Santiago Atitlan: 1st Huipil Pattern

Santiago Atitlan is known for its purple and white striped huipils decorated with embroidered birds.  Sometimes the birds are embroidered within the gird pattern formed by the purple horizontal stripes, and other times the birds are embroidered freeform on top of the vertical stripes.  Embroidered flowers ring the opening of the huipil.  The two types of flowers I have been able to identify specifically are roses and pansies.

In the huipil pattern below I attempted to mimic the traditional woven textile grid with purple ribbons and embroidery floss.  I embroidered the birds within the spaces of the grid.




  • Printer and paper – to print out the embroidery pattern
  • Heat Transfer pen or pencil – to transfer the embroidery pattern onto fabric (there are various ways to do this; pick your preferred method.)
  • Fabric – I went with a white, 100% cotton fabric.  I am planning on making a pillow out of the final product, and measured and cut my fabric with that in mind.
  • Embroidery Needle
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Purple Ribbon


  1. Print out the pattern – if for some reason you are not able to save or correctly resize the pattern send me a message, and I will email you the jpeg.santiago_atitlan3
  2. Transfer the pattern onto your cloth by outlining it with a heat transfer pen/pencil and ironing it onto your fabric.
  3. Use the patten guides to sew the purple ribbon and embroidery floss grid.
  4. Place the fabric in the embroidery hoop.
  5. Embroider using the pattern as your guide.  For this particular pattern I used four different stitches: the satin stitch, the chain stitch, a closed herringbone stitch, and the back stitch.
    1. Stem and leaves:
      1. I used a brown satin stitch for the thicker parts of the stems, and a matching back stitch for the thinner stems.
      2. For the leaves I used a satin stitch with green on one side and light green on the other.
      3. I used a closed herringbone stitch for the bushes.
    2. Birds:
      1. I colored the birds with a satin stitch.
      2. I outlined the birds with a dark brown back stitch.
      3. I made the bird’s tails out of a chain stitch that I later went back and filled them in with a contrasting color.


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