Vintage Style Swim Costume

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: In my earlier post I mentioned two things that helped make a difference in my sewing – having the right amount of patience and the space to sew in. It also helps to do a bit of study and have some level of awareness in how clothes are constructed and the order they are put together in, as well as looking at the fine details in garments put together by others. How did was that facing stitched on with the zip, what sort of hem did they use, how did they finish the seams – I desperately want to use Hong Kong seams on my next project – how was that petticoat attached, how did they do that welt pocket? And the list can go on and on, often dependent on you skill level, interest and particular level of curiosity.

The project I just finished was a 1960s swim costume, a two-piece. It was fairly easy considering I have never made a swim costume before. I did not use a stretch fabric, but instead went with the last of a nice vintage-esque fabric I bought here in Budapest at a store named Special Tex, which in and of itself is a store to post about one day. It is a digital printed fabric and a bit of a cotton sateen I believe. I lined the top and bottoms with a white fabric that will provide a bit of shape, but not stick to the body if wet necessarily, allowing air to get in. It is a white synthetic of sorts and I have used it as interlining on a couple of other projects.

Needless to say, when it came time to put the shorts together the zipper was the part that took a bit of a redo. I noticed as I was basting the zipper in that the tops did not match up perfectly. The top right side was appearing about a quarter of an inch shorter than the top left side of the shorts. Break out the seam ripper and unpick part of the facing to bring that down a bit and even it up. I think that was a bit of an amateur mistake. I should have noticed that prior. That corrected I put in the zipper.

Swin Costume under construction
Top under construction

The top was not so much a challenge, but again, it did help to have some awareness of the order to apply things like the halter straps to the top when stitching in the lining, completing the band around the lower bust line, etc. And, while the buttonholes in the back made me a bit nervous when it came time to put needle to fabric (I did about four or five tests prior on scrap fabric the same as the swim costume) I crossed my fingers I hadn’t just ruined the project. It’s not perfect, but they did come out nicely. I later went over them again as a precaution using a sturdier thread and it made a big difference.

New skill obtained on this project was using my Singer to sew on buttons. I hadn’t tried this before as I don’t actually have button holder. However, I put on the darning plate, lined up the button and needed and used the hand wheel to give it a go. It worked! I love hand stitching buttons on but if a machine can do it why not?!

So voila! The project is complete and waiting for the thermal baths here in Budapest to open so I can wear it.

Vintage Vogue V9255

Hungarian Revolution of 1956

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: Every so often you come across a few sobering reminders of the the past atrocities here in Budapest. The holes you see in the memorial are actual bullet holes from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The other photos are from a similar memorial across the street also marking bullet holes. Meanwhile, the Americans and Brits were in the Middle East either stirring the pot or trying to put a lid on it between Israel and Egypt – depends on who you follow. 

Wikipedia says “over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees… Many were arrested. Eventually, 26,000 were sentenced and imprisoned, 13,000 interned, and 229 executed.”

The latest book I read, Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, by Michael Korda is worth picking up to get a recollection from someone who was on the ground to experience the revolution.

IN MEMORIAM 1956 October 25th

IN MEMORIAM 1956 October 25th

The City of Shiva, or Holiest of the Seven Sacred Cities

VARANASI, INDIA: The airport is a ways out, took about an hour for us to get near to Varanasi, partly due to the traffic. I was surprised by how far out it is. The car drove to northern edge of Varanasi where I was taken on a boat docked on the Ganges. Greeted by a sweet young woman who offered me a cold towel for my face and hands, placed a strand of Shiva beads around my neck, offered me cold water and a sweet yellow drink to refresh myself as we traveled down the the river. As we drifted past the various Ghats she told me what each one was.

VARANASI, INDIA: I still feel that India does not have much to offer beyond the religious and five star services one comes across in their travels. To walk around the cities you find the desperately poor, repeated over and over again, the squalor and begging, the hustling for money is so prevalent. You try to see the culture and the arts, none of that seems to exist now but everyone wants to capitalise on it, something seems missing. Where is it? There may be more to what meets the eye but if you are not a local it is difficult to see. Being hounded every minute you walk outside to purchase unwanted trinkets and faded postcards from every man, woman and child on the street is the memory you are left with.

Sleeping monkey man
Sleeping monkey man

I feel a captive of the hotel – although it is a beautiful one. The little monkey man outside the window looking in from his naps with understanding eyes. You want to pet them but you know they can be vicious. No need to tempt them. It could be very different if I were a man, or traveling with a man I expect. I would not get as much harassment. This was once a king’s palace, the place where I am staying, on the Ganges, my exotic prison from the heat, the begging and the poverty.

Continue reading “The City of Shiva, or Holiest of the Seven Sacred Cities”

First Impressions

GURGAON, INDIA: The pollution is no joke. Haze, dust from endless construction, smoke from crop burning, coal fire power plants, gas generators, cars… all combined with a thick humidity.

GURGAON, INDIA: The pollution is no joke. Haze, dust from endless construction, smoke from crop burning, coal fire power plants, gas generators, cars… all combined with a thick humidity. This mixture of smog permeates the sinuses leaving one with a constant dry, chalky taste in their mouth.

I arrived with no problem. My driver was prompt, helping me with my nine suitcases. He was chatting away the entire drive over about his service and experience (he used to work at the US Embassy). His name is Arun Kumar. I have to try very hard to remember people’s names as it does not come natural to me. Continue reading “First Impressions”