Tag Archives: Vietnam

The Fruit Market Romper

You know how sometimes you ask other people for their opinions as a way to confirm your own, but you don’t really know that that is what is happening until you hear said opinions? Well, sometimes I think I might be like that with fabric.

On a trip to Vietnam with some friends (hi, Travis, Ben and Jill!) I obviously took advantage of being in the region, and my friendships, to seek out a fabric market in Hanoi and get my hands on some material. I bet it was kind of Hanoi-ing, right, guys? (I made that joke a thousand times on our trip. I am surprised we are all still friends.) They were wonderful sports about it, and even helped me pick out a few choice pieces, like this one:

Not only did I love it, I mean, come on, it’s got me written all over it, whimsy, check, fun colors, check, fruits I enjoy eating, well, I go back and forth on papaya but generally, check! I was into it. And so was Rubens!

I knew I loved this print, but what to do with it? Sometimes we buy for a project, but sometimes, the fabric, she calls to us, she wants to be with us, and we must take her home, although we know not what she will become. So I did that, thinking, okay, I mean, you are 31 years old, so, I guess, pajamas? That’s the sensible thing to do, right, pajamas? With a print like this?

Right?

But the fabric, she did not want that. She wanted to be seen, by people other than my husband, various delivery people, and Rubens! She wanted to feel the sun ripening her fruits, like the fruit markets of this region, bursting with life!

No, I thought, no, be sensible, be adult. Find something in a pinstripe, that’s what grown ups wear. Ask the internet said the fabric, consolingly. The internet will tell you that I am meant for greater things.  Well, I did that, absolutely, but the internet, sigh, she can be a fickle beast, and an Instagram poll had beloved viewers (aka like 7 people) split between keeping this fabric as an indoor only situation, and letting it roam free, like the many cows walking the streets of Mumbai.

But something interesting happened, something I imagine the fabric had planned all along, the fruity little vixen. The more people telling me that this fabric was only suitable for lounge attire, the less inclined I was to make a pair of pajamas out of it. My brain, my heart, rebelled. I rebelled against the idea that a 31-year-old, or anyone, at any age, shouldn’t wear fruit-covered clothing and feel good about it. I rebelled at the idea that there is inside and outside fabric. I rebelled at the idea that my beautiful slices of dragon fruit and watermelon and rather ripe bananas, and yes, even the papaya about which I feel no small amount of ambivalence, should be banished from the world, that the precious cloth I had brought with me over land and sea from Vietnam to Kolkata to Mumbai would not have it’s day in the sun.

Reader, I made a romper out of it. And I regret nothing.

Specifically, I made the Seamwork Sky romper.

As my past history may have taught you, I’m not much of a romper person. You have to take them off entirely to go to the bathroom which is a bummer, because you are essentially stripping down in public and I don’t want to do that unless someone pays me, thank you very much. But this design is SO cute, with the obi style belt and the loose bodice and v neck, I was into it. And I like the dress hack Seamwork presented too, so I figured, try it out!

This pattern, however, like the Rachel I recently made, I didn’t print to scale. (I printed like, three patterns at once not to scale, I don’t know how this happened. ) But this time I saw it coming, and sized down to a ten in the waist, and a twelve in the hips and bust. It is still…generous, in sizing, But I like that. I actually think one of the big romper issues across the board is girth, so this was pretty nice!

I would size down or maybe re-print the bodice, though, for another iteration, because the back is so blousy.

Oh, I also made it shorts because…I live in Mumbai, so…..

It’s a little lower cut than I thought it might be. that might be because of this scale thing, or because my cleavage meter is totally different here in India than it is outside of India.

I love that this has pockets. Obviously. The belt, by the way, is a little longer in the original pattern but I shortened it because…I was running out of fabric. WHATCHA GONNA DO.

This is pretty easy to sew up, although it’s construction was very interesting and kind of a cool challenge, one I recommend to others, it’s good to make your brain do new things!

I included the facings, which is rare for me, I usually go bias tape, but I hand stitched them down on the inside because I hate facing flap.

So here it is. My fruit fabric got its day in the sun, and I got a reminder that I get to decide what is and isn’t outdoor fabric. Spoiler alert? It’s all outdoor fabric. All of it.

 

 

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Filed under Colette Patterns, seamwork, Sewing

The Hanoi Blues Dress

Another day, another shirtdress, am I right? But there is something about this form that gets me every time, and that is why I have made so many incarnations of the shirtdress, from vintage to modern, and I think I have finally figured out what exactly that thing is that I love so much.

It’s pretty simple, really. Shirtdresses make me feel put together.

See, the thing about that phrase is, and I really believe that, it is something that women with curly hair rather hear in regards to themselves. Growing up, when talking to or about other women, I heard this phrase for some of them over and over again. My friend Presca, in college, who had and still has great style. My friend Betsy, who I studied abroad with, ditto. My friend Becca, also great style. But I have lots of friends with style! I mean, I don’t want to brag or anything, but, um, my friends are great. And they certainly know how to “put themselves together”. I mean, I hardly ever see one of them losing a tooth or a finger or something, ya know, falling apart at the seams. So what separates “put together” with not put together? I would admit that when I was younger, especially before I started sewing, I didn’t have a defined idea of my style. So I get that, up to a point. But in the years since I’ve been sewing, I have certainly found an aesthetic that I think works for me, and given that I, well, put it all together, it surely has some sense of cohesion, of being “together”, doesn’t it?

And yet, I have never heard that phrase directed at me. And I have to say, I think it’s the hair. I think there is an association with straight hair as smooth, cared for, styled, that there is a thought process behind it and therefore it is put together. It makes women look like they have tried. Well, first of all, women have tried in eight million directions outside of hair, people, so that’s something right there, and why do women have to try, at all, god knows it rarely seems like some men do, and then there are the cultural and racial implications of who has “straight” hair and who doesn’t and what that is supposed to mean about us, containing our curls across cultures. And then of course, there is the act of having curly hair at all, which, I can assure you, also takes maintenance, moisture, and money, so the idea that curls springing from one’s head means someone didn’t put the time in is just…all kinds of idiotic.

But whatever the world thinks about my hair, and, screw everyone who DOES feel some kind of way about my hair, by the way, whoever you are, a shirtdress does make me feel put together, no matter that no one has every told me that my thought process is reflected in their own. The coherency of the design, the crisp collar, the extension of the shirt into a skirt, it all works for me, it makes me feel purposeful, assembled, in line with myself. Which is, I believe, all put together should really mean. Regardless of this straight hair conspiracy.

I like to take my shirtdresses with me on the road, and this one accompanied me to Vietnam where I traveled with my friends Ben, Jill, and Travis, who indulged me in a photo shoot at this Buddhist temple.

The fabric is the star here, because it’s this lovely blue that actually shifts in tone, an ombre, hombre. When I saw it I knew I loved it, and I knew I wanted to make a dress that when from lighter blue around my shoulders to deeper blue around the hem. That meant I had to cut it on the crossgrain, and I’m okay with that.

I used McCalls 7351, once again, as the bodice, and added my usual two waist darts at 1.5 inches each on size 16 to get more waist definition. For the skirt, I simple draped it myself AKA it is just some big box pleats. Everything that can be french seamed is french seamed, and I have made this dress many a time, so to quote Bigmouth, NO NOTES!

I enjoyed this temple. First of all, it was pretty, and a fun place to take photos because it gave my friends places to photo bomb me from:

Where is Jill? It’s so mysterious, I have to look off in the distance.

Second of all, it included helpful advice for how to live your life well now to avoid unpleasant karmic consequences in reincarnation:

The use of the lower back tattoo as “too much cleavage” is magnificent.

Apparently becoming a mental illness means playing in a rock band in a mental institution which actually feels like a great movie idea, but what do I know.

It really was quite pretty, though:

And we found some great spots for me to poise against, which is of course the only reason to see anything, right?

So there you go. Don’t I look put together?

 

Well, frankly, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks, right? It matters what I feel.  And in this, or any shirtdress, I feel put together as hell. 

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Filed under McCalls Patterns, Sewing