Once upon a time there was a girl (okay, middle aged woman, but that doesn't sound so great in the story) ... there was a girl-cum-middle-aged-woman whose husband went to India on a short-term mission trip (two trips, actually, and I think this story is about the second trip, but, really, those details are not important to the story). He asked her if she wanted anything and, remembering the beautiful sari that a young, slim and beautiful girl from church had worn, she asked for him to bring her one.

However there was a problem. She had forgotten that she was no longer young or slim (or particularly beautiful) and, as it turned out, the mental image she had of wearing a sari did not fit the reality.

Despite this, her husband brought back two sari: one a beautiful blue silk with gold thread which was incredibly difficult to photograph ...

and another "every-day" sari of a fabric that was probably rayon and inexpensive (especially compared to fabric prices in New Zealand) and which also contained gold thread and was only marginally more photogenic than the silk ...

Each sari was about six metres in length, but not being young or slim (or particularly beautiful) anymore both sari languished at the bottom of the girl-cum-middle-aged-woman's blanket box for over seven years.

Until this past week when the girl-cum-middle-aged-woman decided to try her hand at making something out of the less-expensive fabric (the maybe rayon) despite not being a confident or competent seamstress. After searching the web, she decided on a super-simple design: a sarong-style wrap skirt. This basically entailed cutting the fabric to size and hemming the sides. The long edges on the selvedge had a narrow border print that was too pretty to muck around with so she left these unhemmed. Time will tell if this was a wise decision or not.

Each short end of the fabric had a different design, so essentially the girl-cum-middle-aged-woman ended up with two similar yet different sari and, depending which end overlapped, two different looks from each skirt.

Overall, the girl-cum-middle-aged-woman was happy with her sewing (just not with her photos but hopefully they give some idea) and amazed at how comfy these are to wear. Now if only she had the skills to tackle the blue silk ...

Tips for making a sari-sarong-skirt:

An internet search suggested that a sarong's ideal length is 1.8-2.24m. I made two: one twice my waist measurement plus 10cm/4" and one twice my hip measurement plus 15cm/6". Both work well but I prefer the slightly larger (hip) size. It wraps around fully twice (great if the fabric is on the see-through side which this one is) protecting modesty, and provides more options for tying as a skirt, and isn't so long that it restricts walking.

When sewing rayon (or viscose as I think it is known here - but check that out as I could be wrong) I found best results were obtained when I:
  • Used small thin pins and pinned really well to prevent the fabric from moving;
  • Reduced the stitch length on my machine to 2.0;
  • Adjusted the tension on the sewing machine to 2 (I don't know if this varies from machine to machine);
  • Did a short practice run first on scraps;
  • Handled fabric as little as possible;
  • Turned under a hem and sewed two lines close together; and
  • Used polyester thread (actually, I don't know if this is the right thing or not but I had no puckering or pulling of stitches which is unusual for me).
One other thing I should have done and didn't was to use a new needle (oh, and a sharp rotary cutter which I didn't but, to my relief, I didn't have too many problems - and I even have a new rotary cutter that's been sitting unopened in my drawer for the last year or so).

Now for the terrible photos: