African / Dutch Wax Fabric Exhibit

Just popping in to give a plug for a wonderful textile exhibit I saw last week on African Wax Prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art  with Carolyn, Andrea and Claudine.

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Philly is an easy two-hour drive from Baltimore and has one of the few remaining costume collections on the east coast. While no Met / Brooklyn Museum of Art collection, it was a phenomenal exhibition and worth a visit.

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The Vlisco: Fashion on a Global Stage exhibit is part of their season long Creative Africa focus.

Smartly curated, the Vlisco exhibit shows clothing made up in the wax prints. But, also highlights the history and meaning of various prints along the walls. In addition, they give a history of the company, how the wax trade worked and how the fabrics are made.

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Briefly, the fabrics we know today as ‘wax prints’ were originally made in Holland for the Indonesian market. The Indonesian batik process was labor intensive. So, the Dutch tried to speed up the process with mechanics.

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While the Indonesians rejected the prints, the global slave/commodities trade  brought it to the African continent and they fell for the bright and bold colors.

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I, as a confirmed magpie, will wear ALL the wax prints. Years ago I went to Ghana and must have brought home 60 – 100 yards of wax prints. I didn’t buy any fabric when I went to Bali. Turns out I was totally underwhelmed by Indonesian batiks. But, I highly recommend a textile tour if you do go to Bali. It’s worth it to see the process.

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Yet, when I look at Dutch wax prints, it’s easy to see the roots of the Indonesian batik process.

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You know, I generally don’t like saying ‘African’ because Africa is a continent made up of 54 different countries. I imagine it’s correct to say Dutch Wax Prints as the most famous line is Vlisco and they are made in the Netherlands. But, there are companies in Africa who also make prints like GTP.  I try to say Ankara which is how a lot of the West Africans I know refer to it and it shows up on Instagram.

Let’s close with some of my favorites:

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Shirtdress. This is going to happen this year. I promise.

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Cape Dress. It’s so gorgeous I weep.

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I just want to wear it and dramatically walk out of a room.

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Overall, a totally satisfying exhibit.


More photos from the exhibit with a few from my textile tour in Bali.

Some further reading if you’re interested:

Africa’s Fabric is Dutch, the New York Times

When West Africans Dress, the Fabric is the Message , The New York Times


Finally, I’m slowly working on altering some of my mom’s clothes for my wardrobe. This dress was made for my mom by my Aunt Judy when she visited Ghana.


I’d like to thank the Ghanian women who made my mom’s two piece dress for their 4 inch seam allowances. I was able to let the top out and wear it to the exhibition. I’m about six sizes larger than my mom.

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The bust is woefully unflattering (smooshes me into a pear vs an hourglass). But, it was my mom’s so I kind of don’t care🙂 You can read more about the dress here from when I first altered it to fit her.

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All The Things!

You guys. I am having, like the BEST summer ever. No, seriously. I’ve just been floating from happiness the last few days. Here’s what’s going on:

Designer Veronik Avery  was road tripping to TNNA in DC last week. Through quick Instagram begging I asked if she could stop in Baltimore on her way down and we met for crabs. Veronik is like the *realest*.  She knows what she’s talking about when it comes to knitting and sewing and design. I just want to sit in her halo and get all the knowledge I can.

Then, she asked if I’d like to come by TNNA Trade Show (The National NeedleArts Association) on Sunday and of course I said YES! TNNA was a new-to-me organization. It’s for the trade only. Vendors show their new lines for knitting, crochet and needlepoint. So, like two of the three things I’m currently obsessed with.

Went to TNNA w. @veronik_avery and managed to buy nothing. And, it was really really hard 😇 #tnnashow #tnna

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos on the floor so not many pictures from there.  Talk about a great guide though! Veronik was like a walking Rolodex and yarn encyclopedia and HI-larius. It was AWESOME.  I did find a crapload of stuff I want to try:

  1. This Sights and Scenes of London needlepoint canvas from Kirk and Bradley. Yes, I’m still working on my first needlepoint. One year in. Another two to go.
  2. This crab / maryland pillow to needlepoint
  3. These Country Bird inspired yarns from WYS
  4. This Caramel blanket cardigan (I saw it knit up vs just admiring on Ravelry)

Thank you Veronik (link to her IG) for introducing me to a whole new world and letting me crash your party!

Monday I took the bus to New York to do two things I’ve been DYING to do.

First, meet Jasika Nicole from and hang out with she and Marcy of Oonaballona fame. You’ll see I also made the right decision to keep my hair pinned back as it  CANNOT COMPETE in volume.

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I’ve never laughed so hard and had such intense yet lighthearted conversations in my life. I’d been looking forward to this for a whole month and it was EVERYTHING I WANTED IT TO BE.

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Second, I saw Manus x Machina at the Met.  If you can go, run. Don’t walk.

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Last year I skipped China Throught the Looking Glass because I wasn’t interested in Asian inspired design. But, the Costume Institute is more thoughtful than my literal interpretation.  Originally, I thought Manus x Machina would be like tech clothes or something. But, it wasn’t. Because, the curators are smarter than me.  Lesson learned: Don’t Skip the Exhibit.

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The show looks at different methods of creating garments using machine vs man and it’s stunning. Think lace work, pleating, manipulation and construction of haute couture. I want to take a twin size cot to the Met and sleep there so I can wake up every day to the incredible talents of designers.

And, I found the star fabric I needed to sew my Wonder Woman inspired swimsuit. Yeah. That’s right. Wonder. Woman.

So, a really really incredibly fun few days with friends.

I  also managed to finish knitting a summer sweater drafted in Garment Designer and overall I’m happy with it. I have a lot of mistakes and my seaming isn’t great. But, I KNIT something for ME.  I also only have cell phone snaps. And, I don’t know when I’ll get to do a proper photo shoot. Maybe when I sew the coordinating skirt?

Despite looking like an actual orange, happy with my first me-made sweater! 😁🍊

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

It’s totally a ’round’ look on me. But,  I’m happy with it! I wish it had a little less ease and slightly shorter. But, I’m still learning my style with knitting and using the software. Ravelry notes here.


Oh, and after two years I changed my Instagram and Twitter to misscelisepants instead of fussbudgit.  I think I had Twitter before I had a blog so I picked an old nickname. Then when I had IG I thought it wouldn’t last (HA!) and just used the same twitter name to be consistent. It seems like Instagram is sticking despite my initial predictions. So, now I have the same name on my  blog, twitter and IG. Real big and exciting news, huh?

A Little On Garment Designer

I mentioned a few posts back that I’d purchased a design program called Garment Designer by Cochinelle. My main motivation to get this was for machine knitting projects. But, it also does draft for sewing patterns.


My friend Liz came over and we spent a couple of hours getting my measurements, plugging them into Garment Designer and spitting out a pattern. The patterns can be printed on any size paper from taped to plotter size.  I essentially used the options for the most fitted knit I could sew — allowing me to check out the overall fit of my sloper.

Covered my Celine @dritz_sewing dressform with my sloper muslin 😍

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

I have to say I’m pretty happy! No darts were harmed in the making of this sloper.  I think I could use a bit more room in the bust, but not enough for me to care or (IMHO) for it to matter when it comes to knitwear for myself.

Once you have your design, you can then punch in your gauge and the program spits out basic directions for your increases and decreases (along with the row count, needle position and estimates of yarn needed). If you’d like, they also give shaping instructions for making your bands too. Or, if you’re hand knitting, it will tell you how many inches along you should be and the number of live stitches.

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I don’t know how much I’ll use it for sewing as I have plenty of patterns to make. But, never say never!


Hopefully Rose Trellis Shawl for a knit a long on Ravelry

So, that’s an overview of the program. Hopefully next time, I’ll tell you if it actually works!




Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

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One of the Six Barns At MDSW

For years I’d heard from knitters all over the world about Maryland Sheep and Wool (MDSW). But, as a sewist had minimal interest. I’m not much into livestock and I wasn’t a knitter. Yet, once the machine knitting bug hit, I was chomping at the bit to get there. I was feeling nervous about going as I still don’t know that much about yarn properties itself. But, my co-city dwelling friend Jeanne offered to take me.

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Jeanne is my Spirt Guide

MDSW (for me) would be totally overwhelming as a new knitter. Having someone who knows the lay of the land and can help you pick out the right yarns is a lifesaver! Plus, Jeanne and I both machine knit and genuinely had a great time together.

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First of all, what is MDSW? Well, it’s a gathering of all things lamb and fiber related. There are vendors, livestock, and food.

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There’s fleece and roving for spinners and weavers.

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He wasn’t trying to leave anything behind

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There are buttons, pins, shampoos and rinses for knitters. And, there is yarn. Holy hell there is a lot of yarn.

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I showed minimal restraint overall and brought home enough yarn to keep me busy all year and then some. When I walked into the main convention hall, I just stopped and tried to figure out how in the world I was going to pick out items I wanted.

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Luckily, I came with a list and ideas about colors. That helped immensely.

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I also had two great encounters! I met Dana (all the way to the right) from Yards of Happiness. You might remember her from her old blog The Art of the Accessory. I’ve been following her knitting for years and it was a real pleasure to meet her in real life. She’s coming up to Baltimore soon and I’m going to show her my machines!

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She also hipped me to Miss Bab’s yarn. Which, I think, was the busiest booth at the convention. The stall was so full of people, it’s possible she was giving away crack with each purchase. I picked up several beautiful seven-skein sets to start my Christmas/ Hanukkah gift scarf knitting early.  Let’s just say I’ve paid for someone’s college textbooks with the damage I did at Miss Babs.

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Not Claire. Just the first person I saw working spinning wheel. If that’s what it’s even called.

I also got to meet the lovely Claire  who blogs about her sewing and knitting at Hoopes Park Studios who was helping a friend staff the Verdant Gryphon booth. Of course, I have no photo of us because I was on hour six at the Festival when she spotted me roaming aimlessly in a goat-fueled daze.

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I was trying to find a purple yarn to knit Liz a cowl. I kept texting her photos before we settled on one.

MDSW is terrific and I hope to go back year after year. And, um, I hope to knit everything I brought home before I go back.

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Yarn for three sweaters, five scarves and one hat

I’m on my way! Well. Sort of. I at did start to cake my yarns using my awesome new swift (also purchased at MDSW).

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Miss Babs’ Good Little Witch in a worsted super wash Merino

I might need a time out.

Simplicity 8013: Uncle

I’ve been lying to you. Turns out: I can’t sew. This weekend is Maryland Sheep and Wool. I think I’ll just buy some yarn, make a bed of wool and cry myself to sleep at night.

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I’m all done with this one.  The fabric, pattern and muslins are all in the trash bin.  I can say the tips for the bias stretch really worked! But, the dress is not working for me. I’m not getting the coverage I need. And, I’ve lost interest in figuring it out.

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On to the next project.


Simplicity 8013: Bodice Muslin #586

I got a lot of terrific advice after posting the disaster that was Simplicity 8013. For this version, I’ve made a few changes. Below is still muslin fabric. But, I used something with more slip to work out my changes.

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    1. Several of you suggested my FBA was too large. Take pleasure in knowing you were right! Originally, I sewed a 12 with a 2.5 inch FBA. I went back to the drawing board and selected the 16 based on on my upper chest measurement (39 inches) and made a 1 inch FBA. This gave me a much smaller and more manageable side dart.
    2. Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics referred me to an old Threads article  (starts on page 70) that talked about bias necklines. I used some of the directions from this piece. Primarily, I gave the neckline a 1 inch seam allowance, used rayon tape along the seam and eased the fabric to stabilize the neckline.

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I based the length of the tape on the pattern piece. Then, eased it to the fabric.

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I probably eased almost an inch extra to the rayon tape. That bias grew just by looking at it.

A GREAT reference for fitting a wraps dresses is Beth of Sunny Gal Studio‘s post on Craftsy. I raised the neckline 3/4 inch because I could still see the top of my bra in the muslin and this looks pretty low cut in the line drawing.

Finally, I pinched out 1/2 inch from the length of the neckline as it was still not snugging up.

I’m thinking about omitting the bodice lining. It’s a different pattern piece for the bodice lining and I’m pretty happy with the way to top fits now. And, my fabric is polyester and is going to be hot as all get out as is.

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Hopefully next time you see me, it will be with a completed dress!

Also, I lost my entire Sunday to Beyonce’s Lemonade. Seriously. Freedom is hands down my song this year.

Feeling Myself: Leopard Print Wrap Dress

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When I found this leopard print poly knit on a shopping trip with friends in August 2015, I knew it HAD to become a DVF style wrap dress using my previously made Burdastyle from October 2011.

That time we bought all the fabric #latergram @rollingincloth @cubanitacose @karen.heenan

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

It’s funny I was drawn to this, because I tend to avoid animal prints (I read a study in college about how black models were more likely to be photographed in animal prints and said ‘F that noise’). That said, I also LOVE this leopard print dress I made in 2012.

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Give me *all* the 70s


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I had this Burdastyle pattern cut out by the end of September 2015. But, life happens, I became obsessed with machine knitting and I lost my sewing mojo when a very expensive fabric order from Mood was stolen off my front porch (Yeah. Seriously.) We’ve had a string of package thefts and this one made off with $200 in dove gray wool coating from Mood. And, I’m sure he just threw it away.

Video Evidence:

Luckily, because it was purchased on my Visa, they sent me a check for the fabric (which I didn’t bother replacing). And, now everything gets delivered to my office:-/

After some time, I finally picked this dress back up to get it off my sewing table in March. And, I love it. I feel like a total fox.

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You can tell I am just FEELING myself.

Rather than sew facings this time (which I despised) I used a narrow knit binding treatment. The binding is cut 1 inch wide on the bias. It is then sewn on doubled, along the 1/4 inch seam allowance, and folded again creating a strong binding that is the width of the seam allowance.   **technique well explained and photographed in Singer’s ‘Sewing Activewear’.

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The fabric was a little thin so I underlined throughout (except for the sleeves) with black tricot. I underlined rather than lined as I wanted it to be treated as one piece. And, it was a terrible, terrible mistake. I tried to hem the dress. But, the underlining and fashion fabric hung differently making it a lumpy saggy mess. So, I had to hack off several inches, trim the bottom evenly and go with no hem. Overall it’s shorter than I would like, but again: FEEL. ING. MY. SELF.

After my last project’s failure, I ended up wearing this out for my birthday dinner in Santa Fe with Jordan. Rawwrr.