Refashioning ethnic dress

 Did you enjoy my snaps of Laos in the last two posts? I have since realised that I didn’t tell you what I actually got at the Talat Sao (apart from the jewellery) so am remedying the situation with this post. Among other goodies which I will show you later, I bought another Yao embroidered jacket for about $10 (at least I think it’s Yao, that’s what the shop owner told me, but if anyone thinks otherwise then please let me know).

I could probably have just worn it as it is, but as you know, I can’t resist fiddling with things, and I wasn’t overly keen on the slit up the sides because it really marks the jacket as ethnic and makes it look a bit costumey for me (although I love the tassels at the top of the slits!)…

Judging from its snug fit, it’s probably meant to fit a child as a long robe-type garment, but I decided it would be perfect as a summer cardigan with shortish sleeves. I had to remove the original cuffs because the circulation to my wrists nearly got cut off when I tried the jacket on in the shop, and cuffs are a bit grotty even for me, as you can see. Of course I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw them out though, so they will possibly end up as jewellery pouches or something (after a good wash!).

As you can probably tell, EVERYTHING has been done by hand on this garment. The person who made it possibly grew the cotton, harvested and spun it, dyed it, wove it, then hand-sewed it into shape and embroidered and appliqued it. The amount of time and effort that would have gone into this type of clothing just astounds me.

Here’s that cute tassel at the top of the slit…

And here’s a detail of the star in the centre back.

This is the back around the neck.

Here’s one of the cuffs (well, the new cuff. The jacket sleeves are now three-quarter-length, seeing as I removed the original grotty ones).

Apart from removing the original cuffs, I also handstitched the side seams together to make the jacket sit more like a long-line cardigan and stop the front parts flapping around.

Better, yes?

Ethnic dress isn’t for everyone, I know, but sometimes just a few small changes can make something that looked like a costume a lot easier to work into your own wardrobe. And don’t you think this kind of souvenir is a lot nicer than a carved fridge magnet or embroidered toilet roll holder?!