My name is Erin, and I have lived in Guatemala for a little over a year. My husband and I are here taking care of our little girl, whom we are in the process of adopting. There is a local store here in the town of Antigua that sells used huipiles, and since I love to "reduce, reuse, and recycle", last year I made Christmas ornaments from the beautiful fabric as gifts for some family members. I posted some photos of the ornaments on my personal blog, and soon thereafter I began to get requests to make some for my readers. Struggling to maintain two households - one in Guatemala and one back in the US - on a fraction of our previous income, I was thrilled to have the chance to earn some extra money. I sewed as quickly as I could and sold 400-500 ornaments in late 2007. I then moved on to making other products that used huipil fabric, such as simple baby dolls, Semana Santa carpets, turtles, collages, and names.
It's a lot of fun to look through the piles of used huipiles at stores and markets to find the most beautiful patterns and colors. The hardest work has already been done by the women who wove the fabric, and once it is of no more use to them as clothing, I am happy to use it for another purpose.
Me with our little girl in Guatemala on Thanksgiving 2007:
La Chapina, the Name
There are affectionate nicknames for people from different Central American countries. For example, the nickname for a person from Nicaragua is nico (masculine) or nica (feminine), and in Honduras it's catracho (masculine) or catracha (feminine). In Guatemala, it is chapin (masculine) or chapina (feminine).
Because it is almost always women and girls who weave the beautiful Guatemalan huipiles, I have named this site La Chapina to honor them and their beautiful work.
La Chapina is pronounced "la cha-PEE-na".