Textiles in Nepal


Women in historic Bhaktapur

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.


Mother is rubbing mustard oil on baby’s hair


Daily trip to the community well to obtain water


Babas in their colorful garments


Fashion in India: Easy on the Eyes

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.

How did that Cruise Wardrobe Work?

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:

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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)

Cruise Wardrobe in a Bag

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.

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.
  • Rhinestone brooch.
  • 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?

Travel Wardrobe:

  • 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

Wedding attire:

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.

“…..but I won’t sew Barbie Doll Clothes”

As a sewist grandmother, I set my sewing boundaries a long time ago.  “I’ll sew anything you want and will do everything possible to be a wonderful grandmother  but I won’t sew Barbie doll clothes”.

Hmmm.  Maybe I’m not living within the established limits.  Through a series of events, 10-year-old Mira (with my assistance) is now sewing a “Queen Elizabeth” dress for a Barbie doll.  As for me, I got sucked in big time.

First, here’s a little background.

Way back then, using a “World Book Encyclopedia” drawing as a guide.I sewed a “Queen Elizabeth I” doll for a history project.   Admittedly she was special and was one of the few childhood items I’ve kept.  Several months ago I found the doll still in a shoebox, tucked away with other memorabilia.  Like my sister and daughters, Mira and Cate were captivated by her.  Soon after, Mira set off to make her own version.

Circa 1960’s Queen Elizabeth I doll

She searched the internet for images and then drew her preferred dress design. My job was to make it into a doll pattern.  Yup, the doll came from a garage sale and her name was Barbie.  When the dress is completed, I’ll be sure to show you the result.  In the mean time, here’s the design.

What’s more, the last time Mira was at our house, she wasn’t satisfied that the Barbie’s hair had enough curls.  As we parted that day she said, “Ramma (that’s Gma), can you curl Barbie’s hair so it looks prettier”?  Well, how in the world do you curl a Barbie doll’s hair?  Finally it occurred to me that possibly some strips of fabric would work.  After all, Ma Ingalls used rags to curl Laura’s hair.  So one night while watching a movie, I cut strips of fabric and curled the doll’s hair  …. and waited until today to see the outcome.  In case you’re wondering, I rolled the hair ends into the fabric, curled it around and then tied the fabric strips in a knot.  Just writing this makes me crazy.

The Bottom Line

Is there anything we won’t do for our precious granddaughters?  Not only have I crossed the line by sewing Barbie doll clothes but I’m also a Barbie doll cosmetologist!  What next?  Tonight Mira removed the fabric strips/curlers and here’s the result.

Celebrating Independence Day in Style

Several weeks ago Catie announced that to match her new July 4th headband, she needed an outfit for the holiday.  We looked through my stash and found just the right fabric;  red jersey knit for the top and navy and white striped knit for the skirt.  Our planning evolved into Catie’s description of what the outfit should look like and how it should function.  Here’s the list of requirements:

  • Swirl skirt
  • Wide waistband on the hips
  • Tank top
  • Under-shorts
  • Big enough so it will fit next year (at 6 years, very practical!)
  • Stars on the top

As the last step of the planning stage, we searched my sewing room for just the right decoration – a iron-on rhinestone star.  I also went to the local chain store and purchased 4 stars.

Skirt with under-shorts

Doesn’t she look grand?  Ready for the July 4th Bike Parade in her neighborhood.

Next I’ll discuss how to make the very popular and practical under-shorts – no pattern required.

What’s with this Heat?

Upon planning our move to Wisconsin from Philadelphia, many of our friends and colleagues were astonished that we chose to live in a state with a northern climate.  We’re here now and for the past week (and for days to come) it’s been hotter in Wisconsin than in Philly.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Today we made the best of it while watching our DGD, Cate.  When it’s approaching 100 degrees and there’s not a pool in the back yard, there’s nothing more refreshing than a run through the sprinkler.

A run through the sprinkler

Catie’s First PJ’s: No Pattern Required

Here is very proud Caitlin wearing her second sewing project, a pair of PJ’s (the first was a pillowcase – several months ago).  At age 6, she’s pretty amazing with the sewing machine – motivated and already sewing with a plan.  It was her request to “make pajamas that are shorts and with a spaghetti strap top”.  She chose the fabric from my stash.  I cut and Cate could hardly wait to start. She eagerly sewed the seams and finished them with a zig-zag stitch using my vintage Bernina 707 with the speed on “slow”. Cate did all of the sewing except for the ruffles.  Total sewing time was about 2-1/2 hours, with a few interruptions.   Last of all she found some pre-made ribbon roses to embellish her new sleeping attire.  

After wearing the pj’s for the remainder of the day and through the night, Cate reported that they were “perfect”.   

If you’d like to work with your favorite girl to make these pj’s you don’t need to run out to the store for a pattern.  

Pajama Pants (PJ’s) Tutorial:

  1. Measure the child’s hips (22″ for Cate)
  2. Find an existing pair of shorts, pants or leggings.
  3. Turn the pants inside-out and lay the pants on top of the fabric with the center front facing you.
  4. Cut along the edges of the crotch front. 
  5. Cut along the side, adding width to the side to assure that there will be at least 6″ of wearing ease plus 1/2″ seam allowances.  For Cate, 28″ was the total circumference of the pants with the finished width of the front of 13-1/2″ and the back width of 14-1/2″. There’s no need to fuss about the size as loose PJ bottoms are needed for comfort.  
  6. The length is your choice but the inseam should be at least 2″ plus the amount you need for a hem.
  7. Turn the pants so the center back is now facing you.
  8. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
  9. Sew the seams as you would any other pair of pants.  Note:  for the ruffles, I added them after the side seams but before the inseams were sewn.
  10. Add elastic for the waist.
Oh so, easy!

PJ Top or Pillowcase dress

Here is the pillowcase dress pattern I used.  If this one doesn’t work for you, there are many other free pillowcase dress patterns on the web and YouTube has lots of video tutorials as well.  Cate, Mira and I watched one of the videos.  Mira noted that the woman put her fingers “too close” to the sewing machine needle.  I learn so much when teaching Cate and Mira to sew.

As you can imagine, these pj’s have been a hit – suitable for bedtime or playtime.   Give it a try with your favorite child and let me know what you learn.

What to do with Left-Over Fabric

Sewing blogs and sites abound with questions about how to use left-over fabric.  For the past few years I have packed it into large zip-lock bags, labeled it and donated the bags to the local second-hand shop.

Before we moved I saved some bits and pieces for my granddaughters.  Several days ago while at our house they discovered their “stash” and had a limitless amount of fun with what they found.   All they needed were safety pins (like every pin I could find), scissors and their creative energy.  Here is the result:

Lesson to self:  Never underestimate the creativity of a child.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses…………

Seems like it’s been forever since I’ve blogged.  Unfortunately life’s events stole all of my emotional energy plus.  Briefly, here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to since late Feb.

  • Sold our Philly home and most of our furniture
  • Packed everything into a truck and drove it to Wisconsin
  • Purchased a new-to-us home
  • Moved in
  • Refurbished our home to make it livable

Moving is stressful enough.  In our case we added to the stress by purchasing a beautiful home that was the unfortunate victim of a bank foreclosure.  Worse than that, the home was missing many of life’s essentials such as a kitchen faucet, shower heads, cabinet hardware, towel/TP holders, light fixtures and appliances.  There’s more but you get the idea.  Kevin and I have been shopping and installing all that was missing from the home. We are on a first-name basis with nearly every employee at Home Depot.

Now that the worst part is over, I’ve been able to spend time renovating my sewing cave which also was a victim but nothing that a little paint couldn’t fix.  Appropriately, you, my sewing friends are the first to see it nearly completed.


First of all, I am so excited to have a sewing such as this – maybe even a little guilty to think about this type of indulgence.  Now that I’ve said it, I’m over the guilt.

Because the previous owner used this as a “craft” room, it is perfect for a sewing room.  Two walls of counter height and wall cabinets were removed before we purchased the home but the following remained intact:

  • Counter height electrical outlets – just perfect for sewing machines, lights, etc.
  • Sufficient natural light
  • Track lighting
  • Closet of sufficient size

In addition I was able to add:

  • Paint
  • IKEA adjustable height tables around 2 sides of the room
  • Magnetic paint
  • A cutting table
  • Bookshelf

There’s more to do such as unpacking the stash, organizing and some items to add:  base boards, wall decorations and closet shelving.  In the several days that the room has been operational, I’ve loved it.  Here are the other views: