San Antonino Castillo Velasco
A community in Oaxaca that celebrates their stunning traditional floral embroidery
Originating over 200 years ago, the San Antonino top or dress can take over one month to make with specialty pieces taking up to six months to complete. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and truly a work of art. First, the fabric is cut and threads are chosen. The artisans we work with have an incredible eye for color and they choose the most stunning combinations. We use high quality fabrics and are always collaborating with and learning from our artisan partners to create new designs. The fabric is then pressed with an intricate iron stamp that has been rolled with dark ink and creates the outline the artisans will follow for their embroidery. Many of the stamps are 200 years old and represent a specific family’s design that has been passed down through generations.
The iron stamps are true works of art. They are made out of metal to ensure crisp lines of ink on the fabric.
After the ink is dry, the artisans use a small hoop to stretch the fabric and hand embroider their design. The artisans are able to work in their homes and for many, it’s a way for them to earn supplemental income outside of other important responsibilities in their homes. Not only are they earning income on their work but it is also something they take pride in, as it is an embroidery that represents a community much like a flag can represent a city. Another group of artisans is then given the embroidered piece to add the “Hazme Si Puedes” which translates to “make me if you can”.
Essentially it creates the pleating detail and if you look closely, you can see little people in the smocking detail. It is also referred to as “La Familia” as the figures are woven together. While the “Hazme Si Puedes” is added, another community is given the neck of the piece for the hand-crochet around the neckline. It’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch the crochet. As a final step, the pieces are sewn together, hand-washed, hung to dry and beautifully ironed with their traditional pleats.
A Woman from the Community
Q: What would you like for our customers to know?
A: I would like for them to understand the process and what embroidery means to us in Oaxaca. The tradition. How long it takes to make a dress. It’s also a way of making women stronger economically. It helps sustain lots of families and strengthens our culture.
Q: Who taught you how to embroider?
A: I learned to embroider from my mother and my grandmother.
Q: Why do you love embroidery?
A: It represents part of my culture and the tradition of my town. It’s also a source of employment.
Q:How many people in your family embroider?
A:About eight, my Mom, Grandmother, aunts, and my little sister too.
Q:How long have you been embroidering?
A: 10 years. I learned how to embroider well at 12 years old.
Q:What is your favorite Mexican tradition?
A: I love Dia de los Muertos. I like it because it’s a connection between people who aren’t here, but their memories are. In Mexico we believe that their souls are still here. We tell them how much we love them and the things we would have done together if they hadn’t left sooner.
Q:What is your favorite thing to wear?
A: I like to wear everything. Especially, traditional embroidered blouses. I love to wear purple.
Q:What is your favorite color combination?
A: I love fuchsia and gold.
Q:What are the most traditional colors?
A: Every color represents something. Green - nature and hope, pink - the sensitivity of a woman, red - passion, purple - spirituality.
How long does it take to create one piece?
A: If I am dedicated, one and a half months or up to two months.
Q:How long have you known Cristina?
A: 3.5 years.
Q:What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
A: I like to read, listen to music, and embroider.
Q:What is your favorite Mexican food?
A: I love mole estofado with rice and chicken.