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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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?