Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Indian Summer Dress

Our trip to India was not at all planned.

In April 2008, My One True Love was invited to present at a conference at the very last minute. He accepted the all-business-class-flights-and-accommodation-at-lavish-hotels-and-meals-and-sightseeing-expenses paid invitation as he rightly should have. How could he not? However, he then made what turned out to be the fatal error, and told me about it.

India! I screeched at him when he disclosed it. Six days in India! Where I have always wanted to go but have never been, I screeched at him. You're! Not! Going! To! India! Without me!

So there I was on a last-minute trip to India, without any time to see the big sights, and without any real time to visit far-flung places (we were only there for six days, three in Delhi and three in Bangalore). And that meant only one thing, naturally.

Fabric. Of course.

I love Indian fabric. Silks, cottons, batiks, damasks, saris, you name it, I love it. Loooooooooove it. And that's how I found myself in a fabric shop in Connaught Place in New Delhi, buying (among other things) ten metres of this astonishing mustard-coloured cotton with a red and ochre flowered print. (Yes I know ten metres might seem a bit much. That's just how I roll.)

It's sat in my stash up until now. When I buy a fabric I really like, it takes me ages to use it, because I'm worried about making the wrong decision/using a pattern that doesn't fit/ using a pattern that looks awful, etc etc. It's so precious to me that I become completely paralysed with adoration, and it takes months for the freeze to wear off.

This Christmas I finally cut into it, after about three months of toying with ideas in my head while I ran on the treadmill at the gym during lunchtimes. Hey, it gave me something to do while I worked out, I got to play with lots of different design elements, and it meant I went back to work feeling all warm and happy and crafty. Which is something I greatly needed in my job at the time.

I wanted to do a  long dress, pleated at the empire line - but not pregnancy silhouette - with sleeves. I had this old OOP Vogue pattern in the cupboard (a size too small) and after the months of thinking about the best way to make it, I decided to increase the pattern by one size and just wing the skirt.

It took me aaaaaaages to do the pleating at the waist in order to make the pieces fit together, but overall I am VERY happy with the look. I had to applique the feature band around the sleeves and the neckline, as it only ran down one edge of the fabric and I couldn't cut the pieces to use it. That was a long process, but worth it for the result I think.

So now I'm very proud - I've got a great dress, made out of an amazing fabric bought in situ in a foreign country, I've got the story to tell about the place I bought it from, where the Indian man behind the counter nearly fainted when he saw how much material I'd piled up, and the customs officers on the way back into Australia kind of interrogated me about the apparently "commercial" quantity of the fabric I had with me, and I wriggled out of it because it was seriously all for Personal Use, AND I even managed to find the perfect belt to accessorise the dress in the Boxing Day sales. Half price!

Cool, huh? Gosh I love fabric. And India.It's a fine, fine romance.


CurlyPops said...

OMG I think I'm in love... with your fabric! I also love all of the beautiful indian fabrics. One of my colleagues at my previous job was an older Indian man and I managed to convince him to buy me some on his last trip to India.
Have you worn it to work yet?

Sarah said...

I think it is georgeous...

Great style.

shannon brennan said...

It is lovely and it looks great on you. Plus, you have such a great story to go with it. It's perfect.

We had more than a little trouble coming through customs from Ireland back to the USA with our treats and goodies. Sweaters, scarves, Christmas gifts, wool blankets. They had no trouble sending us to Irleand, letting us back home was another matter!

Isabella Golightly said...

That is just beautiful! Obviously those customs men have never met anybody who seriously sews before!

I Purr-Furr to Craft said...

Love it! both the story and the fabric and now the dress! seriously cool stuff!!

Michelle said...

That would have to be the most stunning dress I have seen in a long time! And the story that goes with it is an absolute corker!