I purchased a traditional Mexican dress last year. I picked it out because it had purple embroidery (of course) but it turned out to be too big for me.
But I still loved the embroidery and wanted to make something I would wear out of it. It took a year, but I finally figured out what I wanted. I had played around with ideas, but I was losing too much of the embroidery. I settled on the bodice overtop from Simplicity costume pattern 4940. I copied the pattern pieces needed. I use examination table paper; the paper you sit on in doctor’s office.
After opening the two side seams of the dress, I folded the front in half. I then laid the pattern piece for the top portion of the bodice, making sure to not cut into the neckline. This made for a higher/thicker neckline then the pattern called for.
Next was the waist portion. Here I used the rest of the heavy embroidery on the shoulders. I sewed the shoulder sections together, matching the embroidery. The scalloped edge of the dress ended up running length-wise down the front. This made the piece more squared than rectangle, so I added to the sides using some of the front of the dress with the smaller embroidery design. I laid these pieces under the scalloped edges and sewed them together with a zigzag stitch, over both the scalloped edge and the zigzag stitch already on the dress. Laying this sewn section flat, I placed the center of the waist portion pattern on the center seam line of the built-up fabric. By doing this I ended up with a mirror-image section.
The back of the garment contains a center zipper between two solid (from the shoulder to the hip) pieces. I used the skirt section of the dress front and in that way used the little embroidery designs again.
This fabric is very light weight and a little sheer, so I cut every pattern piece (for lining) using the back of the dress. I then basted all the top and lining pieces together. I saved the scalloped edges of the dress for future use; I wanted to use as much of the embroidery as possible and am hoping that my idea on that will work…..
First was sewing the front pieces together. Here I cut a strip of the scalloped edged that was around 1 1/4 inch wide and sewed it between the bodice top and waist. I then zigzagged that down to the bodice waist.
Next was sewing the shoulders and sides. The shoulders were wider in the front; no surprise there as I ended up cutting the neckline bigger to retain the embroidery. I just made an inverted tuck to match the edges. No issues with the sides. After trying on I took the sides in a little for a better fit.
I finished the edges of the arm-holes and the back neckline with thin double fold bias tape. I used a combination of decorative stitches to stitch the bias tape down with variegated purple thread.
For the hem I tried that idea I was thinking of to use the scalloped edge, and it worked!! I cut strips of the edge around 1 1/2 inches wide and sewed them together for a long strip. This I sewed to the bottom, and then turned the seam up and stitched down so the seam would stay up in place.
I love my new Mexican top and am looking forward to wearing to Mexico some time soon.