Many don’t know not only am I a Texas girl I was born and lived as a young girl in New Mexico. While I moved away fairly young thanks to my dad being in the Army I went back during some summers and have gone back to vacation and visit family as an adult. New Mexico sometimes feels like two or three different states depending on where you go from the hot arid south to the mountains and ski resorts in the northern part of the state. It is a beautiful state full of heritage, vibrant people, and a particular style. There are beautiful adobe homes, native jewelry, and art. Of course, there is a strong Mexican influence as well. Mix that all together and it also comes out as a beautiful style, southwestern style. I am always drawn to the beautiful serape colors, especially Saltillo serape.
“Colorful striped Mexican Saltillo blankets have long been prized for both their beauty and their high level of functionality. They go way back to the 1500s, the Aztecs were wearing colorful blankets created out of cotton and agave fibers, and dyed bright colors using the crushed fruits and insects. It was believed at the time that wearing bright colors both brought favors from the gods and kept evil spirits at bay. The blankets were originally woven in the town of Saltillo, in what is now the state of Coahuila. Saltillo blankets always feature a beautiful diamond shape in the center of the blanket that is woven like a tapestry–handpicking the warp and weaving in the colors in either silk or cotton. The blankets of a similar style which feature greys, browns, and tans came from the higher mountainous regions of Mexico where the colors were dependent on the natural wool fibers.” (1)
So it is easy to see why I had to buy some of this quilting cotton serape style print fabric when I saw it. While it isn’t traditional Saltillo Serape it would make its use more versatile.
Last summer I made shorts and two bags out of fabric from this same collection. I will include some pics and details of those.
I started with this Serape pattern with hues of blue for my first make. I wanted this one to be a normal length button down shirt. I always struggle with button downs because they look boxier on me than I like.
The first was a button-down using McCalls 6750. I had made a top out of this pattern for my mom last year and I loved the feminine version of a button-down top. It had a nice curve of the waist and hips and the collar is more feminine.
I also loved that it was a simple large roll collar and did not need a collar stand. I can make a stand collar but it’s nice to have a cheat now and again. Overall it is a pretty easy make for collared shirt. For those wanting to get into wovens and collared shirts, this may be a good one to start with.
But in the back of my head, I knew I wanted to make a wow piece from this lovely Serape inspired fabric that was a nod to my birth state and helped me show part of my Native American jewelry collection. For this it had to be a duster version!! I love the versatility of a duster and how it takes an outfit up a notch. I have made a few in the past including these two I made using New Look 6470.
And then I made this duster from Simplicity 8177. I made this one with a Chinoiserie stencil pattern on the back. I will post a few in progress pics in a slide show. Dusters set off an outfit well. You can style the rest of your outfit fairly subdued and let them be the showpiece.
I jazzed my serape inspired one up further by using black on the sleeves and the collar. I also added Thunderbird embroidery detail on the back yoke. “The Native Thunderbird Symbol represents power, protection, and strength. He is often seen as the most powerful of all spirits and can also transform into human form by opening his head up like a mask and taking his feathers off as if they were a mere blanket.” (2) I can always use a little more protection and strength!
I decided for this piece I would skip the buttons. I never button any of my dusters so there was no need and also felt it would take away from the showpiece…. the fabric. The pattern is Simplicity 8546 and it very easy to make. The collar and collar stand application was straight forward and I didn’t have any issues.
So what do you think of my Saltillo Serape inspired pieces? I love them!
Unfortunately this fabric is not Native made but I do regularly support Native artisans with my jewelry collection. Here are a couple really good places I purchase my jewelry from if you are interested:
Santa Fe Authentic directly works with artists and helps them bring their jewelry to the market. Nizhoni Traders is based in Arizona. They do live sales on Facebook every month. They ship very fast and the owner is very knowledgeable. I also want to say to do a lot of research. Unforntuatenly there are a lot of scams and mass produced and fake native artists out there. If you are going to wear Native inspired jewelry strive to buy authentic. While this fabric is not authentic I do strive to when I can and will be on the look out for a cotton fabric like this from an artist. If you know of someone please comment on this post. Below is a slide show of just a few of my beautiful Native pieces.