Refashioning a Sari

Have you ever seen a fabric that weighed only about 2 ounces a yard?

That would be this sari I bought on my trip to Hyderabad, India in April. It’s 7 yards of fabric, 45″ wide, and weighs 15 ounces. Here it is drying on my lawn after a soak in water to remove the starch that’s applied during the manufacture.

I got started yesterday on refashioning this sari into New Look 6498. I am doing a mash-up of View A (the ankle-length version) and View B (with the frilly sleeves) for the second round of the PatternReview.com Sewing Bee. The competition is to make a garment with fabulous sleeves. The fabric I have is certainly fabulous, but the sleeves themselves won’t be anything special.

New Look 6498

I made a muslin of this dress back in April and ran into one two big fit problems that inspired me to shelve the project:

  1. The bust was too high. This is a problem for me with a lot of Big 4 patterns. The midriff band is meant to sit right under the bust – you can see how it’s meant to be on the pattern envelope, with the bust tucks giving it some shape, before the midriff band nips it in. Then the gathered skirt flows out again. On my muslin, the midriff band hit across my lower bust, causing the skirt to balloon out very unattractively. I had to lengthen the bodice, including the neckband, 1.5 inches so that the midriff band landed just under my bust, allowing for some space for the tucks.
  2. The neckline was too low and a bit baggy. Obviously, I can’t both shorten and lengthen the bodice at the same time! Now can you see why I put this in the “UFO” pile? I took in the center back a tad, and I hope that by fixing problem #1, problem #2 will go away.

The sari has a long decorative band of peacocks, which I am using as a border print along the hem, the bodice and for the sleeve ruffles. I am also using the pillau – the most decorative part of the sari (see close-up above) – for the sleeve ruffles. And I am using the other end of the sari, called the choli (the solid green part in the picture, closest to you), for the contrasting midriff and neck bands.

I spent all day yesterday cutting this out. Today I need to sew it up. The fabric is very loosely woven, with a bit of a burnout texture in places. It’s not hard to sew, but it ravels and it’s just unstable. Here are a couple of close-ups:

I still need to work out a lining – obviously, this dress is see-through as is!

Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

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