One of the most beautiful times of day, is at the end of it, when the sun is setting and it creates that beautiful evening glow. It was just so last Thursday, when we took these pictures. It kind of wreaked havoc on the photo-taking, since it was so bright– and I was trying desperately not to squint, but oh well- it was a gorgeous day nonetheless, and the photos we did manage to get have a lovely golden tint to them.
Last Thursday was our local community garage sale. I had never attended before, but had heard good things about it, and although I was hoping to come away with a lot of great flea market finds, I only found a few. Unfortunately there were no clothes at the sale, so I wasn’t really expecting to find much great vintage stuff, but I did find these three cute clutches.
I really don’t know why I love clutches so much since they are so impractical for my life, since I never go out in the evening, and tiny purses don’t hold anything. Maybe I have this deep seated desire to be that woman who goes to all the ritzy clubs each night in my diamonds and furs and dances the night away, like every movie from the 50’s tells us life is like. And then I realize that I do not live that life- but I keep compulsively buying clutches anyways. . .
Anyways, I had recently been thinking that I would love to find a black evening bag, and now I’ve found it! It is not vintage, but it is a great classic style, so maybe if I do ever go out in the evening, I’ll be able to use it.
The gold clutch and the polka dot glitter rose gold case are vintage though. And even better- the dotted glitter purse is a vintage Avon make-up set including the original untouched powder compact and lipstick. I can’t find much information out about this set, unfortunately. The lipstick colour is Avon Products Montreal “Instant Mocha”, and the compact is only labeled Avon Products New York. The best I can discover is that it is from the 1970’s. 40 year old lipstick anyone? Haha- I think I’ll stick with my new stuff, and leave the vintage love for clothes!
The skirt in my last post was a refashion of a dutch wax print wrap skirt I found in a thrift store last year.
I have had my share of thrift store “remakes”. You know the kind where it “only needs to be hemmed”, or it “needs to be fitted”, or “the fabric is so pretty, but the style is so outdated, but if I just did this” then it would be the most perfect dress/skirt/whatever. I go thrifting quite regularly and come across many such garments needing to be saved, and I used to buy them all, until one day I looked around and saw the abundance (translation = piles) of 1/2 finished projects lying around and I realized that I actually hate altering clothes. As much as I love salvaging, as much as I hate throwing things away, and as much as I love breathing new life into old garments, I just absolutely hate adjusting and altering.
So I created a new rule for myself that unless those “almost perfect” garments only needed an adjustment that would take me less than an hour to complete, or there was enough fabric to cut a new pattern out of it, I would pass it by.
So, when I found this wrap skirt I didn’t hesitate to pick it up, as I knew there was enough yardage to make something new, and I loved the African wax print material so much that even if I could only have made a pillow out of it I would have gotten it. 🙂 African or Dutch wax print fabric is hard to find (where I live), so it was nice to find a piece.
This skirt was kind of strange in how it was constructed- the front and the back panels had been completely sewn, lined and finished separately and then topstitched together right where the flange down the back is, with a triangular piece set in to create almost a train or kickpleat. The yellow ribbon was topstitched to the material, and fortunately was easy to pull apart.
Once deconstruction was finished, I was left with two large rectangles of fabric, minus the shaped cut away piece on the front. This was perfect as it gave me enough excess to make a waistband. Originally the fabric had been turned sideways to create length, but I turned it back to give more volume, since I had already planned for a pleated skirt.
I didn’t use a pattern for the skirt- I just cut the two rectangles the same size, and then it was a straightforward process of pleating the fabric into the waist circumference. I just played with it until it was the right size.
First mistake: I made a slightly curved waistband to prevent it from gapping, but I forgot that the top of the curve would be smaller than the bottom (duh!). So, when I went to try it on after basting the pieces together- oof- it was a bit tight!! Of course I had measured once and cut twice, so I had to add a piece to my waistband. Good thing the fabric is so busy, because you don’t even notice it. Except that I just now told you about it. . . oops.
The only other mishap- which I might add was my machine’s fault- was that I did a practice buttonhole, which turned out beautifully, then sewed onto my waistband and the machine jammed creating a huge zigzag mess. Sigh. I could have left it, as again the fabric is so busy- but that would just be a disgrace. So I spent about 45 minutes picking that mess out of the fabric. At least after that, the others went in properly and neatly.
(I would have been embarrassed to have this photo taken, if I had not corrected the error of my ways)
When thinking about what buttons to use, I thought that metal ones would look nice, and then I found these unique buttons in my mom’s stash. I stole them (thanks mom!) and they are perfect. So all in all, the skirt is exactly what I envisioned, and I love it to bits.
When I took the skirt apart I discovered that on the selvedge was printed the manufacturing details. Now this was exciting, since I am interested not only in the “look” of African Dutch wax print fabric, but also the origins and history of it. Dutch wax print fabric was originally inspired by the Batik fabric from Indonesia and southern Asia. At some point along the way, it was adopted by West African countries, and the designs and patterns were tailored to suit the African market. The majority of the fabric was, and still is, made in Holland. So I looked up the manufactures name of my fabric, wondering where the fabric was from.
Ironically, I discovered the fabric was Made in China.
HiTarget is a Chinese factory creating wax print fabric, with traditional designs, to sell in African markets, at a lower pricepoint. In essence it is “cheap fashion”. Somehow I had just never thought about cheap fashion in places other than Western/North American markets, and I was a little bit surprised by the discovery that my “authentic” skirt, wasn’t so authentic after all.
However, after I thought about it for a while, I decided that even though the fabric itself is not Dutch or West African in origin, judging by the style of the skirt, I am guessing that this garment was sewn and worn by an African lady.
I read a bit about Chinese wax print fabric and found out that many African women buy the fabric, since it is cheaper for everyday wear, saving the good stuff for special clothes. So, I don’t think it is the same as me, a non-African woman saying, “I want the look, without the price” and purposely buying cheap fabric, or worse simply buying a “tribal print” garment from a chain store, which certainly doesn’t respect the cultural significance of the designs, and comes with a host of other issues (sweat shops anyone?)
Also, I decided that as this was a cast-off garment, which I found in a thrift store, I was able to give it a new life, and keep it out of the textile waste cycle. The fabric came from China, the dress came from Africa (in style at least if not physically), and I found it in Canada. 🙂 Taking something that already exists, and creating something new from it, I believe, is a good thing anyways, which is why most of my wardrobe is secondhand or handmade. This skirt lands squarely in both categories.
So, ultimately, how do I feel about my “non authentic” skirt?
While I won’t deny that I was disappointed at first, the more I thought about it, the fact that it appears to have been made and worn by an African lady, validates it’s authenticity, though it had a circuitous route of arriving there. I am going to wear this skirt with pride and enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the fabric and designs.
If you want to find out more about the history of Dutch wax print, I found these two great articles: Know Your Wax by Madame Tay & African Fabrics by Beyond Victoriana
Do you ever have that situation where all of your favourite clothes suddenly decide to simultaneously die premature deaths?
One day you look at your wardrobe and you think to yourself, “Wow, my wardrobe is really coming together, I think I’ve got all the bases covered.” and the next thing you know you’ve got stains and rips on everything. No? Anyone? Just me? (To offer an excuse: I used to work in a hardware store, which was pretty hard on clothes, and I wasn’t always smart, and I wore “good” clothes to work. Ahem.) Anyways, I recently had to remove a bunch of garments from circulation as they had all hit the end of their life, and I really needed some clothes that were not gungy, especially with the change in season.
My other issue with my wardrobe, is that I am a slow and distracted seamstress, so I don’t add clothes as quickly to my closet as they sometimes get taken away. Those “Easy 2 Hour” patterns, are more like “2 Week” projects. 🙁 So, I decided that it was time to sew up something quick, and bolstered by the success of my last black floral skirt, which came together quite easily, I decided to make another pleated skirt. And this one actually turned out even better. (I guess I made most of the mistakes the first time around!) And it only took about 6 hours spread out over two days, so that meant there is one less “gap” to fill.
So, here is my new favourite skirt. (Yes, even though I have only had it for three days, I have worn it twice already! Actually I am wearing it right now as I type this.) It is made out of a Dutch wax print fabric I found at the thrift store, (I will tell you more about that later this week.) and is the perfect thing to wear everyday, but I was able to dress it up nicely for church on Sunday. It is quite a bold fabric, but by pairing it with a cardigan, navy blue heels and purse the outfit still had a classic, vintage look to it.
Oh- and look at that would you- the grass is starting to turn green, and the trees are budding!
April is a saucy flirt, teasing us with sweet sunshine, gentle breezes and the chatter of songbirds. Beckoning us to come outdoors, breathe the fresh clean air, see the spring bulbs poking their brave heads up, reaching for the sky only to tempestuously change her mind in a fit of rain-shower rage and send us back indoors scrambling to keep dry.
And so it was on this day here: waking up and planning what to wear, only to have the weather dash those dreams on the soggy ground. Only this time it was a spring snowstorm, rather than rainstorm. I don’t know why I am surprised: every Spring is the same. There is always more snow, and it usually comes on the first day of Spring itself!
So, the dream vs. the reality: I had hoped to wear my black loafers with this outfit, but instead ended up wearing rainboots. I kept dry though, and I suppose there will be days enough for the loafers.
So a few words about this outfit. This is the first year that I have owned white tights, and I must say they are great for seasonal dressing, as they are light and bright, and perfect for spring, while still offering much needed warmth on days like this.
You may have noticed that I shortened this skirt. It was a bit too short to be long, and bit too long to be short. If that makes sense. I had hoped for a long, elegant, sweeping floral skirt, but instead ended up with something a bit more frumpy. Not the look I had envisioned. It didn’t hang quite right, so I made the decision to chop it off instead, and it is much improved. It has become so much more wearable. Who would have thought that a few inches could make such a difference!
Also, as we were out taking pictures, my sister’s little “pets” came to visit us. They didn’t want to stop and pose for the camera, but I was able to get at least one photo!