Tag Archives: leopard print

FO: pink leopard rock and roll dress

31 Jul

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m stoked to be able to share my pink leopard rock and roll dress with you!

Bedroom eyes!

Bedroom eyes! Or psycho eyes. We weren’t sure. Photo courtesy Sarah

Like my skull and roses dress and flame dress before it, this was my annual make-the-most-crazy-dress-I-can for the Feet With Heat Dancer’s Ball (see here and here).

I first found and fell in love with the fabric at Global Fabrics (now The Fabric Store) a few years ago, but managed not to buy any. Then the fabulous MrsC gave me a remnant for my birthday a few months later!

Skip forward a couple of years and I’m planning my ball dress. I decided I want pink leopard and am hunting for a quilting cotton in the perfect shade of hot raspberry when I get a text from MrsC – “Global still has the pink leopard, and it’s HALF PRICE!!!” Although not the shade I had imagined, one does not look a pink leopard gift horse, err, leopard, in the mouth, so I strode in. As luck would have it, I ran straight into MrsC who was also succumbing to the sale (although, not on pink leopard) so she supervised as I took the bolt to the counter.

“4m please” I said. That’s plenty for a rock and roll dress.

MrsC cleared her throat. “She’ll take 10m thanks.”

“10m! Have you lost your mind!” I screeched.

“Trust me. This is like a SIGNATURE print for you. I’ve never forgiven myself for not buying more of that rose printed silk-cotton that I made the dress out of that I wore until it disintegrated. You’ll use it. Or you could sell it if you change your mind later. And it’s such a good price. Trust me…” she wheedled.

I have many mottos but one is never argue with your Wise Woman Advisor. I asked for 10 metres.

The assistant unrolled the fabric. At 4 metres we discovered it was cut. MrsC gave me the gimlet eye so I ask to to take the 10 metres in two pieces. The assistant measured out the remaining piece and there was only 7 metres on the bolt. MrsC now turned her gimlet eye to the assistant and suggested they give me the entire 11 metres – but only charge me for 10, due to the cut.

They obliged. And THAT is why you never argue with your Wise Woman Advisor. You want her on your side.

Dainty shot

Dainty shot. Photo courtesy Sarah

The fabric is cotton spandex blend, but heavy, more of a twill weave than a sateen weave. I settled on Butterick 5033.

Butterick 5033

Butterick 5033, I chose View A

First up, the mock-up. I did my normal trick of finding the finished measurements (for Butterick, printed on the bustline and waistline on the tissue paper) and graded between the sizes that looked the best, completely disregarding the size chart. After a hilarious episode where I attempted to teach Mechanic Man to pin the centre back closed (honestly, the man can strip and rebuild an engine, but explain to him that the pointy bit goes in and comes out parallel to but 1.5 cm away from the edge and he’s completely lost), I got into the bodice. And WOE! Woe is me! The bottom wouldn’t even touch.

My first bodice toile. Oh no!

My first bodice toile. Oh no!

I mournfully looked at the photo that Mechanic Man took for me and started mentally calculating the potential-faffing-about-factor, and resolved there was only one solution.

One does not have a Wise Woman Advisor in the family just for fabric peer pressure. I took my bodice to MrsC.

I’d already resolved the shoulder seams needed to be reduced to 1cm, and did this on arrival. Then I got pinned in (with much more efficiency) and waited for the diagnosis. MrsC, in the magical ways of Wise Woman Advisors throughout the ages, clicked her tongue, produced a ribbon, tied it around my natural waist, cut off the fabric under the ribbon, and pronounced it fixed.

No, seriously. It was a perfect fit. Just Like That. (Wise Woman Advisors – you should get one).

Swishy shot

Swishy shot. Photo courtesy Sarah

It was a piece of cake after that. I lined the bodice with some hot pink stretch cotton poplin I fortuitously bought at the same time I bought the black stretch cotton for the bodice of my flame dress with the startlingly acute realisation that pink would feature in my future (and likely will over and over again). I measured the seamline on my new bodice and the skirt and they were so close I decided not to adjust the skirt, but to make as per the pattern and take in the side seams if needed to meet the bodice. It’s not like the skirt of that volume would suffer.

I did however discover the underarms sagged quite unattractively. So I used MrsC’s taping method and eased it on quite aggressively. Perhaps too aggressively, there are some little puckers when I’m not wearing it, but I’m totally pleased with the effectiveness of this technique.

Armhole before taping, You can see that much of my bra because of the gaping.

Armhole before taping, You can see that much of my bra because of the gaping.

The other side, already taped, and fitting close to the skin

The other side, already taped, and fitting close to the skin

The skirt was a bit of a deliberately brave move for me. It has a centre front seam and three knife pleats either side. Did I really want pleats in the centre front or should I stick with a circle skirt? Did I need the extra bulk right of pleats and all that additional fabric right over my prominent tummy?

That was the thought that did it for me.  As a body positivity enthusiast, but not yet very experienced self-practitioner, I decided to give a silent SCREW YOU to whoever decided that women only look good with tiny waists and wear the skirt because I like it and that is the only opinion on the face of the planet that matters when it comes to what I wear. Plus, you know, I’d never made pleats before.

The pleats were easy, the skirt sewed up really straightforward (although I did get worried at one point as I attempted to maneouver the entire skirt across my sewing table that I was going to get trapped under it and weeks later they’d finally find me buried under 3 tonnes of leopard print) and the dress was done!

More swishing. Big skirts plus petticoats demand it.

More swishing. Big skirts plus petticoats demand it. Photo courtesy Sarah

I had originally decided to do the cutout, for a few reasons. First, it’s on the pattern. Second, I like cut-outs on principle. And third, I need lots and lots of ventilation in a dancing dress. But after putting the bodice together, I was worried about attempting the cutout. What if I hated it? What if I cocked it up? I certainly couldn’t undo it! So I made a sample to test out the method and the look. I wasn’t convinced.

So I took my sample along to the WSBN meet-up at the Home Sewn exhibtion at The Dowse Museum (which I never blogged about but others did). The conclusion was pretty universal. Cut out plus pink leopard might just, well, go in a direction that I didn’t want to go in. So I abandoned that. But one day, I will make this dress (or a variation thereoff) and the cutout WILL happen! (Entertaining side story, as well as passing my sample around, MrsC did an impromptu bodice fitting in the middle of The Dowse, in a room filled with hundreds of people, to the entertainment of the WSBN members watching.)

Twirly!

Twirly! Photo courtesy Sarah

The weekend of the ball I had my regular monthly craft day at my house, and my lovely friend Miss La Belle attended. A couple of days before, at class, a fellow dance student asked if Punk Flatmate and I would be wearing matching outfits again, as they’d loved the matching flame outfits, and almost the same day Collette released their tutorial for a men’s necktie. Miss La Belle was looking for a project to do and volunteered to make the neck tie out of the scraps of my dress, and it came out AMAZING. But her awesomeness doesn’t stop there. Inspired by the pink and chocolate combination, she also made me two pairs of earrings and a necklace in that colour combo! I wore the studs on the night.

Lots of skirt!

Lots of skirt! Photo courtesy Sarah

The day of the ball rolled around, and as I normally do, I booked the skilled Claire of The Vanity Case to do my hair and makeup. Miss La Belle decided not to stop her awesomeness just with a necktie and jewellery and came over on the day to day Punk Flatmate’s hair pink to match and also painted my nails for me. IN PINK LEOPARD. Hell yeah!

Oh yeah. Pink leopard fingernails!

Oh yeah. Pink leopard fingernails!

I think it was one of the best hair and makeup jobs Claire has done yet, and I couldn’t believe it was really me in the mirror when she was done. Unfortunately, she’d had a really slim window to come over before I had to leave for the ball, so I skipped photos at home, thinking I’d use the event photographer to make up for it. She did take this snap on her phone though.

Hair and makeup by The Vanity Case

Hair and makeup and photo by The Vanity Case

Unfortunately, there was no event photographer! So Punk Flatmate and I asked some friends to take some snaps, but none of them really turned out spectacularly, but I’m still pretty sure you can get the idea that WE LOOKED FREAKING AMAZING HELL YEAH WE DID.

We're looking at two different cameras, whoops! But check out that awesome tie and matching mohawk! Isn't he gorgeous!

We’re looking at two different cameras, whoops! But check out that awesome tie and matching mohawk! Isn’t he gorgeous! Photo courtesy Julian. Or Chris.

But the lack of event photos means no action shots of my skirt and petticoats flying and flashing my hot pink knickers I bought for the occasion. But I can’t leave you without a twirling pic at all can I!

Obligatory mid twirl photo

Obligatory mid twirl photo. Photo courtesy Sarah

Guess what! There are two more items for this ensemble to show off. But given my complete inability to blog in 50 words or less, I’m saving them for the next post!

FO (from the archives): leopard print circle skirt

5 Apr

Hello strangers. Well, really, I’m the stranger around here. It’s been a while. Why? Well, lately, my sewjo has been absent. As has my knittingjo, craftingjo, and bloggingjo. In fact, the only jo I’ve had much to do with is Johanna from Making it Well, who I have been lucky enough to have a couple of play dates with. Thank goodness for that Jo!

But it’s time to get back on the horse (completely switching metaphors there). So, here’s an overdue post on an overdue post. The photos were taken in January. The garment was finished 2 years before that! It’s a meta-archival post.

This is my leopard print circle skirt. I love it.

Leopardy goodness

Leopardy goodness

But it is a tale of woe. And a tale of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Settle in for the telling.

I started this skirt waaaaay back in October 2011, on the same holiday I started my blue top of adversity. In case you haven’t committed all my posts to memory (the shock!) and haven’t clicked through the link (the horror!) the short version is I’d booked a sewing holiday at my wonderful mum’s house, got bronchitis the day I arrived, and spent my entire holiday in an illness-induced brain fade, and attempted to sew anyway. This was a bad idea. Do not sew when oxygen deprived – it turns out you need your brain for sewing.

Everything that could go wrong, did. The top bore the brunt of it, but my simple circle skirt did not pass unscathed.

I still love leopard and blue as a combination

I still love leopard and blue as a combination

First the fabric itself. Wow, this project was a real stashbuster! Mama Magpie gave me this cotton for my birthday about 12 years earlier (yes, 12) and I decided I finally knew what to do with it. That, the blue fabric, and half a dozen or so other fabrics all went into my suitcase.

The first thing I did on arriving was throw all my fabric through the washing machine. That was the first of many bad moments over the course of that holiday. One of my pieces was red and all of my fabric came out pink rinsed! Argh! A quick trip to the pharmacy for run remover (and drugs) and two passes through the run remover mostly fixed it all up. The white on some of the prints still has a vaguely off-white cast to it, but not so much that you’d notice if you didn’t know.

In one of the few successful moments of the trip however, I decided I preferred the leopard with the pink rinse. It softened up the white in the print into something more flesh toned, which I thought went better with the caramel and gold tones, so I left it like that!

Twirling action!

Twirling action!

The next issue came with the cutting out. Being a craft cotton, the fabric was quite narrow,so I knew I’d have to check my yardage. I read the pattern envelop BUT – the pattern includes a version with a contrast band at the bottom, and that was the version my fuzzy brain read. I had just the right amount! Or so I thought. It was only when I went to cut out the second half circle on the correct line, and couldn’t fit it onto the fabric, that I realised what I’d done. So I cut both half circles at the shorter length too, but now I needed a contrast strip for the skirt!

Mama Magpie had to do a days work in Auckland, about 2 hours south of us, and my original plan was to go with her to Auckland and spend the day in  our Auckland office. Being too sick to do this, I lay at home for a day while Mama worked, and she very kindly fabric shopped for me in her lunch break! She couldn’t find a coordinating cotton, but did find a beautiful chocolate linen to go with it.

more twirling action!

more twirling action!

To ensure the contrast band remained the same width all the way around and wasn’t affected by the bias dropping, I left the skirt to hang for a few days without the band, and then Mama levelled the skirt for me. As the levelled hem isn’t perfectly even (given my uneven body), I then pinned the skirt out on a cutting board and painstaking drafted a band that was the exact same shape as my skirt. Except I forgot to add seam allowances. Which I only realised after starting to cut. So then I had to check I had enough fabric left to cut it correctly (which I did, just) and cut it out again. Then, Mama’s fella gave me a couple of items to use as fabric weights, but one of them was a box that had an oil container in it that he’d forgotten about, and it leaked oil onto my fabric. Luckily most of it was outside the cutting zone, but I was starting to despair ever getting it finished!

So Mama in her ever so helpful way offered to sew the bands on to the skirt for me – but I told her the front and back the wrong way around, so all of my careful drafting was for nowt, and the side seams didn’t match up!

Whats a girl to do with a twirly skirt but show off a bit off knee?

Whats a girl to do with a twirly skirt but show off a bit off knee?

To top it off, I didn’t have enough leopard print left over for the correct length waistband, so there’s no underlap – instead, the edges abut perfectly and there are 4 hooks and eyes along the edge to do the waistband up.

Sometimes, just finishing something is an achievement!

But despite the agony and the irritations and the tears (and between this and the blue top, oh there were tears), I love the finished skirt. And then for some reason I never got around to taking photos of it. So when Juliet of Crazy Gypsy Chronicles arranged and WSBN meetup at the zoo to coincide with Jungle January, and I was too busy to make something for it, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to get my lovely leopard skirt the photos it deserved.

The awesome ladies of teh WSBN at the zoo: L-R Jo, Juliet, me, Zara, Sophie, Kat, Sandra, Gemma

The awesome ladies of teh WSBN at the zoo: L-R Jo, Juliet, me, Zara, Sophie, Kat, Sandra, Gemma

I had a fabulous time at the zoo with members of the always-awesome WSBN. Ladies, it is always a pleasure and privilege to hang out with you!

And of course, there were SO MANY CUTE CRITTERS! (Other than us of course, hehe).

OK, not my skirt - but LOOKITHEMEERKATS!

OK, not my skirt – but LOOKITHEMEERKATS!

Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, I have no photos of it with the blue top, which I had intended to wear together – the blue top has already been harvested of its buttons and disposed of. One day I will make another beautiful blue top to go with the leopard (which we all know is a neutral, right?) but until then, I’m enjoying wearing it with blue tops that have given me much less grief!