Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When Sewing and Social Studies Collide




Hello Friends! As I half expected, the chilly temperatures we experienced during the first three weeks of May have taken a sudden turn and the last few days have seen temperatures near ninety degrees! Yes, our temperatures surged forty and fifty degrees higher than what it was just a few short days ago.  I am not complaining,....exactly.....but my body needs more than a few hours to acclimate to summer-like temperatures. So anyways, I had to shed my beloved Lands-End fleece pj's for lightweight cotton pj's and maybe, just maybe, I can finally put my winter clothes away!

I've been working on a project that has actually turned out to be an interesting cultural lesson for me and I want to share it with you. Additionally this project has taken me away from my usual work with neutral tones and reimmersed me in  a world of brightly colored, bold printed fabric......

A friend of mine and her husband have been invited to a summer wedding. The groom is from Africa and in some African countries it is customary for family, friends and other guests to wear a garment made from aso ebi. This translates roughly to "family cloth" and it signifies solidarity, unity and respect for the event.

It appears from what I have read that the both the bride and groom may pick their wedding colors and the fabric (aso ebi)  and then the guests are either gifted the fabric or expected to buy the fabric and have clothing items custom made such as long tunic-style tops, matching pants, hats, scarves, dresses, etc. Some garments and accessories that I have seen while researching the topic are quite simple while others are very elegant and sophisticated. Click here to see a site called The African Sweetheart. There are many photos to scroll through to get an idea of how the women dress.


As you may have surmised by now, my friend's husband will be wearing an item made from the chosen aso ebi and he asked me if I would be willing to make it for him. Of course I said yes....I was rather intrigued by this particular cultural tradition but in addition, I would never pass up an opportunity to work with beautiful fabric.....and let me tell you....it is beautiful fabric! Notice the little crystals randomly placed on the fabric.


We agreed on a style and I was able to find a pattern for a dashiki-styled shirt which is a very loose fitting tunic or caftan styled shirt. I used an old sheet to make a "practice" version because I wanted to make sure that if there were any problems with the pattern I would be able to work out all the kinks prior to cutting into the very expensive fabric. It was an easy pattern and it went well the first time. He tried it on and I took it in an inch on each side.


I placed the pattern piece on the fabric so that I could utilize the border prints on the sleeve and the bottom edge. This saved some time pinning and hemming!


The one issue I had was that just before cutting I realized that I would have to do some matching of the two front pieces. With a center seam it would've been very obvious if the two pieces did not match. Believe it or not, I have never matched front seams before so I did what made sense to me (and folks that is not always a good thing) but in this case I came semi-close to a matched seam and when it is on, you cannot even notice the slight mismatch. The side seams and side slits match perfectly and I wasn't even trying for that.....go figure.


Anyways, once I was finished my daughter tried it on for good measure. She is rather petite so it was a little large on her but she loved the style and asked me if I could make her one before she went back to school. (She was leaving in two days.....)


The only thing I did differently than the pattern instructed was the top stitching around the neckline. Even though I tacked down the interfacing at the shoulders, it still seemed a bit difficult to tuck in neatly while trying it on. The top stitching did the trick, keeps it neatly inside where it belongs and gives it a much nicer finish.


This was a fun project and it was very interesting to read about the tradition of the aso ebi. I find traditions of other cultures fascinating and it is interesting in this instance to note the sharp contrast to wedding attire that we are so used to. I hope I get to see some photos from the wedding. I think it's going to be beautiful!




14 comments:

  1. What a fascinating custom. It is always interesting to read about different cultures, different customs. My, isn't the fabric gorgeous, all those beautiful blues and crystals. You have done the most wonderful job in stitching this lovely garment. The front seam looks great. What a joy to stitch with such exquisite fabric.

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    1. Hi Kim, Thank you, it was fun to work with this fabric. I admit I was a little afraid of cutting it since I did not purchase it! But all went well! I was just at your blog and I still have not gotten over how beautiful that chair turned out. I think I am going to look for a chair that needs a makeover. Is there a particular style that might make a redo easy for a beginner? I've never tackled a project like that!!!!

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  2. My goodness, Linda, you did a wonderful job of matching that front seam, and it looks fabulous. It was interesting to read about the custom and traditions, also. The fabric is so lovely and the crystals add such a sparkle. Beautiful sewing project, lovely lady!

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    1. Good morning Kitty! How nice to hear from you. I'll be doing some blog hopping myself later today!Thanks so much! I really enjoyed this project!....and one is never too old to learn something new. I found this custom really interesting! I'll "see" you later today to check out what you've been up to my friend!

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  3. You did a wonderful job on this, matching the pattern just perfectly and the crystals are such a pretty touch!! Such a neat tradition, I too love hearing about other cultures and countries traditions.
    Linda you asked about making the card I did today on my blog, My girlfriend sent me this one so I couldn't show you a link to it but it is cut using a die, I don't know if you have seen them before or not so here is a link to a girl showing how you cut the dies out, when I cut something by hand I will say I fussy cut it, but if I say in my description dies I have cut them out like the video shows, so you could do the same thing easily if you have the dies and machine to cut them, hope that answered your question on how to do this type of card :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0y7m0UJJ9k
    You also could hand cut it out and some people actually do but I wouldn't attempt it :)
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hi Connie,
      I will have to watch some videos, thank you for sending the links....I was just thinking that I would love to make cards....maybe your creations just inspire me...I know nothing of dies though I have seen them in craft stores. I think I need more hours in the day to pursue all the things I want to do! I also need more space to store all the craft supplies, machines, templates, etc....

      Thank you too for your kind words...(re: the shirt) I really enjoyed making it! hope you have a great weekend too!

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  4. Hi Linda~ Beautiful work here! Love this custom shirt you created!! Wow, what a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction~ And getting those seams to line up was from heaven above : ) So glad it worked out so well for you.
    I have a friend here in CO that grew up in Africa and sometimes wears the traditional clothing; fabulous! Have a great week-end : ) Karen O

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    1. Hi Karen,
      Many thanks for your kind words! Yes, I very nearly started to cut without considering the center seam. Good thing I hesitated.....I agree that the clothing is fabulous! I love the vibrant colors of some of the clothing worn there. Also, it appears quite comfortable! have a lovely weekend Karen and thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Hi Linda, what a beautiful project and you did an amazing job designing the wedding outfit. Love the pretty fabric with the little gemstones here and there on the shirt. Such an interesting custom and to learn about other cultures is fun. You are so talented and a beautiful sewer!! I know your time and work was dearly appreciated.
    Thanks for sharing the project.

    Have a great weekend and Happy June. Blessings my friend,xo

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    1. Hi Celestina,
      Thank you very much! It was a fun project and working with the gorgeous fabric was the icing o the cake! In all honesty, the pattern was pretty basic and went together easily. But I appreciate your very kind comments! Always enjoy your visits! Hope you have a lovely weekend my friend! xo
      Linda

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  6. What a good friend you are to have made this. It's turned out so nice, and the fabric is so vibrant and pretty. I went to the website you referenced -- wow, those outfits are beautiful! Such an interesting custom; I can see where all the guests would feel as though they all belonged together in support of the bride and groom.
    Hope you're having a good week Linda. xo Deborah

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    1. Thank you Deborah! Yes, there were many beautiful and vibrant fashions at that site! The men dress equally as vibrant! It was interesting to read that in some cases the guests are segregated costumed and uncostumed so if you show up without wearing the aso ebi you would have to sit with the others that did not participate. There appears to even be a higher level of hospitality extended to the aso ebi participants; all so interesting I think! As you said, one would certainly feel unified and supportive of the new couple by wearing garments of the chosen fabric. Now your social studies lesson is over, have a great weekend. There will be a test on Monday morning! LOL! Linda

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  7. Wow! It was great learning about this African tradition, and the fabric is indeed gorgeous! Your handiwork is impressive, you have incredible sewing skills, I would have been scared silly to cut into that fabric! It will be a blessing for your friend to wear such a specially handcrafted shirt to the wedding! Hopefully the heat isn't too oppressive now, we are supposed to get up into the 90s here this weekend, crazy! Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

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    1. Hi Marilyn,
      happy weekend! Thanks for stopping by and of course for leaving your sweet comment! I just went to purchase a smaller pattern last night as my daughter wants me to make one for her for a bathing suit cover up. It goes together fairly quickly and will be easier if I purchase fabric for hers that doesn't require matching.

      I think its actually supposed to be hot one more day and then we are expecting a cool down and rain on Sunday! Today was cloudy most of the day but very muggy! Sounds like you'll be plenty warm yourself!!! Enjoy your weekend!
      Linda

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