Bharatanatyam is a traditional Indian dance most practiced in the southern states, although popular throughout the length and breadth of the country, and beyond. It requires years of study that starts very early in one’s life and extend through teenage and beyond.
I took up the challenge of making a Bharatanatyam dress for two of my friends. The result is in front of your eyes. Although the dresses came out beautifully, I am not hesitant to confess that it was one of the toughest set of dresses I have made thus far.
When my friend Neenu entrusted his 5K rupees beautiful black and orange south-Indian silk Saree to me to turn it into a traditional dance dress I was quick to take up the challenge. I had underestimated the time and effort it would take me to finish it. It took me about three weeks to finish the black and orange one you see on the photos above and below. Having mastered the art, making the black and pink one my friend Manjari is wearing was much easier, and took much less time.
The dress consists of five parts – the blouse, pants with buttons, large fan, back piece, and the drape over bosom – all cut and stitched out of the same silk Saree. The large fan attaches with the pants on both sides and beautifully fans out. The pant was the most intricate of all the pieces, required ironing and sewing over and over again. The back piece with a small fan attaches with at the waist. The drape covers the bosom and goes over the shoulder.
My only regret is that I couldn’t go see them perform wearing the dresses I made.
Let me share with you a necklace and earring set I made a few days ago. I stumbled upon this Nepalese silver pendant while casually walking around in Chinatown in San Francisco. Loved it. Bought it in a flash. It has been lying around for a while, and finally, I got around to using it. The pendant is so lovely and gorgeous that the rest of the necklace had to stand up to it. I think it looks pretty good, don’t you?
Let me share with you a necklace I made for my friend, Titir. She bought this pendant from online, wanted me to place it in a necklace. Designing the necklace was like, easy peasy. The colors in the pendant in a way destined the colors of my beads, and made my job easier, although, it was more time consuming to find the brown beads. Altogether, I have used five types of beads in a symmetric pattern. Fifteen strands in two bunches, on each sides. I am quite satisfied with all these joyful colors. Titir liked it. I hope you do as well. Also, please see some of my earlier jewelries – http://wp.me/p2MuPK-18.
Today I will share with you for the first time on this blog – a handbag. I did this warli figure painted bag for my friend recently. I have seen the wall hanging warli art paintings many a times. I felt that these simple, yet expressive, stick figures are really not utilized enough, and thought of using the warli figures on wearable items. You can see one of my earlier post in which I have used the warli figures on a casual top: http://wp.me/p2MuPK-1i
After a joyful Friday evening of pondering over various designs and colors we settled on the Warli art theme. Excited, I went on a mission to the Mountain View JoAnn store on the weekend, and gathered the fabric and the fabric color. Cutting and sewing was fairly simple. The brown fabric color went pretty well on the thick coarse kind of cotton. On one side I painted the Warli figures. Some are playing a musical instrument, some are doing household chores and others are just making merry. I hoped to capture a festive mood. I inserted a layer of padding on the inside walls and a hard surface on the bottom to keep the bag firm. Finally, I finished the bag with a satin fabric on the inside surface. I hope you will like it.
This casual half sleeve shirt is made from ‘Sanskrit Sloka‘ printed cotton fabric. I envisioned a men’s short kurta when I bought the fabric. But then thought that a kurta would be too obvious thing with this fabric, and decided to make a casual half shirt instead.
I measured and cut the fabric first as you will see in the following picture. Started stitching from the shoulder and collar. Made sure that the shirt fitted nicely on the shoulder, and then I went on to stitching the rest – the half-sleeves, body, needlework and finally the buttons. This is a cotton half-shirt meant for casual wearing. I gave it a relaxed feel with an open wide neckline, no chest pockets, and large designer wooden buttons. The pointy yet shortish collars give the shirt a semi-formal sort of look. I needed to make it fit nicely and feel relaxed, but also had to leave enough room for the shirt to shrink after the first wash as cotton always does. Men’s shirts could be tricky to say the least. The shirt turned out quite well when I think.
Gurjari print anarkali and raw silk green churidar
‘Anarkali‘ suit gets its name from its shape. ‘Anar‘ means pomegranate in Persian, and ‘kali‘, means flower. Upper portion of this top is tight fitting until the bust from where frills start to form, and fully blossom at the bottom much like a pomegranate flower. I have drawn inspiration from traditional Anarkali suit, and slightly modified the design, but kept majority of the features intact. ‘Churidar‘, the pant, is close fitting and sits in the ankle with ‘churi‘ or bangle shapes. Traditional Anarkali Churidar is often worn by north Indian classical dancers. The frills fully open into nice circular pattern when the dancers turn rapidly.
This Anarkali Churidar is a blend of a number of different types of fabrics, colors, and styles. When I started thinking about making an Anarkali for myself many ideas and colors clouded my mind. I could not have put all those ideas in one Anarkali, because that would have looked like a rainbow instead. I had to choose colors that would suit with each other well. I decided to design the top with a combination of two types of fabrics from my collection. In the body of the Anarkali I have used ‘Gurjari‘ print cream colored fabric. I love Gurjari prints, especially on cotton fabric. Gurjari is a type of Indian art due to Gurjars, who lived in parts of western India not too long ago. This part of the piece took significant amount of time as I had to create the creases in a way that it fits nicely at the top and the frills open fully at the bottom. Along with the cream-colored cotton fabric I used a contrasting solid maroon raw silk in the bust, shoulders, and arms. I very much like the texture of the maroon raw silk and its color matched with the color of the Gurjari design.
I decorated the arms with flowers using golden yellow fabric paint. After that it was time to do the needlework on the arms around the hand-painted flowers with green and navy blue threads.
Gurjari print body and raw silk arms
It is very important for Anarkali suits to form nice and round frills. Doing this sometimes require putting strong borders that can hold the frills. In this case the ‘Kalka Parh’ naturally did just that. KalkaParh in the border added a new dimension to the Anarkali suit. Kalka Parh is most commonly seen in sarees from Bengal, such as ‘Tant’ and ‘Tangail’ sarees. Finally, I highlighted the Kalka Parh with green and blue raw silk borders. I completed the piece with a Churidar made of green raw silk.
My friend much liked a beaded necklace I made some time ago – so I decided that I’d make one for her. Although that other one had lots of colors, we wanted to make this one little less self-proclaiming. That in mind I used a combination of five uniquely shaped and colored beads. I made the lower body of the necklace with primarily black and some white beads. I put some brown ridged large beads in the middle together with shiny golden tablet beads. The off-white cork beads blend in nicely with an offbeat but subdued hue. White and black beads helped maintain the balance and symmetry, and the small and large sized beads helped create contrast. This necklace and earring set looks traditional yet stylish.
I wanted to make a nice colorful sleeve for my new Google Nexus 7. I had made one before – I will share with y’all someday. It looked very smart, but it did not have a pocket. I wanted a sleeve that looks very nice and also have a pocket, where I can keep my phone and a pen etc. I chose a crimson red stripped off-white fabric for the body – top front and backside – and a floral fabric on lower front. I placed the backside stripes from top to bottom and the front side stripes from side to side. Inside is padded and covered with silky fabric to protect the screen. The pocket is deep enough for a pen. Finally, I finished it with a floral ribbon loop and a brown button.