It was a public holiday here in New Zealand today – Waitangi Day. And I had a pre-arranged half-day of sewing time, all to myself. Exciting!! *bounce*
Guess what I was planning to do with it? Finish off a top I’ve been making, cut out some trousers, and trace a couple of patterns.
Guess what I actually did with it? Finish off a top I’ve been making, and get all inspired by the Fashion Icon challenge at Project Sewn this week and make a skirt to go with said top.
Yep, that’s right – even with my sewing queue being crazy-long right now, I ignored it all and made a Dita von Teese inspired outfit today instead.
Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I rather admire Ms von Teese. She’s not a classic beauty, but she knows what works for her, and she appreciates good style and good quality. (Plus, she’s got a throwback to vintage styles thing going on, and I do happen to be rather fond of that.) Wish I could wear red lippy as well as she does…. *sigh*
(Admittedly, it currently clashes with my hair, which may be part of why it doesn’t work so well on me…. Hmmm…)
When I think of Dita, I think of things like woven fabrics, black, leopard, collars, wiggle skirts, and 1950’s pin-up style. (Plus that red lippy, of course.)
The top is the Alma top from Sewaholic patterns. It’s the first time I’ve used a Sewaholic pattern – I have another one planned for this month, so I’ll hold off having a strong opinion on them until I’ve tried a second pattern. (I will say one thing though – the tissue paper they use is extremely flimsy and horrible to work with when tracing. Do not like.) (I do like the way the pattern envelopes are making a rainbow of colour though – very cute!)
My Alma is made of quilting cotton, with the contrast collar in a black cotton drill. (Which, as it turns out, shows up all sorts of fluff when photographed.)
Originally, I made the Alma with sleeves, like so:
But unexpectedly, the sleeves were waaaay too tight on me under the arms. (Yeah – follow the line of my arm below and you may be able to spot the complete lack of any decent amount of ease at the underarm area there.) Not a problem I ever really have when sewing, so it came as quite a surprise!
So, those puppies had to come off. (If you look at the photos of the sleeveless Alma, you’ll see there’s no gaping around the arm sythe – good for sleeveless, not so good with sleeves in.)
The other key change I made to the Alma was the fastening. The pattern calls for a side zipper, but I kinda have a habit of getting stuck in garments with side zips. (Seriously. I’ve had some horror moments in changing rooms in the past where I’ve been stuck half-in, half-out of a dress or similar, completely unable to get it past my shoulders while taking it off, and in fear of bursting seams.) These days, I just avoid anything with a side zip that has to go over my shoulders. I changed it to a centre-back zip instead, a very easy change to make. Instead of cutting the back on the fold, I cut it with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8″ for you Americans). Used a 60cm long invisible zip and inserted it from the bottom, making sure there was about 3.5cm left between the neckline and the base of the zipper, to allow enough room to fold over the seam allowance.
Deviating from the pattern a bit, I did a bias facing rather than a neck facing (it just seemed a bit odd to have a collar and a neck facing….). Believe it or not, it was the first time I’ve done a bias facing. Heck knows how I’ve made it this far without doing one! So easy that I used it again on the armholes. The hem is bound with a vintage cotton tape. (Bias and tape in green and brown – shades of the jungle coz, you know, that’s where leopards hang out.)
The skirt is the “pink” Hummingbird skirt from Cake patterns. I’ve made this one before so it was nice and easy to put together (even without the instructions, as my copy of the pattern is away from home at the moment). I made it in the same cotton drill that the Alma’s collar is made from. And I completely forgot to take a photo, but the pockets are lined with the leopard print fabric I used in the top. Bringing the whole ensemble together, indeed.
I’ve changed size a bit since my last Hummingbird skirt, plus my last one sat lower than I’d like it to, so I cut one size smaller this time. (A bit of a mistake, as I haven’t lot weight around the hips – oops! Should have kept that piece the same size!) I ended up taking it in about one more size at the waist so it would sit on my actual waist (the pattern is drafted to sit about 1″ below the natural waist), and letting it out nearly a size around the hips.
Oh, and this time? I put the tail flounce on the right way round. 😉
Even though this is the longer of the two Hummingbird skirt variations, it ends up rather short on me when I sit down. Whenever I get around to making up the straight “orange” variation, I’ll have to length it by a good 10cm or it may not be all that ‘decent’ on me!
I’m pretty happy with this outfit. It’s not my usual style at all, but I think it has a definite ‘Dita’ flavour about it. And while I doubt I’ll wear the pieces together, I can see them getting a lot of wear individually. (In fact, I’m planning on wearing the top to work tomorrow with jeans. It’s a good, longer length for that.)
Right, better go and work on those trousers I was meant to be making today! 😉