Fabrica Social

Embroidered Metaphors

The elaborate floral embroidery from Mexico continues to intrigue and saturate the fashion world, speaking of color, culture, and a handcrafted nature. It’s one-of-a kind quality reminds us of the diversity of global textiles and traditions that we love and admire. With embroidery in mind, I think of Fabrica Social, a Mexican non-profit, which works with various cooperatives throughout Mexico to empower women through improving their garment making skills. Upon their founding in 2006, they started to use design as a tool to innovate, with the objective to be an itinerant design school that works in artisan communities catered to each group’s needs.  
 
One of the five cooperatives associated with Fabrica Social is called “The Dzitnup,” which works with fourteen Mayan women in the municipality of Valladolid, in Yucatan. This province is one of many known for their beautiful “huipils” or blouses, dazzling in their vibrant colors and floral designs. These wearable pieces of art were traditionally worn by indigenous communities throughout Mexico and Central America and speak of Mexico's simplistic beauty and cultural diversity. These loose fitting cotton tunics fall to one’s knees and are distinctive in their floral and geometric embroidered motifs that embellish the square neckline and hem while referencing fertility and beauty. Worn both in the everyday and during special occasions, women wear these huipils with pride, as they express their self-identity and village of origin.
 
The embroidery technique utilized by the Dzitnup is created by manually guiding fabric through a pedal sewing machine from side to side, creating a zigzag stitch. Some of the women continue to weave by hand, but since the sewing machine was introduced in the 1970’s, many now sell to tourists and foreign markets, using this machine to their advantage. Working with polyester thread, the Dzitnup prefer working with bright colors, experimenting with monochromatic images, mixing new motifs with a single thread color. The textures are unpredictable, as these women have a vast array of patterns and techniques in their minds. Nature and flowers inspire as well as experiences and issues of concern. 
 
These elaborate Huipil motifs vary in style and significance, although there is a beautiful sense of unification due to the Mayan symbolism embedded in these textiles. Patterns reflect everything from nature to religious and cosmic symbols. Many of the design inspirations come from their natural surroundings in the form of geometric patterns that symbolize hills, flowers, serpents, the sun, stars, the universe, and more. Common animal motifs include the earth lord, monkey, toad, and vulture, relating to signs of protection, ancestral offerings, spiritual beings, fertility, and connection between the inner and outer worlds. The zigzag and crisscrossed stitches on the breastplate often characterize the earth’s elements such as lighting, rain, earth, and sky. These symbols are like metaphors, endless and complex as well as poetic in their representation of their Mayan heritage.
 
For more information please contact, dulce@fabricasocial.org or visit www.socialfabrica.org

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