McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

My apologies for the smirky faces--I shot these with a timer on the side of the Henry Hudson Parkway, trying not to laugh at myself as cars just below me buzzed by in confusion at the lone chick twirling in twenty-two colors.

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

Before I wander too far down the path of run-on alliterated sentences, lemme change things up and talk about the garment. I'm all talked out for the moment about everything else. So. Sewing talk, yes? OH LET'S DO.

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

This skirt was borne out of the need to do something with a six yard cut of wax print, done in a traditional Kente pattern. (The fabric hails from Mood, as part of my fabric allowance for the Mood Sewing Network.) When it arrived, I was surprised at the amount of forest green and royal blue running through the print, which are not my colors at all! (Which is why I put it in my cart? Which is why I own a royal blue crop top?) There seemed to be little hope of getting just the warm tones on the bodice...but I tried to force my original plan of a strapless maxi dress with a circle skirt anyways. After FOUR unsuccessful attempts to cut a pleasing bodice, I abandoned ship and put the rest of the yardage away before I got into rage cutting. 

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

As I mulled over some really great suggestions on piecing the bodice, it occurred to me that the planned circle skirt would definitely produce some frown lines in such a linear print. Y'all, I hate frown lines of all kinds. (Smile lines, in the cloth of humans, I'm good with.) This was quickly moving into the realm of Fabric Regret.

Emily Hallman's pink gingham skirt popped up in my feed back in May, and like many of her gorgeous creations, I wanted it, but in my colors. Our styles are completely different, and yet I so admire everything about her vibe. 

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

It occurred to me that this squared Kente print had the same linear feel as Emily's large scale gingham print, and the prospect of using Kente to copy a gingham inspiration seemed pretty delicious--a southern gal in a traditionally casual, picnic gingham, and a city chick in Kente print, traditionally reserved for royalty, both sporting the same style lines? HOW COULD I NOT TRY IT. And as that ruffle came to be, a Spanish Flamenco vibe drifted on into the mix, and I pronounced it the ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente skirt. I can barely walk in it without lifting the side and pounding the pavement to the music in my head.  

Is any of this making sense? As I said earlier, I'm all talked out about everything, BUT, the gist of these multicultural fragments floating around in my head concerning these sistah-from-anotha-mistah skirts is: Melting Pot. The sewing community has it.

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

Like Emily, I used McCall's 7745, skirt portion only, adding a waistband with long extended ties, with an opening on one side to make it a true wrap skirt (Emily went with hooks & eyes for closures, and a shorter tie length). I also made those ruffles wider than the pattern called for, which was delighting me to no end until I tried on the finished skirt...as patterned, the ruffles extend the full length of the hem, which meant a great big piece of gathered fabric was hanging out on my hip right under the wrapped portion. Emily wouldn't stand for it, I thought, and so, out came the seam ripper. To reduce the bulk, I removed the gathering from the "underskirt" portion from waist to mid-thigh, and cut a curve into the (de-ruffled) ruffle, tapering up to the waistline. It's probably not an issue when sticking to the width of the ruffle as patterned, but next time I'll do this right off the bat anyways.

Because there will be a next time! I love the shape of it...and even more, I love the the great big memory stew of it.  


Pineapple Head

I was running to the subway last weekend, all dolled up for a concert, with my hair piled high on top of my noggin' in what I now know is called a "pineapple." A man with a smattering of salt and pepper stubble gave me a sideways glance as we waited for the light to change.

That's some hair... he tested the waters, in a weathered voice. Wouldja believe I usedta have hair like that? 

ABSOLUTELY. I crooned back. My dad said the very same thing to me for years before he started buzzing it!  Door opened, I waited for his next move.  

WELL YA GOTTA SEE IT! My new friend whipped out his phone and scrolled his numerous photos for evidence. Do ya have high hopes for this picture?! He cackled, as the lights changed, and changed again. YOU BET YOUR ASS I DO. I chirped back. believe this is going to be worth missing my train for.  

I was right. My man had some KILLER style. All the way from strawberry blonde shoulder length 'fro (and in a soccer uniform just like my dad, no less) to blown-out, thick glossy waves, '70s prom posing, complete with powder blue suit. Did I miss my train? Yes. Was it worth it? SO MUCH YES.

I find that the louder I get with my style, the happier people are around me. And by people, I mean all kinds of people. That mini-epiphany hit me this weekend. This technicolor armor I built up over the years was borne out of being different--a little bit of every race, and not enough of any race. Everyone told me I didn't fit in their box, so I made my own. Now the armor I put on is actually becoming an invitation, to all kinds of folk. Many of the barriers of the past, imagined and real (and in the present, that I deal with every day in the "business") are just not there in these random encounters. I love it.

Now, maybe those shout-outs on the street and smiles on the subway are because my rainbow jolt is more amusing than anything else, but if my mass of Sideshow Bob hair, or swath of neon, puts a smile on someone's face, I don't much care where that smile originates from. Smiles are a commodity these days.

I guess I should tell you about the dress, yes? She is the True Bias Ogden Cami, that glorious and beloved pattern, cut a bit shorter, and maxi-fied with two rectangular tiers of gathered fabric. Pineapple printed viscose, to be exact. To match the hair, naturally. Summer style, about as easy as you can get! 

(Though it will take you some time to gather those panels. I suggest a beverage with an umbrella in it to ease that li'l bit of pain. A Piña Colada, perhaps? It's summertime, y'all. Go full pineapple.)

fabric: mood, this took about 2.5 yards
pattern: true bias ogden cami, modified


Hot Time! Tocca in the City!



What's that you say? It's technically still Spring? And drizzling outside? I'm sorry, you're mistaken. When you get six months of Winter, you get six months of Summer. I see nothing but blue skies. Them's the rules.

In celebration of this New World Order, I've finally made myself another maxi-fied Derby Dress, a pattern that hails from my summer-in-the-city girl Christine Haynes. It was high time to give my beloved rayon version a partner in Summer Crimes (read: drinking boozy cold things in hot sticky temperatures).

I maxi-fied this pattern for the first time about six years ago, for my birthday Promaballoona, to surprise Christine (she was one of the party hosts!). Then, pretty much immediately again in vintage rayon from mizz Lladybird Lauren, so this pattern has heaps of fond memories and good vibes in it. I honestly can't believe it took me so long to make another! I DO SO LIKE GOOD VIBES.

You can see more pics over at the Mood Sewing Network (aka the reason I missed posting a #wednesdaywip, as I had to get my monthly jam in over there. Also, yes, I've officially decided that posting a WIP every Wednesday is a silly rule. I know, it was worrying you. Shhhh. It's okay.)