What do Vicki, Laurel and Nelson Mandela have in common?

Me : )
Vicki sent me shwe shwe (a printed cotton from Africa). But Vicki sent me ONE meter of shwe shwe, 35″ wide AND a border print no less. Challenge ON! So what to do with one meter of fabulous border print fabric that even she says isn’t enough to make a skirt since it won’t clear the hips? Enter Laurel, the latest pattern by Colette.

The Facts

Fabric: Mandela border print from Vicki,  1 yd. navy cotton from JoAnn
Pattern: Laurel by Colette
Notions: 102 vintage buttons from stash
Year: Modern
Time to complete: 4 hours (half of that was sewing buttons on!)
First worn: April 2013
Wear again? Yes
Cost – $3.00 + $14 for pattern so $17 all together

So this is what I decided to do – use this VERY simple shift dress pattern for the front and pray that I could get a small sleeve out of the rest. I made a muslin (!?!) and am pleased to report this pattern runs either true to size or even a little big, depending on how you like dresses of this style to fit. I cut the 16, trimmed it down to the 14 from my muslin fitting and have decided to taper it a little more through the waist and upper hip area. What you can’t see in the photos are the big safety pins down my back, bringing in the excess : ) How close did I cut things? This close:

You can see the 2 1/2 Mandela faces I have left and the curve where I cut the one sleeve. Everything else was tiny scraps. Now you know why the sleeves aren’t longer : )

 Because this challenge is dedicated to Vicki I wore my plane earrings since she travels a lot, or at least more than I do : )

The other Vicki-inspired part of this dress are the button decorations. Last summer she took a basic linen skirt and decorated it with bias tape and buttons in the African Mfengu style. I liked it so much I filed the idea away to use “someday”. I have jars and boxes of buttons so it seemed a natural thing to incorporate. There was only minimal cat involvement and after I sorted the buttons to use I covered up the whole project with an upside-down cookie sheet. Not a single button was eaten/lost/broken !

I didn’t think the fabric needed any more trim, you can see the nifty border here. Those buttons add a surprising amount of weight to an otherwise medium weight fabric. I have to say I REALLY like the shwe shwe, it washes well and feels really good to the touch. Vicki had a funny story about buying the fabric:

“When the lady was cutting it, she accidentally cut through Mandela’s left ear, and then she stopped and cried, “Sorry sir!  Sorry sir!”, while rubbing the cut portion!”

I tried not to cut through any Mandela’s but I’m afraid I couldn’t help it, I did say a quiet “sorry sir”.

You can see her original post on the fabric here. Here is the side of the dress where you can see the plain back:

Oh, and my shoes? Kazz inspired : ) I found them at a small, upscale shoe store in town when they were going out of business. I have a couple pieces of Ikat fabric to make other items to go with them since shoes this awesome need to be worn : )

And for Vicki, an outtake photo:

I have one more Laurel project that I’ll post tomorrow. I decided to combine a Laurel top with an historic challenge of Leimomi’s : ) It may not be strictly period but it was fun. More soon!

5 thoughts on “What do Vicki, Laurel and Nelson Mandela have in common?

  1. Fabulous! Why can’t I find fabric like this? And the buttons add just the right amount of embellishment. I need to get online and hunt down some of this shwe shwe. Love the shoes too.

  2. You’ve done an amazing job – I was stumped as to how to use 1m x 35″. When I go back in the fall, I’m going to be sure to buy 2-3m this time! You must be fast at sewing buttons, because it would have taken me a lot longer than a few hours to do so many!

    You know, I’ve never worn that Mfengu skirt? Sad, but I don’t have any tops that really go with it. Maybe Me Made May will force me to get off my a** and make something so it is no longer a wardrobe orphan.

    (And can I just say, those legs! I’m sure Madiba is enjoying the view 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *