Hot! The “Self Preservation Society” Outfit

The Facts 
Fabric: Crown: a bit more of the burgundy velvet curtain used last week, Jacket: absolutely bargain BNWT $4.99 in Goodwill half-price sale, Skirt: Purple duvet cover I’ve been meaning to thrift for ages.
Patterns: Butterick 5161 and Butterick 3843.
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: Crown: Poster board 99c, 1 yd metallic trim $3.49, 2 rolls of metallic ribbon in bargain bin $1.98, coloured plastic ‘gems’ taken off pair of Lelli Kelli shoes now too small for my daughter. Skirt: Zipper taken from a skirt whose fabric went into stash. Thread. Crown earrings: crown bracelet charms 50% off at Hobby Lobby $2.47 and hooks and link rings from existing jewellery-making supplies.
Time to complete: 9 hours
First worn: hasn’t been yet….reasons below.
Wear again? Absolutely, I really like this outfit and the crown makes me smile.

Total Cost: $13.92

The challenge: “Diamond Jubilee – something inspired by a past or present royal”.

The observant of you will notice that this week I’m not wearing my creations for the photos but instead the aptly named Betty is standing in for me. I’m afraid I’ve had a rough week….some of you will know that I have cyclothymia, the mildest form of bipolar. Well, my head hasn’t been good to me this week. To top that Mr D, came back from his nearly 3 week world business trip with an appalling cold and then lovingly let me have it too. It knocked me out, left me feverish and with very painful sinuses. So sewing time has been limited this week. Luckily, I had a very well-researched plan already in place at the beginning of the week to help get me through….

Whilst I was at my local Goodwill thrift store a few weeks ago I saw a velvet jacket with a pretty floral pattern on it and this was outlined with a raised gold embellishment. I’d already been doing some research about past and present royal fashions in readiness, and it reminded me of a dress made by Catherine Walker made for Princess Diana in 1992 for the royal tour to India.

(The Catherine Walker story inspired me – widowed in a foreign country with 2 baby girls she started off her business selling clothes from a basket walking up and down in Chelsea, London whilst studying to be a designer at night school….and she went on to make some of Princess Diana’s most iconic and remembered clothes).

The jacket was in the ‘better quality’ section and although it had long sleeves and a Nehru collar, I definitely thought it had potential. It still had its tags on too and was originally $59.99. It was priced at $9.99 which normally would seem an absolute bargain…..but as I know I’m in for the long haul with Sew Weekly I know all the apparently small costs pile up and so as the Goodwill was due to have its 50% off sale the next day, I thought I’d risk not buying it then and there to come back the next morning.

Anyway, I came back, fought the queues and got the jacket for $4.99… that was a bargain!

So far I’ve altered the neckline, taken in at the waist and shortened the sleeves. I’m not finished on the sleeves….but I didn’t trust my sewing judgement/quality whilst feverish the other day….so decided to tackle these properly (shaping them like the Catherine Walker original) when I’m back on form.

Ooh, I haven’t shown you the Catherine Walker dress yet have I? Here you go….

I was originally going to cut the jacket into a bolero, but once I’d made the alterations I quite liked the shape of it to the waist and as I’ve discovered with my shape, anything empire line risks me looking pregnant. I definitely do not have Diana’s figure.

I thought about making the skirt with the Butterick 3843 pattern in black like the original, but there’s a very pretty purple in the flowers on the jacket that I had an old duvet cover to match….so hence the purple skirt.

And I extended the length of the train at the back too. I’m not sure if you can see, but I used gold thread and an embroidery stitch on my machine around the hem. More of my royalty fashion research that fascinated me was how Norman Hartnell frequently put symbolic embroidery on Queen Elizabeth’s skirts….and this was my token nod to this within my limits.

On the days when I couldn’t get out of bed, Sew Weekly kept me going by spurring me on to do something, anything… I made myself a crown sort of to the Butterick 5161 View E pattern. Oh and some tiny crown earrings. They make me smile because they’re pure silliness.

I’m sorry I didn’t manage to be in the photos myself this week. I did get up very early this morning to get showered and prettified for photos, but after several hours of tears and battling with the hateful voices inside my head I decided that self preservation was the order of the day (one of my favourite “English” songs whenever I’m feeling particularly homesick…..not helped by watching all the Jubilee celebrations that I’m separated from by the big, big ocean is Self Preservation Society from one of my favourite movies The Italian Job…..the proper one though, with Michael Caine), and though I couldn’t do everything, I could do something and that was to show you what I’d made with the aid of Betty, my wonderful, dependable dress form.

So there you go. I hope this all makes sense because I’m just trying to get it done this week….I do feel rather like I’m perched in a balancing coach on the edge of a ravine in the Alps.

Hang on, lads, I’ve got a great idea…..



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.


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  1. How fun! I love all your research. What sort of event will you wear this to?

    • Probably not posh enough for an event, I was thinking just around the house, popping to the shops, on a night out….I’ve already discovered that wearing the crown makes vacuuming the house much more fun.

  2. Thinking about you and hope you’re on the road to feeling better. It’s a beautiful creation and I love the crown!

    • Thank you so much. I’m rather in love with the crown….but having to fight the kids and their friends they have round to wear it. I might have to make a few smaller ones.

  3. I have missed you from Instagram this week Tempest – I am sorry you had a rough week and hope that you are feeling on top of things again soon. Nothing like a bit of sitting down making a crown when you can’t be there in person to join in the festivities eh? The whole thing made me get emotional too! The crown is magnificent and well done on your amazing upcycle fantastic salute to Queenie!

    • Yep, haven’t really been out and about to take photos this week….but getting better. Luckily there’s a very stubborn element in me keeping me ploughing on….Sew Weekly actually truly is helping me get up in the morning too (THANKS MENA).

  4. What a beautiful and creative refashion of the jacket and upcycling of the duvet cover. Yes, Betty’s ok, but nothing compares to the real you. Hope you are feeling better now. I’m surprised at how much you were able to do while being under the weather. You are a real Sew Weekly trooper!

    • Sew Weekly has helped me rediscover how much making things makes me feel better about myself. I’m lucky that Mena hasn’t chosen a theme yet (and possibly won’t) that’s failed to get my creative brain cells excited about making something and showing it to you all. Thank you!

  5. Great self preservation, best wishes for a full recovery very soon, hope you get some regal photos when you are better x

    • Thank you Charlotte….I’m off on holidays soon and have a possible photoshoot planned on another Queen (that sounds rude, it isn’t)…I might sneak a pic onto the end of a future post if it comes off.

  6. The alterations on the super bargain embroidered top look great! I hope you feel better soon. :)

  7. Hope you feel better soon. I am an English girl living down-under and even though I was brought up to be a republican, images of all the celebrations, especially those in villages, made me feel a little home-sick. Your outfit looks great, especially the jacket.

    • I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ (as my teenage daughter repeatedly says) about our Royals. I respected what they do but they didn’t really feature in my life. The Queen Mum was always my favourite, she seemed the most in touch with real people strangely, and the most fun. I used to live in a village in Shropshire and have been watching from afar the fun they’ve been having both for the Olympic Torch relay last week and the Jubilee. It’s been hard not being able to be part of this, though I do have British tv and that makes it easier (couldn’t live without EastEnders). I’m sad that I have such fond memories of being at a street party in 1977 and my kids aren’t going to have these memories. I have warmed incredibly to the Queen and the royal family over this Jubilee (especially her and Prince Philip standing for over 90 minutes in the rain at the Thames Regatta).

      Aaaanyway, enough of this homesickness…onwards and upwards (Euro 2012 and Olympics will cheer me).

  8. I have to ask, did you already have the crown pattern in your stash, or did you pick that up special?! I’m quite impressed!! :D
    I hope you will take some pics in it when you’re feeling better and post to your blog. The drape of the skirt looks magnificent with that jacket.

    • Yes I did (have it in my stash). I make burlesque costumes when I’m not Sew Weekly-ing and unfortunately/fortunately a lovely sewing store I used to frequent went out of business last year and had a huge closing down sale, including selling all their patterns off for 99c so I purposely bought a whole stack of ones that were quirkier costuming patterns for future use.

      I’m off somewhere a bit special (with very royal connections) in a week-ish and will pack this outfit with the hope of a cheeky photo or too.

      Thank you so much for the kind comments.

  9. Purple is perfectly regal, and a much better choice for a majestic ensemble than black, IMO. I’ve been meaning to make my kids some play crowns and can’t believe that I didn’t think of doing that this week (oh right, I was busy cleaning up the massive garbage tip that took over my house during my two week absence…..)

    Don’t ever apologize for being sick! Better to let it out than put on a fake smile. A friend recently told me that she had been terribly depressed after having her kids, and I asked how and why she had managed to hide it so well. It only served to make the rest of us feel like unfit mothers for being occasionally unhappy, and it didn’t allow us to help her when she needed it. Feel better soon!

    • Thanks Vicki. I like the purple better too….especially with the gold thread detailing. I’m not a huge fan of black but Diana wore it so well.

      Don’t worry, I don’t hide, I’m a complete oversharer :) I’ve had cyclothmic disorder since my teens and I’m 44 now, luckily getting this far has taught me one thing, that no matter how bad it gets, and how long it takes, eventually the sun does come out again (Stephen Fry’s letter of note is on my wall if I ever forget this:

  10. Hope you’re feeling better now. I’m amazed you got so much done! That jacket is going to be a beauty. See you next week!

    • Thank you. Sometimes the best way to make sure you’re not blown backwards by the dark storm is to keep doing something, anything to at the least keep stepping in place, but with any luck perhaps take a step forwards….I thank Sew Weekly that it gives me something each week to chip away at.

  11. Likewise, I’m extremely impressed by how much you accomplished under the circumstances! The whole ensemble is so cool and so you. The jewel-tones seem sort of 80s and thus appropriately “Diana” to me, even though her inspiration dress is black (and silver?). Hope you feel regal soon.

    • Yeah, I’m not really a black and white person….but I bet there’s a b&w challenge coming sometime this year so i just might have to suck it up. The nearest I got to it was the dress shirt and bowling skirt, but I had to add a few red buttons to the skirt to keep me sane, haha. Thank you.

  12. Glad to read up there that you’ll wear the crown around the house cleaning but more so as a reminder that you ARE Queen Tempest and you can do anything! Seize the day sweetie. Well done on getting so much done. You’re a trooper. Hope you are feeling like royalty soon. See you next week.

    • I shall wear my crown at a jaunty Kazz-like angle today and see if it inspires me (hopefully it will, I need to make a sort of African-coloured-ish-floral print maxi skirt today in readiness for the Summer 2012 on trends week….I’m trying to get ahead as I’m off on hols and Mr D won’t let me take a sewing machine the rotter). Thank you for the kind words.

  13. I am totally in love with the crown, everyone needs a crown to make them feel special.

  14. This outfit looks fantastic! You should wear that crown on a daily basis! (I totally would ;-) ) I do hope things are better for you this week!

  15. I missed seeing you this week Tempest. I had to settle for the little picture at the end of your post. The top was a real find-the pattern is so pretty! I also like that you went with purple instead of black for the skirt.

    You tell those voices where they can stick it! We love you and are inspired by your energy and creativity. Sew Weekly is helping me get through some tough stuff too. Glad we’re doing it together.

  16. I’m sorry your week was so rough. I don’t think I would have pulled off this project on a good wee though so I’ll take that as even more prof that you totally rock.

  17. Keep on sewin’! My daugher has issues similar to yours so I understand the “just get one foot in front of the other” times. I hope you feel better soon, we miss seeing your smiling face : ) Your crown is very cute, I may have to do something similar to clean the house in, maybe that will get me motivated.