Friday, January 31, 2014

Georgian Roots Inspired Sewing

Update: Project Run and Play Sew Along is one of the most inspiring challenges out there.
The talent and the stories behind each sewn outfit are amazing. 
I couldn't pass up an opportunity to participate this season, even if it was just one week. 

I'm presenting my signature look (last season's signature look), 
which this time is also a very Georgian-inspired outfit. 

I am Georgian

Georgia is a small country on the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
It's history and traditions take start in ancient times.  

When I started to think about my inspirations, I was overwhelmed...
Every region of Georgia is unique with their own traditions, cultural heritage and fashion trends. 

After much deliberation, this is what I came up with - traditional man's coat and a shirt turned into a girl's long sleeveless cardigan and a dress, keeping many recognizable elements, but making them appropriate for a little girl.
Additional accessories include a pettiskirt and a headpiece.

My goal was to sew an outfit:

-  inspired by Georgian traditional outfits
- not a literal interpretation, yet very strongly influenced by traditional outfits
- not a costume, rather a comfortable and playful ensemble for a preschooler
- comprised of pieces she can wear through these cold winter days
- true to my design aesthetics

I'm so happy with what I was able to make in only a very short time. 

The first piece is a long wool sleeveless cardigan inspired by a man's traditional coat 'Chokha'.
I felted an existing wool sweater and designed a long sleeveless cardigan, which closes with a single button in the front.
Neck and front opening are bound with a velvet ribbon so that it acts as an embellishment as well as encloses the raw edges. (Love how this turned out!)

Back features pleated skirt piece for fullness  and hand-embroidered Georgian symbolic crosses on tck.

 The original chokha is still very traditional for men to wear at various occasions including weddings.


And yes, they carry real weapons and bullets, which are necessary attributes of the outfit.)

Traditionally, chokha is not worn by women, but modern designers often use this piece in their women's collections as well as female performers - in their stage costumes. 

For N's Chokha, I knew what I'd replace the bullets with - the peg dolls!
They are N's most favorite part of the outfit. She wouldn't stop playing with "her little friends"!
(I spray painted the dolls in silver, then drew faces with a Sharpy.)

Next comes the dress. 
I used a comfy knit fabric and drafted my own pattern. 

Here I incorporated a dominant design element of some chokha styles as well as traditional women's dresses - sleeves that are open at the front seam and expose the shirt worn inside. 

In my case, I wanted a functional sleeve, so I switched the seam from under-arm (I'm sure there is a more technical term for this seam), to the off-center-front-seam (wow, I'm really bad at this!) and inserted an inverted pleat in a contrasting fabric to simulate that exposed undershirt effect. 

I added another inverted pleat in the front bodice to achieve an effect of button-up shirt and added an invisible zipper in the back. Stand-up collar was another prevalent detail of my inspiration outfits.

Despite the overwhelming number of photos in this post, I don't have too many good shots of the kiddo in her outfit. The weather was soooo freezing, that her poor hands kept making fists and her face expression .... well... not picture perfect.... 

Next piece of her outfit is a tutu. 
N has been asking for a pink tutu and I needed a pettiskirt for some poof in this outfit, 
so here's a lovely tulle skirt. 

Lastly, her head accessory - Papanaki. 
Originally, it's a man's hat.


 However, nowadays it's the women who carry these elaborate hand-embroidered pieces to accessorize their outfits.
I freezer-paper-stenciled N's papanaki and then embroidered around and in-between the stenciled shapes. I added narrow elastic and N has been wearing it ever since!

So, this is it. 
I'm so grateful to the E&E blog for such an amazing series. 
This was an amazing challenge and experience for me.


  1. Beautiful outfit. I love that wool jacket, and I think replacing bullets with peg dolls is a wonderful idea :)

    1. Thank you, Marisa! I love incorporating fun elements into the garments I sew for my daughter; she's still too little to care about what she's wearing, but when she sees those little toys as part of her outfit, she's all giggles! Love when that happens!

  2. This is very beautiful! you interpreted well your traditional costumes into wearable, unique and stylish outfits. Well done!

    1. Thanks, Yeka! N has already worn two of the main pieces from this outfit two days in a raw, so I think the mission 'wearable' was successful. I loved reading about Batick fabric in your post; the dress turned out so special with that amazing print!

  3. Hi Sopo,
    I am in love with your creation! So many beautiful and well thought-out details!!! I can tell that you put a lot of time in creating the design as well as with the construction. Fantastic!!! And thank you so much for sewing along with us!

    A new fan,

    1. I'm so flattered, thank you!! It was definitely fun to follow along all the great stories, inspirations and garments. When I saw your design, I was almost relieved that I wasn't the only one getting inspired by the menswear! I love how effortlessly stylish your look turned out!

  4. Such a beautiful interpretation of your traditional costume, Sopo. Love it! The details are fantastic.

    1. Thanks, Heidi! I'm sooo glad I made it on time, I was cutting it really close!.... And thank's for a very unique challenge, it gave me so much inspiration that I'll probably be incorporating different aspects of Georgian traditional fashion elements in the future garments!

  5. Sopo, Bravo !!!! All the best and wishing you more and more success in your creative work.

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you! Your designs this week were gorgeous; the colors of Aevarie's outfit were so inspiring! My vote went to your signature look, Good Luck!

  7. Very beautiful sewing and your interpretation of the traditional costumes are stunning.

  8. I like the lines of the dress.....from the sweet buttons on the front, to the sleeve detailing. PRECIOUS!

    1. Thanks! I love when something turns out even better than you initially envisioned (like those sleeves!).