Then I tried  an acrylic yarn that was lying around.   

 The new design is hard to see. 

the edges are getting better

Best design in my favorite color. This bolder brocade works much better on this black warp.  

The black and white haunts  me.  May have to do some classic black and white. 

The Huave style brocade produces much heavier and stiffer cloth than the Zapotec inlay. That is because Huave uses all six strands of the embroidery floss and it goes from selvage to selvage.  Zapotec inlay only uses 3 strands and only where there is a design. 

If I want the Zapotec inlay to show more, and I work without a finer ground thread, I may have to space out the warps more. 

Much learned and ready for the next warp. 


I finished my first attempt at weaving a heavily brocaded Huave (or Ikoots) style cloth that I discussed in my last post,  I am pleased with this technique.

Huave style brocade, yellow

This is the finished cloth, after mending, washing, a little steam from the iron and trimming.  It is 13″ wide by 17.75″ long without the fringe.  This is about the size of most of this style cloths that I saw, they were labeled as tortilla cloths, or smaller ones as table napkins.

The design was inspired by photograph of a piece of cloth seen at the end of the last post.  I handled some of Huave weavings in Oaxaca but didn’t manage to photograph or buy any.

Working on this piece reminds me of bas relief carvings.   The brocading weft is mostly on the surface and then the few ground warp ends that  tie down the supplementary weft make a lower surface.  The effect is more pronounced than most quilting   I see today.

The hand of the cloth is nice for placemats or table runner or embellished parts of clothing. More substantial than just the 8/2 plain weave, lies flat  but is not stiff or heavy. The obverse is smooth and finished.

The Technical Details

This is a brocade ; continuous supplementary weft in inlay /overlay interlacement, the same technique used in I have been using with 8/2 cotton doubled,(, the only difference is that each end in the warp now works individually, not as a pair.  Might seem like a small change but the effect is quite different.

The warp is 8/2 cotton pale mint green.  It is sett at 20 epi.  To get 20 epi on the rigid heddle loom I had to use two 10 dent heddles.  I didn’t have two 10 dent Leclerc heddles for the Bergere loom I was using so I used a narrower Ashford 10 dent heddle for the second one .  I lined up the two heddles and could see light through all the eyes so I thought it would work. I threadedUsing Leclerc and Ashford heddles them and then tied them together with zip cable ties because they move as a unit. Threaded the full width of the narrower heddle, and I do not have a second castle on this loom.  What I didn’t check was the size of the eyes, they are not the same size so the shed was not as clear as when I use two leclerc heddles.  So I added a dowel under the slot threads and pushed it to the back beam and  opened the shed and beat with a sword.

The ground weft is the same as the warp, mint 8/2 cotton, and the brocading weft is yellow doubled embroidery floss.  I started this piece with a full large skein of embroidery floss I brought back from Oaxaca this year. Our little skeins of floss are 5g this one was 30g and it is divided into 5 subskeins. So I knew I had to make the whole piece with this one skein of yarn, the Oaxacan floss is not mercerized and ours is, so no chance of matching it here.

I was using two strands of floss for the pattern warp, this effect needs a thick pattern weft. So I wound the shuttle using 2 of the subskeins and wove until they ran out.   I looked at my woven pattern and calculated that I could get 3 diamonds lengthwise using the 3 subskeins I had left. I wanted to finish with the same motifs that I used in the beginning.  I finished and I came out with just 1 1/2 picks of embroidery floss left!

 The epi is 20 and the ppi is around 10, so this is a warp dominate cloth, all the better to hide the inlay potion of the brocading weft.  This is the big difference from using 8/2 doubled in one 10 dent heddle.  Using a doubled 8/2 though out, epi is really 10 (true there are 20 threads but the interlacements is as if there are 10) and ppi is also 10 for a balanced plain weave cloth.

Top: interlacement with doubled warp and weft. Bottom: normal interlacements with the same number of warp threads.

The inlaid brocading weft is much more visible in the balance cloth than in the warp dominate cloth.   The effect in the warp dominate cloth is more magical, the brocading weft appears and then nearly disappears. In the balanced cloth  you are aware that the brocading weft is there all the time, just sometimes it stands in front and other times it back.
All in all these are the same threads,8/2 cotton for warp and weft and the same brocading weft, two full strands of embroidery floss  and the same structure.  The only difference is whether the warp threads weave  individually or doubled.  Yet the difference in appearance is dramatic.  Here is a side by side comparison:
IMG_3967 (1)

8/2 cotton used normally at 20 epi in two 10 dent heddles Results: warp dominate weave

IMG_3973 (1)

8/2 cotton doubled in warp and weft in 10 dent heddle: results in a balanced weave

 The 20epi also gives more detail, more pixel per inch if you will, and shorter floats.  The yellow design woven in the orange cloth would result in floats 1.4″ long, way too long and there would only be two diamonds across the same width of cloth.
When I did my samples before I found that I had to beat hard with the thick brocading weft to get it to look right.  I could not beat hard enough with the heddle so I used a sword.  It felt like I could have woven it on a backstrap loom more comfortably; it took a lot of jerry-rigs to make this work on the RH loom.

Once off the loom I turned it over and I could see a fault line where I missed a ground tabby pick.


At the top you can see the fault line but at the bottom is has been mended.

I knew I had missed one because the shuttle was on the wrong side.  But I mended it and all is well.  You can also see how tidy the back of the cloth is.

Before weaving I did a graph of a section of the design, only two diamonds wide and about 3/4 of one diamond tall.  Just enough to see the spacing .  I then calculate that I would get 4+ repeats across the web.  So I decided how I wanted it centered and worked out from there having two partial motifs, one on each side.   I did get better at handling the edges with the partial repeats as I wove.  Some things you just have to do to get it right.
The other problem I had weaving this is that the cloth narrowed, the last part is at least a 1/4″ narrower than the start.  That was a surprise, so the next time I’ll use a stretcher , like I do on a backstrap loom, to keep the width constant.
I’m usually wiser the second time I do something, how about you?
In response to a comment I’m posting an additional diagram here:

To fit the same number of warp ends in the same space , the weft straightens and the cloth becomes warp-dominate.

To fit the same number of warp ends in the same space , the weft straightens and the cloth becomes warp-dominate.

 See comments for further explanation.

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?


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.


You are all invited!

31 March 2015


A finishing transformation

28 February 2015


I brought two pieces of this cloth back with me from Oaxaca.  Señor Esteban, of the Taller Sabino & Vásquez made these on his floor loom with a fly shuttle.  The warp is a fine cotton, maybe 40/2, natural.  The colored weft is a heavier singles used doubled.  The bands are overshot.  It looks to me like these pieces were just cut off the loom and a light colored zigzag stitch was sewn across the ends.

The light color of the thread used to sew across calls attention to the wefts below it that are drifting downwards.  The warp selvages are denser than the body of the cloth making the selvages look whiter and drawing attention to every bright pink irregularity.  I think that is about all you see in this piece, I have a hard time seeing the hand woven cloth because of all these distractions.   So I decided to finish these pieces so that they could be on a table, say under a vase of flowers.  That means that I want them to lay flat and that if I set something on them , like a glass, the glass won’t fall over  because of the cloth.  No lumpy bumpy finishing.

First I tried knotting the fringe but it is just too wimpy to look good. I only like fringe that lays orderly and this never will.  So I cut it off with the serger.  I also cut off the warp selvages so that all four sides are the same.


All edges have been serged with natural colored thread.


Not that this is finished but I think it already looks a lot better, even with it serger tails.   Then I turned under the serged edge and machine basted it in place with matching thread.  The top side looks tidier, on the back side you can see the serged edge.  This would make an acceptable finish or you could turn it under one more time and machine stitch again.  I would make the second turn wider to keep the edge from being narrow and three layers thick.


But I think that I will add a crochet edging around the piece.  I have #10 crochet cotton that matches the color of the natural warp and a penetrating crochet hook to make a base row of single crochet.  The turned under hem makes for a substantial edge to anchor the crochet stitches and helps to align the penetrating stitch.  On the back it covers the serged edge.  The trick is to get the right number of stitches in the base row so that the cloth lays flat.  Too few stitches and the edge pulls in the cloth and makes it buckle and too many stitches and the edging ruffles a bit.

Then I tried several edgings, all flat.  The geometric one is nice but maybe too wide so I decided on the triple picot  one.  I just want to finish the piece not add a lace edging.

crochet edge geometricIMG_3235


The time consuming part is the first row, then it goes quickly.  IMG_3247

So here I have finished all the crochet but not yet washed and ironed it. The washing compacted the crochet.  The overshot bands pulled in too making inward curves  but while ironing I managed to stretch them back out.  So the finished piece is here:


The blue piece got an even smaller edging, just a simple picot.


The colors are cheery, a way to add a bright spot in this grey cold weather.  The first color is called rosa mexicana, that that one I’m keeping.

Quite a transformation, at least to me.




Photo by Karen Elwell

Photo by Karen Elwell

This is a huipil from Tehuantepec is for sale in a vendor’s booth.  This is machine embroidery on velvet.  And I decided that one of these would work for New Year’s Eve in Oaxaca, outdoors in the cool night.  So I went shopping for one for me.

Now I am not the size of most Americans, I am short and with time I have gotten wide.  But I am not the size of the tiny women from Oaxaca either.

So I went to the Artesian’s Market one evening and was looking at this style of huipil– they have many kinds of glorious flowers.  But the first thing I asked was did they have any bigger ones, because I didn’t think I could fit into any of them.  As with all huipils these are rectangular garments, not fitted ones, but I needed to be able to get inside it.  The sales clerk, as  are all good sales clerks are, was reassuring, we will make it fit she said.

She showed me that each seam and hem had about 2″ turned under that she could release.  So when I found one with pink flowers that I said I would buy if it was big enough, she took out the side seams and released the part that was turned under and took out the hems. So now the piece was 8″ bigger around and 2″ longer and it looked like it would fit.  So I bought it and took it home.

At home I basted the side seams, leaving more space for the armholes  and tried it on.  It was fine  except when I sat down.  The bottom would slide up.  I could have left the bottom part open but instead I added a gusset with the crochet technique I had learned at the class at the Museo.   The class was on joining together panels of cloth  with crochet.  This is a sample with a narrow join, by adding more rows of crochet the join can be much wider. All rows can be the same color or the center can be a contrasting color.

teacher's sample

teacher’s sample

I decided to use my new skill to join the sides of the velvet huipil and to make the bottom wider with more rows of crochet, in effect making a small gusset.  The crochet is quite elastic.


At the under arm there is only one row of black crochet arches on each side but at the bottom there are four. Then they are joined together with the pink crochet . Another problem was that my crochet hook would not penetrate the velvet and backing.  So I started with a row of button hole stitch spaced at about 1 cm.


The top went over my long black sleeveless dress nicely , did not ride up and kept me warm for the evening.

The lesson learned here is how to make a garment that will fit many people.  The seams were 2″ from the edge, and the wide seam allowance was basted down on the inside.  This garment is lined sort of, another cloth  was attached to the inside before it was embroidered and then the two cloths were turned under and hand sewn together all around the edge. So all the edges are finished. Here you can see the inside and the gusset on one side before joining. IMG_3187

Japanese kimonos are also sized by the width of the seam.  So for a hand weaver who has unique cloth and can not make another size, this is an interesting concept. We all know that one size fit only a few.

This is the Chinanteco Huipil and details here,


To see if I truely understand the brocade I decided to weave some on the RH loom I have with me.  The original is 16/2 warp and my warp is 8/2 doubled so about 4x bigger.  Since the original designs are large I can’t make any of them so I’ll just make up my own, a simple stepped pyramid.
I am weaving this with the right side down.  This is the easiest way to weave this brocade because the turns are on the back.  I am now comfortable doing this because the Zapotec inlay I did on the backstrap loom is woven with wrong side facing the weaver.  Here is the back side of the huipil, this is what I will be seeing as I weave.


I’ll just do the brocade first to see If I can get the tie-downs right.
I started with a single 6-thread strand of the embroidery floss as the supplementary weft but it was too sparse so I pulled it out and started over with a doubled strand.

I’m picking up each row of brocade, I haven’t figured any way to use a pattern stick to mark the tie-downs ( because under two requires a slot and hole thread).  So the first couple of pick ups require attention and checking but once the pattern is set up you have a visual guide and the pick up is easier and faster.  Once I had the tie-downs under control I added a star figure in the center, this is underlay and what you see on the wrong side are long floats and on the right side it is just ground cloth.
So now there are 3 elements to control in each row of pick up: outer edge that determines the shape of the brocade motif, the tie-downs, and then the star shape in the center.  Once this is going well I added in the leno row every 7th .


Except for the size or scale it does look like the huipil.  I have been alternating colors too, red, other bright color, red…..

It seems to be going well and it does look like a large scale version of the brocade on the huipil, here is what you can see of the right side while it is still on the loom.


A black and white huipil

18 January 2015

Saturday is market day in Oaxaca and I went.  I came home with many things but what I want to share right now is a black and white, hand woven, cotton huipil that I bought.


If it looks a lot like a black and white tencel scarf I wove, you’re right.  I do like B&W geometric designs.
This is a huipil, which means that it is a rectangular garment with no shaping.  This one is made from two panels of cloth  and seamed down the center front and under the arms.  The hole for the head is cut into the cloth.

I’m going to discuss the details because of how it is made because there are so many questions asked about how to transform hand woven cloth into something to wear.  These people have been doing it for hundreds, if not thousands of years. 

First the cloth is sturdy but not thick nor stiff.  I doubt it has been washed (warp faced cloth changes very little when washed).  It is warp-faced cloth with stripes and brocade.  The motifs and sleeve embellishment are brocade.  The warp appears to be mercerized (because it is smooth and shiny) 8/2 cotton.  I have not been able to count the warps/inch in the poor light since I have been home, I will try tomorrow in the daylight.  But I made some warp -faced cloth of of 8/2 unmercerized cotton sett at 50epi and the 8/2 tencel ( a much slippery fiber) was sett at 60epi, so I would guess that it is some where in that range. 
The brocaded motifs are discontinuous overlay/underlay; that means that a separate piece of supplemental  weft yarn was used for each motif and that the brocading weft is either on top of the ground cloth or under it. 


The black brocading weft does not show through the ground cloth because it is so dense.  The appearance of sleeves ( there aren’t really any sleeves) is made by some heavy brocade  on the outer edge of the panel at the point where the panel folds over the shoulder. 


The is no front or back to this garment, both sides are identical. 
The horizontal bars are made in the warp; all the threads in one shed are white and all the threads in the other shed are all black producing alternating black and white bars.
The symmetry of the piece is a mirror symmetry, I don’t know if it was one or two warps.  I never noticed the seam down the center front until I got home and started looking at the inside for seams.


It is well planned in the warping and the seam is not noticeable.  The selvages of the panels are hand sewn together with a tiny overcast seam.  The seam is barely 1/8″ wide and is on the inside and not bulky or obtrusive.  The center front seam is sewn with the black warp yarn and the side seam with white.


I took out some of the side seam to make a vent at the bottom.
Here is a picture of the inside showing both the front center seam and the brocade.


Both the neck-hole and the bottom edge are just cut.   The hem is made by folding bottom edge over twice, about 2 picks worth, then hand stitching it down with the same yarn.  The neckline  appears to be folded over once and densely covered with button hole stitch using the same black yarn as in the piece.


The neckline seems robust.

This is a large huipil, some of these women here are tiny.  Each panel is 13.5″ wide for a total circumference of 54″ and the length from shoulder to hem is 25.75″.

To weave this as one warp I would make the warp 13.75″ wide (there is very little pull in in warp faced cloth) .  The length of each finished panel is 51.5″ and there are two of them for a total of 103″ woven.  Warp faced weaving has a lot of take up in warp so add 20% or 20″ and then your loom waste, say 12″.  Total warp length, 103″+20″+18″= 141″ or 3.9 yds.  All you have to do is get the brocade motifs and sleeves in the right place.
All sewing was done by hand, with a needle and the same yarn as was used in the weaving.
I purchased another of these huipils but in color

I now think the warp is a mercerized cotton 16/2 or 20/2. I have managed to count the # of warps; 96 epi. For a width of 13.5″ that is a total of 1300 ends. Not for the faint of heart or weak. Opening the sheds, whether on a floor loom or a backstrap loom is going to be difficult and require physical strength.
The overlay/underlay brocaded motifs are made with 6-stranded embroidery floss and the pick up was probably done on a closed shed.

Some of the colors are red, lime green, black, sky blue, deep blue, gold, kelley green,teal, wine, deep purple, turquoise, hot pink ( or Rosa Mexicana as it is called here) all on a white ground.