Impromptu: Portuguese Traditional Dress

IMG_5354DD3 mentioned last week that today was to be Spirit Day at school, and the required dress was her national heritage costume. She reminded me Tuesday evening, and again yesterday morning.

Profound moment of intense silence.  DD3 waits and looks expectantly at the resident miracle-worker a.k.a. MOMMY.  That would be me, still silent while frantically thinking at the speed of light.  “National heritage costume”, I say.  Oh, boy.  Oh boy, ohboy.

That’s a problem.  Which heritage shall we dress DD3 in for Heritage Clothing Day?  I am 5th generation Canadian, and my DH insists that he is Canadian first, regardless of his heritage.  Needless to say, we have a large pool of choices from which to pull the costume:  DH’s family immigrated from Portugal in the early 1960’s; my maternal grandmother’s family is Swiss German (immigrated late 19th century); and maternal grandfather’s family hails from England, with an honorary Scottish tartan apparently bestowed whilst helping some clan or other win their respective war.  On the paternal side:  Scottish, arrived this side of the Atlantic in 1895, to be precise.  I don’t have a kilt.  I don’t have typically Swiss clothing lying around, and nothing traditionally “English” with said family tartan and crest attached anywhere.  Therefore the only possibility is perhaps to make up something on one day’s notice for DD’s special day, since, of course, I didn’t do any thinking, planning or sewing for this most special of required dress!

Heck, why not?  I need yet another break distraction from the SWAP program, and costumes – like ball skirts – are just so much darn fun!  I love sewing completely unnecessary articles of clothing!  Seriously.  I’m not being facetious or sarcastic.  My yearly Christmas ball skirt is what keeps me going.  >_<

First thought – go with Burda’s traditional costumes, since it’s pretty close to the Swiss German thing going on.  But guess what?  The very particular issue of Burda (September 2011) that is chalk full of traditional dress in all sizes, is not anywhere that I can find in the sewing mess.  Botheration.  I refuse to pay to download – do I really want to tape all those damn pieces of paper together and have to pay for something I know is in this house somewhere?

B 9-2011

Second thought – Google Portuguese national dress and see what we can come up with.  Quite a lot, apparently.  Some very expensive on Etsy.  I want this, BTW.  It would be perfect for the family Christmas Eve!  fancy portuguese dress

Some quite simple to pull together from random articles of clothing in various daughters’ closets.  Simply because it’s black and white, and surely we can find gold jewellery in the dress up box.

gold portuguese clothingBut nothing will do for mommy, of course, who, after doing a couple hours’ research realizes that Portuguese traditional dress is very particular to regions.  Hmmm….. DH’s family is from the Azores, so northern Portugal is out.  Minho region is out.  Lisbon area is out.  Let’s Google Azorean traditional dress.azorean black capes

Voila!  I even found Christmas ornaments with traditional Portuguese dress.  Who knew?  Etsy is completely amazing!  And this particular little Christmas ornament was so darned cute, I actually ordered one. portuguese ornamentBut never mind that.  Back to the costume.   I need a black cape, which, apparently was typical of Azorean dress.  I randomly wonder if my MIL knows this.  DH says DD3 will look like the grim reaper in her black cape when I show him my inspiration photo (see Christmas ornament above).  He’s incorrigible sometimes, so I give him a look that Medusa would be proud of and go on my merry costuming way.

v 7110

I have Vogue 7110 in my stash, albeit in XL (for a very tall King David royal robe several years ago), but I can grade it down to, say… oh, I don’t know… a child’s size 134?  Sure! That’s what rulers and pens are for, right?  RIGHT!  Oh, and I need 4 m of black something.  But I don’t want to use any black something from my stash because I want the cape to be wearable in Canadian winter weather.  Actually, the truth is I just don’t want to use any of my lovely stretch black stash wool for a costume.  So off I drive like a crazy woman to the store and discover a wool/poly blend whose price has been slashed to affordability.  Perfect!  I can even wash it, thanks to the polyester, which I do as soon as I get home.

The cape goes together quickly.  It calls for velvet or lightweight wools.  Well, my wool is melton-weight and warm, but I decided to do the double hood anyways.  I trimmed the seam allowance from the self-lining and attach grosgrain ribbon in place of the supposed-to-be-turned-under seam allowance, which will cut down on the bulk.  And obviously save my machine, fingers and sanity.

hood lining

It’s very full.  My eldest “has plans” for it, she said as she tried it on.  Well, it’s warm enough to wear instead of a coat, that’s for sure.

IMG_5350

I used grosgrain for the single loop button closure.

cape front

And just for the fun of it (please excuse the mess – it’s garbage day today!) this is a shot of DD3 waiting for the bus with her backpack on underneath the cape.  It was my morning laugh.  Still chuckling as I look at this silly photo!

IMG_5356

Referring to the ornament (my inspiration), I see that 2 scarves are required.  I know there’s at least half a dozen scarves in the dress-up box that can be used for the shawl and the headscarf.

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I just need a dress.  Should I raid the Liberty stash?  For a costume…… uhhh…. NO.  (See how selfish I am with my precious stash fabrics? It’s shameful, really, especially when there is a lot more Liberty to be had for the paying out there in the big wide fabric world.) Although I do have some French cotton twill that wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  I could use that.  Or some gifted sari fabric, which would work quite well.  But no, of course I find other treasures in the right pennies range while shopping for the black required something, and come home with enough to make a very full skirt and a peasant top (Burda 05-2011-136).

IMG_5363

Perfect, but boring.  So into the Liberty stash we dive after all, because I know there’s fat quarters of some blue stuff in there somewhere (purchased to accompany said French cotton twill for a me-made version of a Robert Graham style shirt for DH’s birthday….. three years ago… and never made up for a variety of reasons, mostly, though, because the French cotton twill was so ridiculous).  And, of course, there’s the perfect little ditsy flowers of a print to make the stripes look just right.

shirt trimmings

And for the fun of it, I added little triangles to the hem side vents.  Well, actually, if Claudine hadn’t talked about hers here and here, I would honestly have never though to add this little detail.  But I liked hers, so I thought I’d try it on this.  And of course, did mine backwards!

shirt hem

For the skirt I cut two lengths of a wider striped fabric, pleated the front into a flat waistband that has raw-edged applique in the same Liberty print, and pleated the back into an elasticized waistband for easy dressing and possibly future wearing by other sized people.

pt waistband

DD3 has a petticoat, which I suggested wearing underneath for the additional fullness it would provide and the warmth of the top.  You can see more pictures of the petticoat here.

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And off to school she goes for the day!  That was a fun diversion, and now, back to serious sewing. *wink*

pt cape

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13 thoughts on “Impromptu: Portuguese Traditional Dress

    1. It’s funny… I am suddenly getting emails with comments on every post. This permitted me to discover this great older post. Wonderful detail and photos and I certainly understand the national dress confusion!

      1. I sometimes get emails about comments on posts, too, and realize it’s because I didn’t uncheck or accidentally checked the little box on some blogs requesting notifications of comments. I must say, it was fun re-reading this post!

    2. Thanks, Jay! I’d forgotten about this project, and your comment brought it all back. We still have the entire ensemble, although DD3 has outgrown it by a mile. It was fun to sew, that’s for sure.

  1. Its not suppose to be black, its supposed to be blue. You only thought it was black because you researched black and white photos.

    1. We live in an area with a high immigrant population, so the class was very colourful with saris, etc., but DD3 reported that one boy wore a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey jersey! There’s a nod to this city’s culture for you! LOL

  2. Awesome job mom! She looks great! I bet some of these pieces can be reused and rearranged for other costumes in the future as well. The etsy dress was gorgeous. I bet you could easily make one. Schools often just don’t give enough lead time!

  3. Fantastic story tellling Tia Dia! I was with you through all the process and you had me in stitches too! I mean I totally understand the not finding what you need (the drindls), the ordering wha t you don´t because it´s too darn cute (the ornament) And the upside-down vent triangles? Priceless!
    All in all you did a great work there, (Love the cape) and I´m sure your DD appreciates all the effort. YOU are a GREAT MUM!
    Lastly the photo of her wearing the backpack under the cape…LOL!

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