For 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.
Soooo….. remember my vlisco jane pants…? Well great minds think alike.
Little 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.
Because I had already made the Colette Peony once, I decided to try on the original to check for fit issues. 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.
To 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.
The 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.
I 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.
Maybe 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.
So… 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.
Do 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.
I 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.
This 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.
Also 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?
Also 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.
And 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!
And 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