Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Happy in Hampi Shorts

It is interesting for me to consider the way my sewing and dressing trends have been affected by spending so much time in India. I’ve written about this before, of course, but it’s a continually evolving relationship, I realize, as I change, as India changes, as my comfort levels rise and fall. When I first came to Mumbai I was fairly nervous about clothing, what to wear, what was appropriate, what would make me feel safe. Of course, it is patently insane that women have to police their own safety through their clothing and feel that what we wear needs to safeguard us, that we need to work to not “provoke” men with our garments, but hey, that’s the world we live in, and as much as I loathe it, I also participate in it. I’m so extremely visible in India, although of course if I were blond and blue-eyed I would no doubt be even MORE visible, so I’m grateful for my hair and eyes, at least! But that visibility also makes me self-conscious, because it’s like a sign that says “look at me” in a country where man habitually stare at women ANYWAY.

Now, living in Mumbai, which is, in my limited experience, the best city for women in India, I am in a rare and privileged position because people come from all over India to live in Mumbai, the city where you can do and say and wear anything, relatively, that is. But I still feel tentative with my clothing choices, because while the temperatures are consistently steamy and you do see women in shorts and mini skirts on occasion, it’s still India, and the overwhelming majority of people dress in traditional Indian dress or a Western-inspired derivation of it. While my initial ideas of what to sew and wear in Mumbai might have been more limited, and I’ve certainly expanded my shapes, silhouettes and hemlines over the past two years, there are some styles that I have, well, say reserved for trips to Singapore, Puerto Rico, or the US in the summer.

But recently, I’ve decided to take the leap, and I’ve made a few pairs of shorts. I know! Scandalous! I experimented with a few patterns, finally settling on the Deer and Doe Goji Shorts. At first I just wore them at home, but having completed a pair of slightly longer sorts out of a lovely lightweight denim I picked up at Thakur, I decided to test them out on the world, and tried them out for a meal out, and then an afternoon coffee, carefully observing rickshaw drivers and waiters to see if anyone was shocked. As far as I could tell, at least in my very sophisticated and upscale neighborhood, I wasn’t making any waves with my outfit!

So I figured, let’s take this show on the road, and wore these shorts on a recent trip to Goa, which I knew would be completely fine, as the laid back party capital of India plays host to thousands of backpackers in skimpy outfits yearly, so my shorts put me on the more conservative side down there. But the real test was sporting these in Hampi, an AMAZING archeological site in Karnatika, which my friend Ben and I visited and basically had our mouths open in awe the entire time. It’s hard to get to, but absolutely worth it if you are in that part of the world.

And I explored it in shorts!

As I mentioned, these are the Deer and Doe Goji pattern, which is really easy to put together. This is my second pair. I did a first as a wearable muslin, which are great, but they are pretty short. I don’t even think that’s, like, my India-based consciousness, they are SHORT. I wore them in Singapore, and I do love they way they look, but I lengthened these about five inches, and one inch became the hem, but just so you know, and it’s not like these are really long!

The original pattern has a facing for the hem, but I find that a little fussy, so I just allowed for the hem when I lengthened, as I mentioned above.

So this pattern can be a skirt or shorts, but I prefer the shorts. All the details make it fun, the paneled legs, the patch pockets (which are wonderfully designed and like, the perfect size and shape!), the drawstring waist. I made the string a little wider, because I like that look. These are wrinkled from days and days of wear, but I think you can still see the lovely color of the denim. It’s a nice lightweight but it still has body and substance. Thakur, you get me!

I didn’t, sadly, make the t-shirt. It’s actually from Lulu Guinness’ collaboration with Uniqlo from YEARS ago.

Isn’t it weird that when you have a sewing blog and you make a bottom you are basically like, okay, guys, check out my butt? But….check it out! Also, I’m basically imitating this Russian chick we saw have her MUCH older husband/boyfriend/whatever take sexy photos of her on the beach in Goa. Oy.

And check out Hampi!

It’s the second largest archeological site in Asia! And it’s STUPID awesome.

Like my shorts!

 

 

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The Mint Julep Dress

First of all, let me get this out of the way. I actually don’t really love a mint julep. I mean, it’s not bad, I am not going to spit it out, I like bourbon as much as the next girl, assuming the next girl REALLY likes bourbon, but I’m not one of those people who is all about the South. Also, I think I sort of refuse to be charmed by the ideal of southern gentility, because,  despite all the romance or whatever, well, history. I’m much more An Octoroon than Gone with the Wind, you know what I’m saying? Side note, if a theater near you is producing An Octoroon, you need to get yourself to An Octoroon. Trust me on this one.

Although of course, this is great. Seriously, please read The Toast (now defunct, sob!) and their list of every Southern Gothic Novel Ever. Highlights?

10. We Bury Our Feelings And Our Relatives Alive

14. Vines Cover The Mansion Much As The Inescapable Past Covers My Ruined Life

READ THEM ALL RIGHT NOW.

Also, between a mint julep and a mojito there is…no contest. A mojito is clearly superior, and it’s much more fun to say, am I right? Maybe I should have named this the mojito dress…but I feel like, despite my internal feelings about the drink and the concept of idealizing what is a complex and dark part of American history by focusing on hoop skirts and chivalry and repression and ignoring slavery and it’s social, cultural, economic and human ramifications, like Sofia Coppola recently did, I do think this dress is a little, ya know, extra in The Help. Which isn’t a bad thing! That costuming was dope. If only I had had time to make the petticoat I had planned, it would be straight up late 1950’s early 1960’s perfection. Sigh.

Should I just buy a petticoat? I swear I have put one in my shopping cart at modcloth.com half a dozen times, and then felt like I should just make one, because, how hard can it be? Ugh. It’s one of those things that feels 100% like a vanity purchase but like, I also want one? But would I feel too costumy in it? BUT DO I CARE? #firstworldproblems #sewingwoes

ANYway. To the dress!

This is my second version of the much maligned Colette Patterns Rue dress. My first was this, if you care to take a gander. I will admit, I do think the fit is a little off, and in order to fit it well in the bust, I found this one loose in the waist, and the fit is a little tight across the arms/shoulders in a weird way I can’t seem to improve, but I love the style, and I get CONSTANT compliments whenever I wear this, which makes me think that sometimes we stitchers are so much more aware of stuff like fit in a way other people just, don’t. I don’t know.

This time I went with a circle skit which looks weird in these photos, like it’s uneven, but I swear to all the mojitos that it is straight in real life. I love a circle skirt, don’t you? So swishy! But it would look SO GOOD over a petticoat, RIGHT? Ugh. I don’t even know.

I hand-stitched that hem. Sigh. Hand stitching a circle skirt hem is a whole thing. That represents, like, three episodes of Riverdale right there, all for a dress no one in Riverdale would be caught dead in. The irony is delicious.

So fun to swish around in! You can just see my slip here. I lined the bodice, because I had enough fabric, but lining the skirt was just too much, and I had my whole petticoat plan, remember? So I just wear a slip under this, also handmade, a lengthened Seamwork Savannah.

I only had a green zipper, but I’m down for that.

I just love this minty green gingham. I got it at Thakur, of course, and it was extremely inexpensive, which facilitated a circle skirt. Those things are total fabric hogs!

I asked my friend Rakhee to take these photos after we had lunch out a few Sundays ago, so these are 100% Mumbai street photographs that inspired a lot of staring among passing rickshaw drivers. Whatcha gonna do.

What is funny is that Rakhee took the photos of my OTHER Rue dress! I guess that is just her job, now. You’re welcome, Rakhee!

So yeah, that’s about all I’ve got to say about this! Southern gentility on the outside, social commentary and a heart for mojitos on the inside. Just another day in the life.

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