Thursday, October 31, 2013

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin


It’s Halloween!!!! I’m excited. It is one of my favorite holidays and I treat it just like a holiday. BUT…. This year I didn’t make myself a costume. I know…. The neighborhood I live in doesn’t see any trick-or-treaters and my boss pissed me off so I decided not to dress while at work anymore…. (hopefully this is my last Halloween at this job). But the God needed a costume for his job’s celebration. So that’s where my machine worked this year.

Meet my Shaolin Monk….

Isn’t he a cutie pie? That is his tortured happy smile. Neither of us know how to smile for pictures. The costume was his idea. I wanted to do Despicable me and he be Gru and I could be a minion. But…. He is a big martial arts buff. He actually practiced some version of it because he had the pants and boots. He made me watch some movie so I could see the outfits in action. I fell asleep and he paused it until I woke up. It was something about 36 chambers of something. IDK…

Here is the inspiration...

This costume was ridiculously easy to make. Simplicity 5152. I got this at a thrift store for like a dime. It was already cut to a medium. And I had already made the 7 a tunic from this pattern before so I knew we were good.

Changes I made included opening the sleeve to make it wide at the end and adding 10” to the length. The 7 has freakishly long arms but he wanted it to be open like that. I added 22” to length of the garment but kept the side splits at 16” from the sleeve. I didn’t add the front or neck facings. I wasn’t sure I had enough fabric to do that. I just cut both pieces on the fold and added a collar an inch thick. I changed the front a bit to. It called for a deeper opening than he wanted.

I used a yellow linen looking fabric that was in my stash. I intended to make a dress from the fabric. But…. Yellow on darkskinned people is a bit off putting. I know. I’m working through that. It was easy to work with and it has some stretch to it. The red scarf is 3 yards of uncut red cotton. He was supposed to draw lines on it like were in the movie but he chickened out last minute. I’m not sure if you can see it but on his legs there are like these white cuffs? It was part of the uniform and I have no clue what they are for. A yard of fabric cut in half with about and inch folded over and a bootleg drawstring. By bootleg, I crocheted a strand and ran it through. It’s dark and no one will be able to see it. And I even strung those beads.

When making costumes…. I don’t put a lot of thought into finishing or making sure seams are secure. Especially if it’s loose. My personal requirements are that everything is neat and doesn’t explode at some odd moment. It’s going to be worn 1 day and forgotten afterward. I put a bit more effort into this garment because the people who see this may become potential clients. So…..

All in all he’s thrilled. He claims that this is going to be his costume for all his costume needs for years to come. Now I wish I had finished better. LOL. there is always next year. And I am happy that I could play a role in seeing him so happy


Monday, October 21, 2013

Cultural Appropriation?


It’s been awhile has it not? I made another skirt version of B5760. I have come to some serious acceptances…. Pencil skirts and A-line skirts look best on me. So I’m not doing the full skirt trend. I just don’t want to look big as a house. B5760 is my TNT pencil skirt pattern. I have made this pattern so much that I can get it up and running in an hour from start to finish with completely satisfying and predictable results. So I’m not going to review this skirt I’m showing you. But it does bring out questions…..

An African patient came into the office and she had on an “African print” garment that I admired. I will freely admit that I don’t know what to call them. Everyone seems to call them “African Print” so I will too. I admired it because it was beautiful. The next time she came in the office, she gave me an entire outfit; top, shirt to wrap and head wrap. I adore it. Here is the print.

I don’t really have an occasion where “African Print” is the required dress code. When I used to go to church and we would rock these prints on a Sunday in February. But I don’t do church anymore. I suppose I could wear it to a parliament but I don’t like to get that dressed up for them. I tend to wear this outfit for a special occasion (a wedding, presentation, for when I don’t know what to wear but feel like I need to dress up) and sometimes to work.

Another African patient saw me in my AP outfit and she got mad at me. Her exact words were, “I want to fight you. You don’t wear that to work. You wear it to a party or special event!” Well I didn’t know that. And now that I know that, I realize it doesn’t make much difference. I would not wear it to a party because at parties I dance. I’d be worried that the safety pin that was holding the skirt together would fail at the most inopportune time. I’m no longer a Christian so church is out (I see Ghanaian people wearing this type of print to a church in my neighborhood). I suppose I should throw it out?

No I’m not.

I was in African store that sells fabric. I found the fabric that I made this B5760 skirt from on sale. I have wanted to make the skirt I made, and out of this particular print. I have been waiting for it to go on sale. The African woman who was ringing me up asked me if I was from an African country. I said no (just because I’m Black doesn’t make me African). She asked me what I was going to do with the fabric. I said make a skirt. She asked where I was going to wear said skirt. That’s where it stopped for me. I asked her if she was willing to sell me the fabric. She did. We were done.

Here is my question…. Am I appropriating another’s culture by wearing their fabric? I LOOOOOOOVE saris and would love to wear one as Indian women do. But I don’t because I’m not Indian. I see how that is disrespectful. BUT... I would wear a garment made out of sari fabric without thinking about whether it was appropriate or not. I would never wear a Native American headdress, but I would wear their jewelry. I might have worn a burqua before. It wasn’t because I was trying to be modest but because I was trying to prove a point to someone. I like to think I’m culturally sensitive.

My see is it’s about the garment and not the fabric. Fabric is objective where the display is subjective.

How do y’all see that?