Vogue 9159 Geometric Tunics and Pants

When my daughter was going to Bangladesh last Fall, we looked all over for a pattern that would give us the look of the most common outfit that women wear there- a long tunic worn over pull on pants, with a coordinating scarf.  This is so common that they actually package 3 fabrics together and sell them as a set.  You then can take that set to a tailor and have them make it for you in your size.
Wouldn't that be cool if we could do that here?  It wasn't expensive either.  I think she said it would be about $25 for all three pieces, and she did have two sets made for her there, and then brought one set home to make for herself.  The fabrics were similar to a rayon challis- but very, very thin and lightweight.

Right after she left, Vogue came out with this pattern, Vogue 9159, that looked exactly like what we were looking for, except it was designed for knits! 

 I picked it up right away, but then she went to Madagascar, where their dress is totally different, so she didn't need it.  Not one to let a good pattern go to waste, I decided to try it out for myself.  I've always admired the look on women that I see wearing it in our city, because it really seems to flatter young, old, tall, short, and everything in between.

I've really been into graphic prints lately, so I decided to try both the short and the long version using ITY knits and ponte knits for the pants, all from Fabric Mart Fabrics.  I made a muslin first out of a paisley ITY knit that I blogged about on the Fabric Mart blog here.  The next one was from this black and white geometric print and an ivory ponte knit for the pants:

And I saved my favorite for last- this teal geometric print with a black ponte for the pants.

The pants are really comfortable, by the way.  Even though they aren't the focal point of the pattern, I think they are a gem of a pattern.  The cut is just right to taper in at the knee and flare out just enough to give a nice curve.  There is a center back seam in this pattern which allows you to have some shaping at the waist.  I had to be careful when I cut that the stripes would all match on the sides, sleeves and center back.  I also intentionally put a black area at the waist to give an illusion of a smaller waist.  I

When I ordered these two knits, I had also ordered a white lace, planning on making a scarf with it.  However, when I got it, the lace had far too much body for a scarf, so I had to come up with a plan B.

I made this waterfall vest instead. It's Butterick 4989- now out of print.  I made View C, the longest version.

Even though it's just white on white, it's definitely a lot of pattern combined with these prints, so I"m not totally sure that I'll wear them together. Although I'm sure that I could wear it with a solid tunic.

I'd be interested in your opinions: yay or nay on this lace vest with these tunics???   But with or without the vest, I'm in love with my new tunics.  I wore this one to the school that I work at today, and was quite comfortable.

Happy Sewing!


What to Wear in Madagascar

To be honest, I have no idea what to wear in Madagascar, and this title may need to be changed to "what NOT to wear in Madagascar" in a few months.  We will have to wait and see.  My 22 year old daughter, Alyssa, left for the Peace Corps this week, and she will be stationed in Madagascar for the next 2 years and 3 months.  Yes, you read that right- TWO YEARS and three months!!! We are very proud of her for wanting to help make the world a better place, and for being fearless in doing so, but it will be a looooong time for Mama and Papa back home.

Not knowing anything about Madagascar, the first step in figuring out what to pack was to figure out the weather and the cultural norms.  Madagascar is a very large island off the southeastern coast of Africa.  It's very, very unique in it's ecosystem, and has many species that are not found anywhere else in the world- most famously lemurs.

Right now, it is experiencing it's rainy season, as you can see by the forecast.  So, it's hot and humid for a sizable chunk of the year. As far as cultural norms, in looking at photos of people in Madagascar, their clothing can be more traditional or more western, as a lot of clothing from western countries ends up there through humanitarian aid organizations. But if she ends up serving in a community with traditional dress, it looks like women wear a lot of bright colors and wrap around a length of fabric in various ways.

Then, there will be the limitations in which she will be able to care for clothing items.  She will not have electricity and anything that needs to be washed, will have to be washed by hand, and air dried.  She's going to be working in the area of agriculture, so she didn't want anything light colored, as that would need to be washed more frequently.  She says that sometimes Peace Corps volunteers gain weight, but sometimes they lose weight, so everything should be something that she can wear even if she changes sizes in either direction.  Another consideration for her, is that she is very fair skinned, so she also wanted clothing that would cover up her shoulders to help prevent sunburn.

So, we came up with a few guidelines to narrow it down:
1.  Fabric must be able to dry quickly.
2.  Fabric should be breathable.
3.  Loose fitting styles.
4.  Longer skirts.
5.  Bright and dark colors.
6.  No zippers that could rust.
7.  No buttons that she would need to replace if lost.
8.  An assortment of dresses, skirts, tops, and pants.
9.  Shoulder covering.

So, my first thought was Wrap skirts.  For some reason, she didn't like that idea.  Probably thought that she'd have to worry about it coming untied, which is reasonable.  My next thought was the Barcelona Dress by Textile Studios.  This is a fantastic dress pattern- it doesn't have any buttons or zippers, just pulls over the head, and is long enough to be modest.  It's only slightly fitted, so it should fit her over a range of sizes.  This pattern is a classic- I've had it for close to 10 years, and it is one that I would never want to be without. 

My Hancock fabrics had some brightly colored crinkled gauze that I thought would fit the requirements for drying quickly and being breathable, so we went with that.  Right when it was time to start sewing, I came down with a bad case of carpal tunnel, and just could not sew for weeks!.  So, she made the first dress herself!  And I think that she did a fantastic job on it.

She had so many things to do before she left, that there was no way she would have time to sew everything she wanted to take.  Luckily, I was able to start sewing again for limited periods of time, and was able to complete the rest of the items that we had planned.  And here is the second version that I made:

Don't these dresses look comfortable for a hot humid day?  And being crinkled gauze, they are super lightweight, even though there is a lot of fabric.

We added pockets to the sides, about 5" below the waist.  These pictures were taken on a very cold and windy day in Illinois, so you can see she's already a trooper to go outside for a photo shoot!

The next fabric that came to mind was linen.  I really had to sing the praises of linen to her because she doesn't like the fact that it wrinkles easily.  I said, "It's going to be breathable, odor resistant, dirt resistant and drape beautifully.  Who cares about wrinkles? "  She was finally sold when she realized that this Marimekko print that she liked was linen. We decided to make a loose fitting tunic that would be something she could wear either on cooler days, or on days when she wanted full arm protection from the sun.

It has a slight gradient effect, and I decided to put the darker near the top, as that would be the most likely place that she would spill something on herself.  See, I'm always thinking about practicality!  The pattern is McCalls 7094, which I had also made last year here.  I think that the neckline detail on this is very pretty.  The pants are from Ex-Officio and are a fantastic techno fabric that stretch and dry quickly as well.  She also picked out this cocoa colored floral twill for a pair of capris, and a cotton/lycra knit for a t-shirt.  The capris have both pockets and elastic waist.  She knows how to adjust the elastic waist if she needs to change anything.  Both are darker shades, sturdy fabric, and should hold up well.

For another option to wear with the top, she chose this rayon/lycra knit for an elastic waist skirt.  It has so many colors in it, and will go with just about any top that she has, so I think it will be something that she will wear a lot.

She is also packing an assortment of ready to wear shirts, a rain jacket, and lots and lots of underwear! And there is a list a mile long of things other than clothing that she will need.  I'm amazed that she was able to fit this all into two bags and a backpack.

Here she is ready to embrace her big adventure!  Her first 3 months will be spent in training- she has to learn the language of Malagasy, as well as many other things that she'll need to know over the next two years.  Then she will be assigned to her permanent post, which could be anywhere in the country.

If you'd like to learn more about what she plans to do in the Peace Corps, she has started her own blog, Recklessly Freckling.  It's smart and funny, just like she is! We are so, so very proud of her, and know that she is going to do great things.

I really enjoyed the challenge of coming up with practical pieces to support her in her challenge of a lifetime.  You just never know where life will take you.

Happy Sewing!