Dress like Frida Sewalong: episode 2


Having made my first two huipils I started to consider the bottom half as I’m not really a fan of full, long skirts, but was slightly inspired by Kate’s skirts. I didn’t have any fabric that was appropriate, so I put the whole project on the back burner for a few days.

During this lull in proceedings I remembered that my mother had painted some tee-shirt fronts and I dug them out.

The first thing I noticed was that the armscyes were really small and the necklines were really high, so I recut these and then began to look at what I had. Could I finish them? I dug out my fabric paints and began to think about the implications of ruining perhaps the last bit of painting that she had done (she would have painted these in her late eighties).

This one was unfinished, but Mum had kindly drawn in her intentions in pink pen. I thought it might have been a Frixion pen (it wasn’t) and got out my pink Frixion pen to emulate her work.


She had managed to splosh a bit of paint where it shouldn’t be and I did the same, so now I had funny paint marks to deal with. She did the blue and I did the brown.


The front of this one was finished but had a couple of stains on it, one of which was right in the centre. You can just see it in the bottom left corner of the photo


Another example of unfinished and dirty marks. I was not prepared to wash these pieces because I didn’t know if she had set the paint. By the way, these blue flowers were painted by me following Mum’s pink pen, which is why they look like an eight year old has done them!


Of course I only had fronts, so had to think about sleeves and backs. I paid a little visit to Knitwit and discovered that they had a couple of remnants which suited the painting perfectly. I cut out backs and sleeves and sewed up the tops. They were extremely short as my mother was quite vertically challenged, so I added bands in the same fabric.

After I had finished the tops I decided I needed to sort out some of the marks, so I set myself up in the garden as the day was beautiful, and set to work.


Of course I had now made up the tops, so I slipped a piece of plastic between the two layers to stop the paint bleeding through to the back and I simply painted over the stains. However where they were close to the other fabric I tried to continue the pattern from the bought fabric over to the front fabric. I had varying success with this. In the photo above you see see where I have tried to extend a flower from the band into the white of the top.


The two blue splodges at the neckline were turned into flower petals, and a mark on the other shoulder was also turned into a flower (I’m really rather pleased with this bit of pattern matching), as was a mark at the bottom of the white fabric.

I tried to emulate the Frida makeup but failed a bit. I found strong red lipstick and attempted to thicken up my eyebrows (didn’t go with the monobrow), but Mark asked me what was wrong with my eyebrows so I don’t think I did the best job!


A quick view of the back of the t-shirt


To complete my outfit I found this Indian wool shawl. I know it’s not Mexican but it is embroidered with mirrors and all sorts of lovely things so I figured I might get away with it.



I found some fabric that went really well with this second top and made it into a simple gathered skirt (rather cunningly so that I could harvest the fabric if I later chose), and found some white cotton interlock in my stash for the remainder of the t-shirt. The problem is that the white was too white, so I dipped it in tea and it went a bit pink as there was Earl Grey in the tea, so I washed it and there was a piece of yellow fabric in the machine which I didn’t know about, so then it became rather café au lait, so I finished up scouring it and it turned out to be the perfect ivory colour – a bit of a journey here! I had to paint a flower on the sleeve as a bit of the dodgy colour didn’t come out.

Here I am posed with a Frida style monkey and she seemed to like birds too, so I managed to find a chicken – who knew we had a chicken in the soft toy stash?


The third t-shirt is the most beautifully painted and I didn’t touch it. I made this one sleeveless and found some lovely coordinating fabric for the bands and back. I decided to team it with the Mexican trousers given to me as part of a set by my friend Leonie. You can see that I managed to finish the crown, and a tutorial for making these flowers is here.


The back had to be pieced as I bought the smallest remnant. DSC01200

I am quite pleased with the way these tops turned out. They aren’t Huipils in the strictest sense of the word, but I am trying to convince myself that they are in the style of Frida and therefore acceptable for the challenge. I now declare myself done as I need to move on to other things. I have made five very wearable tops, but the thing that thrills me most is that I have managed to honour my mother’s painting and I will wear these tee-shirts often and carry her creative spirit with me wherever I go.

The blue trousers are Megan Nielsen Flints made from linen from Potters.





37 thoughts on “Dress like Frida Sewalong: episode 2

  1. I am gobsmacked by these! Simply amazing! All of them are fantastic and have such a special story behind them. I also love your flower crown. I am going to have to make one too.

    1. Oh you must make a flower crown, they are such fun! I am thrilled that my Mum’s work is no longer consigned to a cupboard and that I can wear them. I think she’d probably be appalled at my fiddling with them, but I hope not!

    1. They do hold special memories even though I didn’t see her doing them and only found them by accident with some other paintings. I do love them, even though they are probably not my style. I did think they may finish up as pyjama tops so am glad that they are wearable.

  2. Oh, these are the most beautiful Frida outfits, Sue! Such a lovely story integrating your mother‘s paintings. You combined them very effectively with the other fabrics. I love the blue pants with your shirt even more than with it‘s blue original top. These bold colours suit you very well, you are beaming!

    1. Thank you dear SaSa, I was really pleased that I could use those blue pants and thought they went really well with the top. I am so thrilled to have saved these reminders of my mother.

  3. Your mum’s paintings are beautiful! I love that you were able to turn them into wearable shirts! Good job on painting the stains and. pattern matching too!

  4. How would your Mum had finished them do you know? Would she have got plain white fabric for the backs and sleeves or patterned like you did? Very lovely, all those flowers will be great for springtime!

    1. I have no idea what her plans were. She may have been playing around, or perhaps she was making one for each of her three daughters – and now I have them all! I am so looking forward to wearing them.

  5. This is just the nicest, most uplifting post, and super outfits. You have honoured your Mum’s efforts, developed your own fabric painting skills, invented new ways of making decorative flowers and head-dresses, recycled with a vengeance, and shown how Frida’s inspiration can trigger so much creative energy and imagination. I love all your looks, the colours and shapes, especially the wide trousers and your huipils. And the chicken.

    1. Thank you so much Kate! I am so happy with this whole project and enjoyed it so much. I loved your posts where you outlined elements of Frida’s wardrobes for our edification.

  6. The ability to make use of your mums painted fabrics is wonderful. I love your tops – and I’m sure you will get plenty of opportunities to wear them.

      1. It would seem to be your turn to have the sun back – although I’m hoping we see it here in the UK for a bit longer . Enjoy your holiday 😃

  7. You have honored your mother in the most thoughtful way. All of these tops are lovely and definitely wearable and I think you have more than met this creative Frida challenge. Love Kate’s comment above about your work. I do have to say your post….. tribute to your mom…. brought tears to my eyes. You have a treasure in these tops Sue. 🙂 P.S. I did laugh as you described putting on your makeup!! I could relate!!

    1. I must say that I do love the fact that my mother painted these t-shirts. I now have some squares that she did that I’m going to have to put into a quilt. I shall really treasure all this work that my mother did so late in life.

  8. I have enjoyed following your Frida huipils on Instagram but somewhat managed to miss this blogpost! Your floral painting experiments are so inspiring – I want to try this out – and I love your floral skirt too! Will you end up wearing it as is? I am very tempted by a long swishy skirt too!

    1. I’m not sure about the skirt – I don’t really like the elastic waist, but we will see. Isn’t it lovely that I could use and extend my Mum’s painting. You should give it a go, it’s such fun and doesn’t require much equipment.

  9. I know I am late to comment – but these are wonderful. I love that you managed to reuse and reinterpret what your mum had done, and they go perfectly with your other pieces. So impressed!!!

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