Fiesta Dresses

9 Dec


 Judy Wills  


Growing up in New Mexico was a great experience.  Of course, we moved there when I was only four years old, so I didn’t know any different.  The Indian/Mexican culture was just something that was normal to me.

 When I was old enough to learn how to sew, my Grandmother and Mother began teaching me the sewing machine by having me sew row-upon-row-upon-row of trim on yards and yards of fabric.  It was all straight stitching, but some rows were metallic trim, some were rick-rack, some needed only a single stitch to hold it down, others required stitching on the top and bottom edges of the trim/braid.  Very boring.  But it gave me a sense of what sewing was all about.

All those yards and yards of fabric would eventually be made into a Fiesta Dress, or Squaw Dress, as some called it.  Three tiers, each one “longer” than the one above it.  Those dresses could be made from just about fabric and color combination.  I remember a royal blue fabric with nothing but copper trim – one of my favorites.  I remember a winter dress made from blue corduroy – no trim needed.  I remember one made from fabric that looked like bandana design – no trim needed on that one, either.  I remember one that was made in light cotton – white – with red and red-and-white trim.  It was great – until I washed it the first time – and the red ran like crazy!!  So my Aunt Jessie took the dress (blouse and skirt) and dyed them beige.  For some reason, the red didn’t show where it had run, and really looked rather classy with the red trim.  Another favorite of mine.  Oh, so many dresses.

And the skirts were not left “pouffy” like they might be today – they were hand-pleated after being soaked in starch!  And to keep the pleats in, we rolled the skirt into itself and stuffed it into a nylon stocking.  Jessie’s dogs LOVED to get at those to fight with them!

Dogs fighting

But those dresses were considered in good taste no matter where they were worn.  They could be worn to a very casual setting…..they could be worn to work….they could be worn to a fancy dinner setting – all worked equally well.

I’ve never seen them worn outside of New Mexico, however.  So when I took them with us to Texas, they were not the “in style” to wear.  I still have them, but can’t seem to find the right place to wear them now – even if I could fit in them anymore!

But they were just right for New Mexico.

Blue skirt

red skirt



2 Responses to “Fiesta Dresses”

  1. DiVoran Lites December 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Granny made one for me. It was red voile (lightweight cotton) with silver trim. I did find a place to wear it when we moved to Florida. I wore it to square-dancing with several crinoline (stand-out) underskirts. As Judy says, they were beautiful and unique.



  1. Memories of New Mexico~Part 1 | Old Things R New - February 19, 2017

    […] mentioned the Fiesta dresses (or Squaw dresses) please see my post on December 9, 2012 -we wore. They always remind me of New […]


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