Jungle January – Bra? or Algebra?

Every year I have watched the Jungle January challenge – the contest launched by Petty Grievances – with interest. The challenge, where animal print fabric reigns supreme, has yet to see me set foot in the jungle myself. Why not? Well although I think animal print (think snakes, leopards, zebras) can be a nice addition to most urban wardrobes, many animal prints are just too brown and yellowy for my cool complexion.

Anne kindly paired me with Demented Fairy (DF), a maths lecturer, from Birmingham. This photograph is from Halloween 2011.

Demented Fairy
Demented Fairy

Clearly someone with a dramatic wardrobe personality who enjoys fancy dress. As her newest Facebook Friend, I have seen the full range of her party wardrobe. Without exaggeration it is Fantastic – corsets, medieval, Georgian Dandy, Lord of the Rings, hats – all of it tailor-made. This is one extraordinary seamstress. There is nothing she cannot tackle. For ordinary life she can occasionally be seen in jeans and T shirts, but she obviously excels at dressing up. She writes “I have eclectic tastes in clothes, and my wardrobe veers from [fairly] sophisticated to somewhat mad and punkish depending on my mood! I mostly wear blues, greens and purples, and avoid yellow, beige and orange like the plague. I only really make clothes, and I’m primarily a selfish sewer. I’m venturing into bra-making right now, so that may be the way to go?” Clearly someone opinionated and as determined as I am on what I will, and will not, wear.

Kate Moss in leopard skin bra and pants
Kate Moss

So avoiding orange snake-skin, teddy bear tan and beige hippo-cloth, I rummaged around in my favourite shop, Simply Fabrics. And this is what I sent her. It’s reputedly Roland Mouret, and it is a fairly stable stretch fabric in a restrained blackish and a silvery grey print. It’s a good quality, firm but fine cloth,  and I thought it would make a nice sexy dress, although DF suggested she was thinking of making a bra. A bra! Gosh you have to be a dedicated sew-it-yourselfer to make bras. I got 2m so there is enough for a dress, blouse or trousers as well. Or bras for everyone in the jungle.

animal print Roland Mouret
Roland Mouret stretch fabric

I got a charming thank you letter. This is one well brought up lady. She sews, she educates adults in algebra, and makes amazing outfits for her children and grandchildren. She made three wedding dresses last year. And she sent me generous quantities of highly appropriate blue jungle fabric. With a nice, typed letter. I am beginning to feel like Dora the Explorer with a challenge to address. More comment comes via FB “I’m sure you’ve noticed that the satin has a BIT of stretch to it. It sews up very nicely, and presses well, which helps!” Panic is now starting to set in. I am feeling overwhelmed and a little bit scared. Have I already noticed? Satin, stretching, pressing. No! Other than it is blue and there is plenty of it. I just feel overwhelmed by this stuff coming through my letter box. Help!

Dora the Explorer

The letter is truly tantalising. Am I to make up a matching outfit so we can be Sistas in the Jungle? Or am I really permitted to turn this stunning cloth into a lining (cheeky or not?) for “something”….? And would that pass Ann’s test back in Jungle January SWAP HQ?

Blue animal print on a manequin
Camilla draped in jungle

I wrapped Camilla in the blue gorgeousness for a few days to see if it would talk to me. Poor Camilla looked like she had been eaten by an enormous  snow leopard. And then the fabric roared its own instructions. The fabric said: “Chartered Institute of Housing. Annual black tie dinner. VIP table. Natural History museum.” With the dinosaur, of course! That is my challenge. Now what pattern to choose?

14 Responses

  1. Jenny

    I think your choice is just right. An evening dress – in fact, similar to the shape of the one on Camilla. Draped across the bust, not too much cleavage I think, fitting in at the waist and not too tight on the legs. Actually I think your DVT wrap dress would be good in this fabric too. I have made 4 bras, just finished one last night and am really on a roll now. I made my first one in November on a day course and it is well within your capabilities, as an accomplished sewer. The main reason for making bras for me is the difficulty I have with wearing ready made ones, but the choice of gorgeous fabrics also makes this a pleasant project,

  2. Lisha

    I don’t know much about fashion but I would suggest a long dress possible just above the ankle, a little fitting from waist down for shape, 3/4 sleeve and deep cleavage with a bust lap (not sure if I’m explaining right)

  3. Stephanie

    I was just chatting with a fashion design student yesterday about making bras and she says that it doesn’t take much time to get the basics. You’re much more advanced than I am so I don’t doubt you could fit one well. That said, this post is about a dress and what a dress it will be. Can’t wait to see the result. What an impressive lady you are matched with!

  4. erin

    Oh I enjoyed reading this so much! I would be intimidated by the blue jungle fabric, but yes! Go for the evening dress and you might even have enough leftover for a bra 🙂

  5. fabrickated

    I am so glad you all like this fabric. I do too. I don’t think I would have bought it, but I am so glad I have been forced to think outside the box.

    Let me tell you where I am going. I am thinking jump-suit! The reason being I want to make one anyway as I continue on my trouser adventures and also for a black tie do I think it might be just different enough from what the women, and the men, are wearing, to make an impact. I could maybe wear it open at the neck with something white and silky, high heels and silver jewellery, and then, on a more ordinary day dress it down with flat shoes and a navy belt? And maybe a navy safari jacket as Chezsews suggests?

    On the bras – everyone seems to be doing it – bras, tights, socks. Am I the only one still going to Marks & Spencers? A challenge for another day, perhaps….

  6. symondezyn

    That fabric is absolutely amazing!! I have never sewn with (or worn, for that matter) anything animal print either, but I think a jumpsuit would be soooooo awesome!! Can’t wait to see what you come up with! ^__^

      • symondezyn

        Haha, I can sympathize with how you feel (I’m horrified that I keep seeing certain 80’s fashions coming back) but (in my opinion at least LOL) the jumpsuit is definitely do-able with a modern twist – I think it’s all in how you style it. In fact, I made one in silk for my New Year’s outfit! ^__^ Dunno if I was channelling Dynasty, but I was comfy and my guy thought it was cool 😛

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