I would like to preface this post by saying my sewing posts will be a little different going forward. I typically explain how I make my garments but I want to make things simpler and only discuss the inspiration behind what I sew. I honestly find more creative joy when sharing with you how the garment came about than breaking down steps. Sure, if I am sharing a DIY or have any nuggets of info I find to be valuable in making something then I will certainly share. Other than that, I am thrilled to share new posts of my creations, including this well overdue post of my first emergency outfits for my husband and I.
In early August, a family friend organized a huge biennial fundraiser in Dallas for their town back in Enugu, Nigeria. Our family anticipated this event for a while and knew we had to get our Nigerian traditional attire sewn for it. We had a bunch of material from our recent trip to Nigeria in hopes of finding a tailor to whip my husband and I some matching couples outfits. Unfortunately, time was flying by and the prices that were being charged to create traditional was a bit too much and sometimes borderline ridiculous so the only option left was….me.
Nervous is an understatement and scared is a modest way of describing how I truly felt about being responsible for our couples traditional outfits. I only made two shirts for myself at this point and now I am expected to make a dress for me and a shirt for my husband? (Flashbacks of the white t-shirt fail, anyone?) I feared messing up because ankara material is not easy to come by in the U.S. and can get really expensive if you aren’t buying it in Nigeria. I unfortunately only had less than a week to plan and create so I had to eventually toss my reservations to the side, figure out what I was going to make and sew it.
My husband and I chose to use this red, black and yellow ankara material with the design that looked like fish scales or petals from a flower. I decided to only make my husband a shirt that he could pair with some nice trousers because I wasn’t yet comfortable with making pants, especially for men. I am glad I made that choice because my husband’s shirt took up most of my time and pants would have meant that my outfit would have remained a thought.
For my husband’s shirt, I wanted something different and bold for his own personal style. I went rummaging around google images and saw a man in a diagonally split ankara t-shirt and knew I wanted the same concept for the shirt. I felt white would be a great contrast to my ankara fabric and give it a crisp clean look. I also added a bit of white detail on the pockets and added a strip of the ankara fabric to the back to bring the look together. It was my first time sewing that type of neck opening so it was not as flat as I wanted it to be. Also, at the time I was not familiar with interlining or biased tape to finish the neckline so I hemmed my neckline and therefore it was a tinge weird and not as close to the base of his neck as I would have liked. I’ve had issues with necklines in the past so that is a key area I look forward to improving in.
As for my dress, my lovely friend Tiffany (she has an awesome Christian blog, btw!) sent me a picture on Instagram of an ankara dress that she wanted me to try and make one day. Her timing and taste couldn’t have been more perfect! The dress is super cute, fun, and very similar to my off the shoulder yellow top but longer and with the best feature a dress could ever have: pockets! POCKETS, ya’ll!!! I am a sucker for a dress with deep pockets that I can bury my hands in and do my #hungrymodel pose. The dress is cute with or without pockets but pockets make you want to practically live in that dress at that point.
Any who, I was left with only a few hours to make my dress and get ready for the event and that is where the simplicity of making this dress was clutch. I pulled both outfits off and the response was great. I even managed to sew the arms of my dress inside out because I was in a rush. HA! Thankfully, because I did a rolled hem throughout the dress, the inside finishing is neat and makes my mistake look not so much like a mistake (minus the random white part of the fabric).
No one (including myself) could believe that I made our outfits. My first emergency outfits turned out to be a proud moment for me and also another friendly reminder to stop underestimating my skills in this sewing thang. Sure, I can see things I could have done better on but it also didn’t go as bad as I had braced myself for.
Me and ankara material will be pairing up again in the near, near future because it was such a nice material to work with and glided through my machine like butter. Our next encounter would probably be for making this dress in other colors because I loved it that much. My husband’s shirt has me wanting to become more skilled in creating more garments with structure so my upcoming project will be more focused on just that. Stay tuned!