Hot! The “Cape Town Switcheroo” II, the sequel

Excuse the b*tch face, but I was watching the nasty kids next door through the barn window. The windows at which they threw rocks and smashed the other day.

The Facts:
Fabric: 2m + 1m narrow print shwe shwe from Botswana (144 Pula = $18.75)
Pattern: Vogue 8238 , used previously so=$0
Year: 1972
Notions: none yet
Time to complete: ~4 hours
First worn: not yet, but I plan to for Me Made May day 18 (Green Theme)
Wear again? Lots and lots

Total Cost: $18.75

Yay!  My losing streak is over!  It’s been a heck of a month sewing-wise, what with one disappointment after another.  I started this challenge two weeks ago by making a muslin for this dress from Burdastyle because I thought that the multiple panels would look great in different prints:  Not one, but two muslins went into the recycle pile, and a third was cut out before I decided it was too much trouble.  It looks simple, but I just couldn’t get the fit to work for me.  You’ve won this round Burda 108B…..

So I decided to just use the rest of the pink cotton fabric and whip up a quick sorbetto top for the Pink Challenge.  Given that I’ve made the sorbetto 3X before, I should have been able to do it with my eyes closed.  Not sure what happened, but the bust darts ended up about 2 inches high, and it was so tight across the back that I couldn’t move my arms.  (I don’t remember putting on 10 pounds or my breasts suddenly dropping, so the only explanation I can think of is that pattern nibbling mice came into my sewing room one night and did some alterations to my paper Burda patterns…..)

Then last week’s Long Road Trip blouse kicked my butt with its boringness and I knew I had to just Make it Work® this week, or I’d risk getting kicked out of The Sew Weekly sorority of coolness.  I loved my Cape Town Switcheroo from the Local Colour Challenge, and I knew exactly what small alterations had to be made to the pattern to improve the fit.  Lo and behold, I had EXACTLY enough shwe shwe in two complementary prints to squeeze out the pattern, although I had to cut on the cross grain and make it shorter than I did last time.  And there may have been a tiny bit of overlapping on the seam allowances, but let’s keep that between ourselves.

Yeah, I admit it: I watch Fashion Star while cutting and marking my fabric.

Modifications to pattern:  Shwe shwe is quite stiff, so I skipped the interfacing along the front edges.  I also removed the ease from the skirt back because trying to ease shwe shwe is like trying to ease denim:  it just isn’t going to happen easily.  I used bias tape for armscye finishing instead of facings because 1) as I stated before, I hate facings with a passion and 2) didn’t have enough fabric.  I sewed the dress in the flat rather than in the round because I wanted to ensure that the side seams matched exactly.  With contrasting prints like this, any misalignment would show.  It seems a bit “made in China” to be sewing that way, but I have to admit, it makes the fitting a lot easier, and I may start doing it more often.

Showing the secondary print wrapping around from back to lower front panels


What do you think: pocket or no pocket?

Full disclosure time:  I haven’t done the closures yet.  Since I made the neck facings from the contrasting print, I may wear it open sometimes, but I certainly will need to do some kind of fastenings for the skirt portion to avoid flashing the goods.

Also:  I have absolutely no explanation for this face.

On that successful note, I’m going to be taking the next few weeks off from the SW.  I have to go back to Cape Town tonight to retrain some new members of our research team, and I won’t have any access to a machine while I’m there (maybe I should take up knitting or crochet or embroidery to pass the kid-free evenings?  or at least add those closures).  I will however, have the chance on the weekends to cruise the fabric shops and markets of my favourite fabric hunting city!

See you all in June.







Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.


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  1. I like the b*tch face; gives the photo character. Nice dress!

    • Thanks! I took about 100 photos on automatic, but only a few turned out in focus, so I had to go with bitchface. Although if you ask my kids, this is probably my normal face…

  2. Loved your last one and I love this too. Also love that last photo – round here that expression is called ‘cat bum face’ ;O)

    • Cat bum face. That’s sounds about right!
      I usually take a bunch of photos on automatic mode, but for this shot of the facings, I just quickly snapped one. It looked so funny that I couldn’t bring myself to crop out my face.

  3. Hey Vicki, love the dress and combo of fabrics. Great puctures, faces and all. Safe travels and Good luck shopping for fabrics.

    • Thanks Krista. I arrived safe and sound, although my brain is still on eastern standard time. And I don’t need good luck for fabric shopping around here; there is so much lovely shwe shwe and indian cotton to chose from that I usually go overboard!

  4. Very cute! Great pattern and fabric combination. I say…no on the pocket. I like how it looks on you in the first couple of photos. I think the pocket would draw attention to itself. Have a great time shopping for fabrics!

  5. Love this! I have 3 lengths of schwe schwe that I just don’t know what to do with. I love the patterns on them though, just no inspiration. But this dress has got me dreaming – I think I may make something very similar in brown now.

    • I hoarded two shwe shwe prints for over a year because I was afraid to use them, but then I realized that they weren’t made of gold; if I messed up, I could always buy more on my next trip to SA. I’m in Cape Town now (just arrived late last night); are you here?

  6. Love the combination of those fabrics!

    • Thanks Cheryl. I got my inspiration from all the older ladies and domestic workers in Cape Town and Botswana who wear shwe shwe in combinations of prints, but usually in the same colourway. I usually see combinations of blue, but this green really caught my eye. Blue, brown and red are traditional, but now they are printing new fashion colours: purple, pinks, greens and oranges.

  7. amazing fabrics – the prints are so striking. Just remember that if your fabric purchases end up weighing more than you do, they will get your plane seat and you will have to fly home in the baggage compartment.

    • My labmates here in Cape Town just got a good chuckle about that, because they realized you may not be far off in your prediction!

  8. love the prints together. I think the pocket would be cute if you wanted to wear it without the belt. Belt plus pocket might be a bit fussy.

    • I wasn’t sure about the pocket either, but now that I’ve had these second opinions I realize it would be too busy.

  9. I love the Burda Dress, and I made the mini version (108A) for this challenge! I’m glad the schwe schwe and your pattern worked out for you in the end. The final dress looks great!

    As for taking a project along with you, I love knitting on long trips. Or you can try your hand at some portable quilting techniques such as English paper piecing. :D

    • I love the pattern, but I just can’t figure out the fit for me. The princess seams need to be flattened out for me, but I couldn’t get the alteration correct. I’ve had problems with other patterns with armhole princess seams, so I think I need to consult someone with a bit more experience on this issue.

      I brought some embroidery to make my daughter a mexican style top (huichol). I haven’t done any in about 30 years, so let’s see how it turns out!

  10. I’m glad you’re on a winning streak now and look forward to seeing you do another Victory! Love the prints together.

  11. Looks great Vicki. I love the shwe shwe so so much much. I would say no pocket – with the contrasting prints this beaut has enough going on. Can’t wait to see your Cape Town fabric haul!

    • Thanks thanks. Yeah, I was thinking that the pocket would be too much even before I started construction, so I waited until it was finished to decide. As for the fabric haul: I can’t wait either!

  12. Your Botswana fabric is quite nice. Well done on the mix n match. Have a great trip!

    • Thanks Najah, but it didn’t take much ingenuity to mix these prints: that’s how you’re supposed to buy and use them! They sell each colourway in about 20-30 different geometric prints, and you are supposed to mix and match at least 2 in an outfit. The old ladies around here are masters of pattern mixing ;)

  13. Fantastic combo Vicki, and love your inspiration I’d love to spend a day with those mix master ladies, how inspiring. Thanks for the tips on the shwe shwe too. Happy fabric hunting :) see you in a couple of weeks.

    • I got in a combi this afternoon, empty bags at my feet and ready to fill them with fabric. Then each store was closing just as I arrived, and all I could do was look throught the windows at the piles and piles of beautiful fabric. For some reason, all the shops close at lunchtime on Saturday and don’t open until Monday. Boo.

  14. I say yes to the pocket, but then perhaps you should listen to someone with slightly more natural taste/style than me ;) I love the combination of prints (and the combing of the dress with those awesome boots).

    • Thanks Tempest – who says you don’t have natural style?!? I think there are ~100 ladies here who would beg to differ ;)