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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Namirembe dress

The garment-a-month challenge I set for myself in January (inspired by Annika) is working out pretty well even though I am two months behind. I would never have finished five garments in six and a half months without this self-imposed motivation!



Reading—okay, *pretending* to read— Virginia Wolf at the read-aloud picnic last Sunday. Photo by Anne.


And of course, the more I make the more compliments I get, which gets me even more psyched to start on the next project.




On our Uganda/Rwanda trip back in August 2013, Kate and Elliot and I spent a good bit of time at a craft market in Kampala shopping for fabric. They’d just bought their house and were looking for an eye-catching print to hang on the wall, and I was hoping to find something fun but not too “busy” for a dress project. As soon as I saw this subtle and vaguely botanical print (are they berries? squash? nuts? acorns?) I knew three yards of it were coming home with me. Kate convinced the shopkeeper to cut a six-yard swathe in half (they wanted me to buy the whole thing, but I knew the three extra yards would only sit in my stash for years)—she is so good at bargaining, while I’m still working on doing it despite my discomfort.



A zoomed-in view from the minaret at the mosque in Kampala, looking out at Namirembe Hill—see the Anglican church at the top?


I think of this sewing project as the Namirembe dress because “Namirembe” comes from the Luganda word for “peace,” and it’s a popular name for girls. The story goes that the first Namirembe was a great benefactress in the Christian community.



Kate having yet another “I can’t believe she’s a lawyer” moment atop the minaret. I also have a video, which I will post eventually. Good thing my sister’s full name never appears anywhere on this blog, HA HA.


Apart from the fabric origin, I don’t have much in the way of notes on this project; it’s the same mash-up as the unicorn dress, Mary Adams + Simplicity 2591, but this time I included the pockets from the Simplicity pattern. The practicality is so worth the extra sewing!



Photo by Mackenzi.



With Madeline Miller, Debka Colson, and the JP Reads flash fiction winners (Ryan Bradley, Tanya Bogaty, and Marika McCoola) at a reception at the Loring Greenough House on May 9th.


As you can tell by the photos on my news page, this has been my go-to gussied-up-authoress outfit for the past month and change (I finished it just before my NYC event on May 6th). It is flattering and funky and I get appreciative looks and gentlemanly compliments every time I wear it. My favorite comment came from my friend Jaclyn’s roommate, who asked if I’d ever lived in Africa while I lounged in their hammock at a recent tea party. She’d lived in Kampala for awhile, so she recognized the fabric.



I need a dress form so I can get bodice close-ups without feeling like a perv.


I lined the bodice with black batiste left over from the cathedral dress, but I haven’t lined the skirt yet. I really need to do that if I want to be able to wear this dress through the fall and winter. (Otherwise the fabric clings to my stockings. Slippy acetate/rayon lining = free movement.)

I have to confess that when I’m almost finished with a sewing project, I get lazy. I haven’t actually sewn in the bodice linings of either this dress or my unicorn dress, just basted them in place so I could wear each of them ASAP. I also had to re-sew this zipper. I showed up at Kate G’s office the day of the McNally Jackson event and heard the ominous sound of snapping threads as I took off my jacket. But literary agents help you out with all kinds of things, not just book deals, haha—Kate put in a safety pin and I was good to go.



You can see my slapdash bodice lining peeking out on the left side! Photo by Jake G. Panda.


More sewing projects to blog about soon!



Mackenzi and our friend Emily Martin are reading one another’s ARCs at the same time. There is even a hashtag, #MreadsEm. Alas, I did not manage to filch this galley. Photo by Becky.


4 Comments to Namirembe dress

  1. July 16, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    It looks great! I love the fabric.

  2. July 16, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    So great to meet you!!! That fabric is so great! I can see why you had it earmarked for a special project.

  3. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    July 16, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    You’re so fancy with pockets! Looks great and every time you where it you can think of good times 🙂

  4. Ang's Gravatar Ang
    July 17, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I love the fabric and the dress!!!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.