Friday, May 4, 2012


This week the 1st graders created paper versions of traditional Mexican shirts called huipils. These shirts have been made by the people of Mexico for many years, dating back to pre-Hispanic times. They are woven and embroidered and are often full of bright colors and bold patterning.

The students looked at photos of a number of huipils and they identified different ways the craftsperson had created patterns- through repeating shapes, lines, and colors.

After that the kids started in on their own paper huipils. They made the basic shirt shape first, drawing and cutting the collar and sleeves. They then laid out their cut paper strips, glued them on, and trimmed them to fit.

Then the patterning was done by applying leftover paper and by drawing patterns with a pen and crayons.

If students wanted to add a fringed border to the bottom and/or sleeves they did that at the end with another larger piece of white paper.

The kids rocked the project with lots of variety in patterning and detailing. When I showcase them at our end of the year I plan on displaying them on a clothesline. The process of this project was borrowed from the art ed blog Painted Paper:)


  1. Hey D.,
    These are so pretty. When I teach my 1-5 unit on Mexico, I have the first grade decorate a large, brown grocery bag with strategic cuts for head and arms.They do very similar patterning to your students and we call them serapes. I didn't want the boys to gripe about making something "girly". I think next time I teach this unit, I will have the girls do the huipil and the boys the serape. Thanks for a cool project idea.


    1. Great idea Pat! I love the wearable idea. I'll have to do that next year:)
      I got around the girly thing by suggesting that the boys put patterns that they thought were macho! I guess this opens up a whole nother gender thing, but I got some with pac-man, skulls, video game characters, sporting equipment, etc... I think if I would have tried this with, say, 5th grade, there would have been a lot more resistance from the boys, but the little guys rolled with it well and produced some beautiful work.