Quilting in Mexico? A US custom with a following south of the border

Most English audio system from North America are fairly aware of patchwork quilts; it is likely one of the few native handcrafts we nonetheless have north of the border, and it stays part of Anglo-American identification. Though not documented, when American and Canadians started retiring to Mexico in massive numbers after World Battle II, the interest possible accompanied them south.

Avid Canadian quilter Wendy Wilton was pleasantly stunned to be taught of lively quilting “guilds,” or golf equipment, in locations like San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic. Like their counterparts up north, these golf equipment present quilters an outlet to socialize and get technical assist. Additionally they do neighborhood outreach, donating quilts to organizations comparable to orphanages, veterans and hospitals. Not too long ago, the Ajijic guild despatched a batch of handmade quilts to Ukraine.

Members of the Ajijic Quilt Guild and the quilts they made to be despatched to Ukraine (courtesy Ajijic Quilt Guild)

Quilting’s social-service facet might finest be mirrored within the tireless work of Mazatlán-based Linda Hannawalt. She had already been a drive within the quilting world because the founding father of the California non-profit San Francisco Stitching & Quilting Collaborative. Within the mid 2010s, she moved to Mazatlán. Considering she was the primary quilter within the nation, Linda rapidly based the San Francisco Quilt Store in a constructing near the place cruise ship passengers arrive.  Then, she recruited native sewers trying to be taught a brand new craft that may enchantment to a brand new and profitable market. 

The Mazatlán retailer is certainly a enterprise, promoting completed merchandise, quilting provides, and courses to international winter residents and vacationers. Hannawalt’s ardour, nevertheless, is sharing the success she has had with Mazatlán ladies. 

After discovering out that there are certainly different quilters in Mexico, she started to community, discovering alternatives to help fledgling teams, together with one for deaf ladies in Zihuatanejo. In the course of the pandemic, Linda helped Mexican quilt companies keep afloat by serving to them import wanted provides whereas Mexican nationals had been barred from coming into the U.S. Her retailer’s revenue supplies a lot of the help for this outreach.

However it’s not simply international ladies selling quilting in Mexico. Though the Ajijic guild is English-speaking and geared in the direction of retirees, it has attracted Mexican hobbyists from so far as Guadalajara. Quilt enterprise homeowners Silvia Barba Alhadro and Teresa Gurria of the Mexico Metropolis metropolitan space are two of over a dozen companies that cater nearly completely to Mexican ladies who, as Gurria says, “get hooked” on quilts. 

Beatriz Juarez Arroyo from the Mundo Mágico de Sofy of Morelia demonstrates chopping a bit of fabric for patchwork (courtesy Mundo Mágico)

By 2019, Mexico was internet hosting expos, guilds and extra in areas comparable to Monterrey, Mérida, León and Veracruz. Expo Quilt México Internacional is the biggest of those, based and run by Silvia Barba Alhadro, proprietor of The Quilting Studio within the trendy San Ángel neighborhood of Mexico Metropolis. 

Occasions like these, Silvia says, are quite a lot of work, however they’re essential due to the networking alternatives amongst quilters and with most people. Not solely do these occasions have cubicles that includes quilt outlets, materials and stitching machines, they’ve exhibitions and competitions of a number of the best quilts being produced in Mexico. 

Most expos and occasions took a hiatus through the pandemic, and a few have but to come back again, however there’s optimism that it’s only a matter of time.

Barba Alhadro, an early pioneer, quilting by probability whereas working at a global college. She started quilting as a interest, however when increasingly more family and friends needed to be taught, she began a quilting “college” in her dwelling. It grew sufficiently big that 12 years in the past, she moved The Quilt Store courses to its present location within the San Ángel neighborhood. Quilting courses have been the introduction to the craft for a lot of Mexican ladies, not solely as a result of it supplies a artistic outlet, however maybe extra importantly, it supplies a social one for a lot of upper-class Mexican stay-at-home mothers and retirees. 

Developed quilt companies in Mexico usually have providers like stitching the patchwork tops onto the decrease layers to complete the quilts utilizing particular stitching (courtesy San Francisco Quilt Store)

Gathering commonly on the The Quilt Store or some other of over a dozen quilt “colleges” within the Mexico Metropolis space could also be much more essential than the quilting itself.   

“What is alleged in quilting class, stays in quilting class,” says Teresa Gurria, a former scholar of Barba Alhadro’s who runs her personal quilt enterprise within the northwestern Mexico Metropolis suburb of Atizapan. Even when the quilt store seems like one north-of-the-border, the middle of exercise is at all times the courses, not essentially the material on the market. 

Most quilters in Mexico, like these within the U.S. and Canada, strongly choose to quilt with high quality, 100% cotton materials made particularly for the interest. These materials might be dear and whereas they mimic what was used to quilt a century in the past, there’s one primary distinction: at the moment’s quilts are not often made with leftover scraps the best way they had been again then.

Quilting courses like these at The Quilting Studio in Mexico Metropolis present an essential social outlet for homebound ladies. (courtesy The Quilting Studio)

One exception to this can be the quilting that’s growing in Morelia, which had its first quilting expo final March on the metropolis’s conference heart, known as Amistad Creativa (which means “artistic friendship”). The occasion attracted over 500 individuals, receiving help from metropolis and state authorities, which see the financial potentialities of quilting for poor ladies and different marginalized teams. The expo additionally promoted “scrap” quilting as a option to recycle cloth. Using trendy industrial materials might be difficult in quilted merchandise, however they’re a useful resource that’s extra available in Mexico. 

Wilton has “little doubt” that quilting has a vivid and rising future in Mexico. The entire ladies interviewed agree, whether or not their goal for quilting is solely therapeutic or they hope to search out financial progress. Although Mexican quilters are nonetheless working with conventional Anglo designs for essentially the most half, however given this nation’s creativity, I count on that to ultimately evolve. 

In case you are keen on discovering a quilting group, here’s a checklist of contacts to begin with:

Mexico Metropolis


Lake Chapala

Baja California

San Miguel de Allende

  • San Miguel Quilters (WhatsApp 55 5951 1783)






Leigh Thelmadatter arrived in Mexico over 20 years in the past and fell in love with the land and the tradition particularly its handcrafts and artwork. She is the creator of Mexican Cartonería: Paper, Paste and Fiesta (Schiffer 2019). Her tradition column seems commonly on Mexico Information Day by day.

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