October 26, 2013
Coming up next Saturday on November 2 is the annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Candlelight Procession in Old Town San Diego. This will be its 4th year and I was pleased to be able to lead the procession for the first year and the following years I was joined by more and more members of our SD Costume Guild. And each year the crowds of people joining in have filled the streets and making this a highly successful event.
This year we’re being asked to up the ante and return to the roots of the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos by coming in full La Calaveras Catrina faces, or Elegant Lady/Skeleton. So everyone in the lead procession are going to be painting their faces.
These are some photos I took of some of the Calaveras Catrinas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2011, and just looking at them again makes me happy. They’re so colorful!
Last month I started a new 1870s mourning dress in black embroidered eyelet cotton to have a more comfortable & cooler dress to wear during our hot weather, and it’s almost done. I made it from the Truly Victorian polonaise pattern since it goes together very quickly, and is the right time period for Old Town. Now that they've requested going back to the basics of los Muertos, that leaves the costuming wide opening for what people want to wear; mourning or similar to those worn by the Catrinas. I’ve been making some pleated trim for along the neckline and sleeve cuffs out of a band of the eyelet fabric, and finishing that with black velvet ribbon. The embroidery design is not this shiny but I had to use my flash for it to show up against the black. I paid $3 yard for this at Robert’s in the Garment District, so this dress is going to be in the “very cheap to make" category. I bought velvet covered buttons at Trim2000+ there also to go on the bodice and the sleeve cuffs.
To wear with it, I bought a flowered headpiece from the Johnson House in Old Town and since the flowers were only on one side of the head band, I added more to the other side to even it out. Michael's has all their Fall flowers for 70% off right now but they had no Spring colors like the ones already on it so I had to blend the Fall ones in. Because of the different flowers, the front and back look totally different. I plan on having a black veil on the back but haven’t decided how to do my hair yet, and if I’ll be wearing a hat too. I don’t like a flat look to my head.
During the Procession where we walk from the Old Town center square to the El Campo de Santos Cemetery, we are carrying either battery operated candle lamps, or the tall cylinder religious candles.
The candle lamps just showed up in Michael’s stores for 2 for $5.99. So the countdown is on to finish my dress this week!