Clothing - Mexican Woman / Tejana - 1836
Here are the basics of the costume you will need.
Your undergarment is a chemise (camisa). This is worn as both undergarment and as nightclothes. It resembles a peasant blouse as it is gathered by drawstring at the neckline and the ends of the sleeves. The hemline extends to the knee or just below. The sleeves are set into the armhole (not raglan) and can have a gusset. They can be any length from short sleeve to long. It is made of white cotton or linen material.
Your stockings are white and fit just below the knee. Store-bought knee-high cotton socks will do.
Your skirt can be made of lightweight wool or cotton material. It can be banded at the waist or drawstring. It can be made of a solid colored material or a calico print. If a printed material is used it must be of no more than two colors and of very simple design. The hemline ranges from mid-calf to just above the ankle.
Your petticoat, which is worn under the skirt, is made of white cotton material. It can be hemmed with white cotton lace, and be long enough that the lace shows from under the skirt.
A sash is worn at your waist. It can be a simple band of solid colored fabric that you can wrap around and tuck into itself, or you can wear a woven sash of either a solid color or different colored stripes. It can be fringed or not.
Your rebozo is an all-purpose accessory, both shawl and headcovering. No Mexican woman is without one. It is used to carry babies or bundles. It keeps you warm and protects you from the sun. It can be made of wool, cotton, or silk. It can be solid colored or have a stripe, either fringed or unfringed. It should measure approximately 3 yards in length, and in width anywhere from 27 to 34 inches.
Remember that all colors of fabric used in your costume should be as close as possible to the colors that could be achieved through natural dyes. Black, white, browns, and muted colors are fine, nothing too bright.
Do not use any synthetic fabrics as natural fibers are more comfortable, durable, and safer around a campfire.
Your shoes should be flat and either black or brown in color. You may wear simple pumps with either square or round toe. Ballet type cloth shoes will do. Old-style ankle-high boots that are simple will also work as long as they are flat or have a very low heel. You can wear leather moccasins with or without stockings.
Accessories that you can add to your costume can be jewelry such as simple glass beads worn around the neck. Crosses were also worn. Earrings should be simple gold hoops, no posts. You may wear a knife at your waist (in sheath), either in front or back.
If the weather is cold you can wear a blanket, capote, serape or poncho for warmth.
Hair, if long, is parted down the middle, braided in either one braid worn down the back or two braids tied together in back with a ribbon. Braids can also be worn gathered together, high on the head as a crown. If your hair is short you can say that you had to cut it because of fever or lice.
Copyright © 2005 Patty Tristan
Here are the dimensions / directions for a Mexican skirt or petticoat. Texian dresses can be the same pattern, but ankle length.
To make a skirt approximately 90" wide (around) you will need 2 yards of 45" fabric.
Cut 2 pieces, each 36" (1 yd.) long. You will have 2 pieces of cloth, each measuring 36" x 45".
Place the two pieces together, right sides facing each other. Sew the selvage edges together on each side.
Press seams open and turn right-side-out.
Turn one of the remaining raw edges under and stitch to create a casing for drawstring. You can place a buttonhole in the casing for the drawstring. Measure the length, adding enough length for a small finished hem. Cut the skirt to length, turn the raw edge under and stitch the hem. Hemline should come to mid-calf or below.
Sew a petticoat in the same way. Trim in cotton lace if desired. Hemline can be long enough so that lace shows from under the skirt. I would like to specifically mention that lace should be washed before attaching, because this step is often forgotten.
If your fabric is wider than 45" you can make a fuller skirt or you can cut to the dimensions listed above.
Copyright © 2005 Patty Tristan
During Pilgrim's Camp 2006, I discussed some of the tips & techniques of basic sewing with Patty Tristan, Clarice Shanks and Linda Tubbs. Some of the advice gathered is listed here:
- Wash fabric before cutting. It takes out the sizing and reduces puckering at seams in the finished product. If the finished product will be machine dried, machine dry the fabric. As Patty noted above, this includes lace and other trims.
- "Cheating " by sewing lace to the inside of the skirt doesn't work. It doesn't move right and is almost guaranteed to show puckering on the skirt.
- Go ahead and try. None of us sews to factory specs, and we -are- trying to achieve a homemade look. A simple pattern like this is a great starting place.
- Use ribbon instead of string as a drawstring. It doesn't stretch as much.
- It's not easy to sew by candlelight.
- If you do not have a bodkin to pull the drawstring through the casing, you can use a large, dull needle with a big eye. Patty uses a length of coat hanger wire with one end bent over into a hook. She runs it through the casing, then hooks on a safety pin which is attached to the end of the drawstring and pulls it through. Two notes I would make on that are that if you cut the hanger just below where it is twisted together, you get the longest practical straight wire from it; and before making the hook, bend a small-as-possible loop in the end to "hide" the sharp end so it does not snag the fabric.
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