Beauty, Beholders and the Beheld

I am always tickled when I hear quips along the lines of “Oh! women make so much effort to attract men, ‘work-of-art’ make-up on their faces, super sleek weaves, fingernails long enough to pin Jesus to the cross all over again.  Ah! if only they knew, that we men don’t even notice. We can’t tell the difference between yaki or brazilian weave. Red lipstick looks like a frightful bloody gash on their lips. And, how oh how! do they type or get anything else done with those talons?”

Ah! If only you knew, that half the time, other women are our intended audience. The thing is, only a woman would appreciate the tangle-free ease of quality hair weaves. Or how red lipstick sometimes adds swag to one’s stride and brightens one’s face regardless of their mood. Or how the clickity-clickity-clickity-click sound of long nails striking a keyboard is rather delightful to our own ears, it adds an unexplainable thrill to our “computer-computer” jobs. 😉

kiss

Like the lady who politely stopped me the other day and asked “Ruby Woo, right?”  When I replied  in the affirmative, she grinned and said “I knew it!”  Well, she was my intended audience.  She appreciated the lipstick’s quality and recognized the distinctive shade.

I suppose it’s the same with precise attention to detail in tailoring.  With regards to a dressmaker’s intended audience, the truth is that only another dressmaker would appreciate the effort and dedication put into exquisite finishing.  Most of the time, a paying customer of either an RTW (ready to wear) or a custom-made garment might not notice the extra love.

She’d definitely appreciate how nicely the garment fits her and accentuates curves, or how pretty she looks wearing it. She’d sometimes notice how neat the sewing is, in terms of the straightness of the stitches.

Most importantly, in the case of custom-made aso-ebi garments, she’d really be thankful to God and all the singing angels in heaven that the dressmaker did not disappoint and delivered on time the exact style that she requested for.

I sincerely believe that the finishing of a garment should be both careful and aesthetically pleasing.  I saw a piece of advice in one of my sewing books “Always aim to make the inside of the garment look even better than the outside”.

Here are my favourite finishings, these go beyond simply using a serger or overlocker to seal the seam edges, they really boost the look of the finished garment:

Garment Finishes

1.Lace hem tape: I like to use this when I’m hand sewing a deep hem, the scallops are so pretty.

2.Hong Kong seam This gives a professional look, the edges are sealed by sewing bias tape around them. Bias tape can be store bought or cut from the same fabric being sewn, if it’s not too bulky. Simply cut diagonal strips.

3.French seam This is a great way of sealing the edges of delicate, drapy and likely to fray fabrics, it literally makes the edges disappear within the seams. The wrong sides should be first placed together and sewn using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Then, the right sides are placed together and sewn, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, such that the new seam  “swallows” the previously sewn seam.

4. Zig-Zag edge: I like to use this when sewing medium to weighty fabrics that will not fray post-washing.  The jagged shape is achieved by cutting with Pinking shears (zig-zag scissors).

5. Satin ribbon:  I like to use this when machine sewing deep hems, as it gives a sleek look.

Personally, I believe that the finer details is what sets tailors apart.

Now that I think of it, I suppose Finishing Schools are called that for a reason.  People can easily see our outer packaging, but when they get up close and turn us inside out, they’ll see either frayed, tatty edges, or tidily finished seams.  Quite remarkably, sometimes, one’s inside could radiate so brightly that it even overshadows the outside.  That to me is unquestionable Poise.

I wonder; does beauty lie in the eyes of the beholder or the beheld? I find that people’s various expressed perceptions of the same thing is almost like a game of Chinese Whispers. 😀

Sign

 

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48 comments

  1. I can never go wrong with my Ruby Woo same way you are always on point with your words and sewing
    I really do want to learn how to sew with a machine. I can pretty do well with needle and thread. I don’t think i want to go commercial with it, just basic for household and personal needs. What do you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nkem,

      I like to think that Ruby Woo is a woman’s best friend 🙂 . Thank you so much!

      I am so glad to hear that, sewing is a lovely skill. You are very creative, so this should be easy for you. I own both an electric and a manual sewing machine, but the truth is that I use the manual one more because of erratic power supply. There is no difference between the stitches from both machines.

      If you want to understand the nitty-gritty of the sewing process, I’d recommend this book- ‘Dress Pattern Designing; The Basic Principles of Cut and Fit’ – Natalie Bray.

      I am compiling a list of helpful tutorials in the “How to sew” page.

      Let me know if there’s anything else that you’d like to know.

      Like

    1. “sewinese” cracked me up. 😀

      These are the books that I own, all with very helpful content.

      1) ‘Dress Pattern Designing; The Basic Principles of Cut and Fit’ – Natalie Bray (Highly recommended for a beginner).

      2) ‘Pattern making for fashion design’- Helen Joseph- Armstrong ( For an intermediate level sewer).

      3) ‘Couture Sewing Techniques’ – Claire B. Shaeffer ( A real gem, this book always makes me smile, it is excellent for understanding the fine art of sewing and the principles of couture).

      Like

  2. The witty anecdote again! Such seamless writing.

    I’d like to refute the claim that men don’t notice the weaves, talons and puckered, bright red lips. That’s one man’s opinion. That’s not the vibe I got when I was in Nigeria. I had to constantly battle the urge to give in to the Brazilian hair, skin “toning,” never-leave-the-house-without-makeup, dressed-to-kill trend.

    They claim they don’t notice these trimmings but then they turn around and ask why you don’t wear Brazilian hair and why you’d opt for the “untidy” natural look.

    You’re right Nedoux. We dress for other women. But we also package ourselves for the men too. The eyes eat first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey SEG,

      Thank you so much for reading! I sincerely appreciate the depth of your comment.

      “Puckered red lips” 😄

      I totally agree with you, I call it the “from-the-corner-of-my-eye” syndrome a.k.a acting like I don’t notice you even when I’ve slyly assessed you from head-to-toe from the side of my eyes.

      Perhaps, it’s in the Macho Handbook? To act indifferent to the packaging, but secretly appreciate the whole effect. Lol

      “Trimmings” is so apt, I love how you’ve used the word. Oh! we certainly do too. Indeed, the eyes “eat” first. 🙂

      Like

  3. “Or how the clickity-clickity-clickity-click sound of long nails striking a keyboard is rather delightful to our own ears, it adds an unexplainable thrill to our “computer-computer” jobs. 😉 ”

    Hahahahaha. Those good old days of my fake fingernails tapping away at the keyboard made me feel very powerful! Strange isn’t it? But I did feel powerful and I LOVED it.

    Thanks for such a beautiful and joyful writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, I remember the days of my fake french tipped fingernails, I would wave my hands over-expressively just to show them off. I felt so grown-up and chic. 😄

      Thank you for reading!

      Like

  4. Honestly you’re right with that. The finishing matters a lot. I remember when I inscribe on any crochet item,it looks beautiful outward but inward I really don’t just don’t think it’s neat enough even though people say it’s okay. Thank God I now have another means of inscribing that looks in neater just like machine inscription. But wait o,you’re really excellent in your sewing. When are we going to meet biko,I adore you I tell you. And oh! I love your hair.

    Like

    1. Hello Modupe,

      I agree with you, I love how you strive to improve the look of your crochet work. You are very creative.

      Lol, thank you my dear, I sincerely appreciate your kind words 😀

      Like

  5. Hi-5 on that sewing allusion! I fell in love with my current tailor, not because of her pricing or because I like her face or location. It was simply because of her finishing! She had to adjust a dress she made about 2 years ago, and you would never have been able to tell that it was made that long ago. She is so painstaking with her work.
    That said, beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. Na you sabi the beauty you see and that, is highly subjective.
    Even as the tailor, you are the beholder.
    Even when you are looking within yourself (per inner beauty), you are still the beholder. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking out time to read this, all of your lovely comments made me very happy. 😀

      I understand your love for your tailor, indeed, people appreciate it when one makes that extra effort to produce quality work.

      I really loved reading your fresh perspective and I absolutely agree with you, truly, na only you sabi the beauty you see with your own eyes. Lol

      This made me smile- “Even when you are looking within yourself (per inner beauty), you are still the beholder” Spot on!!!

      Like

  6. Beautiful article…so well written! Nne, you have a way with words. My…oh…my! 🙂

    Hong Kong finishing…where did that come from?? *Googling*

    You are so right about the “inner packaging” of an outfit. That’s the best compliment I cherish from my customers.

    Have a blessed week ahead, Nedoux. :*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello dear,

      Thank you for always reading 🙂

      Lol, I have a PhD in Searcheology from the ‘University of Google’. I am grateful for the sewing resources that are available on the internet.

      I totally agree with you, it’s always nice when others recognise the effort that one has made.

      Have a beautiful week!

      Like

  7. What a delightful article Nedu, you write beautifully!

    Spot on about it all too. I love the analogy you used as well. Attention to detail is everything indeed. You make me want to go out and sign up for a sewing class or something! It would be a dream come true to make my own and my family’s garments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Lady Cara,

      I am glad you came by, thank you so much for reading. 🙂

      I’ll admit that I was pleased when I noticed in your blog, that you are keen on learning about sewing.

      I did a short course in dressmaking and pattern drafting, but to be honest, it is the ‘University of Google’ that has really helped me improve my techniques. It is amazing the amount of sewing resources that’s available on the internet

      I’m compiling a list of tutorials in the “How to sew” page. You might find them useful. Practice is very important.

      Have a delightful rest-of-the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love lace scallop finishings…and you are so right, often we dress for ourselves and for that stamp of approval you get from other ladies at a party, in a shop, on the street…as for men saying they dont notice: RRrrrrrubish nonsensical nonsense, especially Lagos men. Granted, I havnt spent so much time in Lagos, but when I am there, I’m always struck by how visual they are in the more superficial sense of the word…ps love the bit about nails so long they could pin Jesus to the cross again: thats gold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Biki,

      The lace hem is easily my favourite of the lot. Most times, it is another lady’s approval, either verbal or non-verbal (the admiring glance) that reconfirms that we truly slayed. Lol

      @ “RRrrrrrubish nonsensical nonsense” 😄 . I actually nodded my head in agreement with you.

      Thank you for reading, have a pleasant rest-of-the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lol@ fingernails long enough to pin Jesus to the cross all over again. 😄

    I sincerely believe that the finishing of a garment should be both careful and aesthetically pleasing. Roger that!

    When you understand what goes into the making of any product or service, you tend to appreciate the details.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Timi,

      Men are from Mars, Women from Venus, abi? Lol

      I totally agree with you, it sometimes takes an understanding of the process to really appreciate the finer points of the outcome. 🙂

      Have a nice day!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You remind me of this verse in the Bible:

    Your adornment must not be merely external– braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.…

    You write beautifully well and I like how you ‘lace’ up your words with your sewing and reality. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My dear Fola,

      Your comment made me very happy. Your confidence in my abilities, enough to trust me with one of your wedding outfits, is so heartwarming and I am sincerely thankful for your kind words. 😀

      I actually don’t sew commercially yet, my 9-to-5 day job takes quite a bit of my time. I only manage to get any sewing done for a few hours at the weekends. You’d be amazed at how long it takes me to complete a project, sewing for only an hour or two on Saturday. Lol

      I promise that you’ll be my very first customer when I’m ready to turn my hobby into a venture. 🙂

      I wish you God’s blessings as you prepare to enter this new phase in your life, and I wish you a lifetime of happiness in your marriage.

      Best wishes…

      Like

  11. You really have a way with words. I hail you!

    You got me thinking about finishing and character. A person’s character is gold, definitely more important than outward appearances but what I cannot stand is using that as an excuse to walk about looking sloppy. There’s no excuse to look scruffy. Ever.

    As a lover of red lipstick myself, the right shade makes all the difference, and it’s usually women who pick up on these things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Sharon,
      Thank you. I hail you too! Your own mastery of words is so inspiring 🙂

      I love the way you’ve analysed this post and I agree with you. Indeed, one’s character is like a treasure.

      Ah! It sure does. Red lippie “switches on” my face. Yes, it is women who pick up on these details.

      Have an awesome week!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello,

      Hahahaha! I love the intentionally intended pun. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading. I try to make the posts as interesting as is humanly possible.

      Have a brilliant week!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hmm, very interesting and hilarious perception about we women and our (going by your blog) foiled attempts to attract the male bees to our honey pot :), and here we thought we are so clever. Somehow, I knew that you had Nigerian connections going from the tell-tale word aso-ebi, and when I searched for the name behind the blog, I felt silly for feeling excited in knowing that I am right. Good to meet you in blogosphere. Let me wade about a bit and know a bit more about you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The more I sew and increase skill, the more I see how important the details are. This post was informative, hilarious and touching all at once. Another great post…..You have inspired me to give the Hong Kong seam, a try one of these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same way too. When I first started sewing, I’d be so eager to try on my dress, that I’d ignore the finishing touches. I used to think to myself “Out of sight is out of mind”. Lol

      Thank you so much for reading and for always understanding the message that I try to express. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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