Inspired by Guyana
Bonjour a tous, Bel Bonjou!
Last week, I mentioned a stronger interest for fabric knowledge than sewing for others but I know that, once in a while, there will be opportunities I won’t be able to refuse. Today’s tale was one of those….
On August 28th the world came to party at the Effra Hall Tavern in Brixton and its resident jazz Singer and friend Lauren Dalrymple wore my design, my make.
From Guyana, in South America, Lauren was in no doubt that she wanted to wear her country’s colours flag: The Golden Arrow, for her performance.
4 weeks earlier, I started the designing process with this.
I am awfully bad at drawing so I downloaded the sketch of a kaftan I could colour in. It was clear that it had to look like the flag and not just be inspired by it and I went back to having the full flag design.
Given the occasion, I wanted a little bit of sparkle and glamour and Lauren could not disagree with my choice of black and white trims.
The funny story about these trims if that I found the black in Shepherds’ Bush Market and the white in Walthamstow Market! For those in the know, they are at opposite ends of London, far east and far west. I did have fun sourcing them out tho. My knowledge of available trims has widen.
The choice of fabrics was crucial. I wanted it to flow as she needed comfort and ease to perform and something that would not stick to her skin after 2 hours of a passionate performance. I looked for the right shades first and then considered the type of fabric. I found the right primary colours in Goldhawk road in a light cotton blended with polyester and rayon: breathability, strength and shininess and a bounce. Perfect properties for the purpose.
It was free-hand cut. I didn’t think I needed a pattern for it and it worked but next time I will use one of Lauren’s katfan as a pattern. I did cut the yellow triangle in calico first to make sure I had the right depth etc. The red triangle did found it’s natural depth from the yellow triangle.
The neckline did give me some trouble. It was the last thing I did, 48 hours before the show, at 11:00pm tired, anxious about my Notting Hill Carnival guests turning up from Paris and my sewing mess being unsightly. It didn’t work at all. It meant that 2 hours before show time I took my sewing machine to the pub to mend it.
I have sewn in parks, trains, waiting rooms but never in a pub. Was a first! I got some attention to say the least.
I didn’t bother too much with unpicking and I simply cut around the neckline to open it up. It wasn’t falling enough on the shoulders. I was smiling so I guess I felt no pressure and was sure of what I was doing. I had prepare some bias binding at home as I knew it was one of my super skill for necklines. I double stitched the back and as I wanted a seamless finish at the front I did a bit of hand stitching. Done! I even had time to hang out with the band.
Performance time was upon us and I was lucky to see a few of my friends turning up for support. I love my friends! I can always count of them, sewing or not.
Here is the garment and Lauren in full action
In many ways, this project was in line with my interest in textiles. Sourcing out the right fabrics for a garment is a lot of responsibility but I enjoyed it. It got me to chat with shop owners and be more curious about what’s out there.
I was also wearing, discreetly, my country’s flag, France: Blue red and white from a fabric bought in Upton Park 3 years ago!
I highly recommend Sunday evenings Jazz at the Effra Hall Tavern by the way. Lauren is fantastic. She has been hosting the Sunday night Jazz for 17 years and sets it on fire every single time!
No doubt Lauren and I will work together again.
Thank you to Sony Philomin for the photos – @