It’s the Lisette/Simplicity 2245 portfolio dress! Worn with tights because I don’t want to knee flash all of Ouidah. But you’ll have to scroll down if you want to see more of the dress, because there’s a lot of side stories before we see more outfit photos.
Let’s start with the fabric. It is from Woodin. Woodin is a Ghanaian brand but is now owned by Uniwax, the same parent company of Vlisco. Woodin is much cheaper though, at about 3,000CFA per yard. By the way, I’m, speaking as an American here. Because 3,000CFA per yard is expensive for the average Beninese person. Usually 5-7,000CFA can buy six yards of a no-brand fabric. Not to mention the average person might only make about 15,000CFA a month.
Also… just look at where I bought it. Woodin has an actual shop all to itself. A building. With lot’s of empty space. Like a regular American store. This is a very rare sight in Benin. Most fabric here is sold on the streets, in the market, or a small crowded rented stall (see my market shopping here.). So to wear Woodin is very much a status symbol, as it signals that you are rich enough to do your shopping in a “western” establishment. Social status is very important here, but as an outsider I don’t play that game and prefer to hide all mentions of any brand of fabric I buy. Sometimes I buy cheap and sometimes I buy expensive, but that’s only for me to know. [As an after thought, I actually do unwillingly play that game but it isn’t fabric that announces my social status. Something else does that for me unfortunately, which I can’t change: my skin color. It doesn’t matter how raggedy I dress, my skin color screams “rich!” and I can’t hide that. The “poorest” expat here is still far richer than the average Beninese. But this is another topic.]
The pattern is from the care package from my mom.
[begin mini complaining session.] Recently there have been some pretty awful power outages in Ouidah. Normally they cut power for a few hours in the afternoon or evening. The important part is that they turn it back on around midnight so people can sleep well with a fan. However they’ve been cutting it from 11AM-4AM… … … …. … that is an entire 17 hours without power… … … … which I don’t mind, except for that midnight-4AM block. It is HOT SEASON. I can’t sleep outdoors in Ouidah so I have to sleep inside my stuffy house, and when I have no fan indoors, all I do is bake. Not food. Myself. My entire body is simmering in sweat until power comes back on. [end mini complaining session.]
Anyway, less important is the fact that my iron is electric. I needed to iron some interfacing for this dress and couldn’t begin the sewing process without those pieces. What to do?
These little boutiques are the equivalent of convenience stores. They’ve got tomato paste, milk powder, laundry detergent, cookies, egg, alcohol (by the shot glass), salt, sugar, toilet paper, candles, etc. for all those random things you might need at home.
Great thing about being “white” and having a dog in Ouidah is that people are more interested in staring at Bosco than me. Hooray! The best part is that Bosco enjoys all this attention, while I hate it.
You’re joking, right? How old are you? Aren’t you an adult? I thought only children were beaten here. Apprentices too? You’re not serious right? She doesn’t really hit you, does she? Out come all my questions as I let that tidbit of information sink in. These girls are 21 and they still get beat! Not for discipline but for sewing mistakes!
I forgot that this is Benin where beatings are acceptable. We take it for granted, don’t we? The fact that our education system and culture allows us to learn without fear. Good thing I am both student and teacher for sewing, as I make tons of mistakes when sewing but I don’t have to worry about being beaten.
When I push the button normally, the photo snaps immediately. Which means it always photographs me using the remote control (it won’t work if there is something blocking the remote from the camera). However if I push the button when it is on the 2, I get a two second delay. Genius. What does this mean? It means I have two seconds to quickly hide the remote and strike a pose so I don’t always have my arm in that awkward right angle position with my thumb pressing down.