Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DIY: Rambo Meets Frida Kahlo Dress

 Hola, cats and kittens! Whatcha see here is one unibrowed lady that has finished her Rambo dress! What in tarnation is a Rambo dress, you ask? (FYI, no one says "tarnation" anymore, you might wanna update your vocab. You sound like Yosemite Sam and not in a good way.) Well, lemme tell ya. It all started a lil while back when SeamstressErin asked me, ME, if I'd like to participate in a sew-a-long. 

Ya'll. In case you didn't know this, sew-a-longs are for people who can actually sew. But I digress.
 According to Erin, she'd managed to get her kitten mittens on all of the turbans worn in the movie Rambo III. You can see 'em on the dudes below. Look, turban-ie!
 Her idea? To send a buncha bloggers a turban and see just what they would stitch up. It's been super fun (and totes intimidating!) to see what those sewers created. I've added a linky-loo to each at the bottom of this post so you can see for yo'self.
 When my turban arrived in the mail, it was magical. KIDS, this turban has been in the presence of Sylvester Stallone. He probably, like, looked at it! He mighta even, I dunno, stood near the dude wearing it. In fact, I'm willing to say he was all, "Man, that is a super sweet turban. The best outta all of them. Can I just, you know, wipe my brow on it?" 

AH! My turban has sweet Stallone sweat all over it! That would explain the smell. Actually, it smelled like camels when I ironed it. Which could only mean one thing: When Stallone sweats, he sweats camels, ya'll. Like a boss.
Now, as some of ya'll know, I love to create clothing inspired by either works of art or the artist themselves (check out my Campbell's Soup Can Dress, The Great Wave Frock, my light up Starry Night Dress,  The Scream Dress, a Jackson Pollock-y Number and my tribute to the surrealist Rene Magritte). So when I started thinking of ideas for this dress, I happened to be working on that stenciled and embroidered piece below. It totally reminded me of the artist Frida Kahlo (who has been in my mind a lot thanks to Natalie Friedl!). When I happened to lay the embroidery on top of the turban I was all "EUREKA! I love them together!" and my Rambo meets Frida Kahlo dress was born (still workin' name: Fr-rambo Frock? Frida Kahlo-ambo? It's a work in progress). 

By the way, don't you love how it looks like Frida is givin' ole Sly the side-eye. She's all, "Ummm-hmmm. I bet he sweats camels."
Oh, Frida, you so crazy.


Since this turban was based on Rambo the third, I decided to use three patterns. Actually, that's a lie. I decided to use three patterns because I'm an idiot. But I really liked the bodice of Simplicity 0320, the midriff of Simplicity 8087 and the flounce -n- skirt of Butterick 5880. Now, some of you know how deep my hatred of Butterick runs. Deep. It was about this time last summer that we battled it out during the making of this dress. Once again, like last time, I relied heavily on my pretend BFF Professor Pincushion. For any of you sewers out there that don't have a clue (like myself), this lady's youtube tutorials are a sewing-lifesaver. 
Putting this number together was not without it's share of seam ripping and swearing. Can you really do one without the other? First of all, getting that bodice and midriff of two different patterns to play nice wasn't easy. And, let's chat about the elephant in the room, shall we? The stripes on the flounce. ARGH! They no matchy! Some of the stripes lined up but others didn't. That's because they were on opposite ends of the scarf and apparently weren't woven exactly the same. So the flounce has a few flubs. Whatcha gonna do.


 A lil side and back view. For the back midriff band, I used some minty green cotton that was just a touch lighter than the embroidered piece on the front. One of the reasons I always return to that vintage Simplicity pattern is I love that stinkin' band. Not only is it flattering (says me) but it also allows me to play with more fabric patterns an color. 
Outfit details: Well, you know I made the dress...I also created those floral hair clips for the occasion by hot gluing some fake flowers to some hair clips; hand painted necklace: DIY here; bangles: gifts/thrifted; wedge sandals with fabric design: DIY here

Now, let us talk about the wonderment that is the Frida Kahlo, shall we? I've always admired Frida's surrealist artwork for it's honesty. This woman's life was a tough one and each one of her paintings exposes so much raw anguish that it's impossible not to feel her pain. Do ya'll know her story? It goes like this: When Frida was 6 years old, she had polio so her right leg was shorter than the other. For ease of walking, she would wear several pairs of socks at at time. As a child, in order to hid this, she took to wearing long skirts.
 When she was 18, she was riding a bus that was in an accident. One of the metal handrails went completely through her body, leaving her nearly dead. She had over 22 surgeries due to this accident. In the end, those surgeries resulted in the amputation of her leg. For the rest of her life, she wore a series of plaster and leather corsets to help her sustain her body. It was during that first bedridden year after the accident, that Frida took to painting (sometimes on those plaster corsets) and an artist was born. 
 "I am not sick. I am broken.

But I am happy as long as I can paint."

I've always loved Frida's sense of style. But it turns out that there was much more to her look that I ever imagined. You see, in the 1930s- 40s, fashion in Mexico was very European. However, there was a national pride movement that both Frida and her super famous hubs Diego Rivera were apart of. To showcase that pride, Frida started to dress in a style called Tehuana after it's place of origin. In this culture, a women's ensemble had three key parts: a headdress (Frida adopted the flowers), a short square and ornately designed blouse (this easily hid Frida's corset), piles of jewelry and a long flowing skirt (which also hid her prosthetic leg). Her signature look, which hid her imperfections, remains stylish today.


 Oh! I forgot to point out, I used some of my scraps to make a Rambo-esque floral headband. 
 And there you have it! A dress that was once a sweaty turban now lives a new life as a Frida Kahlo-inspired frock!
 A very special thank you to Erin for inviting me to participate in this Rambo Sew-a-long! I had so much fun and was truly challenged by the task (but really, when am I NOT sewing-challenged). Now, follow these links to check out more Turban-tasticness!
















12 comments:

  1. I never knew about her until I moved to Texas! Do you have the book, Frida, by J. Winters? Love to read it to my students. Viva Frida!

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    1. I've not read that book...but after finding out the story behind her fashion, I'm very curious! Thanks for the book suggestion :)

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  2. Anonymous6/26/2014

    This is just wonderful! I am impressed with your sewing, but more impressed with your comitment to leaving a lasting impression on your students. (Assuming you wear this to school) In years to come your students will not think, "oh Frida...? that name sounds familiar." Instead they will say "Frida! Yes her! The amazing Mexican artist. The iconic woman!"

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    1. Thanks for your sweet words! Yes, I'll wear this to school (although not those shoes, my feet would have a fit!). The kids love it when teachers go the extra mile, it shows 'em you care and I love that. Now, let's just hope they don't get anything on it when I wear it ;)

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  3. AHH this is amazing! You are the hero of this challenge, I think!

    I am really confused about that Simplicity 0320 pattern, by the way. I have the same pattern - but it's number 1803! What is going on here!

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    1. Ha! Thanks!

      Okay, I'm really confused too! I've been following the OAL on your blog and I was all, "hey! that's bodice from 0320!" Simplicity be cannibalizing off their own patterns -- weird! LOVING the OAL, btw! So helpful!!

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  4. Anonymous6/27/2014

    What an amazing imagination you have - I'd have never looked at a (lets face it) fairly drab stripey piece of turban fabric and thought "Frida Kahlo", but it works. You are a genius. I'm curious, where will you wear this?

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    1. Well, I'll definitely be wearing it to school in full Frida form. My students will love it (once the get past the eyebrows!). I did wear it out to run errands (sans Frida flowers and unibrow) and it was nice to be complimented on it. Thank you for calling me a genius. I'm totally telling my husband something thinks so!

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  5. blogger ate my previous comment. apparently it was not expressive enough.

    I LOVE YOU.

    there, blogger.

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    1. Well, you are my SEWING ROCKSTAR so coming from you, 'tis awesome. Like, seriously, thank you! You just made my day :)

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  6. Gwahahahahagrgrrl-flrp... I was speechless for a moment and made these strange noises because I love this so much. Remember the phrase "Don't have a cow"? Rather than birthing a bovine I feel like I could have a camel. Wonderful post!

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  7. Anonymous7/04/2014

    Oh. Wow. This is just amazing!!! :D :)

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)