Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sarafan and kokoshnik

Growing up, my Saturday mornings were spent at Russian school.  My feelings about Russian school were pretty similar to the feelings of Toula's daughter towards Greek school in the last scene of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  I did not enjoy it.

Nevertheless, here my girls are going to Russian school on Monday afternoons.  Natasha enjoys it. Zoia is ok now that the year is almost over but she had a rough time at first.  Tough break, kiddo.  But she did get to perform in the school's Christmas show in January (Orthodox Christmas is January 7).  In typical Russian school fashion, I did not get the memo that she needed a folk costume until quite late.  I could have ordered one, but at that point it would have cost an arm and a leg.  I have mentioned before on this blog that I do not relish costume sewing. I sucked it up for economy's sake, and hit up Joann's for some red satin and sparkly trim.

I avoided the costume satin and sprang for some of the nicer stuff.  It wasn't as hard to work with as I'd feared and as it turns out, I actually enjoyed sewing this.

While doing so, I thought a lot about my Babushka, who sewed multiple sarafani (pinafores) for me and my sister while we were growing up.  I even used some of her old trim on the kokoshnik (headdress). As our dress-up bin contains a sarafan Babushka made me eons ago, I was able to examine it to figure out how to sew one.  It's a dead easy thing to make - three rectangles for the straps and bodice and a long billowy skirt.  Boom.

I could not get the fabric to photograph correctly for the life of me.

The kokoshnik was a little more difficult.  I ended up using heavy interfacing for the inside, which wasn't quite heavy enough, so it flops forward.

Cardboard would have been better.  And the kokoshnik was a little too big for her, but it worked.  If I ever need to make another one (and I hope I never do) I will probably make it about half the height.  For now, though, both items have been relegated to the dress-up bin.

Zoia wore the ensemble with an embroidered blouse my dad brought back from a well-timed business trip to Kyiv.  She totally didn't know any of the words* but she looked so cute on stage.

*she didn't know the words because, again, in true Russian school fashion, the song lyrics they sent home, and on which we painstakingly worked for two months, were not actually the lyrics to the songs they ended up singing during the performance.


  1. Looks great!! I don't like sewing costumes either but yours looks so very cute that I want to recreate :) Though my girls have too many things in their dress up bin.

  2. Oh she did look so cute! Communications seems to not be high priorit at Russian school? That would be so frustrating. I love the rich colours of this costume Masha

  3. Well done! The outfit looks bright, and I hope it will be enjoyed again and again. I wish my daughter had access to something Russian here... but there is nothing. Just me speaking "different English" hahaha


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