Hi kids! Today I have a Deer and Doe Belladone to show you, plus I have some thoughts on purchasing Vlisco fabric, which is what this dress is made of.
First, the dress. This is the Deer and Doe Belladone, which I’ve made twice before. You are seeing it photographed in my grandma’s backyard on one of the many days when it was too cold to visit the beach while we were in Florida. But I’m next to a palm tree, so it’s better scenery than is usually offered on this blog!
Also good scenery: a puppy! He’s not really a puppy, but I’ve taken to calling all dogs puppies. That’s Bentley, my grandma’s dog. He’s is actually not at all a spring chicken; he’s advanced in years for a miniature Doberman Pinscher, and as a result he has diabetes and poor vision. Which is very sad, but also adorable when he tries to jump up on the couch to sit on your lap and has the grace of a baby giraffe trying to find its legs. Re: the dress, there’s a little wrinkling on the back that I’ll try to take care of in future versions, though I’m not sure I’ll use the cutout back again. It’s a bit too distinctive for me to want to have five of them. I’ve decided I’m okay with a closet full of Archers and McCall’s 6696s, but I draw the line at cutout backed Belladones!
My lovely photographer, my mother, decided to get artistic, which made me laugh. But I do like how this photo turned out!
As we were taking this picture, Bentley decided to photobomb me while taking care of his business. I 1. find this hilarious, and 2. like the way the wind is blowing my skirt, so the photo gets posted.
Here you can see my waistband seam matching, which is excellent except for the fact that the side on the right is a little bit shorter than the side on the left. Boo, but I was very pleased with my invisible zip seam matching. I didn’t attempt any pattern matching because I just barely had enough fabric to eke out this dress, plus I can’t even discern a repeat in this pattern. The fabric, as I mentioned above, is Vlisco. This one is their voile, which seems exactly like their Wax, Java, and Super-wax (I’m pretty sure I have them all in my collection) to me, so I’m not sure what the difference is supposed to be. This one did seem more shiny when it arrived, but they all look and feel like quilting cotton once they’ve been washed.
And pink bias tape!And pink pocket lining! I actually didn’t intend to use pink pocket lining, but I had to cut my pocket linings on a single layer because I was squeezing this out of 2 yards, and I accidentally cut them both on the same side. I always do this when I’m cutting on a single layer! Ugh. But I like my pink lining, so it’s all good.
So what am I talking about when I mention liking problematic things? Well, for background, you can read this: How to Like Problematic Things*. After buying my Vlisco fabric, I realized I didn’t really know anything about it. People call it African wax, but in what precise way is it African if it’s made in Holland? So not at all like the good consumer I would like to be, I looked up information about this stuff after purchasing it. I found a couple sites explaining the history of the type of prints Vlisco sells: What is Ankara? and The Origin of Ankara. I learned that these types of prints are the result of the Dutch appropriating Batik fabric-making techniques from Indonesia in order to sell fabric in Indonesia for cheaper than local producers could. Hmm, I don’t like that. Colonizing, mass manufacturing a good made by the people you colonized, then selling it back to them for profit? Not cool, Dutch (but then we all knew the Dutch were no paragons of virtue when it came to colonization, right?). The fabric ended up not being very popular in Indonesia (good for the Indonesians!), but was popular among people in West Africa. Which is why we call these prints African wax prints or Ankara today; they’re just most closely associated with West Africa because that’s where the most people wear them. So the fabric seemed kind of problematic to me because of its history, but I also found this article: The History of Dutch Wax Prints. That author raises concerns about the way these fabrics dominate the textile market in West Africa such that people don’t buy as many locally-produced fabrics because they’re not considered high fashion the way something like Vlisco is. This, to me, seems to be the more pressing concern.
Finally, I also have some concerns about the appropriative aspect of wearing fabrics associated with cultures that are not my own. I’m still working through those concerns. When I went to India years and years ago, I wore saris and salwar kameezes, but I would never do that today. But would I wear something I sewed out of a sari? I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. I’m certainly trying to avoid being appropriative, but intentions don’t really matter in this debate.
Anyway, those are my thoughts, and those are the reasons why I feel some unease about Vlisco. I’ve already bought another piece after my first order, so it’s not like I’m boycotting the stuff. I have no willpower in the face of a gorgeous print, and I’m not always the noble consumer I would hope to be. But I do think it’s worth recognizing the problematic aspects of the things we like.
*That article is talking about liking problematic texts, which is different than liking problematic products. If I buy Scott Pilgrim comics, which is the example from the article, I’m giving money to an individual who has some problematic views. If I buy fabrics, I’m supporting an industry. My “support” is not likely to make or break either the individual or the company, but I like to be intentional about what I give money to. This is less an issue of boycotting for a particular effect and more an issue of avoiding cognitive dissonance.