Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sew What?! Mexicali Folk Couture Strikes Again

I like to pretend that my refusal to purchase scads of souvenirs is some kind of transcendence into a realm of heightened spirituality like, "I don't need twelve pairs of toy castanets, I'll carry every beautiful moment of this Spanish vacation in my heart."  More likely, it is because I'm cheap and fat, and every penny saved on tchotchkes is a dollar earned toward döner kebabs, fun-flavored Kit Kats, or Croatian pizza.  Don't even get me started on Croatian pizza.   

Yes, I'm cheap, chubby, and, lo theses many years later, I'm still tripping on all the untouched pairs of castanets left all over the house.  Recuerdos de España.

Apparently, my enlightened attitude isn't shared by my sister because, from one of her work trips to Mexico, she returned with an avalanche of souvenirs.  I can just see her, overwhelmed by the splendor of the mercado, eagerly shouting, "I'll take one of everything!"

Quite conscious of my inability to control the sewing urge when handed a pile of interesting fabric, Mary made sure that her purchases included a few yards of a striped Mexican textile in three colorways.  This fabric presented a particular challenge because each length was only eighteen inches wide.  Knowing that some creative piecing would be in order, I started draping the fabric on the dress form. 

My personal design challenge was to incorporate each colorway into the completed ensemble.

After several rounds of pinning, I decided on a poncho with a contrast yoke featuring a large neckline bow.  To balance the volume of the poncho, I made a simple pencil skirt, creating the necessary yardage by joining the fabric at the selvages.

Fast becoming a signature of Mr. Tiny's Mexicali Folk Couture,
the poncho and its bow are trimmed in eighteen handmade pompoms.
I hemmed a remnant of the white fabric to make the headscarf; the hat
is a purchased souvenir.

Envisioning a mid-century counterpart to Mary's overzealous souvenir hound, my concept for a photo shoot involved a classic car full of colorful souvenirs.  Time and finance are usually the fodder for the  epic battle waged between my lofty concepts and meager reality.  Thankfully, Mary's convertible Corvair, a million tissue-paper flowers, and our reliable friend-photographer, Fabian, came to my rescue.

When I told them that I wanted it to look like a sixty-year-old editorial from
Harper's Bazaar or Life Magazine, Mary and Fabian got right down to business.

Fabian always has a deft way of combining fashion and automotive photography.

Mary's shades are themselves a souvenir from our summer adventures in Venice.

"I have no impulse control and I don't care!"

As much as I loved Fabian's photographs, I couldn't help but notice my failings as a stylist; the matching basket purse I made is barely visible in any of the pictures.  And so, I feel compelled to give the purse its due.

The basket purse follows the color blocking on the outfit and, like the poncho, it
is trimmed in yellow pompoms.  If you're keeping score, that makes TWENTY!!! 

As much as I love it, I'm not sure how many opportunities Mary will have to wear this outfit in its entirety; like most of my (mis)adventures in design, it scratched a creative itch, allowing me to move on to the next project.  Thanks to Mary and Fabian for skipping the "Tijuana Taxi" and hitching a ride on the Mr. Tiny bandwagon!

"Tijuana Taxi" - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1966)


Mr. Tiny


  1. Love it! I linked back to your post and snagged on of my favorite images ~

    1. Gee whiz! You're too good to me. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So Amazing ! And your model makes it all come to life !

    1. Thank you so much!! I'm thrilled you stopped by!