Hmong Traditional Dress


White Hmong Girl's Sev, Chue Thao, 1975

Traditionally, Hmong women worked throughout the year sewing the intricate patterns like the ones in this outfit. Chue remembers watching her grandmother sew as she walked to and from the fields every day. Chue first learned the art of Hmong  applique and  embroidery while living in a Thai refugee camp where she made this sev. After her mother’s passing, Chue decided to continue creating traditional Hmong textiles so that her children could be exposed to the process. She now sells simpler versions of these textiles as a way of opening the door for educating others about Hmong culture.

Initially, the  sev would be worn for a special occasion like New Year’s Day after which embellishments like coins would be removed and it would be worn throughout the year. This outfit represents the combination of Chue’s White Hmong heritage and her husband’s Blue Hmong heritage.

Sev: front panel; Tiab: Skirt; Tsho: Shirt

Chue Thao, Blue Hmong Girl’s Traditional Clothing, 2013

Vocabulary Words: 
  • applique: ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns
  • embroidery: the art of working raised and ornamental designs in threads of silk, cotton, gold, silver, or other material, upon any woven fabric, leather, paper, etc., with a needle.