The “Tartan Leopard” Ensemble
Fabric: 55% acrylic, 45% wool St Michael kilt from England in the early 1980s; Ann Taylor leopard print silk dress with poly lining from the late 1990s
Year: early-80s and late-90s meet 2012
Notions: button and kilt pin included in kilt
Time to complete: less than 3 hours
First worn: 5/13
Wear again: yes!
Total cost: $0
What a satisfying challenge! I’ve managed to transform two garments from my family that have lingered a good long while into an outfit I’ll actually wear. And I didn’t even spend any money.
My grandma, on one of her trips to her homeland in the 80s, bought the kilt for my mom. I’m pretty sure there were matching kilts for my sister and me, but they’re gone. Just like last week, I’m impressed by how svelte my mom was. The waist was at least 3 inches too small for me, my hips barely squeezed in, the length hit me at mid-calf, and the whole effect was pretty terrible. I wanted to do something voluminous, pencil, and asymmetrical like this awesome Vivienne Westwood skirt,
but I had to settle for a much simpler refashion due to the amount of fabric and the industrial-strength pleating. I didn’t want to fight that pleating. There was plenty of fabric in the middle front where the sides overlap and the kilt is pinned, so I just took out the pin, moved the waist way over, and chopped off several inches from the hem. The front is very slightly asymmetrical now, an age from Vivienne, more schoolgirl uniform. I cut the top to hang down over the tiny bulge in the left hip, where there will never be enough fabric to fit me; I’m not going to worry about it.
About the top, it used to be a beautiful below-the-knee bias-cut dress that my sister cast off sometime around 2000. Because it’s very well made and fit me perfectly–and I do like a leopard print– I’ve hung onto it even though I’ve never ever worn it, not once. I don’t know why. Even after all these years, it was difficult to cut into it. I’m so glad I did. I did a machine rolled hem (using the normal presser foot) on both layers just like I did for my circle skirt.
I felt a little guilty mixing up my prints in two different garments, but you can rest assured the kilt will always be worn with the leopard. There are no other options. The top may see more action, as it should after taking up space in my closet for years as an unworn dress, but I honestly doubt it. Do I feel guilty that I got away with some cutting and hemming this week? No! Wish I’d taken “before” photos, but I dived into this one. Also wish I still had my worn-to-death black lace up boots to toughen up the look a bit. I like it though; it feels like me.