Tag Archives: geeta’s circle

The Colony to Colony Dress

Flags are rather funny things, aren’t they? It’s really just a rectangle of fabric, something we stitchers are familiar with, but suddenly, with the wave of a hand, it goes from being fabric to being symbol, from something you can make a t-shirt out of to something you have to salute, or spit on, depending on your side of things.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with these books about historical figures in United States history when they were young. It was called The Childhood of Famous Americans and we had, like, at least ten of these. I was also very very into the Martha Washington one, so much so that I used my knowledge of her to shame a historical re-enactor on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. I mean, if you are going to be Martha, BE Martha, you know what I mean? I was ten. Part of me wonders how these books have stood the test of time, part of me doesn’t really want to open that can of worms. Anyway, I really liked the one about Betsy Ross for many reasons. One, I’ve always been into crafts, even before I learned how to use my sewing machine. Two, she is from Philadelphia, and so am I, in fact, her house is a historic landmark, you can visit it. Three, there weren’t that many books about women in the series, again, this thing might not hold up well in 2019, and frankly, I was sick of reading about dudes doing stuff and how they would become presidents and build planes and hit baseballs. And of course, in the United States, our flag comes from Betsy’s flag, just with more stars for more states. But our flag, in the United States, also comes from the Union Jack, which if you think about it is sort of bizarre. Like, you’re this scrappy ragtag group of what are essentially guerilla warfare rebels, freezing to death in Valley Forge, hoping the French pass you some cash so you can survive your extremely powerful overlord’s attack, you’re building a new nation, you’re trying it out, and yet you decide when it comes to your flag to make a version of their flag? Like, did they think the only possible flag colors were red, white, and blue? I guess those are the colors of both the UK and the French flag, but surely they had heard of other nations? Spain has a lovely yellow and red thing going!

Actually, come to think of it, England really spread that stars and stripes and color trio around, didn’t it? I mean, the Australian flag is like, a union jack and more stars, as is the New Zealand flag. Maybe this was the post-independence deal you DON’T hear about, like, okay, fine, you can have your freedom, but you gotta keep our flag as a part of your flag! Take that, former colony! I wonder how Canada got away with omitting blue? Well done, Northern neighbors, well done.

Anyway, I don’t spend all that much time in my native land these days, living, as I do, in India, another country that avoided the red, white, and blue trap, wonder if that was why they gave up the kohinoor, as a bargaining chip for flag freedom, (although, India did take Ireland’s colors in it’s flag so maybe it’s a double screw you to the UK which, well done India), but more often than not, I end up back stateside during the 4th of July. This is not because I have strong feelings about the 4th of July, although I love the classic musical 1776, who doesn’t, but more because my birthday is on the 9th of July and I love to be home for my birthday.

So when I saw this fabric in my new Kolkata main fabric squeeze, Geeta’s Circle, a must if you find yourself in the area, when I was shopping with my friend Liz, hi Liz!, who visited me in India this spring, I knew I had to grab it. I don’t usually go in for a patriotic purchase, but I was enchanted by the fabric, and tickled by the idea of this very sort of US oriented, at least to my mind, cloth on sale in an Indian fabric shop. It’s not just the color, of course, it’s also the print, because as you know, I love a gingham, and there is something about it that just screams USA to me. What do you think?

As American as apple pie! Which is German. But also, probably French, and British, and Austrian, too. Apples in pastry, people, it’s not inventing the wheel, here, a variety of nations have figured it out.

 

I made this dress using my bodice block, which Liz, by the way, made for me, so that seemed more than appropriate. I hacked the bodice to make it a looser fit, with cut-on sleeves. I added a button placket, cut on the bias, and cuffs, also cut on the bias. The fabric was wide, so I could fit a nice circle skirt.

And pockets, of course, as one does. I liked the idea of a kind of soft portrait neckline.

I finished it with bias tape that I stitched to the wrong side of the bodice, then flipped out so it would be visible. I love how that turned out, it’s one of my favorite parts. I had what’s his face take these photos in San Juan, where my parents and I (and him, duh) spent our Fourth of July.

I enjoy this dress a lot. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t wear it much, I’m loathe to make an item just for one occasion these days, because, well, what a waste, right? I’ve been sewing long enough that I realize no matter how fun the process is, if I don’t wear the garment there is a real sense of guilt and frustration afterwards. But recently I pulled this out and wore it here in Mumbai, and I felt great, not a walking poster child for American patriotism, but just a women in a dress.

It’s got a great swish, I’ll say that for it. Circle skirts might be my favorite skirts. I know, I know, controversial statement, but damnit, I don’t regret it!

So there you go, a dress made with Indian fabric, strongly resonating with United States flag themes, worn in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A regular colony hopper, this one!

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The Just Peachy Palazzos with an Escher themed Hoya

I was this close to naming these pants the Coral Palms pants because they are a beautiful shade a bright coral and you know I love me some Brooklyn Nine Nine, right? Oh, you didn’t?

OBVIOUSLY.

And that, in fact is why I could NOT name these pants the Coral Palms Palazzos, even though that is an excellent name, because how could I name my pants after a place where Perelta and Holt had so many miserable moments?

I couldn’t do that to them. They’ve suffered enough. When it comes to Florida, we all have.

So I went with a much less interesting name for a pair of pants that are anything but boring.

Let’s talk about pants, shall we? Specifically wide legged ones. There was a time when I might have shied away from such a style. Modern style tips will tell you that short people and wide legged pants are a recipe for disaster. But that’s not what the 1940’s taught us, now, is it?

Not in the slightest. So where did this come from, the idea that short women couldn’t enjoy their legs encased in miles of fabric just like tall women can? Of course, one might say, well, that’s not what is most flattering. But screw flattering. I get a lot of compliments on these pants, so, I mean, how much more flattered can I be?

A little background on the pants of le wide leg, or as men call them, pants.  These styles became popular in the 1930’s and 40’s, particularly because of a group of Hollywood actresses who wore them regularly as costumes and in real life, prompting trouser lust. In the late 1960’s, the style resurged, in some cases to combat anti-pants bias, because the loose flowy style didn’t have the “figure hugging vulgarity” so disdained at the time for the delicate fairer sex. We’ve seen a wide legged pant move in and out of style, of course, ever since, popping up to duke it out with the legging and the skinny jean more recently for supremacy.

In India, palazzo pants have recently come back in a big way, although here people literally call all non-jean non-legging pants like options palazzos which…is interesting. technically, according to Wikipedia, a palazzo is a pant that flairs out evenly from waist to ankle, although the waist definition often comes through darts or tucks.

As is the case with the Marett pant from Seamwork. Now, it is April here in Mumbai and everywhere else in the world, and while where I come from that means cherry blossoms and cute cardigans for Spring’s changing weather, here that means straight up summer. What fun. Summer in Mumbai is a long swollen season of humid days, sticky nights, and waiting for the rains (which also give you humid days and sticky nights, just wetter). While pants might seem like madness in such a period, wide-legged pants in a lightweight material are actually, I have found, just as comfortable as a skirt, and make for a nice change of pace for my dress/skirt heavy wardrobe. So I decided, it was time for me to go palazzo. While I’ve made wide-legged 1940’s trousers before, and will do so again, the palazzo was new to me, and so, clutching my pearls, hoping for the best, I dove right in.

But then, not to be an underachiever, I thought, why make ONE new thing when you could make TWO? So I also (finally) made a Hoya blouse from Deer and Doe out of the most delicate lightweight Bengali muslin possible, and I have to tell you, it’s a pretty winning combination in Mumbai right now!

Sidenote: Deer and Doe is so great. Their designs are amazing, of course, but also, when my package got lost in the mail on it’s way to India, they sent me a new one, no questions asked! What a wonderful company!

It’s a little hard to see the fabric of the blouse on me, but it’s this Bengali white muslin shot with black thread to make these lovely sort of Escher-esk designs. I bought it at Geeta’s Circle in Kolkata, which is my new favorite Kolkata fabric shop! It’s super light, which is why it’s probably good that the front part of this blouse is lined, which I had to do with a plain white fabric because I didn’t have enough muslin, because otherwise my bra woudl show. I stitched the hem facing and sleeve hems by hand and tacked down the faux-wrap, and while I like this blouse a lot, I wish it was just a little longer, and wider at the hips, sort of a bit swingier? I don’t know. But the shape is great, I will certainly be making it again!

Back to the pants! These are true fabric hogs, but I love it, especially in this bright bright fabric I got at Thakur. The fabric is lightweight but not translucent, and has a nice texture which you totally cannot see in photos.

I love how these pants have pockets. I am sure there are those who would say these are not the most flattered design on my short curved frame, but honestly, who cares? Why does everything have to be the MOST flattering all the time? These are comfortable as hell, they keep me cool, and I love them.

Plus, this color combination says Summer to me in a big way! I cut a size 12 of the palazzos, just to be safe, but ended up taking a lot out of the waist, about 4 inches, and I think I could go down to a 10 or an 8 on these, they are just that big. I wanted them comfy, though, so mission accomplished.

The back zipper is such a classic detail, don’t you think? I hand picked it.

For the Hoya, I think I cut a 48 because I was worried about the bust measurement, and that’s fine, fit wise, roomy but not a sack. I would, as mentioned before, lengthen it and widen out the hem for next time, but that’s just my preference. For wearing it with high waisted stuff, this style is perfect. I french seamed everything I could on both garments, and finished the hems of the pants with seam binding and hand stitching.

So there you have it. Trying new things, wearing the pants, staying one step ahead of the humidity. That’s me, in a nutshell.

 

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Filed under Colette Patterns, Deer and Doe, seamwork, Sewing