Hot! The “Angel of the North” Dress and Shrug


The Facts

Fabric: Some sort of upholstery fabric on cheap at my favourite discount warehouse
Pattern: Shrug – adapted view F from McCall’s 3880. Dress – experimental draping project cut on the bias inspired by watching too many Project Runway Allstars.
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Nothing but thread
Time to complete:
First worn: 4th March 2012
Wear again? Not sure. If not it might possibly be upcycled into cushion covers and a roller blind.
Total price: $11.97


The challenge: “Inspired by art: This week, we’re being all cultural and stuff using art as our inspiration”

When I first saw that we were having an “inspired by art” challenge week I immediately thought of my favourite painter Vincent Van Gogh (as in goff not go). I have a Doctored (as in Who) Van Gogh gallery wall at the top of my stairs. But I was a bit concerned that everyone would chose Vincent, so I decided to go for my favourite sculptor instead.

I love Antony Gormley’s works. The Iron Man in Birmingham. His Quantum Cloud in the River Thames. Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool. When I lived in Shrewsbury, Shropshire I had the privilege of being able to visit one of his touring exhibits, Field for the British Isles in a church along the road from my work. It blew me away. I used to go and sit and have my lunch in the church each day just so I could be near it and see the little people change colour from the sunlight moving across the stained glass windows. I have photos of this exhibit when it was in Shrewsbury and in Liverpool around my house. I also have numerous photos of probably his most famous work and one that always reminds me of home (and always makes me tear up a bit when I see her) – the Angel of the North:

(scanned from a postcard I have framed, I think by the photographer Joe Cornish)

They reckon the Angel of the North is one of the most viewed works of art in the world, seen by 90,000 people a day or 33 million a year. She’s a steel sculpture, 66 ft tall, with a wing span of 177ft, located on a hill near Gateshead, overlooking the A1 and A167. She is THE landmark of the North (some people will be shouting at me now) and was completed in 1998. I used to get excited every time I drove past her on my way to Newcastle or the Metro Centre. To me she is Home.

I didn’t quite manage a wing span of 177 ft….

Struggling with my wings against the wind (I'm the King of the World!)

But I had a go at representing British art, and more importantly Northern culture with a dress that was a challenge and broke boundaries into new sewing territory for me. OK so my orange fabric might be a bit rose-tinted spectacles as a representation of the Angel’s steel….and I might have chickened out half way through the week with my cut on the bias dress plans to make it very form fitting….I liked the way it flowed outwards from the bust and waist darts. But I think I still like it. I also doubled the width of the pattern pieces for the shrug to make them look more wing like. I quite like this, they look kimono-y when I’m not in my ‘flying’ position.

But whether or not I wear the dress and/or the shrug again….they both forwarded me along my sewing learning curve. To make the dress I read loads of articles, blog tutorials, bits from reputable sewing books on draping (something I’d never tried before) and  cutting and sewing material cut on the bias. I also watched a lot of Project Runways and Project Runway Allstars…..never a bad thing for future inspiration!

And the photoshoot was a hoot. We got loads of strange looks from passers-by again. And I repeatedly wobbled off-balance in the wind….the real Angel can cope with winds over 100 miles an hour, but she has the benefit of having her feet secured by 600 tonnes of concrete and 70 ft deep foundations. I’ll suffer a little for my art but not that much.

And once the photoshoot was over, we obviously rolled down the hill (I MIGHT post pics of this on my blog in the future, possibly) and my youngest, Melchett discovered that the wings are great fun to wear when running down a hill.

Melchett seeing if the wings will actually help her fly




Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


Comments are closed.

  1. Creative, fun and just a joy to view!

    • Thanks Joann, it was a lot of fun to experiment with and take photos of….just gotta to work out how to do the same with this week’s ‘green’ challenge now.

  2. Hahaha (big smile) thank you.

  3. Thank you for the window to the North as well as the inspired shrug and dress, a beautiful adaptation. Great fabric!

  4. What a fantastic inspiration piece! I could tell what you had picked right away! That fabric looks perfect.

  5. Amazing, the photoshop was a hott, love the pictures. You should send to a performance art center, there must be one in AZ and see if you can do a live performance art.

  6. Crazy cool! What a great tribute to a fabulous art sculpture. I wouldn’t be surprised if you got picked up by the news! I’m going to keep my eyes tuned to the news tonight.

  7. WOW – that was a brilliant choice. The fabric is ideal and the rolling down the hill was a given.

  8. This is simply breathtaking!!! I love your inspiration, and I love your dress and shrug! The fabric is ideal for this, I think, and I applaud you for trying your hand at draping – it looks fantastic!

  9. You need to find a stage and perform the heck out of that dress! Great job-

  10. Brilliant!! I love this!!

  11. You are a work of art (wearing a work of art). Well done! I love that you draped. I love that your creation represents your passion for home. And, I love that you guys rolled down that magnificent hill.

  12. I agree with Gina, excellent stuff. Crazy cool indeed.

  13. As a Newcastle resident I’m absolutely delighted to see your choice of inspiration, thank you for representing British sculpture! Excellent effort, a joy to read!

  14. You know I believe it’s totally possible that you are the King of the World indeed.
    Absolutely great. And as a big England lover I am thrilled that you picked something English, particularly from Northern England.