Thursday, December 22, 2016

Get crafty (part 1) - Create your own custom Trinidad Carnival Monday wear

Esha here, one half of Ultimate Trinidad Carnival.  One of my *hidden* talents is that I sew.  I love to sew clothing for myself (yes, I’m a selfish seamstress lol)!  While looking at the pricing of Monday wear that other designers are posting out there, it occurred to me that I could create my own Monday wear (duh). 

For those of you who don't know what Monday wear is, it's what is worn on Carnival Monday, the first day of the Trinidad Carnival parade.  Traditionally known as the "short pants and costume bra day", Monday wear has emerged in the last few years as its own phenomenon.  There are several talented designers who create their own Monday wear collections for sale to the public.  The pricing of these beautiful creations can cost upwards of a couple hundred dollars.

Not that I have an issue with what Monday wear designers are charging; please don't misunderstand me.  I’m a firm believer of charging what you feel would be an equal exchange of product/service for money.  I have much respect and love for all of the Monday wear designers who are putting their work out there and being wonderfully creative!  One my faves is Nadia Batson's Monday wear line called Himaya.  Contact for Himaya for details at

However, I thought a more frugal route and a way to flex my creative muscles would be to make my own Monday wear for Trinidad Carnival 2017.  Then I thought, “Hmmm, why not write about and share it with everyone?”  And here we are…

Keep in mind that even if you don’t sew with a sewing machine, you can do 1 of 2 things (or both): 

  • Purchase a tank top or bathing suit top and hand sew and/or hot glue gun embellishments to your top.
  • Read along to see what I come up with!

Either way, you’ll have fun :)

The inspiration
As I started to get (really) excited about actually doing this, the first thought that came to mind was a Dominatrix theme for my Monday wear.  I thought it would be sexy, easy to wear and what could be easier than black, leather, chains and silver?

But, this theme came with a few challenges:

  • Leather and de hot sun won’t work.
  • Black probably isn’t the best colour to wear in aforementioned hot sun.
  • Won’t silver chains be heavy?
I started to rethink my original idea, but then I liked it so much that I decided to stick with it and see what I could find to “make it work” as Tim Gunn says on Project Runway.  Game on!

What I got
Turns out that I found a lot more than I thought I would.  I was in Toronto at the time, so I went to Fabricland (I love this store)!  Any other local fabric store will do as long as they have a section with embellishments and if you sew, fabric.  You might also want to look online to see what you find.

Of course, it always helps to have a creative eye with you while going through this!  I had my wonderful sis Sarah Michelle Brown of Videos that Shine help me out.  Quick plug – if you’d like to make awesome videos for your business, check out her website by clicking here.

(See photo to the right and items are listed below clockwise from the top left)

  • Silver chains (yes!)  I found these beautiful, lightweight silver chains.  They’re easy to open and attach to anything you like (the lady at the fabric store showed me how).  You might also be able to achieve a similar effect with a body chain like this one from Amazon.
  • Large eyelets (pictured just below the chains in the packages).  I’m thinking of attaching these to the shoulders of my top and draping the chains through them across my upper arms.  I purchased 2 sets of eyelets because the silver eyelets didn’t come with the kit to insert them into your fabric (really?)
  • African print fabric.  I purchased this from a friend of mine in Ghana, Brother Oji (check out his website here.  He does take special orders for fabric twice a year.  Feel free to contact him directly).  I needed fabric that would be lightweight and breathable so cotton fit the bill.  And the print is fantastic – I’ll be an African Dominatrix lol!
  • Trim for the edges.  I found this amazing, elastic, silver beaded trim!  This is what started the creative juices going for me as I looked for everything else.  I’m going to sew this along the edges of the armholes, down the front and probably across the bottom of my top.
  • Faux leather fringe (yes!).  I bought everything they had left at the fabric store!  I’m going to sew 2 rows of this along the bottom of my top.  Again, you can most likely hot glue gun all this stuff if you don’t sew.
  • My sewing pattern (Simplicity 8523).  I’ve had this pattern forever and never used it.  I got it at Fabricland when they had one of their clearance sales for only $1 (yes, really).  I’m going to alter the pattern to make a deeper V-neck, cropped version.  If you sew, then any simple pattern with minimal seam lines that can be cropped easily will do.  If you don’t sew, as I mentioned earlier any tank top cropped (cut) yourself will work. 
  • Metallic zipper.  I’m going to sew this down the back so I can get in and out of the cropped top easily.  I’ve never tried sewing an exposed zipper – where you can see the actual zipper on the outside of the garment – but I’m going to give it a shot!
  • Tassels.  Okay, this item was thrown into the pile last!  I was thinking with all of the trim intersecting at the center front, I might need to cover the seams up.  After looking at many different types of sequins, I looked in Fabricland’s clearance bin and found these!  I’ll sew them to the center front at the bottom of my V-neck.

For the bottom, I was thinking about making a matching pair shorts, but then I remembered that I have a black swimsuit bottom that’ll work just fine.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be creating my own Monday wear top and writing about it all here.  I'd love to see what you get inspired to buy and make, post your photos and comments below!

Stay tuned!

Til de next lime,


P.S.:  We still have a few spots available for Ultimate Atlanta Carnival.  And if you book before Dec 31st, you'll save 5% off your total package price!  If you'd like to join us for "stateside bacchanal" and a VIP Atlanta Carnival experience, click here.

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