Isn’t this fabric just delicious?? It’s like a Dutch still life-Ted Baker mash-up. I found it in a beautiful tailor’s shop in Hoi An, Vietnam back in the summer of 2013; unlike the market stalls and smaller, cheap and cheerful stores this shop was an exquisite Aladdin’s cave of elegance. Dark wood, high ceilings, immaculate silk-clad assistants, and roll upon roll of cloth gorgeousness. I instantly regretted my decision to travel light, but having already stuffed every empty backpack pocket with fabrics from the famous market, I was stuck. I had to choose, and choose wisely, and this was my choice.
From then on, it should’ve been straightforward. But the path of true love, etc, etc. I knew I wanted a skirt, because the moment I saw this fabric I recalled these Ted Baker beauties:
I knew I wanted to use as much of this lovely stuff (don’t ask me what type of fabric it is – I’m afraid I haven’t the foggiest) as possible, and I thought gathers was the way to go (trying to be original; failing). The inevitable result – a way, way too full skirt that made me look like I had a late ’90s TV set for a bum. Ever so slightly less than flattering. I was so traumatised by the bum-enlargement that I put the skirt aside for months, and tried to not to look at it, or my derriere.
Take 2. 2015. My brain finally accepted what it should’ve known all along: if Ted Baker has done it, it must be good. Go pleat! BUT, still focused on squeezing in as much fabric as possible, I lost sight of the whole picture and accidentally made myself a teensy waistband. The sort that I could just about zip up, but then would instantly vanish between my flesh and the skirt. Not pretty, not comfy, not cool.
Take 3. This week. A new waistband. Final abandonment of the ‘the more fabric the lovelier’ misconception. Neat pleating. Ta-dah! The skirt is pleated all the way around, but whilst the pleats on the front are sewn straight, perpendicular, those on the sides and back are sewn more like darts that don’t quite finish, to accommodate what’s left of that TV set. I glued the petersham ribbon on with some of that double-sided sewing tape stuff, because a) I’m lazy, and b) I needed to wear the skirt today, and that meant finishing it at 11.45pm last night. The main thing I learned from this is the same lesson I learn from nearly all my projects: less haste more speed (in other words, measure stuff, you ninny).
I had to have the skirt finished for today because I’m off to an election party ‘oop north (Highbury and Islington). The hostess is vv political, and has not only asked for our constituencies for some sort poll-related drinking game, but also suggested we come dressed in party colours. I have no intention of giving up the details of my vote so easily (it’ll take at least 2 drinks) and so have gone for technicolour dreamcoat-style safety. You’ll see that the skirt has perhaps an overall reddish vibe, accented by the waistband. It also contains vivid splashes of yellow, green and purple. I have paired it with a navy blue blouse. A political camouflage, if e’er there was one. Kinda like The Queen, but less pastel.
And here’s an ‘interesting’ fact: you’re not allowed to show up at a UK polling station wearing party-branded clothing, in case too many people do the same and it proves intimidating for voters. According to the BBC: At the last general election Nigel Tonkin, then Westminster Council’s head of administrative services, said that context was important. “There’s a candidate standing in Westminster as a pirate,” he said. “And if he comes in to vote in a pirate costume as is likely, we won’t turn him away. The same goes for any supporters coming to vote as pirates.”