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Flower Hmong Blouse Decoration Close Up

I think all of us sewing bloggers can agree that we’re voyeurs at heart, that pretty pictures of finished garments are great, but what we really want to see is the insides so we can mentally sew the garment for ourselves. Right? I know that’s not just me because after I posted about Flower Hmong Fashion, I got questions about how the decoration on the blouses is constructed. So, for my fellow voyeurs, I’ve got a close-up look at 3 different Flower Hmong pieces to share. First is the yoke cut off of a worn blouse. This is the oldest and most handmade piece I have. You can see on the inside how much stitching goes into this decoration! Also notice a few different fabrics that have bits and pieces remaining – as I mentioned before, the blouses are often put together with several different fabrics in what we might …

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Current Flower Hmong Fashion in North Vietnam

The Flower Hmong are one of the most colorfully dressed ethnic minorities in Vietnam, making me ever so infatuated with their sartorial sensibilities. The Hmong are one of 54 ethnic minorities in Vietnam, making up 1% of the population, and further subdivide themselves into groups whose names often describe the traditional clothing of the group – such as Black Hmong, Blue Hmong, and Flower Hmong. One of the interesting and universal things about fashion is that it is alive and dynamic. Many Flower Hmong women continue to wear their traditional clothing, but the dynamic nature of fashion is clearly visible at the Bắc Hà weekly market in North Vietnam. Many Flower Hmong women carry embroidered purses. While embroidery is an important form of textile ornamentation for the Hmong, these purses break from tradition in that they are machine made in China. As tourism becomes a more important industry in formerly rural areas …

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Vietnamese Dress

Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups and a correspondingly rich assortment of traditional dress. I wanted to share a small selection of different traditional women’s dress from across Vietnam for I have found the amazing assortment of color, shape, and construction to be a true inspiration. I hope you find them inspiring as well! Cotton is historically the most popular fabric with silk being used on applique and for festive costumes although synthetic fibers and chemical dyes are becoming prevalent, even in traditional dress. There are a wide variety of techniques used across the ethnic groups that include embroidery, appliqué, batik, ikat, and woven patterns. The Yao (also known as Dao or Zao or Mien) are originally from southern and southwestern China. This Yao Do outfit is from Cao Bang and made in 1957. It’s hand-woven cotton dyed with indigo and decorated with embroidery and appliqué. It includes two turbans, a …

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Hmong Hemp and Indigo Textile Art

The Hmong are an ethnic group from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. Before our travels to SE Asia, the Hmong were one of the few SE Asian ethnic groups with which I was already familiar as there are many Hmong refugees in the United States (and other western countries like France and Germany). The Hmong were recruited by the American government to fight during the Vietnam War and have faced much persecution in several SE Asian countries since. (You may have heard of the Hmong from a 1998 book called The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down which recounted the story of a young Hmong girl with epilepsy in California and the cultural gap between her family and her doctors, both of whom were doing their best to help the girl, often to counter purposes.) Traditionally, every Hmong household would produce its own textiles with girls learning to embroider, appliqué, indigo dye, and batik …

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The Turban in Western Fashion

If you ask a generic American “Who wears turbans?” you are most likely to get a response that describes someone unlike the respondee. Maybe the respondee would include a person like herself on the list, but only if she had cancer or faced hair loss. In fact, turbans are currently worn all over the world by people of many different religions. Moreover, turbans have also been a staple garment throughout the history of western fashion, even up to very recent history. A turban is a length of fabric, twisted around the head. Different fabrics, colors, and styles of wrapping are associated with different cultures, communities, eras, and classes. But at its core, the simplicity of the turban helps to explain why it is so readily found all around the world all through history. Some of the early examples of turbans being present in western fashion are those worn during the …

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1920’s Bow Neck Blouses

I’m kicking off this November month of the Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong with a selection of drawings of fashions from the 1920’s that have bows at their neck. All of the images are from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as pictured in Sears Catalogs. I tend to think of 20’s fashion as being to obviously historical for me to be interested in incorporating them into my wardrobe, but as I looked for these pictures I had more and more thoughts about replicating some for myself! These first blouses were from an advertisement for Smocks and Middies, although I don’t know what the difference between a smock and a middie is. Anyone know? These percale and gingham house dresses have small bows tied in contrasting ribbon below large collars. Doesn’t the simple bow nicely set off the doubled lace collar on the dress on the left? I’m actually pretty enamored with …

Independence Day Fashion (1776 that is!)

I hope everyone is having a delightful Fourth of July! I’m so excited to get a day off to work on projects. In honor of the holiday, I thought I would give a glimpse of what people were wearing around the time of the original Independence Day, July 4th, 1776. These sketches are all of European fashions because, at the time that America declared its independence, it didn’t really have its own fashions. The fashionable men and women were imitating the Europeans. (Some fashion historians argue that it wasn’t until after WWI that Americans stopped slavishly imitating European fashion!). From What People Wore by Douglas Gorsline: French Men from 1775. You’ll notice that their hair isn’t elaborate and obviously wigs. It was around this time that it became fashionable for men to wear their own hair tied at the nape of their neck and powdered as if it was a …