sareesandstories sareesandstories

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Sumitra Selvaraj  ♦️Saree Aficionado♦️Executive Producer @maxman.studios♦️Host #suaratalkshow ♦️Writer #minisareestories ♦️I review Sarees too, do e-mail for collabs!

#Repost from this time last year 💙
I often get asked how it is that I store my three or four decade old Sarees, because they look almost brand new when worn.
Actually the answer partially lies in the question itself.
I don't really 'store' my Sarees, in the way most people would. This Indigo and Sky Blue Kanjivaram Silk is over 40 years old, but I've worn it at least 3 times in the last one year. It's rare for my Kanjivarams and Benares Silks to sit in my sandalwood chest for more than a year without being draped, as opposed to most people's 'grand' Sarees that don't get worn for years.
'Grand' is also the problem half the time, as you know I'm fond of saying that if you only buy grand Sarees, you'll end up feeling that you can only wear them, to grand occasions.
The thought of wearing a Kanjivaram to work might confound most, but I happen to think that my #sareeoftheday is perfectly understated and corporate. But do you consider re-wearability (made up word!) at the point of purchase?
So really, it is YOU that controls the longevity of a Saree. If you're the sort that needs to buy a new Saree for every single new occasion, then it's likely to be years before there rises an opportunity to wear an old Saree.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say, that if you feel the need to buy a new Saree for every event you attend, then you're probably not the sort to value the older Sarees anyway 😜
I could be wrong, it IS a sweeping generalisation. But is it really that difficult to repeat Sarees? Even if you've been photographed and (shock-horror) immortalised on Instagram with that #ootd?
Sarees are not like unique stamps that need to be collected. Sarees have to be WORN.
If you want a Saree to last for decades, SPEND decades with it. Admire it and flaunt it. Don't lock it away then pull it out after 5 years and groan at how it's falling apart.
It died because you neglected it 😐
A Saree, to me, is a living, breathing entity. Its fibres yearn to be touched and gently handled, it deserves protection with falls and the edges sewn in. A Saree wants to absorb your energy and your memories and store them in its weave.
So why would you deny it the pleasure of your company?

While writing my post earlier this morning, I was thinking about the functionality of Sarees; that in turn inspired this week’s edition of #minisareestories ❤️
But I’m not letting on how many of the uses for a Saree that written out here I have actually employed myself 😂
I hope your weekend is coming along swimmingly!

My latest #weekinsarees was all about blankety-shawl weaves; Sarees that kept me cosy as I left the house before sunrise every day to work.
Coarsely textured fabrics are not very popular as Sarees here in Malaysia. They are often seen as being too rustic, or cheap-looking. I suppose this is because as the Saree is relegated to occasion-wear, it’s the smooth and shiny fabrics that command the most attention when worn to a special event.
For me, the value of a Saree isn’t attached to how it looks; very often I am more enamoured with the memory entwined to the Saree, and in more recent years the appreciation also stems from the artisanal factor.
Coarse textures Sarees sometimes have tribal roots; this is certainly true of Bhujodis and many Odisha weaves. With these Sarees, the focus was originally on function; either for warmth or as an art form to display regional motifs.
But there are other types of Sarees that could also be considered coarse such as Begumpuris and those woven from Ghiccha and Matka yarns, just to name a few.
Even pure linens are quite rough to the feel, it’s only when they are mixed with Cotton or Silk fibres, do they become a little smoother.
Khadi fibres are by nature a lot more rough hewn than their processed cousins, and of course different grades of yarn will result in a range of Saree textures.
I for one, cannot turn down a rustic Saree; they appeal to me because of their weight which makes them a dream to pleat.
I know that Mercerised Cotton Ikats do get a bad name for being disagreeably coarse, but this is only a question of quality. I have obedient Mercerised Cottons and others which are recalcitrant. I find that a first soaking with a cup of hair conditioner followed by a cold water rinse, helps those naughty Sarees toe the line 😜
If you’ve never tried a coarse weave because you’re worried about them being difficult to manage, then have a look at this collage as well as my series on #incredibleikats.
And hopefully it might nudge you towards giving a blankety-shawl kinda Saree a try. I guarantee you that they are perfect for day to night occasions and also come in VERY handy when you forget to take a wrap to the movie theatre😂

‘All you need is love. But a little chocolate every now and then doesn’t hurt.’ - Charles M. Schulz
#sareeoftheday : Cappuccino and Espresso Begumpuri Cotton from @enakshicollections paired with an Aztec motif fabric #sareeblouse

It’s #friyay!!!
As thrilled as I am at the prospect of the weekend, I must share that I think I’m on the verge of coming down with the ‘flu. The early morning starts have taken a toll on me but that’s just a function of age; apparently I’m not as robust as I used to be in my reckless youth 😂
I may be less hardy now but I currently have one massive advantage that I didn’t in my younger years.
And that would be the company of my Favouritest Person 😍
I feel better already just with that thought ❤️
I hope your weekend too, is filled with love, laughter and light 🥂
#sareeoftheday : Cappuccino and Espresso Begumpuri Cotton by @enakshicollections paired with a Aztec motif blouse made with fabric Sashe got from Mexico many moons ago. (Did I ever tell you that the material was meant to be turned into cushion covers before being forgotten and stashed away for DECADES?!??! It was unearthed during a spring cleaning a couple of years ago and given a new purpose!)

This is why I can’t get book reviews done on camera 🙄
As soon as I start speaking, look who slides into the frame 😂
So here is what I wanted to say;
The Water Cure is deeply disturbing; and in the fashion of the best dystopian novels, it hurtles towards an uncertain ending.
But it wasn’t a satisfying ending, for me anyway.
While I enjoyed the story and appreciated how some of the characters (especially the siblings) were fleshed out, I felt that others were left lacking in purpose or direction.
I don’t think it’ll make the Booker shortlist, but that’s just my opinion. I’m always happy to be proven wrong!
I see movie script all over it though; the setting of a remote unnamed island is so very evocative and I can already imagine what the salt-crusted scenes would look like.
Is it worth picking up? Yes, if you’re a fan of dystopian novels.
But no, you’re looking for a feminist folktale from the not so distant future (as it has been touted).
#sareeoftheday : Cobalt Blue and White Shibori Linen by @the_co_company paired with a blouse made from Ikat woven by @naturaloom_fabrics
#bookoftheday : The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Shibori is a tie and dye technique from Japan; the idea behind technique will be familiar to you if you’ve read up about Sungudi and Bandhani Sarees. Just to recap, resist tie and dye happens when sections of fabric are bound by a material that prevents colour saturation.
What makes Shibori unique is that the method of resistance can vary from pleating, bunching, twisting, folding and even sewing!
I’m not terribly familiar with all the different techniques but I think my fluid drape is an example of Mokume Shibori, where lines of dye resist thread are worked lengthways through the Saree fabric and then pulled tight, kind of like how an accordion bunches up.
If you have trouble imagining this, think about how when you have a loose thread on your Saree and you pull on it, the fabric starts drawing together. Of course this is a hypothetical image because you and I have been repeatedly told by our Ammas NOT to pull on threads but to snip them cleanly 😜
So now that you have that image in your head, think about those stitches running in parallel lines through the Saree, and then if the fabric was dipped in a vat of dye.
When it is taken out, dried and the stitches pulled out (you KNOW how satisfying this feels), what you’re left with is a dyed fabric with more or less parallel lines, but in a dotted and dashed pattern depending on how even or haphazard the original stitching was.
A Morse Code of a Saree if you will 💙 There is a close up in my Stories if you’d like to have a look, and also note that this technique probably works beautifully on Linen because this is a fabric with an already loose weave. The resulting Saree feels very heavily textured exactly like when a Silk Saree gets put in the washing machine (again hypothetical, Amma scoldings etc).
But for such a rough feel, this Saree falls like a dream, and hopefully the video demonstrates how light and ethereal is actually is.
This is definitely a Saree of confounding contradictions; which suits me just fine!
#sareeoftheday : Cobalt Blue and White Shibori Linen by @the_co_company paired with a blouse made from Ikat fabric woven by @naturaloom_fabrics
Hair and Make-Up by @elialailey
🎬 by @tusilyamk

I always relish the opportunity to talk about a weave or fabric technique that I’ve not yet introduced here, and today I’ll be able to do just that.
But it’ll have to wait until I finish interviewing an indomitable Malaysian human rights advocate who was bestowed the International Women of Courage Award by the US Government in 2009 💙
Hope you have a brilliant Thursday ahead!
#sareeoftheday : Cobalt Blue and White Shibori Linen by @the_co_company paired with a blouse made from Ikat fabric woven by @naturaloom_fabrics
Make-up by @elialailey

Amma I’m sorry I had another accident in the house.
That’s okay Jeeves, these things happen.
Dash said that from now on he is going to call me PeeBrain and he wants to sleep upstairs in your room and not downstairs with me anymore because he says I smell.
Oh baba, he didn’t mean that... I’ll have a word with him okay?
Amma it’s my Foundiversary next week... it has been 3 whole years since you and Appa rescued me. Do you think my turn with you is up?
No Jeeves, it doesn’t work that way... you stay with us for as long as your beautiful heart desires.
There is something else I desire too Amma.
Neither of you is sleeping in the bedroom with us.
Ok Amma, it was worth a try but your Linen Cotton comes a close second.
Go to sleep baba.

It’s going to be a 7am start for me for the next couple of weeks and I could not be happier!
I am a morning person through and through; I’m generally up by about 5am and I find that my most productive period is just as the sun peeks over the horizon.
But I’m also mindful that my early enthusiasm is not everyone’s cup of tea, so I rein it in by not sending out (too many) emails and messages while the dawn chorus is warming up 😂
I’m working on yet another new programme that’s right up my street and I can’t wait to share that one with you too 💚
Details are under wraps at the moment, but perhaps a wee sneak peek might be in order, later today 😜
#sareeoftheday : Seafoam Linen Cotton by @padmapaaduka paired with its own blouse

Is my photo going to be misused by some person?
And I only feel pity for that person, and not anger.
I spent many, many years looking back in anger.
But it was for all nought really, because while some people might cause you unhappiness, they cannot TAKE your happiness away.
This is something I learned over the years; while I don’t always apply it consistently to my life, I try and remember it.
It’s easy to think ‘ohh just ignore the idiots and they won’t bother you’.
The truth is they will ALWAYS bother you, because their behaviour is unfathomable to you.
Why would one human being invest time and energy into hurting/cheating/irritating another?
If I had the answer to that, I suspect I would be able to buy myself a little island in the South Pacific.
So I don’t wonder anymore, I just let the trolls fester under their bridges and I let the thieves lurk in the fringes. After all, they too must live their life in any way they see fit.
But if there IS a confrontation... well you’ve seen how I deal with that.
In the meantime, you and I have Sarees to enjoy, relationships to cultivate and life to live.
So, let’s do so, happily ever after 💕.
#sareeoftheday : Dusty Pink Kala Cotton Bhujodi from @threadtalk_sg

I recently had a composite photo of mine which was similar to this, appropriated without my permission and used for a ‘Before and After’ poll. As in which looks better 🙄
Not only was it a gross violation of my property, but I take great offence at the concept behind the poll.
And note, I only take offence because MY image was used, you may have no problem with the idea at all.
Posting no-make up and make-up selfies isn’t about which version of my face looks better, it’s about sharing with you that I’m comfortable which whichever avatar that I happen to sport.
I’ve had comments in the past that I’m doing this just to ‘show off’ and if you really think that’s what this is, then you’re seriously out of touch with what women struggle with.
Young girls are bombarded with make-over images and videos on social media that promise them cheekbones where none exist, lashes to rival Mr. Snuffleupagus and definition that pushes the limits of technology 😐
So, I can accept that make-overs transform you, but make you more attractive?
That’s a bitter pill to swallow.
If the application of make-up and hair extensions renders you more desirable, then you need to question WHO you become more desirable to.
I love my bare face because I am basically a lazy bum who wants to spend zero minutes making an effort but I also love being made up because I find it an art form and I like being a canvas. Also because I don’t need to do anything but sit in a chair 😂
I can love both without being more or less attractive.
Liking shimmery eye-shadow does not make me any less a strong and confident woman; it does not make me any less of a feminist.
The ability to decide and defend how I present to myself to the world is what defines me.
My make-up of choice, is choice itself.
And I really like the way that looks ❤️
#sareeoftheday : Dusty Pink Kala Cotton Bhujodi from @threadtalk_sg
Hair and Make-Up : @elialailey

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