Monday, April 23, 2018

T is a for Tales of Tailors #AtoZChallenge

If you are a saree lover/wearer, by the time you finish reading the title of today's post, your memory machine would've started churning a mini series of tailor related sagas of your own. You may have already switched off by now and started planning the title of your tailor memoir and the only way I'll be able to get your attention back is if I show you pictures or photos of beautiful sarees. Hang in there, just a few words to read. There's a picture. I promise.

For the non-saree wearer who's going uhh?, let me elaborate.

Sarees are worn with blouses and blouses are stitched by tailors.

To elucidate the importance of a tailor in a saree wearer's life (or actually any person's life who gets his/her clothes stitched by a tailor, especially in the Indian sub-continent), I'm borrowing this quote from life_in_a_saree, an Instagrammer I follow:
"Saree lover proposes, tailor disposes."
Yes sir. That's the power tailors wield in the lives of people who go to them to get their saree blouses stitched.

Looking at the picture below: do you notice anything unusual?
No. Not the dusty leaves of frangipani (note to self: wash leaves before clicking pics)
No, not even the oddity of a saree blouse hanging out in the garden with flowers. 
Have the observant among you noticed that the colourful scooters are all up-side down?
My trusted tailor obviously didn't.
"Master ji (usual term to address tailors as they are masters of their craft!), is my blouse ready?" I called my tailor last Thursday to find out about a blouse that was supposed to have been ready two Tuesdays ago: if you believed the date written on the collection receipt. 

Anyone, who's had anything to do with tailors will tell you that the date of collection on the tailor's receipt is as elusive as Yeti. You get a general idea, a teaser of a trail but you NEVER find your finished piece on that day. 

That's the day you start your follow up ritual with your tailor with phone calls and visits. With kind requests that slowly ferment into threats. If the tailor is very good and he has achieved celebrity status among your circle of friends, then the threats that have fermented inside you don't usually come out of your mouth. They just boost your acidity. Your rage simmers silently inside you. You call him in your sweetest voice and plead, "Masterji, jaldi keejeya na." Please hurry, Masterji. You have NO access to consumer rights if he messes up, so you don't want to upset him, you see.

If he's not that great and you're only trying him out, then you're not so invested for you've given him an old piece of cloth which was an unwanted gift that had been lying in your cupboard for so long you'd almost forgotten about it. Chances are the 'trial' tailor will call you on the date of the receipt and remind you to collect your blouse that's ready. 

And after you've recovered from the shock of that call, you'll wonder why you didn't pursue a career in genetics and human biology. You could've mixed Masterji's skill with the new chappy's work ethic and got yourself a perfect tailor.

ONLY in dire emergencies, like marriages etc. do these Masters deliver on time--and that too if their kaarigar (worker) is not celebrating Eid, Diwali or Durga Pooja. 

So when I called him for the third time in the two weeks after the due date, he sounded as masterful as ever,"Yes,'s been ready for ages...why haven't you collected it ?"

I know better than to point out to him that just yesterday he'd given me a five minute long list of excuses about why it wasn't ready. 

I played my 'lie that's not really a lie' card (I'm sure my females friends will understand) and said, "But I have nothing to wear to dinner tomorrow!"

Thursday morning: I went. I paid. I got home. I took out the blouse. I tried it on. Something wasn't right.

Don't say it. Do NOT point to the print please.  

"But that's for children..." the surly salesman at the shop in the souq had pointed out to me when I had asked him to cut out half a meter for me, a few months ago. 

"I'm a child." I declared to counter his surliness. 

His surliness did not twitch even a tiny bit. 

I'd fallen for this colourful print and I couldn't wait to get it made into a saree blouse to welcome the hot Doha summer with.

So, when I got home last Thursday and tried it on and looked at myself in the mirror, my heart sank!

The front of the blouse looked like a scooter junk yard (with all those up-side down scooters.)

The back, however, looked exactly like how I'd imagined it: cheerful. A colourful reminder of Gregory Peck in  Roman Holiday.
The quandary I find myself in is that I bought this fabric almost six months ago. The surly salesman may have sold the rest of it to children by now. Well, I will have to go back one of these days to check. 

Why go through this drama? You'd be right to ask. 

There are many ready-made options available. In fact, I've worn sarees with shirts and tops, like so many people now do. So, it's not that there aren't any options. There are. But, there is something about seeing a print or a fabric and using a master's skill to turn it into a happy garment.

If tailors give us tales of woe, they also turn fabrics or things into wearable works of art.  

A few months ago, while clearing out my wardrobe, I came across a bag my sister had given me almost 25 years ago. It's from Kutchch and I love the earthy, hand-embroidered beauty of it. I hadn't used it for so long. An idea occurred.

The bag is now a blouse:)

You can see now why I keep going back to my master ji:)

A promise is a promise. So sharing a saree picture. 
This gorgeous grey was bought from PSR Silks in Coimbatore in July 2017.
It's a Coimbatore cotton saree with a woven black, mustard and red border.
Photo was clicked by husband.

I was not really ready for the shot, but I like the click:)
Have you ever had a testing time with tailors?
Any tales you'd like to tell?


  1. Hari OM
    The tailors in Sydney could be this kind of trouble, but do you know, in Mumbai I had three 'tame' tailors and they were excellent; they needed to be, as am far from standard size. Off the peg no option for this bosom! Most of my choli are very plain, but there is one where the pattern has done as yours, against gravity; thankfully very small and light, and the pallu mostly hides it. YAM xx

    1. Please share details of your tame tailors Yamini. They need to be celebarted for they are sooooo rare:)
      Pallus are a blessing--they can hide a lot;)

    2. Hari OM
      two were in Hiranandani; one in the Jackpot Outfitters and the other just on a stall in the mall beside the ICICI bank - name Rustom... but this was some four years back since last contact. The third was in Ghatkopar; Rangili Exclusive Ladies Wear and Tailoring. Excellent work done timely by all. Yxx

  2. Firstly you won't be surprised to learn that I'm not a saree werarer! There isn't a great tailoring culture in the UK any more. It's been more years than I can remember since being measured for a suit. Last time I had something made was when I was on holiday in Thailand. As for your inverted scooter problem, you could always try walking on your hands when wearing it!

    A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

  3. Witty account of interactions with tailors. Reminds me of mine in Bhubaneswar, Basheer. The moody man who could stich the most perfectly fitting kammez. Extrememly miserly with words, surly, and without any regard for calendar!

    Nowdays, in Bangalore, its more of sophisticated boutiques and rising expenses.

    #AtoZChallenge - T:

    1. Like the houses you write about Seema, sadly, old style tailoring is giving way to posh designing in India. I'm happy Doha has tailors I can visit and they remind me of things used to be in India once upon a time.

  4. Gosh, that IS a gorgeous saree!
    The upside down scooters made me laugh - particularly the thought that the vendor may have sold the rest of the fabric to children. Will you go ahead and wear that shirt anyhow, or does it bug you too much?

    1. I'm planning to go to the souq tomorrow Jz. Will let you know if I find the fabric.

    2. Hey Jz. Thought I'd let you know. He did sell all the fabric! I went this weekend and he has all the other prints except this one! aaargh! So Yours truly will be wearing the blouse as is;)

  5. The photography in your posts is gorgeous. Good eye. Street art really grabbed me. I found you via another member of the A to Z challenge. Glad I did.

    Pulp Paper & Pigment-My Fiber Art Blog

    1. Thank you for visiting and for your kind comments Linda.

  6. I guess tailors are the same everywhere. At least, in Morocco.

    But in Europe, it's a disappearing (or disappeared?) job. Most people buy ready made clothes.

    Now, after some years of that... making your own clothes (sewing/knitting) is fashionable again. I can't sew, but I knit my own sweaters. There is a big pleasure in wearing them, evenif they aren't the best in the world!

    1. I used to knit but after moving to the UK, I gave up--never found the time to do it. It's so therapeutic. Enjoy your sweaters Eva--they're bespoke--one of a kind:)

  7. That is a beautiful photograph of you Arti! Truly! The bag is also gorgeous and at least the back of the scooter blouse looked 'ok' ...

    I do go a tailor every now and then to have things altered. He's good. He clearly specialises in sari's (that's the way Ive known how to spell it) as there are such gorgeous vibrant ones all over his tailoring desks. I once had a cloth picked up in Arusha made into a dress to wear to a wedding ... I wonder what happened to it.

    1. Thank you Susan. I'm looking for a chance to show off my bag blouse:)
      One of the things I buy when I'm travelling to a new place is a meter or two of fabric that's unique to the place. It usually lies in my cupboard, but every now and then it gets turned into a blouse or a cushion cover.

  8. GOSH!! I can relate to this post BIG time! Our family tailor is a celebrity and my mom and my sisters are so cautious and sweet around him, though we would want to throttle him. No, we cant throttle him. Who will stich our suits and blouses then. SIGH!
    I am laughing at the inverted scooters. What a tragedy.
    You look so pretty and love your saree, Arti!

    1. Cheers Shilpa. You know after the initial shock of discovering his folly, my first thought was--this'd make a good story for the A to Z!
      Blogging is running in my veins these days:)

  9. Wonderful photograph - tailoring and sarees are a completely foreign world to me!

    1. I'm happy to enlighten you in matters of saree and such Iain:)

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. What a delightful post, and you've taken us on a true journey of clothing I think Arti - from the hilariously absurd on through the meaningful and beautiful.

      Of course if you arrange to only be seen from the back, or else spin very quickly from the front, emulating those delightful scooters, no one will have a chance to see they're directionally challenged. :-)

      The repurposed purse has made quite a lovely blouse indeed - it's most definitely a work of art. And how utterly fabulous you look it that wonderful saree - so elegant.

    2. Thank you for the compliment Deborah.
      I'm learning spins in my Kathak class, so maybe I can try spinning really quickly--imagining doing that with a glass of red ---maybe, it won't work after all;)

  11. The picture with the grey sari looks absolutely gorgeous! And I like the scooter pattern, it's fun :D

    The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

  12. Oh, Arti, how could he? That fabric was perfect for a blouse and now it is a funny blouse. When I was young and first learning to sew, I laid out a pattern on fabric and my mom explained that, while I was maximizing the amount of fabric I would be using, all of my animals on the print would be upside down. Thankfully I had not yet cut it so it was easy to fix. A master should not make the same mistake I made at 8 years old. Or if he does (as he did), he should give you the blouse for a massive discount (free?). I'm glad you were able to make it into a humorous story.

    You are gorgeous!!! Love that photo of you and the sari is beautiful, too.

    Emily In Ecuador

    1. I'm going to see him on Sunday and I'm planning to take a photo of your comment and show it to him! That'll teach him---or not;)
      Thank you for the compliment Emily:) xx

  13. Hilarious post! Had a wide grin stuck on my face throughout. Loved how you led up to the upside down print on the blouse and made me look at the picture closely.

    I love eclectic prints on my blouses too. :) I have started buying crop tops online and started wearing those with sarees to add to the cool quotient. The blouse that was a bag - is sheer genius tho. Again...glad I stumbled onto your blog. Am enjoying these reads - particularly since they are for my pleasure alone and there are no pressures of A-Z.

    1. And as for tailors - I think if there are good ones - then there is a secret society of women who are privy to the knowledge of their existence. Unfortunately u and I did not make it to this elite club!

    2. I like the fact that we have saree love in common too. I'm wary of online shopping. I know I'm a dinosaur but so far tailor visits have yielded decent results (mostly;).

  14. Lovely pictures and you are looking gorgeous in that coimbatore saree. I picked up a saree for myself in coimbatore last year, it was a nice cotton. I can't believe you made a blouse out of bag:) I used to have my mothers regular tailor before my marriage, now my sister in law, my husband's sister is a good tailor so I get everything stitched by her.

    1. Lucky girl Genevive. A tailor in the family? Wow!
      Thank you for visiting and for the compliments. I was in Coimbatore last year and I love all three sarees I bought there. I'm itching to buy more--that's my greed for cotton sarees talking:)
      What colour was your Coimbatore cotton saree?

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Nice information, Everyone wants to look their very best on a social occasion. Get quality outfit from Ladies Tailor in Bangalore irrespective of the season. Even while making presentations at the office or finalizing a sales deal you need to have a well-groomed appearance. Recently I was ordered one blouse stitching online Your Tailor with affordable price and quick delivery.


I would love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts and comments here.