Say Hello to the Sarong
copyright janet groene 2020
Most North Americans use the sarong (also known as a pareo, pireo or lava-lava) only as a swim suit cover up but in many nations it's worn as a skirt for women or men, a dress, head scarf/shawl and even pantaloons. It makes for a fun afternoon at a girls’ get-together to see how many different outfits you can create from one length of fabric.
Do a Google search for “sarongs” and you’ll find a huge choice of readymade pareos ranging from imported Balinese batiks to exotic African prints, washday homespuns and ruffled silks. It’s easy to make your own, though, even if you’re not a seamstress. It’s simply a rectangle of cloth without slits, straps or buttons.
No matter your size, shape or palette, a sarong will work for you.
Buy 2 to 2 ½ yards of 36-, 45- or 48-inch-wide fabric (the width of the fabric determines the length of the sarong) and hem the raw edges. If you don’t know how to sew, use iron-on fusing or hemming tape on raw edges. Or, if the fabric cooperates, you might fringe the raw edges.
Choose a cotton or blend in a tropical weight that is supple for easy tying and draping. If the fabric is too heavy it gets too thick in spots where it’s folded, rolled or tied. If it’s too thin, undergarments (or body parts) show through. See-through sarongs make good swim suit cover-ups but we’re talking here about sarongs as garments that require little or no other clothing.
For instructions on half a dozen or more ways to wrap and tie a pareo, do an internet search for “ways to tie a sarong. ” There are dozens of such sites. Incidentally, you don’t have it right until it stays put all day without pins. (Full disclosure: I never mastered that. A safety pin here and there might avoid a wardrobe malfunction.). The idea is to wrap it around the body, then roll down the top to secure it.
A true sarong folds flat like a sheet, so you can have half a dozen to use as garments, beach blankets, swim suit cover-ups or a light cover when grabbing a cat nap. They wash and dry as easily as handkerchiefs and usually require no ironing.
Look for fabrics you adore. While traveling in Indonesia I bought a beautiful batik sarong that now serves as a tableloth.
Love to travel? Wish you could travel more? Dream with author Farley Halladay, a widow who once lived on a boat and now travels vicariously through her online boat booking business. She also cooks, copes with caregiving and solves cozy crimes in this quirky series.
The latest is May Misfire. Then you’ll want to go back to read January Justice, February Felony, March Malice and April Avenger. https://amzn.to/3gJPBF2