colette peony + matching vlisco fabric + la fête

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete54Hey look, my windy hair matches my fabric for my Colette Peony! How often does that happen?

Back CameraFor important festivities (funerals, weddings, etc.) people often buy fabric in bulk and get matching outfits made to commemorate the event. Such is what happened for this International’s Women’s Day event where everybody matched… except for me. Nobody notified me of the fabric purchase so I wasn’t in. However I told them to include me for the next party, which was for the retirement of the school principal. And they did.

v33Soooo….. remember my vlisco jane pants…? Well great minds think alike.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete03Little did I know that the fabric chosen would be my same vlisco fabric, but in a different color. Normally non-vlisco fabric is chosen because it is cheaper and more people can participate. But since this was a party marking thirty years of service… the principal wanted to go out on a bang. So Vlisco it was. People had the option of paying 11,500CFA (23USD) for 2 yards or 34,000CFA (68USD) for 6 yards. Ouch!! Of course I picked 2 yards.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete01Then I squeezed. I wanted to keep the print intact but I didn’t want to make a shift. The Colette Peony was the perfect answer, and I got it to all fit in 2 yards.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete02I abandoned the grainlines for the pockets though – I just wanted them to fit, and fit they did.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete04The small scrap pile because I did such a good job squeezing.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete05When sewing it up my machine was acting up, so I gave it a nice cleaning and oiled it up. But that didn’t solve the problem…

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete06It wasn’t until the tension wheel plopped off that I figured out the source of the problem. I took it to my local notions shop and they tightened it back on for me. Hooray!

Back CameraBecause I had already made the Colette Peony once, I decided to try on the original to check for fit issues. Sad smile Hello back gape! When I made the Peony last year I was in the early stages of sewing, and Peony was perhaps the 5th garment I’d ever made – so neck gape didn’t matter to me, I was too enthralled by the fact that I had made an actual dress that was wearable, who cares if it didn’t fit correctly! But now I am more critical about fit.

Back CameraWhen I hunch over the gape disappears. Easiest no-sew fix to this dress – just add terrible posture and everything is fine!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete07To be honest I didn’t make a huge effort in trying to correct the gape issue. I added some neck darts to the back and called it done. I had about five evenings total to make this dress and I wasn’t about to fuss around with a muslin and fit. Here the priority was having it done for the event and sadly not on the fit, A new issue came up though – there’s now a horizontal fold line above the bust and under the neck – the busy print hides it, but it’s still there. It goes away if I pull the dress down though, so it isn’t there 100% of the time.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete08The other reason why I don’t make a greater effort on fit is because I live alone and there’s nobody to help me pin. Also constantly trying on and taking off clothes to check for fit makes me sweaty and sticky and miserable. I’ll learn how to fit when I have AC again, promise.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete09I wasn’t too attracted to this print at first, but I have to say the color looks really good on my skin tone. I am surprisingly not bothered being covered 100% in busy print (except the belt) and would gladly wear this in the USA.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete10I made the belt longer and a tie-belt rather than using the buttons.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete11Maybe one day I’ll sign up for sewing classes at a local sewing shop and there I can bring in my Peony for help. Perhaps that’s why I don’t care too much about fit – I want to have a teacher to help me out, it’s much too complicated and subtle to learn by myself.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete12Anyway, it’s party time! I helped decorate using some balloons, paper, and student work from the mobiles they made.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete13Here is the host of honor! On the right is the school Principal. On the left is her husband. Beninese people here all look really young – she’s around 60 (!) I think with tons of grandbabies.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete14So… that law in the USA of separation between church and state…. well legally I think that same law exists in Benin, but uh, actually following laws is a whole different thing, so when the Principal wanted a mass held at the school for her party, of course a mass would be held.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete15Catholicism is quite strong here, and two priests came.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete22Along with a choir.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete16Outdoor mass.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete17Are priest’s robes painted like this in the states as well?

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete18Heads bowed for prayer.vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete19Note the fabric of the two ladies on the right…

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete20Same pattern, different color. I guess what’s important is matching prints and not matching colors – had I known I’d have just worn my jane pants instead of buying another 2 yards of the same fabric!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete21Do you see what the man on the right in the front row is wearing? That is the clothing for a Dah aka the head of the family. Foreigners like us often can’t “read” clothing, so it helps to ask a local to explain who is who and why they are wearing what they’re wearing.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete23Finally we can sit! This is outfit number 1 for the principal.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete24At the end of mass the dancing begins.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete25Note the fabric. You should be able to recognize it immediately now.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete26Hands up!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete27I want to talk about shoes. This lady is wearing lace white heels. Do you see where she is dancing on. Red dirt. Here is another subtle cultural difference. There just isn’t much paved ground here. We see dirt and we think socks and sneakers and REI and hiking shoes and sports authority and etc. They see dirt and think… wash it off later.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete28This is why locals think foreigners dress so badly. I would never wear heels to a sandy ground like this, regardless of how formal the occasion is. So when I show up in my non dressy shoes, you bet they wonder why I didn’t make more of an effort. And how many people do you know that pack heels when they go and visit W. Africa…? Yeah the image that locals have of us is not good: chacos, tevas, big backpacks, camping clothes, etc. They don’t realize that we take a looooong nice hot shower once back in the states.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete29Also how many American parents would put their baby on the ground for nap time? I’d say… not a lot. Probably because of strollers? Also don’t American babies need complete silence to sleep? And a mattress and pillow and blanket? So most parents hurry home? Here there can be a full party blasting with music cranked up and the baby has no issues falling asleep. American mamas, care to chime in?

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete30His sister fell asleep as well. Too  cute!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete31Upstairs the CIAMO kids are running around preparing for their performance.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete33Hehehehe look someone is asleep among all that chaos! Normal and acceptable for the Beninese, but always makes me chuckle to see someone asleep in a really loud and hectic environment.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete32I just had to photograph her pagne. Is this a baguette or a pedicure toe separator tool? I can’t decide if this fabric makes me hungry or makes me want to get my nails done.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete34Outfit change for the principal!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete35Sim, the music teacher, performs a song for the principal. Note his fabric.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete36Also it is common and encouraged to walk up to a performer and stick money on his forehead. Just like we give flowers at the end of a show, the Beninese give money during a show. The idea is that you are working hard and thus sweating profusely for the money to stick – if you aren’t sweating, you aren’t doing a good enough job and the money won’t stick.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete37Another sleeping baby. On a child’s back.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete38Théophane, the assistant at CIAMO, holds back the army of kids. Note his fabric.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete39Time for the CIAMO kids to perform!vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete40Wilfrid, the CIAMO Program Manager, is working the MC for the party. Note his fabric.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete41A mini play for the audience to enjoy.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete42Again, completely normal for people to come up and stick money on foreheads.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete43Time for gifts! Another outfit change, the final one.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete44This little girl was too cute and had lots of money on her forehead. The advantages of being the youngest.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete46Presents, kisses, and money on the forehead.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete45Dancing as well. You can’t just walk up and give a gift – you gotta dance!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete47Random observation: all the wrapping paper here is shiny.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete48Matte isn’t too popular.

fetepeonyHere I am! With tights since the Peony is just slightly too short.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete49Here’s Dah aka Oscar Kidjo. Note his fabric.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete50Théophane models his shirt.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete51Sim as well.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete52And here’s Brownie! Want to know a sweet back story? As we all know Vlisco fabric is pricey. Sim and Théophane do not make enough money to drop 11,500CFA (23USD) on fabric. A no brand fabric would only cost maybe 2,000CFA (4USD) at the most. Brownie bought six yards… used two yards for herself, and gave the remaining 4 yards to Sim and Théophane because she didn’t want the CIAMO gang to be excluded from the matching outfits. Awww! I love Brownie!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete53Brownie’s my idol! I hope when I’m old I’m as cool as her. Will I still be blogging at 76?

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete55I forgot to ask people to help me photograph my outfit at the party… too busy photographing them.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete56Sim helped me out, though they are blurry and my legs are cut off. Oh well!

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete57Fingers crossed I’ll perfect the Peony fit in the future.

vliscocolettepeonydirectricefete58And the end for the party! Oh after the gift giving a huge meal is served, no photos because I was eating and put away my camera. I’m not a fan of greasy electronics. The next party? It’ll be my going away party…

Pattern: Colette 1017 Peony

Fabric: Vlisco A1618

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