Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Feature: Machli wala(fresh fish salesman)

Asalamu alaikum,

Every couple of days the Machli wala comes down our street. I have only recently had the chance to try the fish as Tariq usually buys it from the market rather than the machli wala.

He comes by bicycle, and has two baskets that hang from the handle bars. Sometimes he brings fish and sometimes jinga(prawns). The other day my father in law felt like fish, so he stopped the wala, and bought two or three kilos of fresh fish.

The machli wala and my father in law haggled for a bit over the price per kg. When they reached an agreement, the fish were put in a hanging scale and weighed, then he pulled out a butcher's block and his knife, and sat down right there in the street to clean the fish. It took him about five minutes to scale, clean, and chop the fish up in pieces.

It was an interesting experience, I don't have many opportunities to see fresh fish get from whole to plate like that. It was tasty fish(still have no idea what kind of fish though), but it had lots of thin little bones.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Feature: Random lists are random

 Asalamu alaikum,

Ways I know it is summer in Karachi-

  1. My bedroom goes from comfortably cool to oven hot in the space of two days.
  2. Load shedding increases and the timing becomes erratic.
  3. I remember that it is indeed possible to sweat while taking a shower.
  4. I have lost all energy to do anything in the afternoons more strenuous than sit on a charpie with a glass of rooh afza and a good book.
  5. I go to turn on the AC and find that sparrows are nesting in it.
  6. It is no longer possible to sit on the roof from 11am to 3pm without risking sunstroke.
Cricket list-
  1. I can tell if Pakistan scores a four or six, because the entire street will either cheer or there will be a round of gunfire.
  2. Main roads in our section of town get closed down because a restaurant set up a projection TV for customers to watch the game, in the middle of the street.(totally not kidding, this happens).
  3. My husband will turn into a zombie, and suddenly remember he is mad for cricket, just before the game starts, but at all other times shows little to no interest.
  4. I know Pakistan wins because of the gunfire that goes on and on and on.
Things I have tried since moving here that I never thought I would eat-
  1. Tongue/Siri(goat head)- it is actually rather tasty.
  2. Paya(cow or goat feet) curry- I used to only eat the soup, but now very much enjoy the bones/meat also.
  3. Watermelon rind in a curry- never would have thought of this, but it is just like tinda/loki(apple and bottle gourds).
  4. Spicy/savory fruit salad- it would never have occurred to me, but black pepper can be very tasty in fruit salad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Simple Trousers with elastic waist part 2

Asalamu Alaikum,

Here is the second part of the tutorial for simple trousers.Part one can be found here.

Step 1-Making sure your elastic is not twisted, over lap the ends slightly and sew 2-3 lines up and down to secure it.

Step 2-Place the overlapped part of the elastic on the front crotch seam,one and a half inches down from the top edge. Pin in place.

Step 3-Line up the remaining marks, the half mark on the elastic at the back crotch seam and the one and three quarter marks at the halfway point of each leg. Pin each mark.

 Step 4-Fold the top edge down to cover the elastic, and fold the remaining half inch of cloth under the elastic so that it is totally encased. At each of the four pins, take the pin out and carefully fold the casing under, then re-pin.

Step 5-Starting at the center front seam, put your machine needle down into the cloth through the elastic at the very edge of the fold, and put down the presser foot.

Step 6- Grasp the next pin/mark(you may want to add extra pins at the half way points between the four main pins, it may make this part easier for you), and stretch the elastic out until the main fabric is not bunched up anymore.

Step 7-Sew a line of stitches along the edge of the fold, making sure you are sewing through the elastic as well. When you get to the next pin, make sure your needle is down, grasp the next pin and stretch the fabric. Continue sewing in the same way from pin to pin, until you get back to your starting point.

Step 8- After completing the first line of stitches, sew another line(in the same way as the first line, start at the first mark grasp the next, stretch and sew) half an inch further up towards the top of the trousers, and another line at the very top along the edge(total three lines of sewing).

Step 9-Turn you trousers inside out, at the bottom of each foot opening, measure out from the fold your desired width(I prefer wider legs, 10 inches from the fold, total circumference 20 inches), and mark.

Step 10-At the crotch seam, measure up half an inch and mark.

Step 11-Mark a line from each foot opening up to the mark at the crotch seam. Starting at one opening, sew up to the crotch, and down the other side. You may wish to sew back along the same line for added strength.
Your trousers are finished, turn right side out and press.

Monday, March 19, 2012

SimpleTrousers with elastic waist -part 1

Asalamu Alaikum,

Trousers with long kameez seem to be still in fashion right now(though this tutorial has been in my drafts folder for months!)

Step 1-
Fold the cloth in half lengthwise, then width-wise, and arrange it so that the selvedges are towards you and the cut side of the fabric is to your left hand side.

Step 2- On the fold side measure from the cut side towards the fold side(on your right), your desired length(from your waist to just below you ankle) plus 4 inches. Do the same on the selvedge side, and then mark from the selvedge to the fold side.

Step 3-Cut off the excess fabric.
Step 4-On the cut side(to your left, where the waist will be), measure from the fold out 1/4 of your desired waist measurement plus 1 inch seam measurement(find your widest part, like the hips, measure around and add at least 6 inches for ease). So for example, if the hip measurement is 34, plus 6 inches ease, and 1 inch seam, then the measurement from the fold side will be 11 inches.
Step 5-From the mark measure down 15 inches and draw a line. This is average, you may have to make it a bit longer. Measure the crotch seam on a pair of pants that already fit to see if this is a good measurement for you. Remember that these are made to be very loose, so don't use a pair of very tight fitting pants for you measurements.

Step 6-Perpendicular to the line, measure out from the fold side 17 inches. This is also average, you can measure the widest point of a leg of your pants to check if this is the right measurement for you.

Step 7-Make a curved line from the horizontal line to the vertical line. The left hand side should be straight, and the curve start at about the half-way point, and finish at the 17 inch mark that you made on the vertical line.

Step 8-On the bottom where the cuff will be measure out from the fold 10 inches and mark. If you like a wider trouser leg, add a couple inches, and if you like a tighter leg subtract a couple inches.

Step 9-Draw a line from the corner of the crotch seam to the bottom of the leg.

Step 10- Cut all excess fabric. Now you have your two leg pieces.
Step11-On the bottom of each leg, fold the cloth over towards the wrong side half an inch, pressing to keep it neat and straight.
Step 12-Fold the cloth over again towards the wrong side 1 inch to form the cuff, again pressing, and sew on the edge of the fold.
Step 13-Place both the leg pieces wrong sides facing,and one inch away from the edge, sew along the crotch seams(left and right side) from top to the end of the curve.
Step14-Take a piece of elastic that is smaller than your waist, but when stretched is still comfortable, not to lose or tight. Put a mark at the one quarter, half and three quarter points.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Feature-Sewing, sewing, sewing!

Asalamu alaikum,

I got to take some pictures of the new suit I was talking about last week, so here they are along with a couple other projects that I just finished.

The kameez, the blue is not exactly right in the picture, and you can kind of see the all over floral print.

Here is the bottom of the shalwar, with lace and rhinestones. The same lace is on the sleeves and the hem of the shirt.

In a flurry of sewing activity, I finished up five little projects in two days! So we have some pics.

First up is a little tank top and capri set for my almost five year old niece. It is cotton with machine embroidered flowers and sequins.
A little sleeveless dress, with gathers under the bust, and frill at the bottom.
A kameez, also cotton with embroidery/sequins, golden buttons and ribbon button loops.
Another kameez, also cotton, and I crocheted a picot type border around the neck,with button loops of simple chains, and around the sleeve cuffs.

The last project was a simple nighty, but I didn't get any pics of that. I love the fabric though, red with black floral print, and kind of shiny/silky.

As I was saying last week, sometimes I make a whole bunch of projects at once. It can border on obsessive, I will get an idea and have the irresistible urge to start right away. Often I can't think of anything except the idea, and it will bug me and bother me until I start, and continue to bother me until it is done. Occasionally the urge to start and finish some idea I can visualize is so strong that I will have to stay up late in the night to finish. I try to sleep and all I can think of is the project. Alhamdulilah that doesn't happen all the time(I already don't get enough sleep!), so I am not too upset when it does.

I love the feeling of finishing what has been gnawing on my brain. It is like a huge weight off, like the clothes for my niece. I had this cloth sitting around in the stash for the longest time, bugging me, calling out to me to make it into something and clean up the sewing room(our second floor kitchen is not used as one but serves very nicely as a sewing room!). I finally stood there and cut those four projects and sewed them all in the space of two days. At the end I was so happy, and my physical feeling was lighter too. Not only did I make something from stash, but I know my niece will go nuts when we give it to her. She loves when we(I or one of my other sisters in law) sews her something, and goes crazy with the kisses and thank you's.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Covered by Choice post

Asalamu Alaikum,

Hey all, I got my first post up over on the Covered by Choice blog, if you want to check it out-

Hijab Haiku

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Feature-Why the new suit?

Asalamu alaikum,

Most of my sewing is random. I just feel inspired to sew something, sometimes with a plan for the finished garment, (sometimes not) and I just sew. I don't have any sort of schedule for it. Sometimes I finish a whole bunch of projects at once, other times I can go weeks without a single stitch.

A lot of my different hobbies are like that(I think it might be ADD, common in my immediate family). I get an urge to start something, and must start RIGHT NOW. Very often getting bored with it rather quickly and starting something new, while the first thing lies around half finished.

The only time I always sew a new suit is when Tariq is in the UAE on business. He goes at least once every six months(to make sure his visa doesn't expire) and sometimes more often if he is needed for something at the family business.

I don't start until he leaves, and try to finish up in two to three days, as we never know exactly how long his business will take. Sometimes the suit is very simple cotton, sometimes fancier fabrics and matching lace/ribbon. If a Friday comes while he is away I might wear the new suit for an hour or so(around the time of the zuhr prayer, while the Jumah khutbah is going on). If there is no Friday then I wear it only just before he arrives, so that it is still nice and unwrinkled when he gets here.

I do this every time he goes, whether we are getting along or having a bit of a fight. Tariq is currently in the UAE, and has been gone about a week. My suit is already finished, and hanging up waiting.

I went a bit fancy this time. I was inspired by a ready made shalwar(pants) that one of my sisters in law had bought. It was white, with a white lace trim at the ankles and white rhinestones sewn at intervals along the lace. I had a blue and white floral print fabric, just enough for a shirt, and I bought a piece of white fabric for the shalwar, along with white lace trim and light blue rhinestones. I sewed all the rhinestones along the lace, then finished up the shalwar with lace at the ankles, and lace along the hem of the shirt and the sleeves. I made a mandarin collar, which was pretty difficult to get right(I need a bit more practice before that gets on the tutorial list!). I sewed that thing and took it out at least four times and it is still a bit wonky! I plan on just wearing a plain white duppatta, and then getting a new one dyed to match when I can get to the market, I did save some lace for that too.

I started this tradition completely by accident, the first time he went for business during our second stay here in late 2009. It has kept up because he notices and compliments every suit I make while he is gone. It is nice that he notices, and makes me very happy. I wonder what will happen when we get back to the US, as he will probably not be traveling as often.

InshAllah, I might try to get some pics up when I wear the suit.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Feature:Rishta Wale Visits!

Asalamu alaikum,

Rishta wale(matchmakers) are one of the main ways that people find a spouse in our family and extended family/friends. I found it very strange, the whole process, but I didn't grow up with it. Now it's just something I have gotten used to.

Risha wale are sometimes just women that have lots of friends, they know people. Within their circle of friends they introduce the families of potential brides/grooms to each other and then just see what happens. Other matchmakers are those who do it professionally, they have offices and charge fees(big fees!).

The professional matchmakers usually require a photo, and you have to fill out a profile, that they match to the potential spouses. After the paperwork, they either accompany one family to visit the other(boy's family usually goes to the girl's house first), or they give the contact numbers to the families and let them contact each other.

This is the part that I am most uncomfortable with. The visits. For me they are doubly awkward, as I do not speak well enough to hold up a conversation very long. Every one in our house runs around pressing clothes, making sure the nice sitting room is cleaned up, and getting some sort of refreshments ready. Usually for the first visit we just serve chai or juice(depending on the season). For second visits there is usually snacks as well- samosey, biscuits, chips, etc.

After the family arrives with the matchmaker, introductions are made, snacks served, then the serious part starts. It is like an interrogation. The potential groom's name, age, education, job status, salary, whether they own or rent a house, how many brothers and sisters, how many of them are married, caste, and a million other questions are put to the potential groom's family. Once all the information is exchanged, then the poor girl is called in. She sits, quietly, while the family stares at her. Checking her height, weight, face. It is generally a visual evaluation, maybe they might ask how old she is, and what education she has completed, but it is not as in depth as the boy's grilling session.

After the visit, each family gives it a couple days, thinks about every thing and then calls the matchmaker to give their answer. It is a stressful process from what I can see, but it seems to work in most cases. The families jointly decide whether someone is acceptable, which is important when many still live in joined families and the new spouse would have to be able to get along with every one.