Lehenga Choli fantasy sewing

I crumbled. I was all psyched up to sew my own wedding lehenga choli (Indian/Asian skirt + cropped top). I even planned in my head how I was going to sew them up:

  • Micheal-Kors-FW2012-ad-1Half-circle lehenga skirt to preserve as large a piece as possible for future refashioning into a Michael Kor style gold lace skirt. Most lehenga seems to be umbrella/panel/gore skirts, but there were some mention of circle skirt variations as well.
  • Skirt hem border built up from skinner trims to help distribute the inevitable easing required to attach straight trims to curved hem. The home-sewn lehenga YouTube videos I saw seem to just pleat in the ease as they sew. If the trim is wide then the difference between top & bottom circumferences needed would be great & the pleating would be more visible. If the trim is narrower, then the difference between top & bottom would be smaller, so it might even be possible to ease the difference rather than pleat it.
  • Sewn on stones/sequins on dupatta shawl made from red silk geogette from the Stash rather than glued on stones. Again, YouTube videos seem to show a lot of gluing. Don’t know if it’s just the DIY crowd who rely on glue or if RTW also rely on glue, but I’d be worried about stones/sequins falling off.
  • Silk shantung or dupioni for skirt lining & as blouse base fabric.
  • Zardozi and stone/sequin embroidery to mimick the original blouse embellishment.

But fabric & trim sourcing tripped me up…because I was too stuck on that one particular design I showed you in the previous post. I found an online shop (Samyakk) that has a very similar design at a reasonable price. They also showed close-up photos of the fabrics & trims they used. I was in love.

I tried Google image search to help me source similar fabric. Google thought the fabric pictures were of dirt! LOL. Anyway, I couldn’t find anything similar online. I’ve even checked Mood and B&J Fabrics. I also took the pictures with me to various London fabric shop areas – Walthamstow, Goldhawk, Wentworth/Bricklane, Green St, even Southall! No one has anything like it. (OK, I didn’t bother with the Berwick Street fancy fabric shops because I knew their prices would be astronomical.) Funny thing is when I asked shop keepers if they have something similar, several said yes then proceeded to show me something that looked nothing like the photos I showed them. I didn’t know whether to be mad or to laugh! Were they simply trying to shift whatever they had in the shop & lying through their teeth? Or did they have a different pair of cultural glasses on & really thought what they showed me is like what I’m looking for?

In any case I’m amazed at how difficult it was to find such simple looking fabrics & trims. So after checking Samyakk’s reputation (looking for any complaints on reviews.co.uk, sitejabber & compalintsboard) & confirming a few details with the shop, I took the plunge. Fingers crossed it’ll turn out well. I feel a bit more reassured by the fact that despite this being an obvious wannabe, the shop showed their version on the website instead of showing you the original then sending you something different. (I do wonder though perhaps in some culture it is common to treat designs as Look Books & get local tailor/seamstress to knock off a copy – sometimes a very different-looking copy!)

lehenga_gold-red_1-2All is not lost in terms of sewing though. I’ve ordered all of my lehenga with unstitched blouses. So I would still have to sew the blouse at least. And I’m still thinking of copying the original Gajiwala Saree blouse design & saving the Samyakk fabric for a more western casual luxe top (if there’s enough fabric). I still need to figure out the details of how to do these embellishment. While it might only be a top that I have to make now, I may still combine some ready-made trims with manual embroidery to save time & preserve my sanity. There are a few good Indian/Asian trim shops in Southall, Walthamstow, and Green St at reasonable prices £1-£4/m. I will need to do more research on Indian embroidery for the bits where ready-made trim just won’t suffice. Here’s a good intro video to Indian/Asian embroidery made by the V&A. Shame I missed their Indian fabrics exhibit

And while it might be overkill to source a big rectangular embroidery frame like in the above video, if I go break one of the dining chairs (!!!) maybe I can make myself one like this…

Maybe with practice I can become as fast as this artisan! 😀


7 comments on “Lehenga Choli fantasy sewing

  1. Allison Churchman says:

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! This fabric looks utterly gorgeous, despite google thinking it looks like soil!! Looking forward to seeing more. Years ago I lived in Ealing and would often go to Southall for the incredible fabrics and trims.

    • piakdy says:

      Thank you Allison! Southall is indeed a treasure trove! Wish it wasn’t all the way out west. I finally visited out recently, but it rained on the day & I didn’t have an umbrella, so couldn’t check out all the shops. Must make another trip soon.

  2. idthoris says:

    Okay, I thought I knew a lot, but this blows my mind as a sewist. I did a very cursory search on lehenga and the unstitched blouses are so damn cool! What an incredible idea! So the skirts can be repleated to match the bride’s waist?
    I am in looooooooove. And thanks. As ever, you are one incredible human.

    • piakdy says:

      I was a bit ignorant of the variety in Indian/Asian wear until I started researching for my wedding outfit. I’m not sure if this 3rd one I ordered is pleated or gored. I’m really hoping that it’s pleated. But it seems like the majority of lehenga skirts are gored.

      I just received the first two I ordered. Both of them are gored. These two came as “partially stitched lehenga”. What it turns out to be is that all but one gore seams are sewn. The total width is wider than I need. I’m assuming I just have to stitch that final gore seam & it can be anywhere. Presumably I can even remove a gore or two if necessary, or alternatively reduce the size of each gore at the waist (probably too much hassle!). I got photos up on Instagram of what the partially stitched fabrics/garments look like on Instagram. I’ll also write up later when I receive the 3rd one I ordered.

      But overall I’d say saree is a great way to deal with differing sizes! All the energy / cost can be spent on beautiful fabric design / embellishment instead of fighting to get a half decent fit! 🙂

  3. sashawerner says:

    Congratulations Pia! I am so curious to see your finished wedding attire!

    • Thank you! Be warned though, sometimes I have zero imagination – sometimes I see what I like in magazine etc & I just want to copy it 100% if I can 🙂

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.