It’s almost 3.00 am. At home I could get up and with coffee in hand wend my way across the brick courtyard to the studio.

But here in Antigua Guatemala we have just one large room so it’s a bit difficult to do my usual thing of getting up early and working without disturbing husband Keith. You make do on the road, a digestive cookie, dates that were packed in my case from Dubai and room temperature mineral water.

A number of my textile art friends on Facebook queried me about the Huipils I purchased yesterday. So I thoughfrida-kahlo-71t I would explain their use, their beauty and what I use them for.

I’ve been a huge fan of Huipils since I became aware of Frida Kahlo many years ago.

I have a rather large collection and they form a good proportion  of decoration in my house as wall art and throws.

To be honest, I only have two that I wear, but I always feel a bit of a fraud wearing them… I think I need to look at re-purposing them for fashion. On this trip I will look at doing that.

I’ve seen a few clothing stores that have begun using them for fashion, but somehow they just don’t quite make the cut.

What is a Huipil?

Huipil  (pronounced wipil)  is the most common traditional garment worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to Central America

It is a loose-fitting tunic, generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric which are then joined together with stitching, ribbons or fabric strips, with an opening for the head and, if the sides are sewn, openings for the arms. Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones, are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric, embroidery, ribbons, lace and more. However, some huipils are also made from commercial fabric.


Traditional huipils generally identify the indigenous group and the community of the wearer as each has their own designs for both weaving and embroidering. Some communities, such as Jamiltepec in Oaxaca, have a taboo against huipils made there being worn by women from other areas

Except for very long huipils, they are generally worn with other items of clothing such as a skirt or slip. Most huipils hang loose but some can be tied at the waist or can be tucked into a skirt like a blouse.


I have to say that I fall in love with every huipil that I see. They are stunningly beautiful and I really can’t imaging doing all of that work on a piece of fabric.




These are not delicate garments, they are made for everyday wear and indeed they are, from working in the fields to vending in the market.I’m in awe of them and have treated mine very gently, but goodness knows what the history is of these beautiful pieces. I purchased a new one last year from the maker, It took her three months to construct… put that in quilting terms… and that would be one darn big fancy quilt.


This is the creator of my huipil. I think she is as lovely as her beautiful garment.



These are some of mine and some of the uses for them.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Sue Fenwick says:

    Beautiful and thought provoking, Pam. We wore the embroidered blouses (probably Mexican) when we were teenagers. I wore mine with jeans and sandals.

  2. Carol dunlop says:

    Amazing. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  3. Wendy in Kennewick says:

    They are truly glorious. I love the bird designs.

  4. Ann L Vix says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for posting this.–Ann Vix

  5. Jannette Pfeiffer says:

    I so enjoyed your sharing the magnificent workmanship. No wonder you can’t resist them. Thank you.

  6. Oh, I love huipils! I was in Guatemala for six weeks 20 years ago, 4 of them spent learning Spanish in Antigua. I’d love going back, but we hear such a lot about violence and abductions and such – how do you find it? Are you travelling on your own?

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Antigua is fine and yes at times I have been here on my own. Guatemala city is dangerous, but here it is just fine.

  7. Sue Buckingham says:

    Thanks for sharing this information and such beautiful, colorful photos with us. I love it all!

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