Friday, January 24, 2014

Guatemalan inspired Outfit and Tutorial for E+E sewing series "Roots"

For the Roots sew-along at Elegance and Elephants, I decided to make an outfit that represented our Guatemalan roots. In Guatemala, the traditional outfit for women is composed of a huipil (a square cut blouse) and a corte (a skirt made out of hand woven fabric) which is also also accompanied by a faja (belt or sash). These outfits are only worn by the true natives or Mayan descendants of Guatemala. These outfits are usually very elaborate and embroidered with intricate and colorful designs. The Guatemalan natives weave their own fabric by hand, using a loom. The designs and colors embroidered and weaved on the fabric are not randomly selected. Usually, the colors and designs on these traditional outfits have a meaning (for example: they identify a specific town, marital status, fertility, etcetera).

I found good examples of the Guatemalan traditional outfits here:

The outfit that I made is inspired by the Guatemalan traditional outfit, however it is not identical because I would never be able to replicate these incredibly elaborate outfits. I also wanted to make it a mix of traditional Guatemalan outfit, with some Spanish influence and modern fashion trends.  

The shirt is made out a white eyelet cotton fabric. I decided to add ruffles to the sleeves, to symbolize the Spanish influence in the Guatemalan culture. Both the shirt and skirt patterns are self drafted (tutorial below). I also added a little bit of colorful embroidery outlining the square neckline a small flower is also embroidered on the center front of the shirt to add a pop of color!
I used the blanket stitch to outline the neckline

The skirt is made out of a woven fabric I bought a while ago. I also made a sash for the skirt, made out of the same fabric.
To complete the outfit, I also made a colorful necklace to add a splash of color (to compensate my lack of embroidery skill :) ) Here is what the completed outfit looks like: 

For the photo shoot I made a round flower crown, because, every time I think of Guatemala I think of Spring time. I think these flowers represent Spring very well!

I'll quickly walk you through the steps I took when making these outfit. Let me know if you have any questions ;)

making the skirt
  1. I measured the my daughter, from waist to knee and added 4" for the fold over waist style I wanted. I folded the fabric lengthwise (the width of the fabric is about 35") and cut the desired length. Then I folded about 3"of fabric over and pinned it in place, while trying to have a straight fold. 
  2. I sewed along the pinned edge, while leaving about a 1 1/2" inch gap unsewn to insert the elastic. Insert the elastic and leave out both raw ends.
  3. Stitch both raw ends together to fold a loop and sew the gap closed.
  4. topstich rith above the elastic, to create a tight casing and forming the ruffled edging on the top of the skirt. 
  5. To form the hem, fold about half an inch of the fabric and press to have a clean finish ( I serged all raw edges, but you can use your zig-zag stitch or fold in the raw edge to finish your hem).
  6. You are finished with the skirt. 
  7. To make the belt I cut a strip of fabric about 6" by 35", folded it right-sides-together. Sewed along the edges, while leaving a gap to turn it right-side-out and topstitched along the gap. Press the sash for a more professional look. 

making the pattern for the shirt

  1. To make the shirt pattern, I used a shirt that fits my little girl well and traced it. I added some space (about 1/2 an inch) around the shirt for seam allowance. 
  2. For the arm hole, I used the arm hole from the shirt as a guide and added about 2 1/2" space below to make sure it was going to fit my daughter well. I also made a facing to cover the raw neckline for the front and back of the shirt. 
  3. I placed the facing pieces on top of my pattern pieces, to illustrate where these will be sewn. 

Sewing the front, back facing and shoulder seam

  1. First place the facing for the front of the shirt (right side) on top of the front neckline and pin in place. Sew around the outline of the square neckline.
  2. clip the corners (being careful not to cut the stitching) and fold the facing to the wrong side (inside) of the shirt front. Fold the facing in, leaving the raw edge inside of the fold. Pin in place and stitch along the outer outline of the square neckline. 
  3. This is what it should look like.
  4. Now pin the facing for the back of the shirt on the right side. Cut a slit in the middle, about 3" long, cutting both facing and back shirt pieces. Sew around the neckline and around the slit.
  5. Clip the corners and turns (being careful not to cut the stitching and fold the facing to the inside of the back of the shirt piece. Pin in place and top stitch around the neckline and slit opening. 
  6. Sew both front and back shirt pieces at the shoulder seam, having both pieces right-sides-together. 


  1. This is absolutely gorgeous and your daughter looks so sweet! I wish I were Guatemalan just so I could have such a lovely national costume!

    1. I love your Guatemalan outfit! She looks perfect in it. The embroidery is really cute as well as the fabric selection. Good luck in the sew along!

    2. Thank you so much Elizabeth Jarvis. I did my best with the embroidery, since I'm barely learning. I really like the outfit you made for you daughter as well. Good luck to you too :D Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This outfit is amazing Maria!! Thanks for sharing some of your culture - I'm in Australia, so Guatemala is very unfamiliar to me :)

    1. Thank you Renee! I also enjoy learning about other cultures. I love the outfit you made for your little girl. Australia looks like a beautiful place. Hopefully I can go there one day :)

  3. This so beautifully made and I love the photographs, too…just gorgeous! Thank you so much for sewing along.

    1. Thank you Heidi for hosting this wonderful sew-along. I had fun sewing this little outfit for my daughter and I'm also enjoying learning about the different cultures, from the other participants.

  4. Your outfit is so lovely. I love the beautiful hand stitching details. It is very interesting to know the outfit can tell fertility!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Yes, I also learn a lot of new things when doing more research about my heritage.

  5. Oh my God… this is absolutely gorgeous! Your attention to detail and craftsmanship is impeccable. Bravo, Maria!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Venus! You also did a great job on your filipino outfit. Good luck on the sew along ;)

  6. Enhorabuena Maria por ser la ganadora! Merecido premio porque tu niña está preciosa además de regalarnos es magnifico tutorial! Saludos!!

    1. Gracias Vanessa! De verdad que todavia no lo puedo creer, pero estoy super emocionada :D Tu trajecito de aldeana vasca es mi favorito!
      Que bueno que te gusto el tutorial! Estamos en contacto. Hasta pronto :D


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