In a desperate attempt to mix socialising with exercise I have recently started attending Swing dancing classes. This is also a good excuse to do something semi-fancy with my better half, as we share a similar geeky, introvert nature that keeps us often inside enjoying each other company.
The atmosphere is very relaxed, and definitely casual, with a hint of retro style. Also, with dozens of people jumping around you can imagine the room get hot very quickly, not to mention how hot I get with all the twirling. I would be happy to go there in summer clothes if it wasn’t that the 20 min walk to get there would freeze me inside out.
This is the reasoning that led me to imagine an outfit made of a swirly skirt in a medium weight fabric, paired with a short/strap top and a cardi. For some reason I got stuck thinking about velvet and started browsing online shops, but nothing really struck me.
Other things then got in the way, mainly guilt for an overflowing stash that I should really take in higher account when my hands feel restless, and I forgot about it.
This, until a recent trip to Serbia to visit relatives. We were in an little town area so close to Belgrade is now considered by many part of the main city, but it’s in fact called Zemun. I will say more about this in a side post, but suffice to say I counted at least 7 sewing shops in a 15 min walk. I was intrigued! Tough, knowing myself to stick to window shopping until the very last day, when time constraints meant I couldn’t really go wild. I picked one shop I really wanted to check out and dived in:
Bombaj Textile, Zemun
The shop was a sight to behold. Gorgeous laces in many different shades, a sublime collection of plaid, an incredible range of solid crepes, lovely silks and much more. Patterns were perhaps a bit dated, like I often find in Italy, but apart from that I would have opened purse there and then and got one of everything.
The price, however, stopped me. This was no Walthamstow Market. Also, I marched in determined to leave the shop with purchases that fit my immediate needs: a new blouse that would go with black and perhaps velvet for the swing skirt. Of course, I don’t speak much Serbian (yet!) so it was with great relief that I discover my shopping assistant spoke english! She was also knowledgeable and practical and took me for a tour around the shop. We had much fun when I asked for velvet and because she didn’t remember what it meant we went on a little hunt around the shop. Thanks for teaching me that velvet is pliš in serbian!
As a result I left the shop with a pretty silk and -oh la la!- a stunning ombré velour.
However, whereas the silk is a sensible choice, the other is a bit of lunge into the unknown. I’m not usually a fan of ombré, but this looked absolutely stunning and I thought that the added wow factor could suit the extravagant environment of the dance classes, and would also make a nice little piece for date nights. Besides.. it’s soft and incredibly snuggly and the stretch would guarantee a nice level of comfort.
For my swing dancing project I was initially thinking of a circle skirt, but I’m not convinced.. the fabric is pink in the middle and changes into almost black with plum undertones at both salvages making it a surprisingly directional fabric.
I have been playing around with it today and thought that I can use the contrast horizontally or vertically, and I’m sort of set onto a rather simple gathered skirt. With inspiration from the box pleat skirt from Lisa Comfort’s book Sew Over It Vintage, I was thinking of a flat panel at the front with gathers all around, making sure to a. have the darker shade within hip length (way too low in picture below) or b. have a dark panel at the front and back. I think this might look quite pretty when twirling, as the pink would stand out massively.
I’m also conscious I should look at the stretch factor, which goes crossgrain rather than on grain (on pic on the left the stretch is on the length, on the right instead is on the width). There is a smaller amount of stretch on the grain, but I have been warned against putting most stretch on the length.
Also, should I factor in a zip? and what about the waistband, should I interface it? Considering that I can’t iron this I have to rule out fusible options.
As I speak I’m also thinking of a skater minidress with a cowl neck, but the heat factor would rule it out for dancing.
In short, what do you think? I’m in need of advice!