Fluttering Skirt

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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.1-flutter-skirt

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.  1-flutter-flowers

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!

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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.1-vest-with-coins

Nipples Dress

1 nipples1 kate's mugI know what you’re thinking.  “These lurid post titles of hers are clickbait-desperate!”  But what else to call it?  When I found this plastic-coated, bumpy material at a stall in Bromley market, I immediately recalled my friend Kate’s ceramic and celebrated  nipples mug which I love to wrap my hands around whenever we drink coffee.  I inspected it, wondering what I could do with it and noticing it had stretch.  “Where does this come from?” I asked the stall-holder.  He smiled (finally!  Thank you 🙂 ) saying it’s from Ann Summers.

1 inverted1 kennethI got home shouting “look at this nipple fabric, whereupon my doubting Thomas of a husband said the appearance was more like bubble-wrap.  But then he pressed in one of the raised bumps and it.. well, inverted!

My kids are impressed by the fabric’s futuristic credentials.  This would work grandly for costumes in Dr Who.  And I love how from certain angles it looks like a carapace or armour.  Have you seen anything like it, either in fabric sales or on RTW?  I’ve tried to find out more with a combination of search terms on Google but to no avail. I know that dark blue and green had also been available.

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It was cheap – possibly reject – as it has quite a few flaws: creases and areas where the plastication is absent, which you can spot at the centre back zip.  I didn’t have enough to be picky about placement and in any case, as you can probably guess, this isn’t a dress to be worn too seriously!1 bye

1 sampleThe horizontal stretch is slight; too much pulling apart and the fabric deforms beyond recovery gaining the strange appearance of laddered tights 😯 .   Although it was only slightly temperamental to sew (I had to look out for skipped stitches), the hardest part to making this dress was not being able to press seams nor shape them as under the iron, the material darkens and the bumps flatten.

I used the Renfrew T-shirt pattern, size 8, elongated with the aid of my skirt block where I left the darts unsewn.  After the first fitting, I added bust darts (which sadly took off 3cm from the final length) plus contour darts at the back. And though I love making corded piping, it doesn’t really work here as there isn’t that sharp, flat edge that I would have achieved had I been able to use an iron.

You might think but where’s a girl to wear a dress like this to?!”  Well, I’m wearing it to the screening of the Rocky Horror Show tonight!

1 magenta space girl

Magenta, Domestic Goddess and Style Icon, plus her embarrassing brother