Hot! The “Just Not Ugly Enough” Outfit

The Facts

Fabric: Red chenille sweater from Goodwill charity shop $5.99 (£3.72), lots of scraps from stash, 1 yd cotton fake fair isle knit reindeer & fir tree fabric $3.99 (£2.48).
Pattern: applique on sweater freestyling whilst watching Christmas movies, skirt: New Look 0136.
Year: 2012.
Notions: thread.
Time to complete: 9 hours (so far).
First worn: 3rd December 2012.

Wear again? Skirt: deffo, lots over next few weeks. Sweater: hopefully if it cools down a bit.

Total Cost: $9.98 (£6.21)

The challenge: “Winter”.

Winter. I can’t take winter seriously anymore. When we lived in the UK, I used to expect snow, rain and wind in winter. Going for walks, getting mud on my boots, hurrying back for whisky in my hot chocolate. And did I mention snow…..lots of lovely snow:

You might think I’m looking back on all this with rose-tinted glasses, but if you ask Mr D and my kids you’ll find out I’m not. We lived out in the middle of nowhere in a hamlet of 6 houses, accustomed to losing electricity and being snowed in (there was method in our madness having three fridges).

Then I moved to the USA. And to Phoenix, that doesn’t really have a winter. It just about manages an Autumn/Fall. So I have to make do with inflatable snowmen on the front lawn and green forests on my sweater:

I’m currently writing this wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and above skirt…..but the tights, boots and jumper had to get whipped off straight after the photos because I was melting. The things I do for you Sew Weekly! I suspect lots of this week’s posts are going to be the same….the down-underers are in their summer, the west-coast-americaners are probably experiencing low 80s (27C-ish) like here and I heard on the news that many cities in the Rockies, Mid-West and South of the USA are 10 to 30 degrees above the average for December. I will shut up now because I know all of you in the UK are attempting to throw soggy wellies at me and our German friends will be too once they clear their snow.

So just as I’m cunning bringing snow to Phoenix via inflatables (and we also have companies here that sell snowballs! A good friend bought a whole cooler box of snowballs for a party earlier this year and we had a snowball fight in the intense sun, it was wacky)…..I thought I’d be cunning by making a faux winter skirt that I can actually wear in 82 degrees….how fab is this fabric:

And yes, I had some scraps of Peanuts’ A Charlie Brown Christmas so I had to put them in as pockets on the skirt….they make me happy :)

The fair isle pattern of the skirt looks all wintery but its a cotton, so I can definitely wear it whenever I want to here. I probably should have made a pencil skirt to make it even more convincing as a knit, but I had enough in the yard to make an A-line one, so I did.

As for the sweater (I’d call it a jumper as we do in the UK but the Colonials would think I’m talking about something with braces, either dungarees or a pinafore dress, and I’m not even getting into the suspenders vs. braces translations…..), well, I’ve always wanted a Christmas Ugly Sweater and have scoured charity shops for years looking for one. It never occured to me until doing the Sew Weekly that I could upcycle my own. I’m so dim.

I bought a plain red chenille sweater from a Goodwill shop, and appliqued various green fabric Christmas trees onto it….zigzagging the edges with purple thread because this is a Tempest-project after all, the more colours the better. In my efforts to use every single stitch on my sewing machine by the end of the year, I tried some new ones out on the green velvet tree in yellow and orange threads, and I sewed some leftover braid from last week’s dress on some green t-shirt cotton. The gems are some of the many, many I have left over from burlesque costumes, I’ve used gem tac glue on them because it’s not as brittle as hot glue and you have a little time to more them around.

The snowman (because I had to have a snowman) is circles cut from a white t-shirt, zigzag stitched in place (amazingly with tasteful white thread), and I embroidered an orange carrot nose onto him with my machine, glued on googley eyes (because everything is made better with googlely eyes)….but as you can see he’s pretty ‘armless at the moment (ho ho). And that’s also why this outfit is called the “Just Not Ugly Enough” outfit…’s a work in progress. My snowman needs arms embroidering on, and perhaps a hat applique, and I’ve got tiny flashing lights to add, and jingle bells for down the sleeves, and that collar, beautiful shape though it is, needs some faux fur or at the very least tinsel sewing on it.

But that will have to be done on evenings in front of the telly, watching all the Christmas movies lined up on my dvr (my faves being Die Hard, Home Alone, Elf, Gremlins, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Muppet Christmas Carol & Scrooged) because I need to get moving on a stupid amount of black tulle. Yes, you heard me right, next week I’m doing black. Yes, me. It’s theme re-do week…..and my Music challenge didn’t muster up last time, so it’s time to put down the jingle bells and pick up the anti-static spray.

Meanwhile, here’s our other inflatable on the lawn. It’s meant to be a reindeer rolling Santa up into a snowball….I’m saying nothing…




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. I almost spewed my tea when I got to that last photo…LOL!!! Seriously, though, that is quite the Christmas sweater you’ve made yourself. A few years ago, at the pleading of her husband, I cleaned out my vets closet and found THE UGLIEST set of Christmas sweaters EVER. All were gifts from clients and all I could do was shake my head and say “Wendy, Wendy, Wendy…WHY are these still here???” Yours would fit right in : ) But somehow you carry it off with a style that makes me smile instead of rolling my eyes. Brilliant skirt : ) My sister used to live in Scottsdale so I’ve seen one of your “winters” down there. We get more “wintery” weather here in the Bay Area! You should think about a trip up here sometime : )

    • I know, the picture on the box didn’t look explicit, it looked like a cute reindeer rolling Santa into a snowball. As soon as we inflated it my youngest asked “why is the reindeer weeing on Santa?”…..and I’m sure older but equally immature viewers (like myself) might think even worse seeing it. I think it might be relegated to a less prominent spot next year, I’m hoping to make wooden painted Christmas cut-outs lit by spotlights next year…..when I have time not sewing EVERY week ;)

      Without a doubt I shall be across to the coast sometime next year and hope to get a visit in with all you sewing friends out there!

  2. So perfectly wintery! Love all your cool decorations in such a warm place. Great scene on the upcycled sweater, I can just imagine what it will look like after you finish putting all that other stuff on it. The faux sweater knit skirt is really cute too. Just right for that warm warm weather. We’ll be in Phoenix after Christmas for a few days. Want to try to meet up for coffee? Are there any good discount fabric stores around? Sending you holiday ho hos. :)

  3. That is totally not an ugly Christmas sweater – at least not to the horrors my Grandma used to send us! I love that you made your own. And the snowman is too adorable – everything is better with googly eyes!

  4. More googles! More bells! More jewels! It’s much too tasteful right now. ;) Funny how one of your early projects that I loved was the applique Up skirt, and here you are near the end with another great applique (Oh no, I just realized that putting “Up skirt” in this comment is going to get you some weird google hits….sorry).

    I have to tell you that I’m waiting impatiently for your project this week, and I really hope you did the Annie makeup too!