As a kid at the seaside I used to be fascinated by rubbery hats adorned with large fluttery flowers worn by the kind of slowly-swimming ladies who didn’t like getting their hair wet. My mother had a different kind of hat, though equally fascinating, as it made your head look like a hedgehog. She never wore it but I did, indoors, and can still remember the feeling of patting my hands over the hundreds of bendy spines as the hat gripped snugly around my head.
When I found this fabric (£5 per metre in Rashid’s Fabric House on Goldhawk Road) I was delighted – it immediately evoked the swimming caps of yesterday! Admittedly the colour is black but there is no sobriety to this fabric whatsoever. The flowers flutter excitedly as I move!
I decided to turn it into a skirt. It’s an atypical choice: I’ve always sought to detract from my sagging saddlebags by keeping the silhouette below the waist smooth. But having shrunk in recent years and with the recent craze for decent derrieres, I’ve decided it would be fun and mould-breaking to build up a little in that department!
It’s a pencil cut with a kick pleat at the back. I lined it as the poplin is rather thin.
The base fabric is cotton, a light poplin. The flowers must be polyester: they’re very lightweight, sharply cut and don’t fray. Since buying this fabric in June I’ve seen similar flowers used in rather unsophisticated RTW, as detail on a shirt front for example.
Each flower is attached in its centre by a couple of small stitches which I suspect are also backstitched as they take some time to unpick.. And I would advise to unpick: catching the petals in the seams would not look good so it’s helpful to use the sequin-sewing approach of removing attachments from the seamlines before sewing. But unlike with sequins, I was able to move some petals temporarily out of the way by basting them folded back and removing the basting once the stitching was done. I also removed the flowers from joined pieces in places where two flowers would overlap.
While I was in Canada in July, my aunt and I had a laugh on the topic of being handed hand-me downs, something of a tradition amongst Croatians. She then offered me some of her mostly new or hardly worn clothes which I accepted because she has great taste but also because I thought it would keep a kind of connection across the ocean every time I wear her things. This silk top is one of my favourites from her stash. It looks peach but is dusky pink. It’s very understated, unlike the skirt. I wore this outfit to the Tate last weekend and the skirt raised a smile with a couple of passers-by. I wonder if they were reminded of swimming caps!
But wait, there’s another connection to Canada. In Ottawa’s Museum of War I saw this Tlingit Armour, a leather shirt covered in Chinese coins which provide protection while signifying status. It must shake some, huh? It reminded me of my skirt: like a po-faced, less frivolous brother.