Thursday, April 26, 2012

Otherwise Occupied

There has been no sewing going on for a while over here, but there has been a LOT of packing .  Yes, my adventure in India is coming to an end.  In 24 hours I will be on my way home.  The stamina-breaking 29 hour door to door journey will commence in the wee hours of Saturday with: me, the 2 girls, 2 XL suitcases, 1 Large suitcase, 1 medium suitcase, 1 XL LLBean Duffle bag, 1 XL rolling LL Bean Duffle bag, my rolling carryon, 2 girls' backpacks, and one very sad cat in a crate, heading off to the airport (I think we're going to need 2 cars...).  I told my sister-in-law, who is picking us up in Washington DC, to bring rope just in case we need to tie one of the bags to the roof of her car.  

My emotions are all over the place.  I've had a really great time here over the past three years, and have made some incredible friends.  As much as the thought of being in my own house makes me smile, I'm constantly on the verge of tears knowing how much I will miss my friends.

Before I start tearing up any more, let me just say "I'll see you on the other side".

Monday, April 16, 2012

How Fabric Shopping made me think of "Back to the Future"

The life of an expat can be challenging, boring, fun, frustrating and a multitude of other conflicting emotions often occurring simultaneously.  Yesterday, I went into stress/panic mode when I found out that we may need to leave the country (for good) in days rather than months.  Skipping any boring details, I may find myself stateside very soon so...when the tough get stressed, the stressed STOCK UP!

A trip to my fabric zone was required.  I went to the ever dirty, dusty, crowded, sometimes odorous, hot, sticky, fantastically priced and fabulous area of Hyderabad known as General Bazar.  The last time I went was with a girlfriend, and her driver said to me "Madam, you are a true Hyderabadi.  In all of my years driving expats, no one has EVER asked to go to MG Road in Secunderabad (ie a very specific location in General Bazar)"  I really don't mind going off the beaten path, especially for great prices.

I spent about 3 hours and went to 4 shops.  My 6 bags looked innocent enough, but I came home with some serious loot:
6 Bags looked innocent enough

Colored Lace
White Lace
White Lace
More white lace

Fabulous black lace--I have plans for this!
Peacock Embroidered Patch
Large Paisley Embroidered Patch

Small Embroidered patches with mirror work (pardon the flash)

cotton: love this one!
More cottons
Indian motif cottons with matching poplin
Some Indian motifs and block printed cotton
cotton prints
More cotton prints
Clockwise from Top Left: Crepe, Satin, 2 cottons
Dull, boring, poplin and lining fabric
 That was just the fabric and lace.  This was my haul from my favorite "Tailoring Materials" shop owned by my favorite shop keeper, Mr. Prakash, whom I lovingly refer to as "the Zipper Guy".

Lots and lots of Buttons, Zippers, pins, machine needles and pinking shears

The total tally was a whopping 88 meters of fabric!  Seeing that number immediately sent a scene from "Back to the Future" through my head: when the time machine first disappears and Doc jumps up and down cheering: "What did I tell you?  88 MILES...PER...HOUR!!!

Yes it was heavy to carry, and yes I got fantastic deals.  Because I'm a geek, not only did I tally up the total meters, but I calculated the average price for those 88m.  Ready?  The average price per meter was $2.12!!  All of those 16" zippers:  $0.12 each!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Thank you India!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Dress: Butterick 4957

It dawned on me about a week and a half ago that I'd need something to wear on Easter Sunday.   I decided to use this navy/purple/lavender cotton print that I bought at an "Aladdin's Cave" fabric shop that a friend accidentally found last month.

My girlfriend and fellow sewing enthusiast, we'll call her J-Shek, went out looking for my favorite fabric shop in Hyderabad called Narsingh Cloth Emporium.  I had heard talk that there were actually 4 Narsingh shops all located in the same small area of the city.  I had only found 3.  So J-Shek went into one of them (I will call it #3), which is right next door to the best Narsingh (which I will call shop #1) not realizing that she needed to go into shop #1 past the sarees and dress materials, through a narrow doorway, and up the dimly lit staircase to find all of the fabric.  (Have I ever mentioned that shopping in India can be a challenge?)  So she went into shop #3, bought a few things, and then asked the shopkeeper if there was more fabric somewhere.  He escorted her around the corner and down the street to...yes you guessed it, the elusive, Narsingh #4!

Once she told me about it, I had to go.  A group of us went on a little outing, first going to shop #1 and then out the door, around the corner, and down the street to #4.  Walking up the steps to the shop I had a little internal groan: Ugh...we have to take off our shoes.  I always panic a little when I leave my shoes outside a shop.  That scene from Slumdog Millionaire where the boys steal peoples shoes and then sell them always runs through my head.  I also breathe a big sigh of relief when I exit the shop and find my shoes waiting for me.  Entering the shop I was immediately dwarfed by stacks and stacks of fabric bolts piled on the floors, the counters, everywhere.  The first thing that caught my eye was DENIM!  What??  Eureka!  "I'll take 2 much is it?"  "125Rs/m mam".  US$2.50/m...nice (I should have asked for more)!  Yes it was the light chambray colored denim, but I was going to take what I could get.  Denim was as hard to find as the holy grail.

The group of us squeezed through the narrow doorways and stacks of fabric looking at a vast assortment of cottons, silks, fluffy things, gaudy things, sparkly things, and everything in between.  My girlfriend Kelly just looked around the shop, with her eyes wide and said "This place is like Aladdin's Cave, it's amazing."   It was an excellent description.  While Kelly was debating how much of a orange and green dinosaur print (another Holy grail find) to buy, I noticed a very non-Indian, purple, navy & lavender, abstract/graphic floral print peeking out of the teetering 7 foot high stack of bolts next to me.  The fabric was very fine cotton, rather transparent, and cheap as chips.  I bought 3 meters thinking that I could make a dress.  I had been wanting to make up a version of Butterick 4957 for quite a while and I have some fabric similar to the blue and white print on the pattern envelope, but I haven't been inspired enough to cut into it.
It's a very simple dress with bust darts, flared skirt, and CB zipper.  Here is the line drawing:

I made the V neck version (view A) with only small tweaks to the pattern.  First of all, my pattern only went up to size 14.  While that is perfect for the bust and shoulders, I had to grade it up about 2 sizes through the waist.  I also shortened the bust dart by about 1/2" (this is typical for me).  The dress is fully lined, and I was able to use J-Shrek's serger to finish all of my seam allowances (I can't wait to get one of my own!!).  

This dress is so simple, classic, and easy, I was surprised to find that it is now out of print.  Here is my version:

I'm very pleased with the fit of the dress.  Happy Easter!

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