My Mexican adventure – sewing highlights

Wow, what an adventure! We’ve been back home for a few days now and I still haven’t quite processed all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes (oh, the tastes!) we experienced during our nearly 3 week long journey through Mexico. I’m pleased to report that both my travel wardrobe and my last minute travel bag were completely up to the task and all my abuse, and I’m glad I brought my leggings and long sleeves, too, because it was rather chilly in Mexico City and San Cristobal in particular! Detailing the entire trip would take far too long (let’s just say that in my first day there I ate 3 new fruits and vegetables previously unknown to me, and I’d need both hands to count all the amazing places I swam!), so this is just a rundown of the sewing-related highlights of the trip. (For the fitness-related highlights, pop over to RiverRunner!)

I knew at some point I wanted to buy an embroidered blouse, but I really wanted one I could wear in real life that didn’t scream “Mexican holiday”, either. We found a lovely artistanal boutique shop in Oaxaca that had a ton of blouses and dresses that were both modern and contained elements of traditional Mexican embroidery, too. This blouse was in the window, and when I tried it on and it fit, I knew I had to have it. I utterly adore it.

It’s exactly the same in the front and back, and the embroidery is all black, stitched by hand, and with a lot of open cut-work. The fabric of the blouse itself feels like rayon, and it unrolled from my backpack wrinkle-free like it was born to travel!

In San Cristobal de las Casas, we at at a fabulous cafe run by the Zapatistas (now no longer in active combat mode) run as a co-op. Around the edges there were a bunch of little handicraft shops selling goods made by villagers and political prisoners, and I couldn’t resist this little pouch that has “Rebel Women” and a fierce Zapatisa lady (aka “Mexican ninjas”!) embroidered onto it.

When we were at Teotihuacan outside Mexico City, we visited a shop where we learned about all the ways the Mexican people have used the maguey cactus for thousands of years. It’s the crucial for making mezcal, yes, but it can also be used for paper, shampoo, and – if you break off the tip of the very central spine, you have a spiky “needle” and attached, incredibly strong, fibrous “thread”. The “thread” was then dyed in about two seconds by smearing rose petals onto it, then that was turned blue with a bit of calcium!

I was so thrilled with this that they packaged it up for me to bring home!

When we were in San Cristobal de las Casas we stumbled across a fabric shop completely by chance (On General M Utrilla, one street off the pedestrianised 20 de Noviembre right downtown). The Dia de los Muertos fabric outside drew me in, but they felt really stiff, cheap, and nasty so I looked a bit further and found this striped fabric that I’d like to use as accents on a black dress or jacket. Again, something that works with my style without looking costumey! I bought 2m of this, but it was pretty narrow (think loom width), and my receipt tells me I paid 50 pesos for it (about £2.50 – so cheap for me, but certainly not for Mexico prices).

And I saved the best for last, because I found this wonderful little Dia de los Muertos seamstress figurine in the same shop I bought my blouse in Oaxaca. It cost me about £2 and I just love it!!

Does anyone else buy fabric when they’re on holiday? What’s the best sewing-related souvenir you’ve ever brought home?

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