Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Market, to market, jiggidy jog;

Gotta buy some cloth, gotta buy some cloth.

Today, Willow and I ventured to the fabric market and a shopping street. I was collecting mental notes while we were out so that I would have something to write about later. Before I get started with all the anecdotes that I gathered, here's a little explanation of why we went out in the first place.

Dress #1 for Willow.
This dress dates back to the 1860's, and is about twenty inches in length. It's part of an exhibit at a museum (I think at the Met), and I think it is adorable! It's the perfect dress for Willow to wear to opening night of "Little Women". It's not every day that a baby gets to dress up in civil war era dresses. I think the capped sleeves, and the many gathers in the bodice are so sweet.

Dress #2 for Willow.

This link is to a free pattern, but  think I'll just give this picture to the tailor

The little dress above is super cute. It's been floating around on pinterest for a while, and it traces back to a free pattern on If I had a sewing machine, or any sort of genius for creating, I would try to make it. But since I possess neither, I will be passing this picture off to the tailor to make a little dress for Willow. I have this idea that we will wear matching dresses on Saturday when she has to be at school all day for "Little Women" performances. I think I will give the tailor one of Willow's short-sleeved onsies that she can attach the skirt to. That way it will be a little more comfy for Willow to wear.

As the fates would allow, I just happened to see the following picture, which resembles the baby dress in color/style. I think that it's probably an anthropologie dress, although I can't be sure because it's not in any of the current collections. It just reminds me of anthro, and how they photograph their frocks on dress forms.


I would also like to have a grey skirt made. Obviously, my legs are not this long, so this skirt is not to scale. I need the midget version, since my legs are less than two feet long.

So, here are the fabrics that I picked out. The tailor is coming to school tomorrow to finish measuring students for their costumes. While I have her there, I'll hand over these pictures and textiles so that she can make some clothes for Willow and myself too. The pink is for the 1860's dress, the grey is for the skirt, and the blue/gold pattern is for our matching two-tone dresses. We paid about ten dollars for all this. I was going to try and barter for a lower price, but the shopkeepers were being so friendly with Willow, it seemed rude to whine about money. Isn't that ironic--I thought Willow would help insight lower prices, but instead it made me less inclined to negotiate a deal.

As we were walking out to get a taxi, I started to wonder how long I would have to wait, how many taxi drivers would turn me down (or not stop at all), and how I was going to get the stroller in the trunk (when we finally did get a cab) by myself while holding a +twenty pound baby. Before we even got out to the main road, however, a taxi picked us up. The old driver was very helpful and collapsed/packed the stroller up while I held Willow. We talked the whole way to the fabric market--me, with my limited Chinese, and he, with his willingness to try and communicate. Usually, taxis drop you off at a convenient place for them (when going to this market), and it means walking through some terrible road ways/side walks that are buckled up, weathered, and swarming with cars, bikes, three-wheeled cabs, and buses--not to mention people. But this guy brought us right up to the market door, unpacked the stroller and set it up for us. He even waited for me to get Willow strapped in and settled, making sure we were on our to the market door before he drove off. What a kind, old man! I always like these rare moments of kindness, and even chivalry, that I glimpse from time to time. It's always nice to remember these kinds of stories when the majority of the time it's the men who cut you in line, steal a cab from under your nose, or smoke in your baby's face.

Once we were inside the market, I didn't realize what an affect Willow would have on all the shop keepers and customers. Nan Er is located in a seven or eight story building. Each floor is reserved for a different category. We were looking at fabrics on the sixth floor. There are dozens and dozens of little stalls that have their fabric displayed in various ways. Some people have their materials stacked in bolts, others are standing in rolls, and some are just tossed in mountains of scrap/'garbage' piles that are sold at discounted rates (because they're tattered, torn, stained, whatever). Every place we walked, Willow was surrounded by admirers and people who demanded answers. "How old?" "Boy or girl?" "American?" "Why does she look Asian?" "Who is her dad?" "Is she cold?" "Where do you work?" "Where is your mother?" "How old are you?" "Can she speak English?" "How much money do you make?" Really. I'm getting used to answering these sort of questions in Mandarin. They ask other questions too, but I don't try to understand, and I've stopped trying to answer. I just smile and nod. Chinese people usually tell me that her eyes are very big and her eyelashes are very long. Willow just stares them down. Sometimes she smiles or claps her hands, but I don't blame her for being stoic. It's a little overwhelming.

I started to wonder how long it was going to take to buy a few yards of fabric. Finally, I found a place in a corner that wasn't too busy and had a decent selection. I hoped to buy everything at the same shop so that we could get out before Willow started freaking out.

The sidewalks outside were so dilapidated that it was really trick to push the stroller around. I guess there's a reason why the stroller wheels are no longer aligned! We bumped along, and risked our lives crossing a few roads. I felt a little guilty passing some beggars without giving them anything. I just don't know WHO I am giving the money to, and I didn't have any food. Sometimes, they work for someone else who collects all their money. This area of our city has many nice stores. We passed Cartier, and massive department stores that sell strollers worth $4,000. I'm guessing there are lots of wealthy shoppers in this area, but you can't miss all the beggars either. The elderly who are sifting through the trash, or the crippled laying on the side of the road. We quickly finished our shopping venture at a few other shops and then I started the process of finding a taxi to take us home. It's always a great feeling when the first taxi you hail works out--so we were on our way home. This driver was so weird. He started dusting his dashboard with a paint brush. Dust particles were swirling everywhere in his stuffy taxi cab. I have never seen anyone dust their dashboard with a paint brush before. Of course, Willow fell asleep for ten minutes on the way home, and thought that she didn't need to take a real nap once we got home. Ugh.

All in all, it was successful. I got fabric for both of us, bought a new coat, spoke way more Chinese than I usually do, and had no taxi troubles. Now, we're hanging out together and waiting for Adam to get home. Soccer season has started, which means we seem him a little less often than usual. At least he only had to coach one sport this year. I was counting all of the time he has to spend away from home, and by the time Willow turn one, he will have been away for 9 weeks altogether. His job keeps him busy!

It also looks like I might be a little more involved with drama next year. Which I am very excited about. I'm looking at the theater standards that were drafted by our group of schools this past year and brainstorming for what drama would look like outside of a spring play.

I'm excited to meet with the tailor again tomorrow--I think that she might have some of the costumes finished!

Willow is such a cutie. She was singing with me today.


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