Lao’d and proud
So, as I mentioned the other day, it’s now been a year since I started this blog! Well, more than a year now. But not quite a year since my first proper post. Gaah! Today is actually not the anniversary of anything, sorry! Splitting hairs about dates ruins the whole point of this post though, so never mind. Seeing as I started this blog talking about my trip to Laos, I thought it was appropriate to finally remake this skirt which my sister got for me from that very same country a few years ago.*
Yes, a few years ago. Like many of my projects, it has sat around waiting for me to work out what to do with it for way too long. Turns out it really didn’t need much done to it at all. Originally it was a wrap skirt with a tie, you’ve probably seen this sort of thing if you’ve ever been to Thailand, Laos or Vietnam as the Hmong and hill tribe people often sell them in the markets. It looked sort of like this (I cut into it ages ago without taking a photo first, but here are some similar skirts at a costume museum in Luang Prabang).
The proper versions of these skirts take something like six months to make if they are made the traditional way, as home-grown, home-spun, home-woven cotton (or hemp?) is painstakingly decorated with batik patterns using tree resin and charcoal, dyed over and over again in home-made indigo solution, pleated and embroidered, all by hand. Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about that as I spent one afternoon in Laos learning batik and ended up with a rectangle of about 30 x 60cm – and that was just drawing the pattern on, we didn’t even dye it once. (Here’s the lady who patiently taught me how to do it, she drew that intricate pattern completely freehand. Amazing.)
Needless to say, the resulting skirts are worn for a very long time (I’m guessing until they practically fall off the wearer in a heap of threads).
Anyway, I just cut off the waist string and excess fabric on the sides, made a side seam with a zip, added a few darts around the waist, and voila!
Is it weird that although this is an Asian garment, it reminds me of something Tyrolean? It’s probably because along with the traditional embroidery (on somewhat non-traditional turquoise polyester in the strip running across the middle of the skirt), all sorts of western ribbons have been sewn across the part that is pleated, as you can see.
I’ve nevertheless gone for an all-out Asian look with this batik T-shirt which I fiddled with a while ago and some earrings which my sister got me from Laos and which I converted so I can wear them (simply attached a metal loop and hooked it over the back of the clip part of some clip earrings).
My sister got me this bag too, which is made from recycled bits of weaving. Considering the intricate patterns, I don’t even like to think how long it took to make the original textile!
(By the way, it was a steamy 40 degrees or something a few days ago when I took these shots, but as I write it’s more like 15 and it’s bucketing, and many Victorians are still cleaning up after terrible flash flooding over the weekend! Thanks, Cyclone Yasi!)