Friday, January 19, 2007

New shirt alert

One of my first outings in Accra back in October was to the batik print maker along Labadi Beach Highway. Archive of the earlier post is here.

Since this purchase, the fabric has been draped across a table to add some color to the house, but also to hide a really ugly side table and coffee table. The style of the furniture was best described as "early motel." Neither trendy nor traditional - just kinda...well functional.

Not far from our house is a tailor named Ester, who operates out of a small kiosk in front of her family's house. We pass it several times each week either returning from fetching the mail, or buying produce from the neighborhood stand located a few footsteps away from Ester. Actually, there are several small tailors around. People who have lived here long enough have their favorite secret tailor. Many are quite talented, and seem to generate a decent income from their work.

It took a few months for me to decide what type of shirt to have made from the fabric. I was not sure if I should just point to one of the photos on the wall of the kiosk (probably not since they were all women's outfits) or try to describe what I was looking for using words and gestures. Would she be offended, or just refuse if I handed over one of my own shirts for replication?

I finally made up my mind to have a cycling jersey made - something that I could wear to the store without looking like I just took a detour from Tour de France. Something similar to the coffee table - neither trendy nor traditional, but functional. I picked a rather plain jersey from my closet - one that fits me well. Then, with a few hundred thousand cedis, I headed off to Ester's shop. I pointed out a few of the details like the rear zippered pleated pocket, side slit, slightly longer tail and narrow collar. She smiled and told me to come back in one or two days. Price? The equivelant of about $5.00. That was easy enough.

She did a really nice job picking up all the details. Unfortunately, the shoulders are a wee bit snug when I reach forward for the handlebars. That's right - too many muscles ;-) We suspect the control sample shirt made of synthetic material stretches a bit more in ways the batik does not.

I modeled for SJD and Patience. Both agreed that it could be fixed. Patience felt a bit more strongly that I overpaid ($5.42), and should really just go to her secret tailor. When I explained that Ester is super-conveniently located, she just shook her head.

So, back I go...

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