Perhaps you recall the tacky tourist post from a few weeks back. If time has erased the image from your mind and I just traumatized you anew, please accept my sincerest apologies. In light of Tuesday's post about Trini pals shopping in the US I thought I'd share a few more somewhat dorky pictures of myself shopping and sewing in Trinidad. While lots of friends shop here for the cheap ready made clothes, shoes, electronics, and school supplies I love to shop for fabric in Trinidad because I can easily find nice quality fabric for super cheap compared to US prices. This picture is again from the first trip I took in 1989. I saw the fabric shop and went inside. I was so taken by the rows of bolts of Indian fabrics and the gorgeous colors I asked the owners if they minded If I snapped some pictures. I intended to get some semi artsy shots of the fabrics themselves but the owners had different ideas. This was a marketing opportunity for them so the wife came out and arranged her husband, her son, and me in the pose you see here. I never did get to take the shots I wanted but I did buy some beautiful fabrics....admittedly because I wanted my mom to sew some things for me. I had some rudimentary sewing skills at that point but not much confidence in my own ability.
Later when we moved to Trinidad and I found out I was pregnant with Calypso it became necessary for me to start expanding my sewing skills because ready to wear maternity clothes were either very hard to find in stores or outrageously expensive when they were found. Since my mom is an accomplished seamstress she was delighted to hear I intended to make some of my own clothes and asked me to send pictures of the finished products. Here's a black skirt and a crazy blouse I sewed. I have no defense for the print I chose for the blouse. I think I was trying to prove I wasn't a dowdy American because I heard from a lot of Trini pals that they considered American women lacking in style since we wore a lot of neutral colors and shapeless clothes.
Here is a picture of me wearing the only set of pants I have ever constructed. The t-shirt was bought. (Diana is modeling a dainty pj top with a saggy diaper and her mother's shoes.) Don't make fun of this print. I actually like it. Besides, the fabric was a gift from a friend after we were robbed. The thieves took all the fabric I had just purchased the day before. My friend was very generous to give me her own yardage. The part which is really funny is the sewing process. I cut out the pieces and basted them together so I could try them on and fit them properly. As you can see they were capris which tapered at the knee. Being maternity pants they were designed to expand quite a lot at the waist. However, when I tried on the basted pair I struggled greatly to pull them up over my merely second trimester baby bump. I huffed and puffed as I worked them up over my hips and belly mumbling under my breath about what kind of stupid maternity pattern would produce a garment too small to wear when I was only 5 months pregnant. Then I took a look in the mirror and noticed how they flared at the knees like bell bottom pants. Doh! It was the stupid seamstress who sewed them together upside down! Don't ask me how I managed that trick. I really don't know. I ripped out the basting, sewed them together right-side up, and tried them on again. This time I noticed the left leg was kind of baggier than the right leg. I had used the two front pieces to form one leg and the two back pieces to form the other leg. Again, I don't know how I managed that particular arrangement but this time I didn't rip them out. By that point I just wanted a pair of pants that looked relatively normal so I just took in the baggy side and called it a day. Mom howled with laughter when I described my sewing process with these pants. In a rather Tim Gunn manner she said I had marked a milestone in my development as a seamstress by having my own improvisational "making it work moment."
Finally, we come to the mother of all maternity dresses. Again, I had the wild colors. I may have been to the point where only shapeless bags would fit me but by golly I was not going to be accused of lacking color even if it was dizzyingly garish (by less daring standards) to see an entire wall of it waddling around. By the end of the pregnancy this was the only dress that fit in a way which was presentable publicly and the push toe sandals were the only shoes I could get on my feet at all. I actually still have the dress. I like to pull it out on horribly hot summer days just to wear around the house when I am cleaning because it's roomy and cool. Yeah, I am such a fashion maven.
*Exit stage left singing "I'm too sexy for my dress, too sexy for my sandals, to sexy for those pants..."