23 January 2016

Top-Hat and Tales

What with one thing or another, there's been a lot of toing and froing for us since the beginning of December - way more than usual. Firstly, Filippo returned home to Verona after his first term at university in the UK; and Camilla instead went off for her university interviews. Then they flew to Amsterdam with their Dad during the holiday of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. And by that time it was my turn to make an unscheduled trip back to England - when one of my dearest friends suddenly died. His funeral was in London just two days before Christmas, and I returned back home to Italy in the nick of time, on Christmas Eve. Fil has now gone back to begin his second term, but sadly I must return to England again soon; and this time it's for my wonderful Uncle's funeral. Please don't worry, this isn't going to be a maudlin post, but I will just permit myself a short rant if I may, because losing two dearly loved people in just over a month takes its toll. Frustratingly, the pain is exacerbated by the seemingly interminable period of "limbo" imposed by the unacceptably long wait that has become the norm in Britain, before the funeral can finally bring it's gift of closure. Whatever is going on England??? - you never used to make people wait this long!!! Don't the authorities appreciate how greatly suffering is prolonged by this delay? I don't accept the argument that it's the fault of over-population. How is it then (and I'm just musing here) that Italy, which has almost the exact same level of population, and is the same size as Britain, is sufficiently organised to keep the delay between death and funeral down to a couple of days, MAX three if there happens to be a weekend involved. Sorry, I just needed to vent a bit. Understandably I've been neglectful of my blog over these past days and I apologise to some of my favorite bloggers who's posts, while deserving acknowledgment, have gone uncommented. As a new Blogger I'm just learning now that in order to function well and convey genuine, positive spontaneity, blogging demands a flow of creative energy. There's no joy for the blogger herself in labouring to get a post out simply for "posting a Post's" sake, and there's no enjoyment for the reader either, who picks up on the stagnant energy. So, when I finally began catching-up with everyone, I was especially affected by Melanie's (of Bag and a Beret), attestation to the motivational power of weekly blogger linkups; and as another of my favorites, Anne of Pretty Grievances has got her Jungle January going on, my Writer's Block and Creator's Cramp began dissolving and I found the spark of motivation necessary to get involved. So I made this.

Ages ago I'd bought a length of this polyester to line a rather odd cape/coat which I've cut out but still has to be sewn up, (I made it 4 months later) and I was left with these three pattern panels which have just been waiting around for the right project.  Enter "Jungle January"!!!

So, I had limited fabric to work with. I used the "hour-glass" shape of the print to self-draft a cap-sleeved tunic, which I left loose enough to slip over my head, negating the need for an opening. Then I cut the sleeves from the remainder of the third panel. It meant they would be non-identical (which I like), and it also dictated their truncated length. I made french seams ..... the shoulders first, then I attached the sleeves, and finally I closed the sleeves and tunic sides in continuous seams from wrist to hem

I drafted a neck facing which I cut on the bias for comfort, from a piece of stone coloured viscose I had in my stash.

And I used a strip of the remaining black polyester, which I doubled lengthwise to create a self-facing, and gathered to make wrist frills. These frills aren't particularly tightly gathered, being just twice the measurement of the sleeve opening. Adding frills made in this way served a few purposes:- 
1 I actually used this scrap of fabric, rather than just throwing it at a landfill, a sentiment that was particularly inspired by Ivona's post (she has SUCH a beautiful blog!)
2 The frills added some length and detail to the sleeves. 
3 I could omit conventional hemming. 
This fine woven polyester is frankly diabolical. Since I began sewing again early last year, I've foolishly fallen for it (or similar) far too often, being seduced by its siren prints. To be fair at a sale price of €3 a metre I did well to pick this up with the view to using it as outerwear lining, but given that I don't have a super-sleek sewing machine, my instinct is to avoid top-stitching or anything else which will visibly give away my inexpertise when handling such slithery, "disobedient" fabric.

I used a deeper, single-layer strip for the hemline frill and I used the same stone coloured viscose as I'd used for the neck-facing to bind the raw edge. This time the frill is more than three times the hem circumference. This creates a richly gathered frill which is lent weight by the heavier viscose binding.

So, that's my "Wild Girl" contribution to the Jungle January jaunt. Thanks Anne, I'm grateful for the nudge you provided to get me going again, and the inspiration to use this fabric. 

My above elbow gloves came from a market stall, and the patent leather boots are from Bertie in London, bought in a mad moment during the Christmas sales of 2004 ........... but my delectable little Top Hat arrived only last week. 

When I was in London just before Christmas, I stayed with my gorgeous friend Stef  (there's more about her hereand she had the very same hat. Of course I admired it, and tried it on, and examined it to see whether actually making one myself might be feasible; and then I forgot about it. But Stef is an EXTRAORDINARY friend, and no sooner had she seen how taken I was with such a fun little piece of frivolity, than (unbeknownst to me) she went on-line, and ordered one as a gift for me, to be delivered to Italy by post. Such a wonderful surprise!

"I love it Stef, THANK YOU. It makes me smile"

This Blog is pro-autism.
Thank you, Sallyxx

Linked to MummysGotStyle


  1. Mic drop. This is awesome! I am speechless with envy. Bless you!

    1. You're too kind Anne. Thanks for having me - it was fun and just what I needed. I loved my black leafy jungle!!
      Baci Sxx

  2. I love this crazy print. Where are you going to go in this outfit?

    1. Thanks Connie! Oh, you know... School run. Bit of gardening. Punting down the river. Trip to the Circus :)
      Baci Sallyxx

  3. Brilliant outfit! You have transformed this diabolical and disobedient (hahaha!) fabric into a walking masterpiece. The frills are a great detail and the hat a perfect accent - your friend earns double karma points for this gift. Such fun reading about your process. Thanks for the shout-out as well.
    Condolences on the loss of your loved ones.

  4. Thanks so much Melanie :)
    It was a fluke that the hat worked here - it was such an unexpected gift; but now I've got it I find myself musing on creating other outfits I can work it into ... and I really might see if I can make that copy of it myself now.
    Baci Sxx

  5. Sally I'm so sorry that life has dealt you such a tough hand recently. And I know what you mean about the delay in funeral being unacceptable. I remember when I was growing up in Scotland there was a rule carved in stone that there the funeral would take place no later than three sunrises after death.
    But I must talk about your amazing outfit! Firstly your post looks like its straight out of a magazine - utterly fabulous daaaahling! The hat is sensational, but heck, getta load of that dress!!! Your so creative, so blooming clever. It's just the sweetest thing ever. Well done x
    Anna's Island Style

  6. Oh, thank you Anna - and thanks too for the affirmation that my issue over "the delay" isn't unreasonable.
    I'm glad you like the dress. It's really very simple, and most of the credit has to go to the print, and the photographic talents of my daughter.
    Baci Sxx

  7. I'm very sorry for your losses. Two in such a short time must truly be devastating.

    I am very jealous of your sewing skills! Wow! AND that amazing hat! This reminds me a bit of RetroGCouture. I love their stuff.

    Thanks for popping by my blog. I've responded to your question there.


    1. Thanks for your kindness Suzanne, and thanks too for the incredibly comprehensive reply you made to my comment on your post http://suzannecarillo.com/choose-your-style-statement/. You really got us all thinking there.
      I looked at RetroGCouture (great tip!!). Fab goth top-hats :)
      Baci Sxx

  8. The dress is so fab, it's the best to be worn on your birthday! Happy birthday Sal! Keep on writing and wearing those great clothes for gardening!

    1. Thanks Jen. Actually I can see something like this looking REALLY good on you. Though, be warned ... hoeing plays havock with the frills!!!
      baci Sxx


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