Thursday, 30 August 2012

Upcycling sarees/saris - From Sari to dress with a little help from my mum

A couple of years ago an Indian friend of mine was getting married and I decided that to one of the ceremonies (Indian weddings typically have a number of parts!) that I would like to wear a dress instead of a sari but I wanted a dress that would not make me stand out too much in a crowd adorned by saree's/sari's but equally a dress that would be able to hold it own in crowd adorned in saree's/sari's. At this point I must stress I love a good excuse to wear a sari, so don't get me wrong but my sari stocks are limited and I could only afford to buy one expensive one at the time so had to come up with a cunning plan for the other event requiring a formal outfit! Hence my idea was formed!

I journey to Leicester with my aunt as chief buyer and father as chauffeur and set off in search of my "expensive" sari but also with a secret mission of finding a less expensive one which I could cut up to make a dress. Typically you can find an array of cheap saris in the sari shops, they are often on rails for £5 and £10 and are often bright fabrics but not the softest or lightest or most flattering in terms of how they fall. Not great if you are looking for the perfect sari but for a dress maker you are faced with something altogether more exciting! Not least a generous amount of fabric for less than you would normally pay for a set of buttons or some off cuts!

For my dress I used a pattern that I bought specifically for the project, I chose a pattern that I would be able to use again and again and paid around £8-10 for it from a sewing website. My sari fabric cost me £5 and the pattern called for a zip (which I had), some boning (which cost a couple of pounds) and obviously thread (again which I had). I must be honest here and say I used a sheet for the lining (it was new and at £2.99 a bargain) so I would say I spent around £20 - £25 on the supplies. However it was never about the money, if you were to see my wardrobe or speak to my fiance you would know I am not afraid to spend money on clothes! I wanted the challenge and also to wear something I knew no-one would be wearing with and Asian influence!

In terms of making the dress, I will be honest and say it was hard. It was my first attempt with a pattern and as it was for an outfit I wanted to actually wear in public it was important. Much stress followed luckily so did plenty of help and guidance from my mum (who always is on hand to help me with my projects and bright ideas, thanks muma!) and eventually we got there. I learnt a lot on the way but was so pleased with the outcome and the reactions and comments I got, it made it all worth it.

Saree/sari dress in center
Me and my saree/sari dress in the middle
with the lovely bride and groom
If I could give three tips on making a saree/sari dress they would be:

1) beware of prints especially if you are a novice like me, the fabric I chose had a border I wanted to preserve and that was a headache and a half!
2) know what you are dealing with, again if you are a novice working with shiney or silky fabrics can be hard as they move and often don't play ball.
3) give yourself plenty of time, even my mum had panic attacks and nightmares that we wouldn't finish to a high enough standard for me to actually wear the dress so give yourself enough room to take your time!

About the fabric:
The saree/saree I used was a two tone shiney (!) fabric. It was pink which then fabed into a bronze brown for the fall and material on the end which was you are meant to make a saree jacket out of. This had the border I loved and so wanted to keep.

1 comment:

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