Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Cape Town Switcheroo


The Facts:
Fabric: double sided shwe shwe from Fabric City, Cape Town (100% cotton, heavily starched) ~$14
Pattern:  Vogue 8238, view D
Notions: Snaps < 25 cents from a neighbour’s estate sale
Year: 1972
Time to complete: ~10 hours, broken down into 30 minute snatches of time over two weeks.
First worn: For photos only, because it’s too nice to wear at home over a 4-day weekend with kids (think finger painting, cooking, eating chocolate, cleaning up all the above mentioned stickiness….)
Wear again? Definitely to work this week.  I think this one may get heavy rotation in spring and fall.


I get to go to South Africa or Botswana for work every year, but my favourite place by far is Cape Town.  It’s one of those very livable cities with everything you could want:  gorgeous scenery, wild spaces, delicious restos, cool clubs and boutiques, cosmopolitan people from around the world….oh, and as much Pinotage as I can drink.  I bought this fabric in Cape Town over a year ago, and it has sat untouched on my fabric shelf all this time for three reasons:  I can’t get shwe shwe in Canada, I didn’t think I would ever be going back to Cape Town, and I was still a relatively new sewintist, so I was afraid to waste this unique double sided print.  I decided to bite the bullet and cut into it about two weeks ago.

This shwe shwe is printed on both sides, so I wanted to choose a pattern that would play up this feature.  Luckily, this fabric was 60″ wide (unlike most shwe shwe, which is 35″ wide), so I managed to squeeze a full dress out of it.  I pulled a switcheroo and used the reverse of the fabric for the yoke and the patch pocket.


This vintage Vogue pattern went together quite easily, if you can get past the yoke attachment.  I don’t know if it was me or the instructions, but I gathered, eased, pinned, repinned and scratched my head for about an hour.  Then I ignored the instructions and looked more closely at the diagram and realized that the armscye is not round, but squared off at the bottom.  OK, now it made sense, and the rest of the pattern came together easily.  I did have to do my usual alterations:  add 1″ of width to the back, open the front of the armscye by about 2cm and grade up for the hips.  I do it without even thinking now.  I also eliminated the armscye facings in favour of bias tape (seriously, I hate facings like I hate threading a serger).

Break in the photo session for some bug collecting.

 It’s been chilly and grey this weekend, so it’s hard to conjure up the illusion of being in my favourite city, Cape Town.
 
How's this?:



22 comments:

  1. Oh, it's cute! I feel you on the weather, though, we have been trying desperately to pretend it's spring all weekend, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    It looks cute, and I think the fabric really suits the style of the dress!

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    1. Thanks! I've had both the pattern and the fabric for a while, and didn't know quite what to make of either one until finally it hit me that they would work well together.

      At least we didn't get SNOW this week like you guys (sorry, I couldn't resist....)

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  2. Wow, you just made me snort with laughter over the last picture-love it!!
    Your dress is seriously beautiful. I love how you did a lil switcharoo with the sides!

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    1. Yeah, I'm a real whiz with the photo editing, hunh? ;)

      I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll make - let me know the names / addresses of any other shops you visited because I'm heading back to Cape Town next month.

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  3. what a lovely pattern, and a great sucsess, your dress is wonderful. x x x

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    1. Thanks Charlotte. It's actually not hemmed yet because I can't decide on the length. I usually go much shorter than this, but I think the long hemline looks ok, even on little ol' me.

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  4. The fabric and pattern you chose are gorgeous! Looks great on you. Since you posted about shwe shwe a few weeks back, I've been very intrigued. I wonder if there's a place to find it in NYC?

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    1. I've never seen it outside of South Africa and Botswana, but there may be a dealer in NYC. The only one I've seen online is Marula Imports, but their selection is pretty limited.
      Sewing with Nancy did good short interview with Marula Imports about shweshwe here:
      http://video.wpt2.org/video/2165993554/

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  5. So cool! I love this fabric (and your last photo: hysterical).

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    1. I have a cousin here in Montreal who is a freakin' professor of photoshop. Really! he is a professor who teaches photography and photo editing. You'd think I could take a lesson or two....

      I had another 2m of this fabric in a blue colourway, but I gave it away last year. I'm starting to seriously think I should be importing this stuff!

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  6. that is an adorable dress. um. totally believable Cape Town photo. heehee.

    One of my coworkers when I lived in New Zealand was from Cape Town. Before moving to NZ they got transfered to Johannesburg. She pretty much thought it was the destruction of life as we know it. She had nothing but good things to say about Cape Town.

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    1. I've never spent any time in Joberg, but I used to hear that. Lately it's been having a bit of a renaissance, and I know a few expats who are loving the life there. I guess you have to choose your neighbourhood wisely though.

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  7. that umbrella stick in the last photo is genius.

    as is your dress! this shwe shwe.... you never have to line it... how have i not realized this before, i'm sure you've said it...

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    1. Well....it's thick cotton, so it does cling to the tights like an octopus, but you're right: too nice to hide the reverse print with something as pedestrian as a lining!

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  8. Love the dress, but I LOVE that you included photos of bug collecting! And the umbrella stick = hilarity.

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    1. That's my life: every action interrupted by a MUCH MORE URGENT action at approximately 5 minute intervals, which is why I don't get much sewing done. But we did find 2 beetles, 2 earthworms, one ladybug, one centipede and two millipedes.

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  9. I had to zoom in to see what you were brandishing! It looks like a weapon, but the close up and a little deduction on my part revealed that it was the umbrella rod. Love the pic! And I love the dress. Your pattern placement is divine.

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    1. Maybe if it were Jo'berg I'd be brandishing a weapon, but I didn't need it in (fake) Cape Town ;)

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  10. Awesome, awesome, and more awesome. That fabric is amazing and I'm so jealous that you have been to Cape Town.

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    1. Thanks Madalynne - the fabrics available in S. Africa are wonderful, and they make the selection of nasty synthetic prints at my local Fabricville look even worse by comparison.

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  11. Where can I find this pattern please?? Love your interpretation of it.

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    1. Thanks; I see it on Etsy all the time, and here's one for sale now!

      http://www.etsy.com/listing/108365637/vintage-1970s-vogue-8238-side-button

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