Santiago Atitlan: 3rd 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.  I embroidered the pattern below on white fabric instead of a purple strip to focus more attention on the birds themselves, but keep in mind that traditionally they wouldn’t be found that way.  I embroidered the flowers in purple in deference.


  • 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


  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_atitlan6
  2. Transfer the pattern onto your cloth by outlining it with a heat transfer pen/pencil and ironing it onto your fabric.
  3. Place the fabric in the embroidery hoop.
  4. Embroider using the pattern as your guide.  For this particular pattern I used four different stitches: the satin stitch, the chain stitch, a woven stitch, and the back stitch.
    1. Stem and leaves:
      1. I used a brown chain stitch for the stems.
      2. I used a woven stitch for the leaves.
    2. Birds:
      1. I colored sections of the birds with a satin stitch.
      2. I outlined the birds with a black back stitch which I then twisted with a contrastingly colored thread.
      3. I made the bird’s tails and wing feathers out of a chain stitch.
    3. Flowers:
      1. I used a purple chain stitch for the flower petals that I later filled in with a contrasting shade of purple.

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