In Indonesia it is common for ladies to wear an all purpose house dress called a “daster”.
It is quite dusty in Indonesia so when we get home after spending some time outside the house it is normal to remove our shoes, usually give our feet a quick wash which has the dual effect of cleaning and cooling the feet. Changing out of our dusty clothes into some clean house clothes is the next step. These can be anything comfortable but for ladies and young girls it is common to change into a daster which can also double as nightwear. We often also take a shower after spending some time outside the house. Most people take two showers a day and they are also both cleansing and cooling. It does get awfully hot in that part of the world and the heat is relentless. It is hot all day and all night every night of the year, really in Indonesia there are only two seasons, hot season and very hot season.
When I was young and still living in Indonesia, we rarely used an air conditioner. When I think back now I wonder how we managed it. Although I’ve only been back one since we moved to NZ, I think that it has definitely gotten hotter since my days there.
When my mother in law (I call her mum) came to visit a month ago, it was the middle of winter in NZ. This didn’t stop her from getting inspired to sew some lovely dasters for my two munchkins. My MIL was a seamstress back in the day, she used to be very busy and highly sought after because she was one of the few who sewed in her village (by NZ standards, her village was a proper little city).
So when she asked me if I had any special requests for her to make, I told her that I can buy most things at the shops, but they don’t sell dasters in NZ. She sat down to make some paper patterns and told me how much fabric she needed. I went out to get some, mostly fabrics on sale, soft and light cottons that will be cooling in summer. I also bought some flannel for winter dasters.
Here are the results:
She used every last scrap of the horse fabric and managed to get out another little one for June.
This bold flowery fabric was a real steal, $3/m at 180cm width. I bought 1.5m and mum managed to get out two beautiful dasters for the girls. They look like proper summer dresses! And the fabric is lovely and cool to the touch.
Daster usually has the zip or opening on the front of the dress, so it’s easy to get in and out of. It is only meant to be worn at home, but I think these are so lovely I can get away with June wearing them while she accompanies me when I run short errands near our home.
I think we are all set and ready for summer now.
She also made some winter dasters out of cost flannel and worn pretty much everyday. They get worn again right after they come out of the wash. I think it would have been good if we had another set but winter is almost over… I feel it’s too late for me to attempt another pair.
Mum did leave me basic paper patterns for both girls, maybe I’ll attempt a summer dress. She made it look so easy and gave me some good tips.
I am very grateful to have such a lovely and talented mother in law. She has had a very colourful life with plenty of ups and downs. But she’s an optimist, a survivor and she has such a generous heart. I really admire her spirit.