And if we simply change angles the Catholic Basilica is behind me as well. Did you know the Pope (yes, with the Popemobile and everything) visited Ouidah in 2011? I wasn’t here, but people still talk about it and lots of things were renamed for him. It’s because there was a very important cardinal who was from Benin, so I think this was a convenient way of paying homage.
The thing is everybody – from tour guides to tour books to brochures to internet sites all talk about how these two religious buildings co-exist right in front of each other. Face a face is all you ever hear.
It’s the ultimate symbol. Christianity and traditional Voudon religion, so close, so peaceful! The two operate side by side with no fights or deaths or problems. Neither cares that the other is there. You can even be adherents to both religion. (Ouidah also has a Muslim population, so its actually 3 religions coexisting here, but the face a face only works with these two as the mosque is a bit further away.)
But nobody ever talks about the elephant in the room. IKEA!!! IKEA!!!!!!!!!!! In between both of those places of worship, we have IKEA!!!! Hello??? Why does nobody ever mention the giant couches between the 2?
In the USA furniture on the side of the street = up for grabs. Don’t try that here. In Benin furniture on the side of the street = for sale. If you try and haul off these couches without paying, you will end up in trouble. By trouble I mean a lot of yelling and the only way you’d calm them down is with some cold hard cash. There is even the famous IKEA cafeteria behind the couches as well – food and drink if you need a break from furniture shopping.
Also you are not allowed to sit in them. Benin Ikea has different rules than the other Ikeas worldwide. I asked permission before if I could sit in the chairs to “test them out” and quickly left so as to not overstay my welcome. Here, if you don’t plan on buying you don’t get to take up people’s time. I think retail salespeople in America would be much happier with their jobs if we had this rule as well.
This is not a picture of me. It is a subtle photo of Benin Ikea’s factories. Yes, surprisingly, nothing here is made from Sweden, it’s all made in country! It’s quite fascinating to see the inside of the furniture. Wood, cardboard, and foam is all there is. Ok, enough joking. In all seriousness, I just can’t imagine the culture shock of West African immigrants in America when they discover that we throw out perfectly good furniture onto the streets and that it is free for the taking. That we even have websites (craigslist) to help us find this free furniture. Junk is just not a concept here.
Anyway, back to the dress. Before me there was a volunteer named Kate and she left me her American cotton sheets. I was fine with the ones Peace Corps provided so I only used hers when guests came over so they had something they sleep on/under. So please don’t tell Kate I cut up her sheets since I’m about to leave and I’ve no more guests.
This book was sent to me by my mother last year (!) and a few months ago I went ahead and traced dress J size 16. I never got around to making it though because I was always working with prints and I felt the pintucks wanted some solid fabric. So I just put the pattern pieces aside… until I eyed those pink sheets. By the way my measurements are B39 W32 H42. For their size chart this put me between a size 14 and 16… so I went with 16 to be safe.
I felt the most accurate way of drawing the pintuck lines for the other half of the front was to use pins to mark my lines. I know if I had used my pattern pieces the lines would never have matched. It’s a tip I picked up from Karen of Did You Make That?’s bound buttonhole e-book.
I made my own bias tape using the continuous loop method. The tutorial as from Colette Pattern’s free laurel e-booklet. I do love .pdf tutorials!
I decided to handstitch my buttonholes, but before doing that I outlined them to reinforce them. Also there is a difference between the buttonhole and blanket stitch. Apparently I’ve been doing the blanket stitch – but with the help of yet another tutorial (surprise surprise) I now know the difference. My Stylish Dress Book Dress J has buttonholes made with buttonhole stitches, that I am sure of! This one from the Heritage Shoppe isn’t .pdf though.
Anyway, I decided to do a second photoshoot because I wanted better light (Ikea was at noon) as well as avoiding the hostility that locals have toward foreigner with cameras. I rarely take pictures in town now because I’m tired of all the stares, demands for money, and yelling that it comes with. Photography is not enjoyable there. In the beginning it was ok but now I’m just tired and don’t want to deal with it. So I’ll stick to the dirt road outside my house.
The sand is for the cement bricks you saw in the previous photo– my landlord is building a new house so they make the bricks outside the concession. I feel like a hospital patient or doctor in this dress… it’s… really big.
Buuuuut in reality it swallows me! I have no idea what size I should be making for this dress. I guess I’ll try a size 10 or 12 and see how it fits for my next one since 16 was obvious way out there, even though those were my measurements. Buyer beware, there is lots of ease!
Pattern: Stylish Dress Book Wear With Freedom Dress J by Yoshiko Tsukiori
Fabric: Cotton sheets