It seems so long since we were in India and Nepal though in reality it was only one month ago. Not only was I left with substantial knowledge of the countries and cultures, and great memories, but also a new textile-related interest. Previously I wrote about the decline of the textile industry in Nepal.
Interestingly, as a result of textile companies going out of business, there were print dye blocks and bulk powdered dye was for sale in flea markets and souvenir stalls. The dye colors were intriguing, but what if I could actually dye fabric with the blocks?
Powdered dye in gorgeous colors
Since I didn’t purchase any fabric, it only seemed appropriate to purchase some dye blocks and dye – maybe I could make some interesting fabric?
It must be said that I knew absolutely nothing about how to dye or print dry fabric, but I was confident that I could learn. My GD’s and I gave it a try several weeks ago, using standard liquid dye and fabric paint. They had so much fun, especially because one of the blocks is a cat, and they have each wanted a piece of clothing with a cat design. It was great fun I found out that I have lots to learn.
Like India, Nepal’s fashion scene is pretty spectacular. While the clothing is different from your favorite fashionista’s attire, the colors are beautiful and women wear their garments with great pride.
Time for Socialization
Unfortunately, instead of being manufactured in Nepal, using the traditional block printing methods, many of the fabrics are now imported from China. This causes concern on two fronts: 1)The end of the tradition of block printing and 2)Loss of jobs for persons who work in the textile industry. Our tour guide spoke of two textile plants recently closed leaving 1400 people unemployed. As China produces fabric more inexpensively than Nepal, this will continue to occur. Not to Nepal’s benefit, there are rolling electricity black-outs in most communities which certainly doesn’t benefit this or any other industry.
One of dozens of fabric stores in the Kathmandu Valley
All of the gorgeous fabrics are not cottons as many of the sari’s are also made from polyester. No matter which fabric, the colors are gorgeous. Below are several more photos.
In the past few weeks we had the privilege of traveling in India and Nepal; a countries where we saw thousands of women wearing the gorgeous and elegant “sari”. Surrounded by all of that fabric, it seems impossible that I would have returned home without a single cut of fabric. Even my BIL bought 2 Indian sari’s – essentially 6 yards of fabric, and I’m sure he has never before purchased fabric. What was wrong with me?
In areas where we traveled in India, there were some but not a large number of fabric and/or sari stores. Most of the stores had gorgeous and very colorful fabrics with lots of bling, however most fabrics were polyester. Admittedly, I dreamed of returning from India with bags of silk fabric. Of course the textile factory we visited had gorgeous silks but at incredibly high prices, even for U.S. fabric stores. Thus “bags of fabric” didn’t happen. (Sorry, Karen, I know you really wanted some silk from India.)
With no purchases to show you, I’ll share some photos of the beautiful women of India wearing stunning garments. They were so easy on the eyes that I couldn’t stop my camera from snapping just one more photo. Enjoy!
Next time, I’ll discuss Nepal’s textile scene, which is somewhat different than India’s thriving textile industry.
It’s been so long since the last post that you probably think I fell off the face of the earth. In reality we were traveling for several weeks, then on a 14 day cruise, visiting our son in Philly and being sick. The day we got off the cruise ship, both Kevin and I got some type of illness. Now, two weeks after the cruise ended, we still have a fatigue that seems impossible to shake.
After bragging about the small volume of cruise clothing I tucked in the bottom of my backpack for our recent trip, it only seems fair that I publicly evaluate the plan. The following are my thoughts, but first a few photos for proof:
LBD with silk shawl
Silk top, black shawl and LBS (this is my favorite)
LBD with a tube of petal trip basted onto the neckline.
1. When traveling on land for two weeks, I was incredibly grateful to only have a small bag of formal cruise wear at the bottom of my backpack (aka suitcase). At each hotel it stayed in the bottom of my bag and I didn’t even look at it until we got onto the cruise ship.
2. I still smile with delight as I think of our cruise-mates struggling with two suitcases apiece, each nearly the size of a small car.
3. The number of pieces of formal clothing was perfect for four formal nights on the ship; a lbd, a long black skirt, 3 sleeveless tops, 2 silk shawls, one pair of sparkly flats. In fact I didn’t need one of the silk tops for a formal night.
4. The amount of wrinkling was not insignificant, however after hanging the clothing most of the wrinkles fell out. Thankfully the ship has a laundry service which was only necessary for the lbd which is made from a poly-rayon-lycra blend.
I didn’t mention that Kevin packed in a similar manner. Naming it “a suit-in-a-bag”, he packed a Lands’ End wool blazer and pants in a zip-lock bag. When he hung the pieces, they hardly had any wrinkles.
Kevin’s “Suit-in-a-bag” and me in ruffled tank and LBS (long black skirt)
No excuses for not posting sooner – blogging mojo has been low. Just like when I was a kid going to confession, “I’ll try to do better”.
In the next several days we are leaving for a 2 week European vacation followed by a 2 week cruise, followed by Thanksgiving and a wedding in Philly before finding our way back home. Here’s the dilemma: We’re budget travelers (within reason that is), not only in how we spend our travel dollars but also in how we pack. That means my 2600 cc. backpack will be my trusted friend for the next month. Being a one suitcase kind of person, you can’t imagine the shock-waves that went through my body upon learning that the cruise has 3 formal dinners and 5 semi-formal dinners. That just doesn’t fit with backpacking. I’ll tell you more about the plan in a minute, but here, in a 2 gallon ziplock bag, is my dress-clothes cruise wardrobe.
A LBD and a long black skirt (LBS) that I can wear with tights or leggings while traveling.
3 sleeveless tops – a black ruffled tank, silk tank left over from my work wardrobe and a lightweight royal Thai silk top from my closet.
3 shawls – 2 silk (one print, one black) and a Pashmina (will be my warm and stylish scarf in cool countries).
Wool top with scarf trim (will also wear this while traveling)
Chiffon trim that I’ll baste to the LBD neckline for one wearing.
Black sparkly flats (not in the bag).
Here are the pieces of clothing all laid out and ready to pack.
Seems possible to get 8 outfits out of this mix. What do you think?
Jeans, black pants and a denim skirt.
4 wool knit long sleeve tops
2 very lightweight sweaters for layering
Long undies, undies, wool socks, etc
Tights and leggings, fleece hoodie, jacket, Pashmina, mittens and gloves.
Clogs and a back-up pair of shoes
We are cheating on that one. When Shaun and Deb visited several weeks ago, we sent our wedding clothes with them. Sure didn’t want to carry that dress around for a month.
Come to think of it, I sure hope the cruise ship has a pressing service or I’m in trouble.
While I don’t sew all of my clothes, this is the first time I’ve traveled with a wardrobe where I’ve sewed every piece of clothing. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been blogging? At any rate, I took lots of photos of lessons learned and will share them in future posts.
In case you’ve been in the market for an antique or vintage sewing machine and have been unable to find one, I know why.
Kevin and I spent this weekend in New York City. On Monday morning after our visit to the 911 Memorial, we walked through Chinatown and up Broadway toward Soho. In the midst of the shopping district we walked by Spitalfields; a store that usually wouldn’t catch my eye. But given that there were about a hundred vintage or antique sewing machines in the window display, my interest was aroused. We walked into the store and to my amazement, the walls of this otherwise uninteresting store were lined with rows and columns of these old beauties. Most were Singers but there were a few Pfaffs, Whites or other less well-known brands. There were also some old industrial machines and spools but neither were as interesting as the hundreds of sewing machines.
The back entrance
Many more than one could photograph……
Shamefully, I couldn’t see any attachments in the machine cases.
If you’re a sewing nerd like me, you’ll want to check it out sometime.
Scarves: A fashion detail that continues to separate European and USA fashion.
Traveling in Europe reminds me of how much I love scarves. No matter what time of the year, women (and some men) wear scarves for warmth and/or for fashion and with just about any type of attire. I do wish this fashion trend would take hold in the US – we always have a little bit of the scarf thing going on the in the USA but it’s minor compared to what one sees when walking the streets of a western European country – especially France and Spain.
On our recent trip to Spain my travel mates took photos of the many beautiful tourist sites, but I took photos of scarves. Here are a few of the lovelies. Most are from markets, where prices are often several Euros. Enjoy!
Double-click on photos to see more detail.
It would be so easy to sew one of these
Pashmina in its glory.
Crinkled fabric is all the rage. Maybe it's time to experiment?
When traveling, one of my staples is a travel/adventure/technical shirt. Typically they are made from lightweight quick-drying fabric. In recent years, some fabrics include sun protection. Typical features of these shirts are zippered pockets and vents. They are especially good for layering over a t-shirt or top, and because of the long sleeves they provide sun protection. The good and the bad is that these shirts are durable and thus they never wear out. Because I have always owned two, my travel photos are pretty boring – either I’m wearing the red shirt or the blue shirt. Now you know where this is going……
Travel Shirt Tutorial
Starting with Vogue 8689, I made a few modifications and now have a shirt I’m really pleased with. In the future, I’d like to make another (or two?)
Three major changes to the pattern made this shirt very functional as a travel shirt: a vented back yoke, front zippered pocket and zippered side vents/pockets. Following is a tutorial for each change.
1/2 yard of mesh or other breathable fabric
3 invisible zippers – I used long zippers and cut them to the desired length.
RTW technical/adventure shirts often have a vented yoke like this:
To make this change in your pattern you will cut: a) one yoke from mesh fabric and b) one yoke from the fashion fabric, extending the length by 1″.
1. Cut one yoke front he fashion fabric, extending the length by 2″ as in the following photo (I extended it by 3″ but ended up cutting off 1″).
2. Cut a back yoke from mesh fabric.
3. Cut a diagonal from the upper part of the yoke, like this
4. Serge or zig-zag the diagonal edges.
5. Sew the mesh to the lower back piece with the right side of the mesh against the wrong side of the lower back piece.
6. Top stitch close to the seam-line.
You are now ready to attach the fashion fabric yoke.
1. Finish the lower part of the fashion fabric yoke by turning the hem twice (1/2 to 5/8″ rolled hem).
2. With the shirt back and the yoke wrong side down, lay the yoke on top of the mesh, matching the edges. Pin in place.
3. Top stitch the yoke at each end (about 1″ of stitching) and at the middle (1.5 to 2″). The remained of the yoke will not be attached to the lower back, allowing air to flow (i.e. venting). The arrows on the following show the top-stitched areas.
Arrows show top-stitching position for back yoke
Front Zippered Pocket
1. When sewing the front yoke to the front bottom pieces, insert an invisible zipper into the seam. The zipper should be ~1″ from each edge. On a size 16 shirt, this made a 5″ opening for the pocket.
Note: If you want more pockets, you could do this on both sides of the front.
2. Working on the wrong side of the fabric (to make the underside of the pocket), sew a 5-1/2″ by 5-1/2″ piece of mesh, to the bottom of the zipper tape.
3. To make the upper pocket piece, sew a 5-1/2″ by 6-1/2″ piece of mesh to the upper zipper tape or seam allowance. I zig-zagged the edges together.
4. Pin the pocket pieces together. Sew edges as in the following photo. You will notice that on the pocket sides you are unable to sew all the way to the top however this won’t alter the functionality of the pocket.
5. Serge or finish the edges to your liking (I didn’t but if would look better if I’d taken the time to do it.
Zippered Side Vent and Pocket
1. Before sewing the side seam, place an invisible zipper into the seam, starting at least 1″ from the arms-eye. At the lower edge, leave at least 4″. (My zipper was 10″ long)
2. Sew the seam above and below the zipper.
3. Using a 10″ wide by 12″ long piece of mesh, sew each side of the mesh side to each side of the zipper tape to form a single piece which will become a vent and a pocket.
4. Fold the vent/pocket toward the shirt front.
5. Sew the front seam and the bottom seam of the vent/pocket. Finish edges if desired.
6. Run one more stitch approximately 4″ from the top of the vent/pocket.I’m not sure if this is needed but my thought was that this line of stitching would form the pocket.
7. Hand stitch the top and bottom edge of the vent/pocket to the front princess seam to keep it in place.
One more note: Inadvertently, I placed one zipper with the pull at the top and one with the pull at the bottom. When wearing the shirt I realized that both directions have advantages, so I’ll leave that choice to you.
Finished - combined vent/pocket
Of course, what does it matter if the garment isn’t functional. This shirt worked so well that I wore it all the time, as you can see in the following photos (oh yes, and we had fun too).
Just having returned from several weeks in Spain, I’m still in the mode of thinking about travel clothing – what worked and what didn’t. In the coming weeks I’ll share some tips on making travel clothes but for now I need to tell you about this travel skirt which is sooo comfortable.
Initially I made it for our 2 month trip to Central America where it got a lot of wear. I liked it so much that although faded and somewhat worn, I took it on this trip to Spain. Honestly, it’s the most comfortable skirt I’ve ever owned. The inspiration came from a travel skirt on an internet site I can no longer find. Essentially it is made of 6 panels with ruching on each side of the seams, made from woven cotton/poly with lycra. This photo is a little better at showing the detail.
1-1/2 to 2 yards of 45″ fabric or 1 yard of 60″ woven mid-weight fabric with lycra
1 yard of 1-1/4″ wide elastic
4-6 yards of 1/4″ elastic depending on skirt length
Twill tie if desired
1. Before cutting or sewing, do a test with the elastic and a fabric scrap to determine the ration of elastic to fabric needed to create the desired ruching effect.
2. Cut six pieces of fabric 9-10″ longer than the finished length (mine was 30″ for a 20″ skirt). For the width, use the following formula.
Divide hip size by 6.
For each piece, add 1-1/2″ for the seams and 1″ to create the puffy effect.
If desired, you can flare slightly, making the lower part of the skirt wider.
For 40″ hips, my panels were 30″ long by 10″ wide at the top and 11″ at the bottom.
Cut panels. Middle panel has elastic applied.
3. Cut 12 pieces of elastic based on what you learned when you ran your test. (My elastic pieces were about 18″ long)
4. Serge or zig-zag edges to reduce raveling.
5. Starting 2′ from the waist edge, stretch fabric while sewing to each side of panels, one inch from each edge.
Note: You start 2″ from the top as ruching in the waistband makes it too bulky.
6. Sew panels together with a 5/8 to 3/4″ seam. Press the seams open although this is somewhat useless as the seams don’t lay flat.
7. Repeat for all panels.
8. Turn waistband over and sew 1-1/2″ from the edge.
9. Insert elastic to desired length.
Note: I also put a twill tie in the waistband but it’s not necessary.
10. Turn over 5/8″ at the bottom edge for a hem. Machine sew with a straight stitch.
11. Because there aren’t pockets in this skirt, to have a secure place for my passport, add a travel security pocket on the inside.
You are done! Roll it up and put it in your suitcase.
Not much blogging in the next several weeks as Kevin and I are traveling to Spain with some of his family. To be specific, our travel mates are 2 of Kevin’s brothers, (one is married to my cousin), his sister and her husband. We convinced all of them to travel light, only taking carry-on’s, and they all passed the minimalist travel test.