jane pants = vlisco java + lisette 2245 portfolio pants + lisette 1879 souvenir blouse

v01Hi guys. I’m modeling the Jane pants here at the Dantkopa fabric market in Cotonou. Although you might be able to buy the vlisco java fabric and make this same outfit from the lisette 2245 portfolio pants and lisette 1879 souvenir blouse patterns… you still will not be wearing Jane pants. Sorry, this is an exclusive make and nobody can copy this even if they wanted to! All will be explained if you manage to read through the end to this post.

v02Remember my vlisco lust? Well I caved. Sorta. They don’t cut their wax fabric (six yard blocks only) but they do cut their java fabric in two or four yard blocks. Java often has a “shimmery” surface with gold print, is thinner than wax, and more importantly, cheaper! Two yards of this fabric costs 10,000CFA or 20USD. Pricey but doable.

v03Look, the fabric is bilingual!

v04The fabric also comes covered with a lot of security stickers so the customers are assured their fabric isn’t counterfeit. Note the slits at the edges so that once peeled off, the sticker is torn and can’t be reused with another fabric There’s also those scanner codes with a holographic sticker to reassure you even more. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do to protect your brand.

v05Here is one of the main reasons why Vlisco’s seduction succeeded. They have a lookbook! Released with each fabric collection! What!???????????? The other “name brand” fabric I know of is Liberty, do they do this as well?

v06And it’s not some tiny book! Seventy five pages full of nothing but fabric talk!

v07Interviews! History! Swatches! Photoshoots! Styling ideas! Design inspiration! Most of all, it’s free! Vlisco… you win. How can anybody who even remotely likes sewing or fabrics resist their marketing schemes?

v08Remember it’s still rainy season.

v09If you look toward the sky, there are some really nice clouds to stare at.

Back CameraBut I often prefer the ground after a nice rain. Especially when the sun decides to come out as well. Why? You see there are puddles. And when the sun sets, the sun is reflected in those puddles and you are blinded by brightness. Everything is matte around you except these puddles that soak up the sun around 6-7PM.

Back CameraIt’s one of my favorite moments. Pockets of gold randomly scattered on a wide road of red dirt.

v12And this is why I like gold print fabric. The gold print covers perhaps a scant 10% of the fabric, but when the light hits the gold at a certain angle, it’s all you can see. Just like the landscape here after a rain.

v13I was still moping about not being able to wear my lisette 1879 glitter gold ikat print shorts here in Benin. The only way to satisfy that urge is to… make crazy  gold print pants. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! And later on if I really do feel uncomfortable wearing these in America I can just turn them into shorts.

v14I squeezed this fabric. Not only did I want to make pants, I wanted to make the lisette 1879 blouse as well with the print for the yoke contrast. I didn’t need a lot of fabric for it, but I still was a bit worried about not having enough. But in the end I still had leftovers! Win win.

v15One thing I hate is that satisfaction of having cut out all my pieces, folding them neatly together, hanging up my scissors, putting away the pins, trashing the small scraps, only to realize…

v16Interfacing needs to be cut out as well! Back come the pins and the scissors and back to work. Sigh!

v17Then once that is done, I mark my fabric and fold up my pattern pieces to put them away. I try to fold them so that the pattern piece number is easy to spot, that way when I come back to them later they’re easy to find in the envelope without having to unfold and refold a bunch of delicate tissue paper.

v18Smooth sailing for the pants…until I made the lapped zipper. Honestly so many of my patterns ask for invisible zippers that I actually am awful at lapped zippers. I fiddled around, read some tutorials, and made it work, but not without a lot of seam ripping first.

v19Once the pants were done, it was time to tackle the blouse. First I had to get on my bike.

v20Pedal pedal pedal… not very far, maybe 10 minutes away by bike…

v21And here we are. Let’s practice your Beninese vocabulary. What’s the name for second hand stuff thrown out from rich countries? Remember? No? Ok: achouta! Here we are at an achouta shop. Anytime you see a pile of clothing, that means achouta. No signs needed.

v22Let’s take a peek inside. And a game of where’s waldo as well: can you spot the children?

v23This lady had a bunch of clothing from Italy with tags still attached. Tags with ridiculous prices like 350EUR or something. And now they sit unused and unworn in Benin for perhaps 2 dollars tops.

v24The two dimensional mannequins as usual decorate the wall.

v25Ah, here’s what I was looking for. The sheets. Specifically opaque white sheets. Time to start digging.

v26And, found! However the sheets I found had a side that I didn’t want because it was pieced with some other floral fabric. I asked her if I could pay half for only half the fabric. She agreed and brought out the razor blade to detach the part I wanted to buy. 800CFA went into her hands and white sheets went into mine.

v27Believe it or not I used french seams for the sides! After making the french seams I topstitched the right side to keep that inside “flap” down. I didn’t do this on the sleeves because I wasn’t sure if french seam would work on curved seams, but I’m happy that I tried them out and they worked for my side seams! So the inside of this blouse doesn’t look as messy as my other makes. Then I put the finished outfit away and waited… waited… waited…

v28…waited …waited… for Frances!! Frances came!!! As well as Valerie, Tracy, Gabriel, Alberto, Betsy, Brendan, Lorelie, and Brownie. I had no friends for a few months and then suddenly I had many new ones all at once! The social life came back very suddenly which is why this blog has been a bit silent. Priority #1 = social life and friends, #2 = blog. Sorry!!

v29I took Frances to the Dantokpa fabric market in Cotonou on her second day because she wanted a sewcation and so fabric was necessary before any sewing could be started. We arrived a bit early (9:30AM?) so many of the vendors hadn’t arrived which means only one thing when you stumble upon an empty building: photo shoot!

v30Ta da!! Check it out! Here’s the front!

v31Say hello to the side!

v32And of course, the back!

v33But what you really need to be looking at are the tabs with the yellow heart shaped buttons.

v34Look at them!

v35I want you to get a good look at them.

v37Also please look at my mercedes side lapped zip.

v36But the star of these pants are the buttons. These buttons are the reason why these pants have a title: the Jane pants.

v38You see, I had a little visit from the Queen. The one and only Queen of England. Who I guess is officially/unofficially the queen of Canada as well.

v39She helped deliver an envelope full of surprise buttons from Jane. The Queen came to Benin!

v40Now who is this mystery Jane? Let’s time travel a bit to the past…

jane01Meet Jane! Here we are at the beach in Trouville/Deauville on the Normandy coast in France.

jane03Here we are in the usual obligatory Paris photo. Nuit blanche to be exact.

jane02You see, in 2009 I moved to France. And there I found magic. Cooking and dancing and laughing and talking and eating and wandering and partying and singing and exploring and all of that happened in a small french town. Jane (Frances too) was part of that magic.

jane04I could write a lot about Jane. But all you need to know about her is that she can split an apple perfectly in half with her bare hands. On a train. On a train to a bread and pasty trade show with me. Where we watched pastry chefs from all over the world compete to win the title of Master Baker. This is no joke. This really happened and this girl even broke out her Korean language skills to chat with the chef from South Korea as he’s kneading dough and making bread rolls. This is the reason why these pants are so exclusive. Even if you also find the exact same plastic buttons she sent me, with the exact same vlisco fabric, using the exact same lisette pattern, they’d never be the same because they won’t be infused with all the Jane memories that I have! Sorry too bad!

v41Back to the present. And to Benin. So when I was wearing this outfit with Frances out and about in Cotonou, we were not alone.

jane05Jane was here with us, even if she didn’t know it. (But now she does.) On t’aime genouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

v42After wandering up and down three floors of fabric crammed everywhere, Frances finally found a yard (or was it two?) of eastbound flying ducks.

v43I already had a stash at home so I didn’t buy anything. Just posing for outfit pictures here.

v44Obligatory Cathy-and-Frances-with-wall-of-fabric-stacked-behind-us photo.

v45Then the vendor wanted her photo taken too. Happy to oblige.

v46We ended the shopping trip with a visit to the Vlisco boutique just to contrast the completely different ways of shopping. The guard made me put away my camera, oh well, but check out Frances modeling my hat that is too big that the slightest guest of wind blows it off my head. More Cathy-Frances adventures to come…!

Fabric: Vlisco Java 5212A
Pattern: Lisette 2245 Portfolio Pants & Lisette 1879 Souvenir Blouse

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