In an attempt to do as many Central Asia-related activities (and buy as many Central Asia-related things) as I possibly can before I move to Belgium, I went a bit crazy collecting different fabrics with the intention of getting some sweet threads made.
Why? Mostly just because it seems like a ridiculous luxury to get clothes made, but compared to the US, it’s incredibly cheap to buy fabric and pay for a tailor, or even a high-end designer, to turn it into a beautiful dress here in Bishkek.
So I went a bit crazy. It all started when one friend brought back meters and meters of gorgeous cotton/silk-blend Tajik fabric from Khujand for another friend. Envy set in, and when she went to Tashkent, I insisted she bring back lots of beautiful silk ikat fabric for me. Yes, I may have gone overboard, but it’s just so pretty and vibrant.
Then, I went with some friends to Madina, a fabric bazaar in Bishkek. Three years I’ve been living here, and I never realized this place existed. The first time I went a few months ago, I went with a friend who was getting bedsheets and duvet covers made. You buy some fabric and take it to seamstresses at the same bazaar who sew them into sheets.
Here’s where I let my Idiot Foreigner flag fly, but I had no idea this was possible. In the US, if I wanted to buy a nice set of solid-colored sheets, I’d go to Target. End of story. When Farrell and I first moved here, we searched high and low for blankets and sheets that weren’t neon colors, polyester blends, and covered in obnoxious floral patterns and Engrish phrases. We ended up paying way more than we should have for a white comforter and sky blue sheets from a Turkish store. All along, we could have paid a fraction of that to pick out one of any number of neutral, cotton fabrics and have somebody spend 20 minutes turning them into sheets.
And they don’t just do sheets, the tailors there make clothes as well. With this in mind, I continued my fabric-buying spree. My only goal for that trip was to get some of what I affectionately call, “Babushka Paisley”. It’s essentially the brightly colored, busy paisley or floral patterns that I frequently see older women wearing as scarves. It’s one part stodgy, one part chic, and hopefully it will make a fun dress. Plus, it was only 70 som per meter.
Then, we kept seeing these fabrics with Mexican/Peruvian-style colors and patterns. I thought they’d make great blankets. Each one cost 480 som, plus 45 som each to get the edges hemmed. Boom, $10 blankets.
I probably would have stopped there if I hadn’t seen this. Look closely. What is that, hiding amongst the pastel florals? Pandas! I couldn’t resist. This is going to be a sundress.
I have about a month now to attempt to transform all of these into something wearable, because I guarantee that they will otherwise just remain folded up, hidden on a high shelf (away from Mamajan’s fur). As inspired as I now am to become an expert fashion designer and dressmaker, I just know that between moving to a new continent, settling into a new routine, and raising the little man, it won’t happen.
Hopefully I will have something beautiful to show off on the blog soon!
Babushka paisley))) I have a similar babushka print dress. I can only wear it while in America, though. Here, it’s cool, but in Russia everyone makes fun of me for being an old lady. Clearly they don’t appreciate fashion-forward granny style.
Love all the prints! That’s amazing that tailors do all that so cheaply.
I would love to see what your babushka-print dress looks like. I’m still brainstorming dress shapes that might work well with the paisley print and would love to see a good example of old lady chic 😉
Wonderful. I’m extremely jealous. I haven’t been able to find cool fabrics in Bogotá, but I know the leather district like the back of my hand.
I wish Bishkek had a leather district, I have some ideas floating around my mind to make something with leather accents. I guess I’ll just have to come to Bogota and you can show me where all the best stuff is!
Wow!! This is so cool! I’ll be in Bishkek starting next January—little tidbits like this make me sooo excited! Thanks for sharing 😀
Cool that you’re moving here! I’m glad these posts are making you excited 🙂
Oh I’m so jealous! I never got around to buying any fabric in Uzbekistan last year. Can’t wait to see your creations with it.
And your Belgium plans are so exciting! Imagine you’re both more than ready for a little more ‘normality’ in your day to day life 🙂
I’m currently living in Bishkek and would love to be able to get some clothes made! Are you able to give me the details of the tailor you used?
Sorry for the late reply Frances! I went to Elvira, and she’s actually on Facebook now with all of her contact info https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elvira-by-Elvira-Sultangazieva/206597459501298?fref=ts best of luck!
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