Light Denim Rosari and another Chai

Since last season, I’ve been wanting to make a 70’s inspired front button denim skirt. I never did get around to drafting my own pattern, and I saw the Pauline Alice Rosari skirt which had lots of cute options and great reviews So I bought the instant download. There is definitely something top be said for being able to make a project without delay when inspiration strikes. I can’t even count how many time I was inspired to make a certain thing but shelved the idea because I didn’t have fabric or pattern on hand. The idea just floated away somewhere, replaced by something new. Fickle seamstress that I am.

The making of this skirt went smoothly. I was in between a size 38 and 40. My denim was very stiff with no stretch at all., so I chose to make the size 40 and ZI’m glad I did because it’s very snug! I definitely will not be putting this skirt in the dryer. The denim was bought several months ago at my local Fabric shop ion Ventura called Fabric Town. It’s by Robert Kaufman. The snaps were found online at Wawak. After seeing how expensive jean snaps were at Joann , I found these for much less and they come in packets of twelve,making them perfect for a project for you. The Dritz jeans buttons at JoAnn only come in packets of two.

The only change to the pattern was adding three inches to the hem, and cutting the back on the fold instead of having a seam. I would have left the back seam if the pattern had a back back yoke, giving the skirt a real jeans look. I didn’t see the point of the back seam without it going into a yoke. The directions were well written and I look forward to making this skirt again for me and also for Lily. It’s a keeper!

The top is my third Chai by Liesl & Co. I used a fabric from Alexander Henry with a Day Of The Dead theme and little drawings of a Frida Kahloesque character on it. I love how the top turned out,with its orange yoke, but was promptly notified by my fourteen year old that I wasn’t allowed to wear this print because we’re not Mexican, and wearing this fabric is a form of cultural re- appropriation.

I thought of all the pretty dresses and items to wear in my closet that I have bought on trips in the past. An embroidered Huipil from Mexico, A Dirndl from Germany, a beret and a Mariniere from France. A straw hat from Puerto Rico. Fisherman pants from Thailand. Am I not allowed to wear these items either, for fear of offending someone native to that culture? And what about the local economies in the countries that produce the fabric or clothing and rely on tourists buying them for their livelihood? If everyone stopped buying things to wear from cultures other than their own, those people would go out of business.What about the native American jewelry I have? I’m 1/4 Native American, but yet not affiliated with any tribe.

While I do think it’s important to be respectful of other cultures, without cultural references, fashion becomes a very boring place as so many collections are inspired by other cultures. Think Yves saint Laurent in the seventies.

But yes, I do agree that maybe this fabric crosses the line, and is a bit too kitschy and takes a sacred practice, that of honoring our dead on the day of All souls, November 1, and turning it into something kitschy and cutesy. Trivializing it. And also, it’s a clear example of a company making money off another culture, I believe Alexander Henry is a British company. But no, I didn’t think about any of these things when I bought the fabric. So I’m glad now that my daughter brought up the subject and made me think about it.

What do you think?

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  1. Sandy Osborne says

    I thought the print was fun before I read your post. I still think that it’s a cute print and you should be able to wear it without fear of offending anyone. Starbucks is currently selling Dia de los Muertos iced cookies. I can’t eat one because I’m not Latina? (darn!) I think that many cultural references have crossed over into everyday life. I also think that instead “offending” people, these items (like the fabric print) should be recognized as honoring these traditions/beliefs of the different cultures. Plus, you made it into a darling top with the contrast detail.

    • says

      Well said. I recently read a thread on GOMI about how people who are not of African descent shouldn’t be allowed to wear African Wax print fabrics and it really got me thinking about this subject.

  2. Cheri says

    I think you made a beautiful shirt and I’m pretty sure people aren’t going to come up to you and say ” hey if your not Mexican , you can’t wear that print”. People are taking things way to far these days. When you bought it was it in the” Mexican only people section” of the store? I wasn’t aware that there were specific materials designated for certain nationalities. Its just a T-shirt. I do understand ceremonial headdresses or gowns, but this is just some fun artwork on T-shirt material. Does this mean that if i don’t have a motorcycle i can’t wear a “biker jacket”?If you went through your 14 year olds closet she would probably have no clothes to wear or clogs or boots. So let’s just all relax a little and enjoy the fine artistry in beautiful material and sew the clothing we want. It’s SAD that we are making everything these days about race. I usually look forward to reading your blogs but I have to be truly honest this one saddened me a bit.

    • says

      I was just bringing up a theme that a lot of young people seem to be talking about these days. Cultural reappropriation. And I do agree people are going too far, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think about it. But with regards to this print, Dia De Los Muertos is a cultural and also religious holiday, so there is a distinction to wearing something that trivializes that versus something that is just a cultural item of clothing. For instance, would wearing a t shirt with pictures of the bleeding Heart of Jesus all over it offend some people? Yes, most Catholics would find that offensive ,because it is taking something sacred to many and turning it into something kitchy. That’s a lot different than not wearing a motorcycle jacket because your not a biker. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wasn’t offended by that either. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, that wasn’t really the point of my post. I was just rambling on about popular culture . I guess you took it the wrong way. Which is why I usually only stick to the sewing.

  3. Dee says

    Your outfit is cute.

    As far as cultural appropriation, I really think these issues are usually blown way out of proportion. And I find it really sad that so many people think it’s only ok for x____ethnicity persons to wear certain types of garments/fabrics/prints. It’s so compartmentalized and exclusionary, and prevents people who appreciate beautiful things and are interested in cultures other than their own from being able to fully enjoy and share their interest with others. And to be frank, I feel it places an undue importance on outward appearance. Why has it become so popular to stick everyone into a box with only one label on it? And don’t people have something better to spend their energy on than being offended?

    I’m not offended by the fabric or your top. For what it’s worth, my grandma was Mexican (born & raised there), and I grew up near the border (U.S./Mexico) in a place where a larger percentage of the population was Mexican than any other category. I may come at this from a different point of view than some people. I have lots of different ethnicities in my heritage, but it wasn’t something I grew up thinking about much (other than because I was interested in family history). I was always taught to value people based on their actions & character, rather than race/ethnicity/looks/house/car/bike/toys, etc., etc. Not that my parents ever said that to me, but by the example of how they lived their lives and treated people. Sorry, I’ll stop before I get really rant-y. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, it’s lovely that you and your daughter both want to respect everyone. I personally don’t think that respecting cultures other than the ones we grew up in means never being able to wear the wide variety of beautiful and useful traditional ethnic or “folk” garments that are in the world, the fabrics indigenous to different places, or newer fabrics and garments that pay tribute to some of these things.

    If one looks a little into dress/costume history, you will find that all sorts of different cultures have influenced each other and continue to do so.

  4. Dee says

    Sorry! I just realized that I just kind of spilled everything that’s been on my mind about this subject. Hope it doesn’t come off as grumpy, as it isn’t meant to be. And I know you’re probably already well aware of that last bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Cheri says

    I just want to clear things up abit here I was not attended by your post. Its all the people that want to say that you can’t wear things for cultural reasons. I didn’t even realize that’s what was on the T-shirt , I just thought it was cute , I had to make it bigger so I could make out what the print is. I try not to attend people about there religious or cultural beliefs. So I’m on your side,I guess it just came off that way. I’m sorry if I attended you ,that was not my point. I really enjoy reading your posts, you give a lot of good advice. I’m sure when you made the top you weren’t thinking that it would be attending anyone. So keep on posting beautiful clothing and I’ll keep on reading your great blogs โ˜บ have a great evening.

  6. Carol Gardiner says

    Hi Justine, I love your new skirt. It is really taking me back to my high school days. I’m pretty sure I had one just like it. Thanks for sharing it and yep, keep it out of the dryer, it looks terrific on you so you’ll want to wear it for a while. Thanks for the information on the snaps.

  7. says

    Justine, hands down for this beautiful skirt pattern, I am so so in love with this skirt that i cant wait to make it for me and that too in black denim with same color buttons. Thanks tons for sharing it.

  8. Barb Kuhlmann says

    Hi Justine,
    I love your outfit. I got the email when you first completed it and thought of you when I bought the Chai T pattern yesterday. I loved your shirt but have been waiting for a sale. I too bought the day of the dead skull/Frida material because #1 I like Frida’s art and #2 It was cute. I bought it a long time ago and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it at $20.00 a yard it had to be a keeper. Then I seen your Chai T. I Loved it! the yoke in different material was clever. I am not sure what all the drama up there is?? I think it was a daughter talking to her Mom….. I had zero reservations in buying the material. I also have a Frida bag that I carry to the grocery store. To me the Day of the Dead is a celebration!! I was taught from close friends that it is a day of remembrance. A special day. A day my family has adopted from our friends from Mexico who now live here. I lost my father in law after a long battle with Alzheimer. Now on his birthday we create a small tribute to him on a table in my living room. We have his picture, an apple his fav fruit, his coffee cup its tiny, and all the items are placed upon his fav shirt. We remember him and we rejoice in his loves and his life. I love this tradition. I do something little for everyone I miss. Or many times I celebrate them all on November 1st, The Day of the Dead. Just for a couple of days. If its in the summer I sprinkle marigolds, a path to the little altar we have made. So if people want to have their issues…let them and keep sewing. That is a really cute shirt and you should wear it whenever you want to or on November 1st. What ever YOU wish. Kindly, Barb