Needle, thread and a little bit of creativity might sound foreign to most of us today. However, they say fashion is all about taking risks and this week I took a risk with my needle, thread and a dash of creativity! Dare I say it paid off! That is if you look past the amateurish sewing technique and just appreciate the courage and creativity behind it.
So, it was my family reunion and we had an “ashuabi”. “Ashuabi” is derived from the Yoruba word “Aso ebi‘. Ashuabi is a uniform fabric that is traditionally worn in Cameroon as an identifier and indicator of solidarity during ceremonies and festive events. However, living in a small US town with barely any Africans, finding a tailor to sew my “ashuabi” was a luxury. Therefore, I resorted to a needle, thread and a whole lot of creativity to make my own outfit.
This was quite audacious and even foolhardy of me. More so because I have hardly ever used a needle and thread in my life! Granted, I know the basics of sewing, but to actually do it was just something I had never done. Many of my friends and relatives told me to abort the idea and just show up in a regular outfit. No way! I refused to turn up looking like the “step-child”! You know, the child with the odd outfit when everyone else was in uniform? No Siree! And so, my needle and thread escapade began.
Respect your tailors: Clothesmaking using needle and thread is hard!!!
Now, I have a whole new respect for tailors! Creating and sewing an entire outfit is no joke. You have to think of proportions, silhouette, draping, styling, and sewing all at once. I poked my fingers so many times and almost gave up. In my frustration, I remembered good old YouTube and I thank God for all the people who post on YouTube! That is where I discovered a magical fluid called, fabric glue! Off to Walmart, I went and I bought fabric glue. I glued some parts of the outfit but that wasn’t quite practical for all the areas I needed to stitch.
My 5-year God-daughter Ariel made fun of me so badly. She looked at my neck design and told me I looked like a Japanese! Then, I started second-guessing myself. Should I really continue with this adventure, I pondered? However, I returned to my good old needle and thread and it proved to be still very indispensable.
My needle, thread and finally…
So for my outfit, I recycled and transformed an old white mini long sleeve dress I had. I chopped off the neckline because it was matronly and boring. The neckline was also the perfect place for me to be creative and trendy. I converted the neckline to an off-the-shoulder style to keep up with the times. This was without a doubt spot on since the off shoulder silhouette is so on trend this season.
To create the designs and look needed, I tapped into my “domestic science” days in primary (elementary) school. I remembered the backstitch and running stitch and how to hem, tack and pleat. My mum will be so proud to hear me listing these techniques like a pro. I added the fabric at the bottom of the white dress to create a long mermaid silhouette. To achieve the mermaid flare, I decided to attempt pleats. This part was so difficult but with ironing and my trusted needle and thread, I was able to pull it off.
For my nephews, I also recycled existing white shirts. I cut out a long diagonal strip of the ashuabi and sewed it on the side of each shirt and voila! A whole new shirt!
Ultimately, I ended up with the outfits you see in the images below. Please look past my sewing deficiencies and just marvel at the fact that I was able to put together this outfit with my needle and thread only and a whole lotta creativity!
Side view of the off shoulder necklineFull front view of the off shoulder neckline (with the details Ariel referred to as Japanese! 🙂Full-length view of the entire outfitView with the belt details to help cinch my waist for silhouette definition boys were dapper in their Auntie’s creation. Love the look? leave a comment below and rate my creative effort on a scale of 0 to 10.
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