Archive for posts tagged with ‘sarong’

Sep 16 2014


about sarongs and pareos / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

SG-404-BI knew there were many uses for a sarong, but I never thought a sarong could save a relationship. Hearing from Louisiana customer Marina M. made me realize that I’m just beginning to understand the versatility of the sarong.

As Marina tells it, she had recently met the guy of her dreams, Jimmy. He was more laid-back than she, but that was part of his appeal. The relationship progressed so well that Jimmy wanted to introduce Marina to his parents in Los Angeles. Flying out there would have been simple—too simple. They were both captivated by the thought of a long road trip together. So they set out without, in retrospect, very much preparation.

The car had been parked in the sun all morning. Marina hopped in, let out a shriek that could be heard all around the neighborhood, and went leaping out. The seat was painfully hot. Her towel was at the bottom of her duffel bag, but her sarong was easily accessible. She tied the two corners of the short end together and looped them around the headrest. Voila! A seat cover to shield her from the hot leather.

Since it was summer, Marina and Jimmy thought they’d save money by staying at campgrounds. The first morning, a major difference in their styles became evident. Jimmy didn’t mind rolling out of bed and getting on the road again. Marina absolutely had to have a shower before venturing into the world. The campground did boast a shower, but Marina was horrified to find that it was an outdoor shower with no privacy whatsoever. It was used by people wanting to rinse sand off after a day at the river. Jimmy was much amused. Marina was not.

“Whose bright idea…” Marina was beginning to think she and Jimmy were not at all compatible when she suddenly got a bright idea herself. Using a rope tied at one end to a post and at the other to a tree, she draped her sarong along the rope, creating a makeshift shower curtain. “That was the quickest shower I ever took,” she related.

The next night promised to be much better. They were staying with friends of Jimmy’s who had a pleasant little home along their route. Indoor plumbing and a shower curtain were in place. Marina checked.

The problem began after the friends had gone to bed. Marina and Jimmy were to sleep on the sofa. They shared the living room with a beautiful—and very loud—parrot. Not used to company at night, the parrot took the opportunity to converse with its roommates in the living room, which got a lot of light from outside. It promised to be a sleepless night until Jimmy got an idea.

“Where’s your sarong?” he asked. Marina handed it to him silently. She was beginning to think about flying home. He draped it over the parrot’s cage and silence descended. Marina and Jimmy and presumably, the parrot, got a good night’s sleep. Marina recalls, “We were still speaking to each other when we got to L.A. I know it seems simple and even a little silly to say this but I doubt we would have been if not for the sarong.”

Aug 18 2014


about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

Blue and Turquoise on Black Batik SarongThe Milando family awaited the beginning of the school year with mixed feelings. Arturo couldn’t wait for school to begin. He had made the varsity soccer team and was eager to get out on the field. Schoolwork came easy to him, and he never dreaded the start of a new year. Cesar was just as bright but less focused. He wished the summer would go on forever.

Celia, their mom, knew she’d miss the unpressured family time they had during the summer. She wasn’t looking forward to another over-scheduled school year, but she was looking forward to more time to devote to her fledgling art gallery. So when her effervescent friend, Margit, called with one of her characteristic great ideas, Celia was ready to jump on board.

“Let’s have one last, terrific, blow-out, end-of-summer picnic. We’ll invite all the kids’ friends, all our friends, our book group, everyone. We’ll give the summer one big good-bye party,” said Margit, in what seemed like one breath.

“Count me in,” said Celia. “It’s got to be beautiful. Casual but beautiful. I’ll be the artistic director.”

While Margit was lining up great food, Celia was planning the decorations. Borrowing an idea she had seen at a recent wedding, she got gorgeous imported sarongs as tablecloths for all the picnic tables. She splurged for some extras and hung them along the fence to provide both privacy and beauty. Still other sarongs served as picnic blankets.

When the day of the picnic arrived, Celia was up at the crack of dawn decorating the picnic area. It was a riot of color. All the guests ooh’d and aah’d as they arrived with gourmet food and drinks. Two guests were in a band together, and live music rounded out the afternoon. People grabbed sarongs as impromptu costumes and danced to the music.

“Isn’t this the best picnic ever?” Celia and Margit kept saying to each other. The departing guests all said, “Let’s do it again next year!”

Taking down the sarongs, it dawned on Celia that she could use them to decorate her art gallery. “They really are works of art,” she said to Margit as she folded the last one.

Aug 13 2014


about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

Dark Green with Pink Flowers Premium Batik SarongRemember Lisa’s great idea to give sarongs to her guests as wedding favors? They were incredibly popular, and guests danced the night away in them. Lisa told me to expect a call from one of her bridesmaids, and sure enough, Allana called soon after.

She was in a flurry of preparations for her upcoming fall wedding, and she was worried. The outdoor venue Allana had chosen offered a beautiful view, and it became truly magnificent as the sun was setting. That was the time Allana had set for the ceremony. Now that the invitations were sent and the spot reserved for that time, she was concerned that guests who dressed for a warm fall day would be very chilly once the sun began to set. Instead of enjoying the view and the unique ceremony, they would be standing there shivering.

Allana had arrived at Lisa’s wedding stewing over this problem. She tried to take her mind off it and be really present as one of Lisa’s bridesmaids, but the thought kept creeping back. Would her guests leave in the middle of the ceremony? Would she forever hear about how 90-year-old Uncle Wifred who was complaining during the entire ceremony about how cold it was?

It wasn’t until Lisa gave out sarongs as wedding favors that it struck Allana: Here was her answer! Sarongs! She’d have a basket of them at the entryway. If guests were getting chilly, they could drape a sarong over themselves. Would it work? Would they do it?

Allana chose her sarongs carefully, with a mix of solid colors and prints, bright colors and muted tones. She hoped there’d be something for everybody. I waited to hear back from her, curious about how it had worked.

Sure enough, Allana called me, ecstatic about the outcome. The afternoon had indeed turned chilly as the sun began to set, and there was a bottleneck around the sarong baskets as guests chose their color. Women helped each other find a sarong that went well with their dress. “Here’s a dusky purple one for you, honey. It goes perfectly with what you’re wearing.”

Men who had worn sports jackets didn’t really need one, but when they noticed other men in shirtsleeves picking a sarong, they dove in, too. A festive atmosphere prevailed. The idea was a great success.

Jul 28 2014

Sarongs and the Art of Batik

about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

Blades of Grass Batik Sarong (1)We like to focus on the amazing versatility of the sarong, but did you ever wonder what gives sarongs their stunning and original designs and those vibrant colors? It’s the batik process that’s used. Batik is an ancient art that has been practiced over the centuries in different parts of Asia, Africa, and India. Indonesia and Java are noted for their long history of making fine batik clothing and decorative items.

Tahitians brought their art to the island of Hawaii long before it was part of the United States, and Hawaii has developed its own tradition of batik.

The ancient tradition of using wax and dye is still practiced in many of these countries. Areas of the cloth are brushed with wax, and the cloth is then dyed. The areas covered with wax resist the dye and retain their original color. Highly skilled craftspeople repeat the process for more elaborate designs. After the process is complete, the wax is removed and the piece is ready.

The word “batik” is thought by some to be derived from a Malay word meaning “to write.” Others say it’s from a Javanese word, “tik,” meaning “to dot.” The art is, in fact, very common on the island of Java. When batik was first developed in Java, it was for the exclusive benefit of royalty and nobility. Royal women practiced batik as a hobby. Particular designs were the property of aristocratic families. The family’s status could be ascertained through these proprietary designs.

Today, tradition holds that certain designs have their own meanings and that they confer good luck and prosperity to those who wear them.

Batik artists today work with various fabrics such as silk, cotton, wool, and leather. Batik is also done on paper. The ancient craft is practiced in China and Europe as well as in the traditional strongholds of Malaysia, Java, and India.  Here at Turtle Island Imports, we are proud to carry stunning sarongs and other items of beauty and originality from the Indonesian island of Bali.

Jul 14 2014

A Sarong by Any Other Name

about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 4 years ago -

Would a sarong by any other name be as beautiful and useful?

Would a sarong by any other name be as beautiful and useful?

We know that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Would a sarong by any other name be as beautiful and useful?


We’ve talked about some of the many uses for a sarong or pareo. Perhaps you’re wondering about the countries where these versatile garments are used, and the different names they are known by.


When you hear the word “sarong,” you may picture a beautiful Balinese woman wearing one. Sarongs are worn in many countries, from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Southeast Asia, to parts of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In some places the rectangular lengths of fabric are worn by both men and women. Malaysian men wear their checked-pattern sarongs only when attending Friday prayers at the mosque. Women in Malaysia wear theirs every day. Arab fishermen in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean also wear sarongs. In Sri Lanka, sarongs are traditionally worn only by men and mostly as casual dress at home, since the culture views them as a sign of the lower classes.


The word sarong derives from a Malay word meaning “sheath.” The sarong is the traditional clothing of Java and the Malaysian archipelago, where it is wrapped around the body and tied, usually at the waist.


In different cultures, sarongs are called by different names.  In certain parts of Africa, sarongs worn by men are termed “kangas;” those worn by women are known as “kikois.” In Saudi Arabia, one hears the name “izaar;” in Oman, they’re known as “wizaars.” In the south of India you might hear the term “mundu,” referring to sarongs worn at religious ceremonies. The better-known name for a sarong in India is “sari,” which means “strip of cloth” in Sanskrit. Saris tend to contain more fabric and be tied differently than the Southeast Asian sarong.


In Jhumpa Lahiri’s bestselling novel, Unaccustomed Earth, the title story’s protagonist speaks of her Indian mother owning 218 saris. That does seem like a lot. But when you consider the many different colors, designs, fabrics, and patterns, well, it still seems like a lot. Then compare it to the number of shoes some women own. Okay, we admit it. 218 is a staggering number of sarongs/saris. We’d love to hear from readers about the number of sarongs you or your friends own and the different ways you use them.


A sarong by any other name is still a comfortable, convenient, beautiful, and versatile cover-up. The possibilities are numerous, and we’ll explore more of them in future blog articles. Watch this space for more great ideas for using your sarongs this summer.

Jun 18 2014

Going Camping? Pack a Sarong or Two

about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 4 years ago -

Use your sarong as a clothesline

Use your sarong as a clothesline

Sun protection

After you’ve successfully filtered and enjoyed your morning coffee you pack up and hit the trail. The sun gets hotter and hotter, and you start to wilt. A flash of inspiration: you reach into your backpack, take out your sarong and drape it over your head and shoulders. You suddenly have cool, lightweight protection from the sun.

Baby Cover-up

At noon, you meet up with your friends, bravely hiking with their two-month-old baby and their lively five-year-old. You all settle in for lunch, grateful for the break. Baby wants lunch, too—right now—but your friend is shy to nurse her in public. Another fishing expedition into the backpack. Another brilliant use for the sarong:  a lightweight, effective breastfeeding cover-up. Baby is fed, and peace descends over the picnic lunch.


After lunch, everyone except the baby takes a quick dip in the lake to cool off. This delightful dip generates wet clothing and towels that you don’t want to stuff back into your packs. The five-year-old alone seems to have gotten several towels wet. You again reach for the sarong, spread it diagonally, and twist it into a rope. Securing each end with a twist-tie from the lunch food, you hang it between two trees and drape the wet laundry over it.

Everyone takes a little siesta, and when you’re ready to hit the trail again, you find that the wet things have dried and you’re ready to be on your way.

Happy camping with your sarongs!

Apr 24 2014

Sarongs for All Body Types

about sarongs and pareos / uses for sarongs - 4 years ago -

The word “sarong” usually conjures up images of a brightly colored wraparound skirt on some lean beach body, usually a girl. This is usually the case in most resort settings, especially in the tropics, where the sarong is part of customary garb.

Plus Size Sarong - Rainbow Colored Tie-Dye Sarong

Plus Size Sarong – Rainbow Colored Tie-Dye Sarong

In the tropics, you will find that the sarong has long been worn by both men and women and that the stereotypical beach body is more the exception than the rule.  On many Pacific islands you will find the population wearing sarongs or pareos as a regular part of their dress. Men are often seen wearing a dark sarong with a light-colored button-down shirt for office wear. And many women wear the sarong with blouses or as dresses, regardless of figure.

Think, in this case, of Juanita Hall, who plays Bloody Mary in South Pacific. Bloody Mary is not exactly petite; she embodies the typical figure of more mature women in the Pacific islands, especially among Polynesians, with more than the usual curves. However, it does not dissuade them from wearing a garment that can be both loose and form-fitting at the same time, a garment that is solidly part of their culture and tradition.

The sarong’s versatility should not be limited by the impression that it is limited only to a small segment of the population of the world. Anyone can wear a sarong (in appropriate styles and venues, of course). If men can wear the sarong with their business shirts and even as a complement to their cutaway coats, then women can also use it for regular wear.

There are many fastening methods to use. One favorite is to tuck a loose end into a fold that will hold for much of the day, although a safety pin handy would be recommended. For color and texture, it can be as bright and multi-colored as one would desire, with some models bearing metallic threads as major accents to complement the rich hues of more formal variants. More casual sarongs will be of a lighter, beach worthy cotton or rayon, and may be batik, tie-dyed or printed.

Remember that the sarong’s versatility as a variable garment or accessory is complemented by the diversity of its wearers. Therefore, to any woman who wants to wear one but thinks it won’t suit her figure, here’s my two cents: wear it and rock it.


Apr 18 2014

The Traveling Sarong

about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / uses for sarongs - 4 years ago -

The woman traveler never knows if her kit is properly made up. For the most part, sensible footwear and walking clothes are standard, as are a change of shirt, socks, and underwear. Once in a while, even the dusty traveler might be invited to visit someplace that has a dress code (e.g. a place of worship or a fancy restaurant) in their current host country. In one of those spur of the moment cases, what does one do?

Solid Black Sarong

Solid Black Sarong

Fortunately, she can be thankful for the sarong, one of the most practical and versatile garments that has ever graced a wardrobe. Next to the little black dress that fashion icon Coco Chanel popularized as a must-have, the sarong has entered our style lexicon as a go-to item “just in case’ of a lot of things. It’s long, lightweight, and can be used in so many settings.

In principle, a sarong (or pareo, as some Polynesian people call it) is a rectangular piece of fabric that is wrapped around one’s waist as a skirt. It can be one and a half to two yards or more long and usually drapes from the waist to the ankles.

Among many cultures, the sarong and its local variants constitute a regular part of both sexes’ wardrobe. Men and women have worn it for centuries, especially in tropical climates (like in Tonga or Myanmar) or in arid coastal sites (as in Yemen) to the point that they survived the introduction of pants. These days, however, we are more likely to associate the sarong with the fairer sex as beachwear or light casual wear. For the beach, it doubles as a wraparound skirt over your swimsuit and as your beach blanket and mat. In town, you can wear it as a dress (when knotted properly) or as a shawl. If you need a pouch in a jiffy, you can transform your sarong into a handy tote to carry some lightweight belongings.

As a textile product, the sarong comes in a variety of lightweight fabrics like rayon and cotton, even silk for dressier occasions. The basic fabric can be dyed in a spectrum of colors and patterns, ranging from solids to tie-dyed and beautiful batik. It is this versatility in appearance that adds to the value of a sarong as a stand-alone garment or an accessory; the right sarong for the right occasion. Personally, a solid colored sarong in any dark hues (such as black, gray, or navy) will do double duty for any travel need.


Nov 10 2010

Thanksgiving Sarong Use… Coordinating Mismatched Chairs!

Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 7 years ago -

How to use sarongs to cover mismatched chairs around your holiday table. I love Thanksgiving. As much as I like cooking, eating, and visiting with family and friends, my favorite part is setting the table. It is an occasion to bring out the nice china, find all the matching cloth napkins, make a cute little center piece with construction paper and pumpkins…Batik Leaf Sarong in Orange

One challenge we always have in our home is chairs. We have 6 chairs around our table on a normal day, but what do you do when you have 8 or 10 people coming over? Then is it time to bring out the rolling desk chairs, the front hall chair, even that antique chair I painted in rainbow colors when I was 15. Sometimes I borrow folding chairs if I am really desperate…

Well, here is a nifty idea to coordinate all those mismatched chairs for a neat look.

Simply draping a sarong or pareo over a chair has a nice effect. You can use the fringe to tie it to the top and legs so it doesn’t slip. For a desk chair, you can tie the fringe under the arm to a pinched piece of fabric on each side to create a nicely draped but secure chair cover.

Then for the piece de la resistance, you can use a matching sarong as a table runner. Voila – a Thanksgiving table and chair set! You could give the sarongs to your guests as party favors but you’ll probably fall in love with them, so make sure to keep a few for yourself.

This year I am using this sarong, in orange, to cover my chairs.

Just another great use for a sarong!

Nov 1 2010

How to Decorate Your Rented Space

Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 7 years ago -

In every home, apartment and room I’ve ever rented, I’ve always fretted about putting nails in the walls to decorate my space. Sadly, getting my full deposit back has been privileged over personal style.

I discovered the joys of sarongs in this phase of my life. I could add color and flair to my space with push pins! Sarongs are light enough to stay put with the lightest of touches. I have even hung curtains by just tying the fringe to the existing venetian blinds mounting.

As the daughter of sarong importers, I’ve had a hard time choosing from all the gorgeous, hand painted sarongs. Needless to say, I have quite a collection by now. But they are inexpensive, easy to launder and quite unique. Of all the art I hang in my home, the handpainted sarongs always garner the most attention.

Here is my latest favorite decorative sarong.

Richly Textured and Intricately Hand-Painted Lush Jungle Waterfall Sarong

Hand Painted Balinese Sarongs – For Your Home