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Wild Card Prize - A very brave effort working with very slippery fabrics
Outline the story …
The inspiration for this outfit comes from the youth fiction novel "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" by Grace Lin, who was herself inspired by classic Chinese fairy tales. At one point in the story, the main character meets a poor boy with a water buffalo, who tells the story of his female friend who visits him once a month on the night of the full moon, on her way to deliver silk thread to her grandfather. It turns out that the young lady is actually a celestial goddess, and that her grandfather is the Old Man of the Moon, who uses the red thread spun by his granddaughter to bind together each pair of people who are destined to meet one another. Lin adapted these characters from the traditional tale of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, in which the weaver and the cowherd are banished to opposite sides of the Heavenly River and may only meet once a year on a bridge formed by magpies. This occurs on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar when the three stars Vega, Altair, and Deneb (representing the weaver, the cowherd, and the birds respectively) are closest together. My outfit was patterned after historical examples of Chinese clothing as well as modern fashion adaptations, and stylistically inspired by Lin's references to the midnight sky and pearl-like moon.
Outline the construction…
Both base garments are constructed from two layers of silk habotai - midnight blue for the main fabric and black as a lining. The skirt is made flat and pleated down to my waist measure plus seven inches of overlap. The photo shows a close up of the skirt closure, which is modelled after those of modern adaptations of similar skirts. The waistband has a slit where it overlaps the other edge of the skirt. The tie from this edge is fed through, allowing both ties to lie evenly along the waistline.
Each half of the blouse pattern (left and right) was drafted flat in one piece from front to back hem, no shoulder seam and no separate sleeve pieces (huzzah!) Additional pieces are joined at the center front seam on both halves to create the overlapping closure. After experimenting on my mock-up, the neckband was cut as a single straight strip of silk, and the curve of the neck hole causes it to stand up straight. It was relieving to discover that this detail would be as simple as the rest of the project! The blouse fastens shut with snaps for an quick and invisible closure.
Every raw edge is finished with the "pencil edge hem" from Marion McNealy's FR article about working with slippery fabrics. My biggest resource for historical information and extant examples from which I developed my patterns was the book "Chinese Clothing: An Illustrated Guide," by Valery M. Garrett.