How to Make Traditional Mexican Clothes

By Melissa J. Bell

Traditional Mexican clothing, unlike the complex Mexican celebration costumes, is reasonably simple to replicate. Although the specific clothing styles in Mexico may differ from region to region, the basic pieces remain similar. Men's clothing is fairly Westernized, although the addition of the native "sarape," or blanket cape, is common. Women's clothing typically consists of a tunic, or "huipil," a cape, or "quechquemitl," and a shawl, or "rebozo." You can put together your own versions of these traditional garments using a few basic sewing skills.

Textile patterns used in traditional Mexican clothing.


Step 1

Measure the distance between your shoulders and your ankles, then double the measurement. Cut a piece of 45-inch-wide material to this length.

Step 2

Fold the material in half along the length. Mark the center at the folded edge.

Step 3

Cut a neck opening into the folded edge, using the center mark as a guide. Make the neck opening as wide as desired.

Step 4

Place the neck opening over your head, and have a friend help you mark the sleeve openings. Remove the huipil, and turn it inside out.

Step 5

Pin the side edges of the huipil together, starting at the sleeve markings and ending at the hem. Sew these sides together, 1/2 inch away from the edges.

Step 6

Fold 1/2 inch of the hem, sleeve edges and neckline to the inside of the huipil, and pin them in place. Sew these folds down to hide the raw edges of the fabric. Turn the huipil right side out.


Step 7

Cut two rectangles of fabric that are 16 inches wide and long enough to cover half your body, from your chest to your back. Call these pieces Rectangles A and B.

Step 8

Take one short edge of Rectangle A and pin it to the bottom of one long edge of Rectangle B, matching the corners.

Step 9

Sew the rectangles together at this edge, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Step 10

Take the opposite short edge of Rectangle B and pin it to the bottom of one long edge of Rectangle A. This should create a poncho shape. Sew the rectangles together at this edge.

Step 11

Turn under or bind the raw edges at the neckline and bottom of the quechquemitl. You can also add fringe here.

Rebozo and Sarape

Step 12

Cut a 30-inch-wide piece of fabric to a length of 2 yards.

Step 13

Wrap the fabric around your shoulders and upper body to test the length. If the rebozo makes for too long of a shawl, trim some of the length.

Step 14

Bind all of the raw edges, or fold them under and stitch the folds in place. You can also use a woven rectangular shawl of similar size for this purpose.

Step 15

Wear the traditional women's clothing with the huipil underneath, the quechquemitl sandwiched in the middle and the rebozo on top.

Step 16

Make a sarape for men's traditional Mexican clothing using the same method as the rebozo. You can also use an existing wool blanket or wool poncho. Drape the sarape over a modern shirt and trousers.