Ta La Cao

Ta La Cao


The Ta La Cao pillow was made from a small section of an accordion pleated traditional Hmong skirt from Vietnam.   The skirt fabric combines time consuming techniques such as cross stitch embroidery, delicate batik on hand dyed indigo fabric and thin decorative lines of applique.  This pillow will be a welcome addition to any room setting.


  • 15” x 15” (38 cm x 38 cm)

  • Front - cotton

  • Back – polyester, in beige

  • Zipper closure

  • Polyester pillow insert

  • Fabric origin:  Vietnam



This pillow is made from a small section of an accordion pleated traditional Hmong skirt from Vietnam.  The orange embroidery is done in a fine cross stitch in shades of orange with white “flower” stitching and green accent embroidery. For embellishment, thin strips of purchased fabric and metallic ribbon are appliqued joining the embroidery to the batik indigo fabric. The indigo batik pattern is a subtle embellished with red and multi-colored appliqued thin line pattern work and metallic trim. Red glass beads are sewn on the batik.

I have several of these traditional skirts acquired during visits to Craft Link, a fair trade organization who supports ethnic minority groups and traditional craft producers to revive and promote traditional culture and skills through handicraft production. Craft Link is located in Hanoi. Six times I have visited Vietnam but not once did I have the opportunity to visit any of the Hill Tribes  in the northern part of Vietnam which is unfortunate because the textiles made by the Hill Tribes are notably some of my favorites.

It is amazing to me that the Hmong women carry out every part of making their own garments.  Each is a pain-staking labor of love given all the steps to make a skirt.  That includes growing plants to make the indigo dye base, raising hemp and processing it to spin into thread for weaving the skirt, making the beeswax for the batik process, applying the pattern, dyeing, embroidering, cutting, piecing, pleating and sewing.  A voluminous skirt requires five or six yards of fabric and can take up to a year to make.  If you look closely, you can see a trace of the pleating in the pillow.  The pleats are permanently embedded in the skirt.

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