Sunday, March 17, 2013

A skirt & the story of a scarf

While my husband was at university, 25 years ago, he lived in a set of apartments in Bowen Hills, inner city Brisbane. The apartments began life as a grand Queenslander-style building that was later divided into 6 separate self-contained apartments. Paul has quite a few tales of the characters that came and went from this set of apartments. One such character was a Chinese fellow called Phil. Phil was a tad odd.

Often when Paul or his sister went under the house at night to remove clothes from the clothesline they'd find him lurking in the shadows wearing full ninja gear. His explanation was that he was protecting the building from prowlers. Another favourite past time was throwing ninja stars at a mattress in the back yard.

Sadly, Phil's life came to an early end. Phil was obsessed (in a crazy stalker kind of way) with a lady that did not share the same feelings towards him.  One night police were tipped off that he was going around to profess his love to her, with a large bag of weapons,  in a 'life or death' kind of way. Things ended badly and Phil was shot dead.

In the days following, police unearthed enough weapons to arm a small army, including a land mine,  from his apartment. This was somewhat freaky news to Paul who slept only metres away from the land mine. A crazy cat woman, named Stella, who also lived in the building and was a friend of Phil's, was given the task of cleaning out the apartment. She asked Paul to keep her company while sorting through his stuff. She also told Paul he could keep anything of interest to him. Well, Paul chose to pass on the ninja gear, the enormous case of hard-core p*rnography and the women's dress-up gear and make-up. He took just one thing -  a beautiful Japanese scarf displaying the image of a geisha girl.

Paul has kept this scarf for the past twenty five years, occasionally wearing it to keep his hair out of his eyes when painting. I've always loved the image and saturation of colour on the scarf. Over the years I pulled it out and wondered how I could best use it in a sewing project. Well it is this very scarf that forms the centre panel on my latest sewing creation - the Burda panel skirt.

The scarf was made in Japan. I have collected a number of Japanese scarves over the years and this one is similar. It is textured and most likely made from acetate. The other scarves are mostly striking stylised pictures of Mt Fuji. 

I'm not sure where this pattern comes from exactly, as I only have a tracing from my sister. I think it is from a Burda magazine but I'm not sure which one. If anyone needs to know I can find out very easily. 

I began this project by fusing the scarf onto a panel of cotton using Visofix. The rest of the skirt is made using a dark coloured linen purchased from Tessuti. The front and the back of the skirt both have a centre panel and two side panels. I added a row of self-made red piping at the front/side-front seams to visually frame the image. 

I really like the placement of the pockets on this skirt. They're flattering and user-friendly. The original placement of the pockets is lower, from memory, but I mucked them up when sewing my toile and have decided to leave them where they are. After all, you don't mess about with a well-fitted toile. The main change I made when fitting my toile was to create a more curved waistband. *** (added later) Just remembered I also changed the pattern from a pencil skirt into an a-line skirt.

There is an invisible zip at back/side-back seam.

Styled with:
- black silk camisole
-  Country Road thongs 
-  Elk necklace
- African bangle



Funnily enough, Paul just told me that the reason Phil liked to dress up in women's clothing was because he loved the feeling of silk against his body...maybe we all have something in common with Phil after all.


  1. What a fantastic (if slightly scary!) story. And a great skirt too!

  2. I think that is a fantastic skirt. However, I think that story is the best story I have heard on the internet. How scary for Paul!!!

  3. Phil was an interesting chap, wasn't he? A land mine!? Good re-purposing of his scarf!

  4. What a strange creature.. XD The scarf-skirt is beautiful though and yes, please find out the pattern number if you can!

  5. That's a pretty crazy story to go with your fabulous skirt. You can entertain lots of people every time you wear it!

  6. That is the most amazing story behind a garment I have ever read!! A land mine... WOW!!

  7. That's a winner - the style looks great on you and the skirt has the best story to go with it (scary, but cool).

  8. Wow, that is quite the fabric acquisition story. The skirt is really cool.

  9. Stunning. I have a collection of Japanese cotton scarves like this from the days when we hosted overseas teasets, endless teasets. You've inspired me to dig out the scarves from the kids old dress up box.

  10. Such a stunning skirt, and what a story!

  11. Beautiful skirt. I am glad good karma came out of this tragic story .