Thursday, March 11, 2010

Slice of Lime-Tacky Tourist Shops and Sews

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..."

16 comments:

Craig said...

I admit, my eyes usually kinda glaze over for your sewing posts, but I do want to say that sewing is one of those 'provident and resourceful' things, straight outta Proverbs 31. You're a great blessing to your family, I'm sure. . .

jinksy said...

I've been sewing seriously for 57 years, and can still do the occasional upside down, right side/wrongside malarkey on a good day - or do I mean a bad day!? Love the fabrics, though!

S said...

I still make those sort of upside down pants mistakes. The other day I decided to leave out the pants side seam, so I did. Only whne sewing did I realize that Ihad cut out one leg with two back patterns and one leg with two front patterns...but the upside down thing, wow, that takes some doing!

I made lots of fun maternity clothes which I did not get to wear at all because Hannah was 8 weeks early as you know. I had to give them all away..sigh.

Of course, I do LOVE Indian fabrics as you know!

Cricket said...

Wow. You're really most sincerely pregnant in that last pic. It reminds me a bit of my wife, when she was two weeks overdue and beginning to despair. Would that child never be born? In the end, he had to be forcibly removed. I guess he just got too comfortable.

Logophile said...

I've never sewn any clothing at all so I am impressed.
I'm fine with garish if it suits you,
but seriously,
you have clothes that old?
You must be much nicer to your clothes than I am. I don't think ANY of my clothes pre-date my kids.

G-Man said...

Barefoot and Pregnant....

SWEET!!!

Suldog said...

There are very few people who can make sewing seem interesting to me. As a matter of fact, I've only found one - you.

(Love the visual of your very pregnant self bopping off the stage singing the 'sexy' song.)

coopernicus said...

D looks awesome...does she still wear your shoes????

Ananda girl said...

At least they ended up looking good. LOL. Sewing machines hate me... they see me coming and the tension goes crazy, knots form under the foot, needles snap off for no reason at all. I have learned to duct tape.

Craver Vii said...

These pics are absolutely lovely, and Diana was sooooo cute! Do you know what I'd like to see? How about a shot of Suldog in a saggy diaper and his mother's shoes? Bwaaaa hahahahaha!!!!!

lime said...

craig, thank you. i try.

jinksy, hahah, yes, it could go either way, couldn't it?

s, the upside down thing still mystifies me.

cricket, i was about a week overdue in that picture and soooo ready to not be pregnant any more.

logo, well maternity wear doesn't get used too hard unless you have a dozen kids and only wearing it in the summer too. then again it was packed away and forgotten about for a long time too.

gman, you shoulda seen me when i was in the kitchen too!

suldog, glad i could provide yoru recommended daily chuckle ;)and thanks!

cooper, d doesn't wear my shoes any more. her feet are bigger than mine.

ananda, nothing more aggravating than a jammed machine.

craver, you are so completely warped. must be one of the reasons i like you!

Moannie said...

I would have loved to have seen the first top worn with the crazy capris. Such a riot of colour would have made the day of any who saw it. Would love to be able to sew but need instant gratification. Now darning...that's a great way to pass the time.

veri word: mented..missing the de-

Suldog said...

Just for the record, I never wore diapers. My Mother dressed me in a tuxedo every day.

lime said...

moannie, if i ever get to england you and i are donning the craziest outfits we can find and taking a stroll together. deal?

suldog, best dressed baby, were you?

Dave said...

Michelle, simple, honest and funny! Well done! - Dave

Jocelyn said...

The print is perfect camouflage. I can't even tell you're pregnant there.