SWAP 2016 0.12 Garment 1 – Biki of Milan pencil skirt

posted in: Finished projects, SWAP | 10

Who was Biki anyway? Actually Elvira Leonardi Bouyeure was a grand-daughter of Puccini. Fancy that! She was born in 1906 and died aged 92 in 1999. She was famous for designing for Maria Callas and apparently numbered the items so that Callas could put an elegant outfit together. How appropriate for a SWAP.

This is a nice blog post about her if you are interested.

A number of her outfits were available in the 1960s from Spadea. Here are a few images. I was interested that so many of them are very fitted across the diaphragm, with interesting bust darts. The black and white drawings do have a certain amount of charm, but hand drawn, colourless sketches were created to appeal  to more experienced dressmakers who wanted to make up the Designer outfits when the more mainstream pattern companies eschewed named designers.

My pattern is from Spadea – and I haven’t seen it written up anywhere. I was attracted to it as I love skirts that are just a bit different and this one has two for the price of one. Interesting skirt patterns are fairly rare I find.

Anyway enough of the pictures. When I bought the pattern the envelope art implied it would look good in a tweedy wool, perhaps with a navy or black leather waist band. As my SWAP this year is a summer collection I decided to would use a fairly solid cotton instead. I made up the pencil skirt in a nice, light blue gabardine, using the left over silver octopus fabric to make a waistband. This was a bit of a risky decision as the silver is a jersey, pretty unstable and not the easiest material to work with.  The deep box pleats in the front of the skirt tuck into bound button holes in the waist band. It fastens at the back, with a buckle. I had to buy a vintage buckle on the internet as they are virtually impossible to find in shops.

I left the skirt long – at its original length – although I generally prefer a shorter look. It has a box pleat at the back too and I thought it needed the length to make the most of this.

Technical SWAP notes (not for the general reader)

And just to recap on my plans as I have had a more careful read of the SWAP rules. I have kept the same items but changed the categories a little. This is because the combo is supposed to complement and extend both pack 1 and 2, so I have put my patterned items here. I am hoping they will work together too, although two patterns can be a bit overwhelming. Also I am keeping my options open on the pink dress. As for the pant suit I have to buy fabric so it might be pink, purple, mauve or green. I am waiting for samples at the moment. The original plans are here.

Pack 1 – Purple. The Cardin suit and matching purple blouse

Pack 2 – Blue and light mauve. This Spadea skirt, a purpley blue blouse and the Fabiani mauve dress

Combo; Patterned fabrics. A Cardin blouse in hand painted silk, and the other Spadea skirt (Style II) in the iris printed silk chiffon

Wildcards; the Pucci pant suit plus a pink YSL dress (the waxy one if I don’t have much time, or the Mondrian shift with sequins if I can find the time.

10 Responses

  1. Demented Fairy

    You little tease- no proper pics, how cruel! It’s looking lovely, I really like the unusual fabric combo. [And of course, I’m very into silver at the moment as well!] Does the back belt need a little thread loop or some such to keep the zip top snugged up nicely? Just a thought.
    Keep ’em coming!

    • fabrickated

      I photographed it on Camilla who has a slightly thicker waist than me, and much less bottom. So it doesn’t look its best. I suppose I want to show my SWAP garments off “styled” at the end. Also I am naughty and don’t always do the final bits and bobs until I need to. The pattern specifies a press stud or hook and eye to complete the waist band – still to do.

  2. Lynn Mally

    Nice start, and what interesting information on the designer. On my computer the skirt looks gray, though, so I’m getting the sweet pea feeling!

  3. Stephanie

    Very nice, Kate. I love the waistline detail with the bound buttonholes. I agree – I’ve gotten bored with skirts as they often seem so uninteresting. You have me curious to search around for some Bicchi (Biki) patterns.

    So interesting about Puccini being married to her grandmother, too. I had a funny “experience” with Puccini in October. I went to his house when I was in Lucca (where Puccini was born). There was a photo of him with his teeth showing, which is relatively unusual for that time period. Something about that made him seem more “real” or “present” and I stared at the photo for a long time. I’ve always been a sucker for his music.

  4. Bunny

    Wonderful skirt, Kate, and I like your summery choices. I think it will be very flattering. You are so right about finding interesting skirt patterns. I’ve been on the lookout and they are few and far between unless you want to get into the Lagenlook aesthetic, not particularly my cup of tea. I think I need to check out some vintage patterns for skirt ideas. Thanks for that inspiration.

  5. Ruth

    Such an unusual skirt pattern but very interesting. I’d love to see it on you especially re the length. Great start to SWAP

  6. Jay

    I don’t suppose you took any construction shots of the front pleats? Its an interesting pattern, I have one, I think an old Vogue, which looks similar from the artwork, but I’ve never taken it out of the envelope. It may have reproduced the Spadea one in a simpler version, I can’t remember seeing bound buttonholes. I think the pleats in mine wrap over the waistband in some way. Must dig it out and check.

    • fabrickated

      Sorry Jay but my iPhone is broken at present. I will either email you directly, or add to this post next week when I get it back. In the meantime I am intrigued by your old Vogue pattern – do share.

  7. Seamsoddlouise

    Interesting post. Like a mini history lesson with a great skirt thrown in at the end! Love the pleats and buckle really make it. It will be good to see you in it later as I can’t imagine the length.

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