Cinco Sewing

It’s been a week since our annual celebration of Mexico’s defeat of the invading France in 1862 … hey, that’s 150 years ago, if my math is correct. Too bad I didn’t realize that before the fiesta. Not that I would have changed anything …

We brush up on our Spanglish, invite our neighbors and friends, and anyone else we get a notion to invite. We rent some tables and chairs, throw random tablecloths on the tables, take the cover off the outdoor pool table, play the Mexican-American playlist that I update every year, and proceed from there.

We hold the party open-house style, so people can drop in for a half-hour or stay until the party’s over (or in the case of some of our neighbors, 3 hours after the party’s over – you know who you are).

In the past, I’ve made nearly all the food myself (with invaluable grilling assistance from Dave), including a Yucatecan specialty, Cochinita Pibil (achiote pork roasted in banana leaves) after which I most certainly deserve a margarita or seven, and proceed to run myself into a ragged yet semi-enjoyable drunkenness.

This year, Howard suggested I might actually like to have fun at my own party. Plus, he’s been on a jobsite 500 miles away, so help from him would be limited to whatever prep he could do the weekend before.

So I asked guests to bring appetizers or desserts, we ordered meats, beans and rice from Frida’s Restaurant, so the only prep I did was the taco toppings (lettuce, tomato, etc) and vatsful of lemonade and iced tea.

(Of course there was shopping and other prep, but y’know. Until I win the lottery and get someone to schlep for me, that’s not changing.)

(Howard still managed to take care of things from afar, managing to get a yard man to come and spend 9 hours cleaning up the backyard, as well as three polite young construction workers to bring over tables and chairs, and obey my every whim of furniture moving, ice chest cleaning, etc. What a guy! Tessa and Savvy were of course pressed into servitude, but I think they’ll live.)

as you can see, tessa (with ashley & dante) survived the trauma of having to pitch in

So, with no huge menu items to prepare, I decided to sew stuff for the party. Why make life easy for myself?

I got these fabrics:

pennants in progress

from several etsy shops, including: BywaterFabric, DownShadowLane, KOALACaddie, and BlackBirdFabrics. (I recommend ’em all, though BlackBird is in Canada and shipping can get pricy.)

Using Your Homebased Mom’s pennant banner tutorial (here), I whipped up 9-foot pennants banners in no time at all (don’t you hate when people say that? In this case it was true, though). The tutorial makes four pennant banners using 1/2 yard of 5 fabrics and four packages of extra-wide double-fold bias tape. I had extra fabric so I made five. I’ve always been an over-achiever. Except when I’m not.

the lower deck

the upper deck

the pool table bench

What do you think?

I also got two more fiestalicious fabrics from an etsy store called Vintage Spoken Here, but they didn’t fit into the pennant scheme. So, I decided to make bar aprons for Savvy and our neighbor Bob, who brings his world-famous “Margarator” to slake the thirsts of the margarita-swilling crowd. The two black companion prints wouldn’t quite stretch far enough to make both aprons, so I used some stash fabrics to back them and make the ties and binding, and the pocket for one apron.

I adapted a tutorial from Sew4Home to make them; here’s the original should you be so inclined to make your own. And here’s one of mine:

fiesta bar apron

now that savvy’s 21, she loves to tend bar

savvy, bob, and bob’s margarator

You can kind of see the aprons in the photos. The bar itself is made from two wine barrels and an old bookshelf, with part of a door (handle included) as the bar top.


We decided that if guests had to hold onto the doorknob when they bellied up to the bar, they were cut off!


We have a great upper deck, with built-in seating all around. The existing cushions were filthy from having been left out all winter. So I washed them. The covers shredded into little bits (all over the inside of my washer). Not fun.

I cut off the remaining fabric and ended up with four long pieces of foam padding. Dove back into my stash and found an outdoor fabric remnant I bought a few years ago. After measuring, I didn’t quite have enough fabric to cover both sides of the four cushions.

So, taking a page from my wildly creative friend Pamela (check her out at I cut up a canvas dropcloth from the hardware store to cover the undersides of the cushions.

Howard requested zippers so we could take the covers off to wash them, but I decided to use an envelope opening. Cheaper and faster.

It works like the back side of a pillow sham. You just reach into the opening and yank out the cushion.

Did anyone sit on these lovely cushions? No, they did not. We made the fatal mistake of not putting any food or bev on the upper deck, so why would anyone go up there? Next year.

fiesta table linens

I had some lengths of bright colored fabric that I cut into tablecloth size, and hemmed the raw edges to make more tablecloths. I added those to the ones I already had, including this beauty I bought on L.A.’s Olvera Street.

i love this tablecloth

It’s gorgeous and machine-washable. I think I will have to get a couple more next time I go to L.A.. I might even be able to remember which shop it was.

I also got a guayabera for Howard there, and surprised him with it on the morning of the party. Guayaberas are standard casual dress-up shirts for men in southern Mexico, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean. (Florida, too.)

classic guayabera

They usually come in white or pastels, and have rows of pintucks and embroidery running down each side of the shirt front, along with two pockets on the chest and two more directly below them at the waist/hip. I decided Howard wouldn’t go for pink, so I got him this one in royal blue.

scott, enrique, sonya & howard

He said he felt like a dentist, but I think he looked cool and casual. Besides, for the past three years, the highlight of my Cinco attire was the black “my husband went to San Antonio and all he got me was this tacky rhinestone margarita shirt” shirt. But I was a good sport. A really good sport. Three years, do you hear?

I donated it to the thrift store before the party so there’d be no chance I’d be coerced into wearing it; if you hurry you might be able to snap it up for yourself.


2 thoughts on “Cinco Sewing

  1. You are a girl after my own heart!!
    I’m so bummed we missed this party but it was FA cup…. Different country, same enthusiasm…
    I’m starting to think about Maddy’s grad party and SEWING for it rather than the plastic/ party city route. Luckily ucla and nhs are the same colors.

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