Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stashoholism Confessional: NYC November 2011

Chic Fabrics, NYC, 11-2011-1 I went to New York to speak at a conference a couple weeks ago. I was a tiny bit grumpy about going because I had been traveling so much the previous few weeks and had a cold coming on. But at least, among all the work, I found a little bit of time to visit the garment district.

The bulk of my purchases are pretty boring--lining and interfacing--but I did get a few pretties in fashion fabric. On the train up to New York I had actually been thinking that I need to let go of my snakeskin Burda 09-2009-123 wrap blouse. I really love the blouse and it is so different for me, but without a broad back adjustment it's just not wearable. I popped the underarm seam on first wear from the strain of, you know, reaching onto my desk to get a pen. I cannot move in it. So I had given myself permission to seek fabric to replace it. And lo and behold I found this piece in Chic Fabrics, a silk chiffon with a crepey texture for $10/yd. I don't like the print quite as much as the original; the diamond motifs will be annoying to cut around, but it will help me pass the top along to someone who can wear it without being straitjacketed.

I was trying to focus on cool weather fabrics, as I am really all stocked up on warm weather fabric. They had this wool sweaterknit in a couple of colors. I hemmed and hawed over turquoise (of course) or this royal blue. It is a good color for me, but I avoid it because I feel weird wearing any shade of blue with jeans. I don't wear jeans a ton, but we are allowed to wear them at work on Fridays and I do wear them on the weekend when it's cold. It will be a waterfall-type cardigan. Maybe I will even practice wearing it with jeans.

Fabrics For Less, NYC, 11-2011

There was more sweaterknit at Fabrics for Less. I fell in love with the multi-blue striped wool knit but at $12/yd it seemed a little steep for me. I wandered around the store for a while and heard a woman aggressively bargaining with the guy working the store, who reluctantly (or not--I guess that's part of the game) knocked a couple dollars off the price.

I started with the copper denim in the middle. The picture does not do the fabric any justice. It shows the color, but not the gorgeous sheen of this fabric. I broke my cardinal fabric-buying rule with this piece. I have to be able to envision a specific project for a piece of fabric before I can buy it, but with this my imagination failed me. I am looking for some replacement fabric for the McCall 6279 trench dress (review forthcoming), but I'm not sure how much I'd wear a shimmery copper trench dress. Maybe a lot. Who knows? The fabric is a denim, but quite lightweight; good for a dress, not quite beefy enough for a jacket or pants. It was marked $7/yd, but I talked him down to $6 because it was narrower than the rest of the denims.

The green stripe caught my eye for some reason, though I'm not sure I don't regret the purchase now. There is a striped tunic I've been wanting to try so this will be a cheap way to try it.

Then it was time for the wool knit. I paid the marked price for the green stripe to butter him up. The wool knit was marked at $12. I asked what he could do for me. He said he couldn't knock down the price, that it was already rock bottom. I started walking away. He offered me $10/yd. I was sold.

Paron NYC, November 2011

Most of what I bought is actually, gasp, practical. I bought a lot of lining and interfacing. At Paron I found a bolt of 100% rayon lining in the Annex for $3.50/yd, an excellent price for what I assume is Bemberg or its equivalent knockoff. I also bought some silk habitoi; at $5.25/yd it will make a wonderful, luxurious lining for something. My splurge was the light sage stretch silk charmeuse. I want to try pants this winter and I have a nice stretch wool (though I found it quite wrinkled during my stash reorg and am a bit worried I might have ruined it). Stretch fabric needs a stretch lining and how luxurious would silk-lined pants be? I wear pants only on the very coldest days of winter and a silk lining would be much appreciated. Of course, the fabric is so lovely that I am now questioning whether I could sacrifice it for lining!

Mood, NYC, November 2011 One of the things I was hoping to pick up while in NYC was interfacing. I couldn't recall ever having seen interfacing in all the trips I have made to all the stores, so I contacted Garment District Goddess LindsayT at her blog, Shop the Garment District, for her advice. She responded that Mood, of all places, was the best source for reasonably priced interfacing.

After Project Runway hit, I visited Mood along with every other fan of the show. They do have a wide selection of beautiful fabric, but the prices are so, so high compared to the other stores of the Garment District that I haven't been back. Well, Mood's popularity has not waned. The store was *packed* and I passed several groups of pre-teen girls, one group receiving a lecture from one of the store employees about how he and Tim Gunn are tight. I managed to squeeze my way back to the interfacings and, sure enough, they are good quality and reasonably priced ($2.50/yd and relatively wide at around 40 inches). LindsayT had warned me that they are not labeled; you have to know what you're looking for.

In addition to the reasonably-priced interfacing, they also have good prices on lining. I picked up a bunch of this stretch lining for $5/yd.

Steinlauf & Stoller NYC, November 2011 I had to stop by Steinlauf & Stoller to pick up some more bra strap keepers at 90 cents a pair. With my sloping shoulders, I've gotten in the habit of putting them in just about every garment that can't be worn with a racerback bra. No more bra straps falling down! I also got these two specialty elastics at $0.90/yd. I use my black picot elastic fairly frequently on underwear and outerwear and have occasionally wished I had some white. The black ruffle elastic I just thought was cute.


G Street Fabrics 11-2011

You'd think this would have sated me for a while, but when I went to G Street for Fashion Sewing Club they had some really good stuff on the $2.97/yd table. On the left is a black & white knit with a boucle-like texture. It was make a cute cardigan and skirt combo for a very low-end faux Chanel look. The yellow fabric was, of course, immediately sewn up. The fabric on the right is a stretch lace in a deep sage color. I got it in case I decided I didn't like the yellow netting when I got it home. It will be a top as well.


When I posted about the Tweed Ride, Bijoux asked about the shoes I was wearing. I bought them at 6pm.com last year, where they are unfortunately no longer available. The shoe is the Born Gellar; a google search shows a few random sizes available on various places of the web. Good luck!


Abby and Lydia both expressed interest in the stash purge I have up for grabs, but neither of you left any contact information. If you're still interested, please leave a comment on this post with an email address I can reach you at. Don't write out the full email address to avoid spam harvesters--write it something like "example at yahoo."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pattern Review Meetup DC

To celebrate the anniversary of PatternReview's founding, sewing meetups were held around the world last Saturday. We were lucky enough to have Nikki to organize us in DC, and we had a wonderful day together. While I got photos of some of our stops, I totally spaced on getting pictures of actual people so I've borrowed this one from SewandWrite.

We started our morning at The Textile Museum, a gem of a place near DuPont Circle. I admit that I don't come here as often as I should because I am spoiled by all the free museums available, but the Textile Museum asks only $8 as a donation and the exhibits are always top notch. The museum was very welcoming to us--they offered us coffee and tea and let us congregate in a conference room until everyone arrived.

Textile Museum Kuba Display The current exhibit on the ground floor focuses on the weaving and embroidery of central Africa, roughly in what is now the Congo. The textiles are created with threads processed from palm frond, which are fairly short. This photo shows examples of short pile embroidery, essentially tiny rug hooking. The geometric patterns, though actually flat, give an amazing impression of depth and dimensionality. These cloths, created by female relatives, were amassed by men as status symbols, and no practical use was given for them. They were generally buried with their owners.

Textile Museum Recycling Display The upstairs exhibit is on textile recycling. While I think we generally tend to think of patchwork quilting as an American art form, it is practiced the world over as a practical way to use up scraps of fabric and to repurpose worn-out textiles. The pieces on display in the museum show astounding intricacy and patience in both the tiny scraps used and in the embroidery dressing up the pieces.

DC Textile Museum Gift Shop Of course we had to make a stop in the gift shop on the way out! The Textile Museum has a wonderful gift shop with items ranging from affordable to aspirational. In addition to its regular stock, the offerings are coordinated with the exhibits on display, and several status cloths--of the quality shown in the museum's exhibit--are available for purchase right now. The price for these works of art is quite reasonable, in the $125 range. However, I am not in the market for art at the moment and contented myself with an adorable felted clutch made in Nepal for only $18. If you're looking for tasteful and imaginative gift options I recommend a visit (they have an online store as well).

We left the museum and headed off to lunch at Bistrot du Coin just down the street, where we enjoyed socializing, a tasty meal, and passing around our goodies for trade. Nikki also held a drawing for door prizes, and I won the PR 1000 Tips and Tricks book!

Fabric Swap 11-2011-1We had planned a fabric swap to be part of the event, which turned out to be quite fortuitous for me. The night before I figured I ought to go through my fabric shelves and find a few pieces to throw in the pile. Well, that morphed into me going through my entire fabric stash and considerably culling it down--to the tune of three garbage bags' worth of fabric off the shelf. I had done a big cull earlier in the year but had left some things on the understanding I'd need to sew them up reasonably soon to justify keeping them. I didn't and now they're gone!

Well, not actually gone, but moved from the sewing room the living room to await listing on Freecycle. DC area residents: if you want first dibs, just let me know. The conditions are the same as Freecycle: 1) you come pick it up, and 2) you gotta take the whole lot sight unseen.

Anyway, I didn't find takers for all the fabrics I brought to the swap, but about half of them were claimed and I felt ok claiming a few pieces on my own. The red print on the left is a Marc Jacobs cotton from Fabric.com (the sticker was still on it). Perfect for a crisp summer sheath! In the middle is a very lightweight fine cotton batiste or lawn in an aqua color. It will be perfect for lining a summer dress. The fabric on the right is a crazy stretch mesh with sparklies. It would make a very festive tank top for holiday parties.

Exquisite Fabrics 11-2011 Did the thought of those three garbage bags give me pause in buying more fabric to fill the shelves back up (and let's be clear, they are still full)? Erm, I plead the Fifth. All I know is that Exquisite Fabrics was having a moving sale, as that creepy mall in Georgetown is to be renovated, apparently. Almost everything is 50% off, with a few exceptions at 30% off. Although I have purchased various buttons, zippers, thread, and so on at Exquisite, I had never actually bought any fabric from them. I don't share much taste with the buyer, apparently. However, at 50% off I found two splurge fabrics.

The first is a bright pink wool crepe. I love my hot pink corset waist pencil skirt, but it is not bikeable. I need a substitute that I can bike in, and this is a very similar color. I love bright colors!

The second is my big splurge, a piece of Fortuny pleated fabric (not sure the content, but I doubt it's silk). The owner of Exquisite said it came from the warehouse of Mary McFadden. Coincidentally, the National Museum of Women in the Arts had an exhibit on Mary McFadden two years ago that I visited. I am going to a wedding on New Year's Eve and this fabric will be perfect, though I don't have enough to make the dress I envision in my head. :-/ I don't really want to use a contrast fabric but am cooking up some ideas.

What a lovely day we had, including fancy cake enjoyed in DuPont Circle! Thank you to Nikki for organizing, and it was so fun to meet new people. We were all pleased to get together and have plans for future events...

You can see all my photos here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Burda 08-2008-108, Raglan Sleeved Mock Turtleneck Knit Top

Burda 08-2008-108 Thumbnail

I was at G Street Fabrics on Saturday for the totally innocent purpose of attending Fashion Sewing Club and picking up my serviced machine (woohoo!  you cannot imagine how I missed it).  Well, the classroom for FSC is over by the $2.97/yd table so I was practically forced to look on it.  I had been quite unsatisfied with my top options for the Tweed Ride and then I saw this fabric which could not have been more what I was looking for than had I designed the textile myself.  I love, love the mustard color, and the sheer mesh with polka dots was just so appealing to me that I snapped it up.

I knew I wanted a high-necked top--it just seems part of the style--which is not something I normally go for.  I went through my back issues and settled on Burda 08-2008-108, a mock turtleneck knit tee with raglan cap sleeves. I was at first unconvinced about the raglan sleeves--with my narrow, sloping shoulders they are not always a great look for me--but in the end I just love the curved lines of them!
Collar Inside
The collar is one of those draft-your-own pieces; Burda gives you the dimensions and then sends you on your way.  I made a pattern piece based on Burda's instructions, and when I went to sew on the collar it was 4 inches too short.  Totally weird.  It's probable that I was taking seam allowances that were a little too small, but not a total of 4 inches too small.   When finished, the neckline and upper back were way too big.  I really don't know what I did there.

I interlined the collar with a piece of bias cut white silk organza to ensure that it stood up straight.  I was pleased with how invisible it is.  I originally cut the bias piece as wide as the collar so it would be doubled when the collar was folded down, but that turned out to be a little too much, so I cut the piece the height from the seamline to the foldline.

Transparent Flat
As drafted, the collar is meant to be 2 inches tall, but that is waaaaay to tall for my short neck, as it turns out.  As you can see, I turned it under and hand-stitched it to shorten.  The finished height is  now 1 inch.

I used self-fabric loops and some buttons I already had in stash that turned out to be a perfect match for the closure, rather than a zipper as suggested by Burda (my fabric wasn't very stretchy--in a more elastic material no closure would be needed).

I have been really into the idea of visible seaming in translucent or transparent fabric lately, and I just love the way the raglan curves at the sleeve show up in the wearing.

I can also recommend transparent fabric as a great way to muslin--I could see exactly how closely the shirt fit when wearing it without a tank top underneath.

Cape Open

The cape is coincidentally from the same magazine, 08-2008-101. I made it three years ago, and am just going to acknowledge that I will never review it.  But it was a really fun addition to my outfit and I finally got some wear out of it!

I was so happy to find the perfect fabric and the perfect pattern *and* finish the top the evening before the ride.  I was just delighted with my outfit!

Front Closeup
This pattern comes in a 34 so I didn't have to grade, plus it's on the old pattern sheets.  Heaven!  My only gripe with the pattern is that I wish it came with full sleeves, rather than cap sleeves.  I really like the fit of this top on me and would like to make one with long sleeves for layering, but I will have to do some drafting to get sleeves that set into the entire armscye.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dc Tweed Ride 2011: The Photos

The Girls

The Tweed Ride was a huge success! I would guess that around 250-300 people participated (it was hard to tell, exactly--bikes take up a lot of space so you can't really clump people close enough together to see them all at once).


As you can see, I went with the brown booties. At the last minute I was able to make a top, and I felt brown went best with the overall outfit. They ended up working well and I really do love the style of these crazy shoes.

Old Timey Truck at BicycleSpace Stop

Here's the whole outfit, on a fun set provided by BicycleSpace for our rest stop there. The yellow top was my very last minute addition to the outfit--I found the perfect fabric at G Street on the $2.97/yd table on Saturday and made the top late Saturday afternoon. I made the cape three years ago, but never wear it because it is so motion restrictive and impractical. I was glad to give it another wear for the event! My mom gave me the kilt, a sturdy Pendleton wool from her younger days. The hat came from my trip to Ecuador, and the feather pad was found at Mood (had a quick trip to NYC for work last week; more on that at a later date).


Cidell was in the same cape, a pattern from BWOF 8-2008, in the shorter version. I just love her bright turquoise with hot pink lining! The feather fascinator in her hair is just the perfect touch, isn't it?

Crowd at DC Tweed Ride 2011 Everyone in the crowd was dressed to the nines! I am amazed by how much creativity people showed, and just how much tweed resides in the closets of DC. One clever thing several people did was to create "knickers" by wearing regular pants, pulling a pair of long argyle socks over the pants, and then blousing the fabric a little over the top of the sock. There were hats galore, which I just loved, and so many cute vintage bikes. The people-watching was superb!

Trena at the White House Our route was so fun. We started at Meridian Hill Park, which is on a large hill (large by DC standards). While you had to get yourself up the hill, after the ride actually started much of it was a comfortable downhill or flat. We visited DC landmarks both famous and obscure. You may recognize this location--Lafayette Square in front of the White House.

Titanic Memorial We also stopped at the more obscure Titanic Memorial. I've visited this before because a friend of mine used to live near it, but it's Southeast Waterfront location has kept it a bit of a secret. It's a strange, ethereal monument, put up in gratitude by the women and children saved by the self-sacrificing men of the Titanic, who stayed on the ship to make more room on the lifeboats.

We ended at Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill, where Cidell and I were spotted by a kind blog reader. It's always so fun to meet people who actually read what you write!

All in all, a wonderful event and a nice day for it--a bit cool but not cold with no rain--you can't ask much more than that from mid-November! All the photos are here. A review of the top will be coming soon...

Friday, November 11, 2011

How to Build a Tweed Ride

Hats The Tweed Ride is here! The Tweed Ride is here! I am so excited. Dandies & Quaintrelles will be hosting DC's Tweed Ride this Sunday, November 13. Registration for the ride is free; the party is $15 (may be sold out). You need to register for the ride in order to get route information.

Of course, the most important part of a tweed ride is the outfit. There is definitely no formal dress code, it's just vaguely vintagey/old timey. Check out this flickr pool for inspiration.

The hat is crucial, and I have several to choose from. I'm pretty sure I'm going with my new green bowler hat from my trip to Ecuador, but how cute is the purple cloche I picked up at the thrift store a couple months ago? But is it as cute as my Japanese pattern fedora? And then there is the fabulous black hat that I bought on my first trip to London at 17 years old (for 40 pounds--I didn't quite grasp the exchange rate, but it has lasted 20 years and still looks good so I suppose it was worth the then $60).

Toppers Then there is the actual tweed. It's supposed to be around 60F/16C so I probably won't need the vintage coat with fur collar (far right) I inherited from my grandmother. I love this beautiful coat but I feel really weird about the fur and have only worn it once, to the ballet. It would be perfect for the ride, but too hot for the weather I think.

On the far left is a wool tweed jacket I bought from a thrift store in high school. It desperately needs a new lining as well as new buttons, but is very tweedy. Next to it is a cape I made about 3 years ago; I wore it on a trip to Germany but not since as a cape is so darn impractical. You have to carry a handbag, not a shoulder bag, and I just don't do that. The last option is a fairly generic blazer, but it is a nice fabric and I like the greenish color.

Shoes I also have plenty to choose from in the shoe department: two pairs of booties (one black, one brown), a pair of green t-strap wedges, and some cheap but suitably costumey granny boots. One of the many great things about biking is that you can wear uncomfortable shoes and still go great distances! I'm leaning toward the granny boots just because when else am I going to wear them? But I also love the brown booties and they get no wear.

The big dilemma is: What about the actual clothes? I'm actually a bit stumped there. I haven't fortified my winter wardrobe with biking skirts; all my tweedy type skirts are pencil skirts. I might be able to pedal once on the bike, but getting on and off of it and stopping at traffic lights would be extremely unpleasant in a pencil skirt.

After much playing of dress up I came up with an outfit of a high-necked lacey blouse, a calf-length wool plaid kilt, and one of my obis, but then the obi would be the only thing I'd made. The blouse is from Ross about 6 years ago and my mom gave me the skirt from her younger years (vintage!). It's a cute and very old timey outfit, but I hate not wearing anything I've made on a normal day, much less to a dress up event! We'll see what inspiration strikes that morning.

Even if you're not riding along, play dress up and tell me what you'd wear! Or vote for your favorite hat, topper, or shoe.*

*Voting is for novelty and entertainment purposes only. The Slapdash Sewist will wear whatever ends up pleasing her, regardless of majority rule.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Burda 06-2011-111, Adventure Shorts

Burda 06-2011-111 Thumbnail

I have not owned shorts for many years. I mean, I have the old denim shorts I use for painting and really dirty chores, but nothing I'd wear in public. Even my exercise shorts are years out of date and therefore worn only in extremely dire (90+ degrees) circumstances. But when I planned a hiking vacation, I figured it was finally time to bit the bullet.

I knew Burda had been publishing some cute shorts styles, so I went through back issues and found Burda 06-2011-111 in the Brigitte Bardot feature. While shorts are not the first thing that come to me when I think of Ms. Bardot, these are nice shorts. I like the side zip (no scary fly situation), back darts, and front released darts. Pleated pants are always a gamble, but in this case that front released dart is small and looks nice rather than Mom Jeans.

Back Closeup I cut the shorts straight off the pattern sheet in a 36 at the waist and a 38 at the hip with no alterations other than lengthening. The inseam is meant to be 4 inches; mine is 7. Actually, that's not true. Given my experience with Burda pajama pants, I added 1.5 inches to the top of the back at center back, tapering to nothing at the side seam, to accommodate the booty. But when the shorts were put together it turned out I didn't need the extra height and I cut it off to the originally drafted line.

I was pretty impressed with the fit, given that I made no alterations. The back crotch fits well. The front crotch is slightly long, at least I assume that's the proper description when the back crotch hugs the curves (with comfortable wearing ease) but the front crotch hangs down about an inch too low.

When I saw the back photo I was slightly less pleased. I mean, for the adventure shorts I think the fit is totally fine, but if I were making real pants, which I am considering doing this winter, I would want to deal with that folding that goes toward the inner thigh. Wrinkle-reading gurus?

Stabilize Top of Waistband with Ribbon The fabric is something I found in stash. I have no idea how long it's been in there, but I'm certain I've had it at least five years and likely much longer. I have no idea where I got it or how much I paid, nor the fiber content. It is a really interesting fabric--it's a double layer fabric and when you look closely there are rows of tiny pinholes spaced fairly close together. They obviously have something to do with how the layers are kept together.

While the fiber content is a mystery, it is a natural fiber according to the burn test and I think it is probably a linen or linen blend based on how it behaves. Whatever it is, despite the double layer it is a fluid fabric that I did not trust to stay stable, so I stitched a length ribbon at the upper edge of the waistband, where the outer and inner waistbands are joined at the top. The waistband did not stretch while wearing it during fairly strenuous activity on the trip.

I realized while stabilizing the waistband that I probably should have stabilized the crotch as well. However, as I mentioned in my Ecuador post, these were Adventure Shorts in more ways than one! I took my sewing machine into the shop several weeks ago and borrowed a vintage machine from a friend. The machine was not enjoying sewing through all the layers of the shorts, so I fired up the treadle machine I bought for my birthday a couple years ago. The topstitching on the waistband is too bad to show--the treadle has incredibly heavy presser foot pressure and it created diagonal wrinkles between the upper and lower edges of the waistband. The treadle got the job done, but I did not want to try to get too fancy and go back into the crotch seam to add a stabilizer.

Simulated Hiking Burda 06-2011-111 It turns out that shorts are not as bad on me as I feared. I do not think I will be adopting them as any kind of uniform, but for occasional outdoor activities they totally work.

I think I will use this pattern again if shorts are still in style next summer. There's a limit to how short I can wear them, given the extreme whiteness of my legs, but I think I could take a couple inches off the inseam and be both stylish and flattering.

This review is a little late in the year to be useful for the Northern Hemisphere (though shorts with tights and boots can be cute), but Aussies looking for summer patterns should have at it!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back from Ecuador: Adventure Shorts, Jungle Pants, and Bowler Hats, Oh My!

I am home safely from my wonderful trip to Ecuador. There was a lot of hiking, some ziplining, and even some horseback riding, which was truly comical. An equestrienne I am not (Betty Draper makes it look so easy...). You'll recognize the tops from my bike trip to the Netherlands. For hiking I figured I should break down and actually wear shorts and pants, rather than my usual skirts.

Adventure Shorts, Hiking in the Cloud Forest, Mindo I took my machine in for service a few weeks before the trip but *needed* just a few new things for the suitcase. First up were my Adventure Shorts. I will review them eventually. Suffice it to say that the sewing machine that was graciously loaned to me did not enjoy sewing them and I actually busted out the treadle. They are not my most well-made item ever (the treadle has incredibly heavy pressure on the presser foot that caused pulling and wrinkling on the waistband topstitching) but they were Adventure Shorts in more ways than one! These got the seal of approval from my travel companion. One morning when I put on a pair of Jungle Pants, he actually asked, "No Adventure Shorts today?" I thought it was so cute that he used their proper name.

Blue Jungle Pants, Hike to the White Cross, Baños, Ecuador Then I made not one but TWO pairs of Jungle Pants. Jungle Pants are lightweight cotton pants that cover the legs against bugs and brush but allow for air circulation under steamy tropical circumstances.
Seersucker Jungle Pants, Baños, Ecuador Both pairs are made from the same pajama pants pattern as my waterproof biking pants for the Netherlands, so they are not the most flattering item. I put cargo pockets on the seersucker pair and in-seam pockets in the blue pair. This ended up being perfect because I'd put my camera in one pocket and my money purse in the other so my two most valuable possessions were on me and everything carried externally was dispensable. They both got a lot of wear, though they won't see the light of day in an urban environment! (I think the blue pair will officially become pajamas.)

I also added another top to the mix, but apparently didn't get any photos of myself on the days I was wearing it! Must inquire with my travel companion.


Fabric Store, Quito, Ecuador We stayed in the Old Town of Quito ("Centro Historico") near the Plaza Santa Domingo, and we turned out to be in the middle of the Garment District! There were lots of fabric shops, many of them combination fabric shop and custom clothing store. Cidell and I had just been lamenting that we wished it was possible to buy a suit jacket and then a length of fabric for making your own skirts, pants, or dress. I should have looked into that in Quito, though I think it's not like Asia where the sewing happens in a day or two.

The fabric stores all had enticing displays in the window, as at right. I went into a couple but *gasp* didn't buy anything. The fabrics were generally very nice English and Italian wools (with fancy woven selvages bearing their country of origin), shirtings, and colorful polyester prints. I couldn't find anything that was made in Ecuador or that seemed very special (English wools are definitely special, but not to Ecuador). I already had my souvenir (described below), so I passed on a fabric souvenir--I would have been buying just to buy, not because I found something I loved.

All the photos from the trip are here (you can see them broken up by day and destination here)


I was very much inspired by the traditional dress. There is a short description of traditional Ecuadorian Andean dress here. The women wear a dark, knee-length dirndl skirt, light colored stockings (usually white), and low heeled black shoes, generally in a brogue or what we now call "shootie" style. The blouses are generally white, but aren't seen very much as they are covered with a shawl, generally dark but you see the occasional brightly colored shawl. 99% of the shawls I saw were solid colored. The crowning glory is a bowler hat with a narrow brim (2 inches at most), turned up in the back and flat in front, with two dimples in the crown at the front. A long braid is worn down the back, coming out of the hat.

Traditional dress, Quito, Popayan, Colombia Lady in traditional dress, Quito, Ecuador I did not want to take pictures of people without their permission, assuming there would be thousands of examples on the web. Not so! I can't find anything truly representative. The photo at left is close, though her shawl is smaller than most and would generally cover the top and I never saw anyone in a print skirt (they were a bit fuller, too). The photo at right shows the back (though the skirt is longer than most). While I still think that the sari is the most beautiful traditional dress I have encountered, the women of Ecuador in Andean highland dress is one of the most dignified things I have ever seen. They just exude thousands of years of civilization. Amazing. This was only worn by older women. I don't know if it's not adopted until one gets older or if the tradition is dying out in favor of track suits and jeans as everywhere else. I really hope it's the former.

My favorite part was the hat so I had to get one of my own. It is forest green and will be making an appearance at this year's Tweed Ride, Sunday November 13, woot! It does not look anything close to the authentic on me--I don't have the right demeanor or the long dark braid--but I love it so.


I'm off to Texas for a family reunion this weekend, and will be traveling for work next week, but I will eventually return to regular posting, I promise...


Blog Housekeeping: I know some people have been having trouble with comments. I finally had a chance to investigate and it appears that Blogger has a bug in its comment form that is embedded at the bottom of the post. I switched to this a few months ago because it's cleaner. I've gone back to the pop-up format, which appears to have fixed the problem for most people that were experiencing it. Sorry it took me so long to deal with it!