I must have been 17 years old when I bought this vintage skirt at the flea market. It was the perfect hippie skirt, romantically grazing the floor with each step, and I adored its floral print, which reminded me of several Kabyle dresses my mother had passed on to me.
Flash forward a few years later, the skirt didn’t fit anymore, and I thought it would be nice to remake it into something else, such as a Kabyle dress, or more likely a blouse, depending on the amount of usable fabric. The only problem was, I was just a beginner sewer at the time and I didn’t feel up to the task yet, fearing to waste what felt like particularly precious fabric. So I unpicked the skirt, and I put the pieces at the bottom of my budding refashion pile.
When Thread&Needles announced a sewing contest around the theme of travel, I immediately thought of that old project of mine, thinking about my travel to Algeria when I was a little kid: I had gone with my brother to meet our family and discover the country, and I had been given the cutest little pink custom made Kabyle dress, which I had kept long after it had become too small, and later replaced with my mother’s floral print dresses.
I drafted my own pattern, i.e. I copied the dress that fits me best and just changed the underarm area a little bit so that I could wear the blouse without a tank underneath, and drafted a neckline facing instead of adding a self fabric yoke lining as in the dress I copied. I chose to make a blouse and not a dress both because I didn’t have enough fabric and because I liked the idea of a more casual version, worn with jeans or shorts in summer. I thought about adding the patch pockets because I had just enough fabric left that I didn’t want to waste, and I must say I think they look quite nice and they are also pretty useful!
The rickrack was sewn entirely by hand (I love how the pink stitches look against the black inside the blouse!). I wanted each zigzag to lay as smoothly as possible, which I didn’t think would be the case if I stitched only along the centre by machine. At first I intended to sew two parallel lines of rickrack, the pink one you see and a green one, but in the end I decided it would make the blouse too busy and chose to keep it subtler (as subtle as a floral blouse with butterfly sleeves and pink rickrack can be). I won’t lie to you, I was relieved to hand sew a little under six metres of rickrack instead of close to twelve…
I was afraid the blouse would be too short (due to fabric restraints), so I was also relieved when I tried it on and saw that it looked exactly how I had pictured it. Dare I say, even better, with the addition of the cute little patch pockets!