Hot! A Hint of Africa

The Facts

Fabric: 3 metres Amy Butler ‘Sparkle’ Home Dec and 1 metre African Waxed Print
Pattern: Project Runway, free with a UK sewing magazine
Notions: Zip and interfacing from stash
Year: 2012
Time to Complete: 9 hours
Total Cost: A bit dear for me … but I had to have the Sparkle print at £13.95 per metre, so about £45 (sheesh!)
First worn: In these photos
Wear again: Yes, really like it. Photos don’t do it justice.

Challenge No. 10 from me so far. I’ve had to share my sewing time with knitting this year, given that I paid (!) for the knitting course I’m doing some time ago and I’ve been a bit behind with it for one reason or another. Actually, because life really has got in the way for me with things happening that I certainly didn’t foresee, this has already been destined for two previous challenges – yellow and collared… Anyway, I reckon I deserve a little bit of a sit back and look at what everyone else is doing this year, else my wardrobe would be overflowing after last year’s mammoth effort of 50 challenges! Well, I wanted to get this in sooner rather than later and have been racking my brains for a connection with children’s literature – so I’ve come up with ‘Up To Date Kate’, a comic strip from Diana (UK) comic many years ago … She was always into the latest trend and I wish I could find an example to show you. Does anyone else remember her? She had long hair and fluttery eyelashes, of the 1970’s sort and I loved reading all about her adventures in the fashion world. I’ve been wanting to use the African prints I’ve had in my stash for over a year now, as I know they are really on trend … I really don’t think I’d get away with an ‘allover’ effect. So, I reckon I might just be able to carry off a fancy yoke/collar with tab detail and matching bag.

Given that I also work in a division of a company that deals with African issues, then I’m going to be topical!  I’m running out of garden space and I never seem to be anywhere else for the weekends when I’m able to take photos, so sorry not to be more inventive – it’s been raining a lot too and not ideal for going out anywhere. The Project Runway dress pattern was free, given away with a UK sewing magazine. I bought the Amy Butler ‘Frenchy’ bag pattern – I’d really like to get into bag making in a bigger way … and I’ve cut the bits out ready for assembly.


Anyway, about the fabric – the yoke, matching tabs and bag body are in the African waxed print I bought by the weight in a Manchester fabric shop, just because it was really reasonable and I liked it and I wasn’t really thinking how I could use it. Then it seemed to be everywhere…maybe I was buying leftovers from the fashion industry!  I found the contrasting Amy Butler ‘Sparkle’ home dec. print in Cambridge.  It has small shapes that echo the bigger ones in the African print. I was torn between two colourways – predominantly blue or yellow … hmmm … I went for the blue because I think too much of the yellow would have drowned me out completely, though I still bought a bit of it to try and make my mind up and have ended up using it in the bag handles instead. I did even toy with using both in the dress at one point, given that the Runway pattern gives lots of options for mixing and matching but I’m happy with what I’ve done overall…

Well, I hope I can be a bit more timely with the next challenge … Look forward to seeing what everyone else does!  Good luck!



Diane has sewn all through life but gave things a serious go at the beginning of 2011 and during the year took part in 50 Sew Weekly challenges. She now wants to expand her knowledge and learn new techniques in each project she completes, as well as develop a style of her own and a sense of quality over quantity. She studied print design some years ago and a love of unusual prints and colours underpins her work. Currently, she works full time dealing with copyright issues and previously, she managed photographic sales for a leading fine art museum. Diane is so grateful for the friendship, support and encouragement she has received from the Sew Weekly community.


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  1. That bag is going to be awesome. Love the dress and the fabric mix.

  2. Love that African print and wish I could see the sparkle in real life. Love the yoke shape and that bag is fab too. Please don’t apologise for taking photos in your garden, it’s beautiful.

    • The Sparkle is really lovely in real life Tempest – it was nearly dusk when I had the photos done and I could have done with a bright sunshiny day really … Maybe I’ll have some more done. Thanks re: the garden (though I’ll admit I don’t garden there, it’s my mum’s … mine is a bit of a wilderness! The poppies have been picturesque though.

  3. Great colors and cute pattern. The bag looks like it would be just right for my laptop. ;)

  4. I really like the contrast between the yoke and the main dress Diane, you look lovely. I’m so glad you treated yourself to a bit of yummy fabric, it’s nice to feel pampered x

  5. Thanks Charlotte … I thought I looked a bit wonky up top on the main photo, but the dress isn’t like that in real life. I loved sewing with the Amy Butler fabric.

  6. Love the fabric Oh yes yes yes I do!

  7. Thanks Kazz, I think you’re the expert on African fabric!