Saturday, 5 March 2011

Another Sewing Scientist - Cape Town edition

Hello from the sunny side of the earth!  I'm in Cape Town for work, with a little holiday tacked on the end.  Two days of travel to get here, straight into the lab to set up the assay strains, a whirlwind day of touristing with my bosses, two days of meetings, followed by three days of hosting a lab training session.....I was wrung out.
Then, during an afternoon break in our lab session, a colleague of mine whisked me off in a share taxi for a little fabric shopping, and Oh! what a time we had!  We unfortunately hit the stores just as they were closing for Friday afternoon prayers (a good thing to remember for the next visit), but they reopened at 13h30 and we got to shopping.

The shwe shwe was available in several widths and interestingly, in pre-printed panels:  the fabric was sold by the section (gore), so you just decided how many sections you needed to go around you and paid accordingly.  Some of the fabric was printed on both sides; I imagine making a stiff pleated skirt with a waistband from the reverse fabric.

My colleague (or by now, I should say friend), lamented that she should buy some shwe shwe and make a skirt too, but never learned to sew and doesn't have the time.  I countered that I have a full time job and two kids, and I still manage to squeeze in a few hours a week, so I may have inspired another sewing scientist.  I mean *another* Another Sewing Scientist  ;)

I also made some great finds at an antique shop in Observatory called Munro's.  (I use the term antique shop very loosely; it was more like one of those junk shops run by a compulsive hoarder.)  She actually started to get very flustered when I opened some drawers....but when I started talking about sewing, she loosened up a bit and showed me a dusty old box of patterns and a drawer full of vintage notions.  I got these two belt slides, two patterns (one Vogue Nina Ricci), a length of machine made cotton lace and an antique hand-tatted lace doily.  I know it sounds heretical, but I'm thinking of cutting the doily to make a lace collar for a black dress.  Since it's a bit damaged and has a stain, I can justify it to myself.

My bag is stuffed, so I think I'll stop there.  Well, if I stumble across more great fabric at a market, I may not be able to resist, but I'll try.


  1. I like the vogue pattern, I could definitely see that coming in style again.

  2. Thanks! I was thinking if I just lowered the neckline a bit and took the hem up above the knee, it could look quite modern.


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