Skirt One, Skirt Two

1 JCrew Cheetah Wool ScarfRecently I’ve  noticed some very tempting Ready-to-Wear pieces of animal print labelled ‘Cheetah’, such as this ferociously expensive scarf from JCrew.  I assumed Cheetah was a just a fashionable way of saying Leopard and wondered if this faux fur I bought could be called Cheetah too.  faux leopard

But there’s an obvious difference I find, very scientifically explained here.  Cheetah fur – which looks slightly dishevelled compared to that of a sleek leopard – has spots of solid dark brown whereas leopard spots are ‘rosettes’ with a paler brown pooled inside.

Purry furry skirtThe interesting thing about my fabric is that it’s imprinted with a wavy texture which takes the nap in different directions.  I can’t help but being reminded of a certain IKEA mirror often present in student houses or in speedy home makeover programmes.  It’s called Krabb.  Oh look!  Like a right opportunist, I’m in IKEA standing next to Krabb and smiling cheesily while wearing my finished skirt!

I once snapped up a mere remnant of this fabric and made a mini as one of my first ever blogging tutorials.  It wasn’t my favourite garment but it was tactile, cute, the colours were warm and pleasantly glowing and I wore it till the lining shredded and the zip went.  This time, there was a whole bolt of the stuff in a shop on the Tesco side of Goldhawk Road.  I could have gone all-animal and made a long, curly wurly coat (and maybe I should) but instead, I bought a 1.5m and went A-line.

And there was enough to make a gathered skirt with a waistband for my daughter too.  Like the Krabb product, this was cheap, cheerful and in a pair.  But best not to be seen side by side!Leopard girl

1 cheetah hil

You want to get some meatballs now

Bloghopping

Pleated gotas de amor fabric, Alexander HenryOr to give it its original title – “Writing Process Blog Hop“. My turn at a blog circular of distant and unknown origin (I could Google it I suppose).  This asks nominees just four simple question which the writer then passes on to others.  The invitation came from the energetic and ever-vibrant Ruth. Ruth’s answers and some of the others I’ve seen make an interesting read.  A common reason given as to why we write is we feel that after years of helping ourselves from the Internet (Life’s Eternal College), it’s time to give something back. But if you want more, here goes:


Why do I write what I do?

I’m filling time by developing new skills.  After going on a pattern-cutting course three years ago, I designed and made a skirt for a friend (she was about to go on holiday, didn’t know what to wear, didn’t have time to shop).  I got high on the uncertainty of “will this work or not” followed by the relief of a job well done and decided to maybe become a dressmaker for others.  Sew2pro is a record of the projects in my transition from amateur to pro.


What am I working on now?

Oh at least four things 🙄

River Island Lace Collar dress1.  A close-fitting version of this velvet swing dress from River Island.  I do love it but the colour of the original is too close to my skin tone so that from the distance I’d appear nude.

Plus, the style of the collar is a bit “Jacobean gentleman”.

My version will be in lilac/grey.

The lace collar from Etsy has arrived…

1 Lace collar from Etsy

1 gotas de amor fabric

2. There are a few parties coming up, beginning with one on 1st November: the Day of the Dead, when I want to wear a skirt made out of this Gotas De Amor fabric.  Possibly a pencil skirt (with a long, turquoise-blue satin-lined kick pleat at the back) but please feel free to suggest other kinds!

3. I’ve pinned the fabric into pleats (casual, rather than measured) onto the dummy here as I’m experimenting with creating my own version of the outfit worn very gorgeously by the Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley below (click on picture for link to the original article).  It’s a kind of Dior look which I’m not sure I’m slight enough to pull off or if I can get away with it considering my (lack of) height.  Jess Cartner-Morley Powerdressing Guardian 17 October 2014

My version will be dark, between red and black, but equally glossy.  I’ve got the chunky watch already, the perfect shirt and – despite Jess’ advice – I will wear pearls.  Or mother-of!  Wish me luck with fabric shopping.

4. I’ve yet to write about the two skirts I made recently.  Tomorrow promises to be sunny so it’s photoshoot time.


How does my work differ from others in the genre?

It’s only about stuff I’ve sewn – and often designed.  I rarely ruminate, there are no reviews of the latest Burda Magazine (but do let me know if it ever stops being ‘orrible) and I’ll never just show some stash.  Sometimes I may sneak in some talking cat photos (after all, we all have our weaknesses) or the odd exhibition review, but only if it involves stitching.


How does my writing process work?

I decide what 6-8 points need to be made in a post then I chew them over while I go for a run.  I ask myself how to put them in order.  Back home I write incoherent, incomplete sentences – often while doing several other jobs – then I start tidying up the text.  Typically, one or two points get trashed for the sake brevity and flow, but if I’m lucky a kind of narrative emerges.  If I’m doubly lucky, I might even get an amusing or original title for the post.

Yeah I know, not this time 🙂


My nominees

Kate of Fit and Flare.  Kate has infinite knowledge and often reminds me that good presentation is an essential part of wellbeing rather than some vain preoccupation.  Kate, who works like a dynamo, has written her bloghopping post already.

Tialys who somewhere in south France sews, sells and looks after a charming menagerie of rescue animals 🙂

I also invite you to view the world of the illustrator and photographer Nicky Linzey who, like Ruth, I’ve come to think of as a good friend these past two years though we’ve never met.  Each of her posts is like a deep breath of the kind of fresh air we don’t get much of in Sarf London!

Sureau II: The Pumpkin

2 mjI know what you’re thinking: “What has she been eating?!?”  But it’s not me, it’s this dress!  In it I feel immediately transformed into a member of a strict religious sect.  Hiding a pregnancy.1 Sureau Pattern Envelope

Deer & Doe Sureau with added collar

1 Sureau placket with self-covered shank buttonsThis version of Deer & Doe’s Sureau is a size smaller than the one I made before: 36 in the bodice and 38 in the skirt.  It fits very well.  To avoid the Maoist simplicity of the original pattern, I once again added cuffs to the sleeves and a collar but this time with pointed tips.  I also reinforced the back of the button placket with another layer so the shank buttons are sewn into proper buttonholes and don’t ‘sag’.  I think this was a good upgrade which adds a bit of couture to a basic design.  For the collar, I’d award myself the mark 3/5 as it doesn’t quite sit flat.  I’d have persevered and cut it again to perfection had I more fabric and if the design was more flattering.  But the only way I’m gonna wear this dress is if all my other clothes and dressing gown get burnt in a fire.

1 batikPart of the problem was that I had so little fabric and this dictated the length of the skirt.  Look how it cuts across the legs with the knees at their thickest.  The fabric is beautiful: a rust-coloured cotton batik with cream-gold and black.  It comes from a collection my mother acquired when living in Indonesia some years back and I’m very grateful that she entrusted me with it.  Earth tones don’t suit me generally but I thought with the remains of a summer tan and some reddish tints in my hair (Sun damage?  Chlorine?  Not sure.) that I might be able to get  away with it.

5 mjAfter these photos were taken, I changed back into my normal colours and felt a genuine sense of relief that I was myself again.  This might however work as a giveaway!  If you know of any pale, over-attractive blondes, redheads or dark-skinned girls with a 28″ waist approx who need to play it down with a bit of pumpkin frock, send them to me!

P.S.  Have you read the Colour Analysis posts on Fit and Flare blog?  Kate is a great help if you’re after some virtual research into what colours may suit you and why.

autumn leaves in Shortlands

A Dress with Teeth…

Galarija Mestrovic… and a back story too.

1t SharkeezMy son turned 4 just after my daughter was born so the preparation for his birthday party in the year 2004 were somewhat bare bones.  Luckily, in the supermarket I found the best birthday cake ever!  It was very blue with the icing made to look like the sea and, swimming in it, a shark!  And dotted around, arms and legs.

The cake was very popular, not just for the torn limbs and the shark.  If you ever find yourself entertaining and want to drive your guests wild*, may I recommend you serve artificially coloured blue food?!  Wanting to repeat this serendipitous success, I’ve looked for Shark Attack Cake many birthdays since but the supermarkets no longer sell it and the shop assistants, when asked, look doubtful that it ever existed.

1 dress with teethHowever, a while back in Goldhawk Road, I found a fabric that immediately made me recall the fabled, gruesome product.  I bought it to make my son a Hawaiian shirt or some Bermudas but after suggesting this a couple of times, I got the impression he was totally indifferent to the idea.   So instead, for her 10th birthday I made my daughter a dress.

It’s basically two rectangles, the total width at least double the waist measurement plus seam allowances.  The dress is held up by two sets of rouleau  strips. The top edge is first finished with a rolled hem (I used a zigzag stitch, which looks like little teeth!).

Rouleau strips and zigzag roll hem

 The shirring begins 1.5cm below bodice edge, though with a toddler or a smaller person, you can start at 1.2cm and if making for an adult, then 2cm might be more in proportion, depending on the person.  The rows of shirring here are spaced 1.5cm apart, though once again, you should keep this in proportion if you’re making a dress for an adult.  And there’s no reason why the same ‘pattern’ couldn’t be used for a shirred bodice of a maxi dress.

Shark dress with extra teethYou might want to trim your dress with some teeth like I did.  I used two strips of bias in a silvery grey and bagged them after lots of zigzagging.  It added a few hours to the project which were worth it as this definitely gives the dress an edge!

If you’ve never tried shirring, it’s easy: normal thread on top, shirring elastic wound into the bobbin.  Experiment with scraps to get the right tension then draw your lines onto the right side of fabric and sew.

Tip: to keep the elastic inside bobbin when you begin winding, affix the end of elastic thread to the top of the bobbin case with a tiny sliver of Magic Tape.

Tip: don’t use grandma’s shirring elastic that you inherited with her haberdashery box.  Elastic has a shelf life so buy fresh!

My daughter wore the dress so much all summer that its red has begun to fade!  She wore it on the day of my son’s 14th birthday when we visited the Aquarium in my home town.  And look what happened there!  My dad got eaten by a shark…

Nice to be back!

1 Tata

* Note: in some countries, blue artificial food colouring is illegal!