Sewing, What I wear

The 1930s inspired Stella Skirt

The weather in Wellington has been conspiring to make it easy for me to get lots of sewing done, and hard for me to get the sewing photographed.  It’s been cold, dark and wet – or at least it has on any day when I’ve had any time to get photographs.

This weekend a sun, free time, and a photographer (Madame O, yay!) finally managed to all happen at the same time.
The 1930s inspired Stella Skirt - 7    Unfortunately, the rest of the  circumstances  conspired against me.  It may have been sunny, but it was still  very  cold.  And we were late setting out, so the best of the sun and light had passed.  And it was even more cold.

Plus, I’ve got muscle and nerve damage above one eye (word to the wise: try not to get bitten on the face by a centipede, those bastards are evil), and when I get really cold the muscles just stop responding, and I end up looking like a literal Picasso.

And to top it all off  I’ve had a little problem that’s making me very bloated, so my waist is three inches bigger than it normally is, my stomach would last have been fashionable around 1630, and  when I had a good look at the photos I thought “Holy  way to start a pregnancy rumour Batman!”

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So I had to seriously cull the photos to avoid all the ones that made me look like I was approaching the second trimester, or was aiming for a very avant-garde Dali-esque makeup job.  Or was preggers and Picasso-ed at the same time.

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While I did carefully pick the photos where I like where I look, and while the I did play with the colour on the photos (more than a little too much in some cases, as I was trying to make the sky and the details on the black skirt both appear clearly), I did not photoshop myself at all.  I didn’t even remove the spot on my face (gee, thanks stress.  Clearly not my week!).

Not that I wasn’t tempted to, but in the middle of editing the photos, iPhoto decided to crash on me and corrupt most of them.  And, of course, this happened on a Saturday night, 30 minutes after AppleCare NZ had shut until Monday.  I managed to rescue the photos as they were at the moment of crash, but any time I attempted further iPhoto-ing of any kind, things just got worse. And  I can’t remember  how to bulk edit in PS, and I was too  grumpy, and lazy, and frustrated to try to look it up and remember, or even to do tiny spot-removing touch-ups, so I just slapped watermarks on everything, resized, called it a day, and here you go.

The 1930s inspired Stella Skirt - 13  Oh, by the way, we’re looking at the skirt here.  It’s called the Stella skirt, and it’s based on the classic 1930s skirt block, with options for front and/or back pleats.

I’m wearing it with the Ngaio blouse in half the images, and with my new knit top pattern (provisionally called ‘Miramar’ after the Wellington suburb and Carlotta of Mexico’s palace)

The skirt is (obviously!) named after Stella Gibbons – it’s a good skirt for a practical ’30s heroine to get a good days work organising the world done in.

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Maybe it’s because of the no-nonsense Flora Post vibe, but I’m really liking the pairing of it with the really practical, almost frumpy, brogues.

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It’s a much more sensible pairing than heels in the sand or on a rotting driftwood log!

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If, despite all my complaining, you think it looks like I’m having an awesome time in the photoshoot, well, you’d be right!

Sure, I was cold (so cold!), but Wellington is spectacular, Madame O is  always a blast to take pictures with, and we  giggled so much between serious poses, and did so much non-serious posing (me), or lying on the floor trying to get just the right angle (her) that it was hard not to have a great time.

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Plus, once we were done taking photos we got to rush home  to a well-heated lounge, a very cuddly cat, a cup of hot tea, and sewing!

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And you just can’t beat that…


  1. That is a nicely done practical skirt. It really seems special with the red top. And thank you for being transparent about how you felt about your photos. I think we all have issues with that. I personally think I look better from behind! ( no face)

  2. I really like it! Practical and pretty. You can never go wrong with that:)
    Awesome job!

  3. Tegan says

    Thanks to the lighting work, the beach photos look like 30s beach postcards! So fab!

  4. I love the Stella skirt. I would love to have two or three skirts like that, in suit-weight wool in different colors.

    I have no objections to your tinkering with the photos you post of yourself (why shouldn’t you? The “stars” do!), but I don’t have much skill with the GIMP, which is the Linux equivalent of Photoshop (Linux is what my machine runs). So I merely toss the photos of me that look *too* awful, or weird, and call it good.

    • Elise says

      I do that: purchase something I like in varying colors. When you have a classic piece that you love, then it makes sense! Of course, I am talking buying, and you are talking sewing, but it’s the same philosophy!

    • Thank you! I actually do have a couple of Stella skirts already, in various colours, and there will be more – there is a versions in evening blue wool crepe in the sewing queue, and I’m on the lookout for the right dark red fabric for one in that. I definitely do the sewing version of buying one in every colour, as Elise says!

      When I (finally) get around to selling the pattern, would you like to test it?

      I don’t like to tinker with photos of myself too much. I find it hard to relate to bloggers who always present themselves and life as perfect (and ones who never smile. What’s with that?), and I don’t want to be like the ‘stars’! But I do prefer to only show photos of me that I’d like to look at – so nothing too unflattering!

      I use Gimp when I can’t justify the price of photoshop 🙂 They are very similar, and I’m not particularly good in either.

      • “When I (finally) get around to selling the pattern, would you like to test it?”

        Dear God. For me, sewing for historical events is one thing; sewing something to wear on interviews, to court or for work…is something else. On the other hand, at the rate I’m going that may be the only way I’ll have nice skirts that fit, ever again…

        So yes, if you sell the pattern, I would like to test it. I can tell from your photos we have similar builds (I even have more than a bit of a tummy, due less to bloating than age and other factors, but still), so if the skirt looks great on you it should work on me! Thanks for considering making your pattern available (I’ll thank you even more when/if you make the pattern available)!

      • catb.orgFor what it’s worth, tossing the bad photos is something that the professionals do, too; it’s why they take so *many* photos in each session.

        Years ago, People magazine wanted to publish a short article about my husband (it ended up being about a quarter-page all told). So they sent a photographer and his assistant out to our house to photograph Eric. They were there for TWELVE HOURS, and in that time must have taken hundreds of shots (on film; digital cameras weren’t that much of a thing, then) in oodles of different positions, in our back yard and in every room of our house except for the bathrooms and bedrooms. But the end result really looks like Eric, and it looks like Eric at his best, which is hard to do (usually photos of Eric come out looking like mug shots or worse). Eric cropped it to head only and still uses it on his blog; you can see it

  5. Deanna says

    Goodness! What you overcame to get a lot of wonderful pictures! That is a great skirt, looks wonderful with the Ngaio blouse.

    Also, centipedes scare me. 🙂 I hope the damage isn’t permanent?

    • Thank you! The photos that I like did turn out great, there was just a really high percentage of ones I didn’t 😉 And the skirt is my favourite classic wardrobe piece – I’ve been making variants of it for years.

      As a result of a dozen sting incidents as a child, centipedes completely freak me out too. Unfortunately the damage is permanent, and I’m paranoid that it will get worse with age 🙁 It’s really pretty minor in the scheme of things though.

      • Elise says

        They really are especially nasty in Hawaii, too. Sorry about your injury!

      • Deanna says

        Yikes! A dozen times! I can’t imagine. Or don’t want to! Just seeing them scares me and I’ve never been stung. I hope you don’t run into any more.

  6. Elise says

    Ugh. Good luck with your gut. My favorite feature of me is my flat stomach (many years of karate), but I would distend so embarrassingly when I ate bread or drank beer. Years later, I get a blood test and found that I produce antibodies to gluten. So I miss out on the pizza, but keep my vanity.

    It’s not just embarrassing–it’s painful! Hoping that you feel better, soon.

    • Thanks so much! I’ve been tested, and I am not gluten intolerant (which I am very grateful for). Even at it’s ‘best’ my stomach is never ever flat, which I’m OK with, but starting pregnancy rumours is a little too much for me 😉

  7. MJ Ruisi says

    Wow!.. Hurray for timing,great friends/photographers ,well sized Stella Skirts,Fabulous Tops and Red Lips ..booo on venomous centipedes & ill timed health trials…You photograph so wonderfully…best of good health! xo

  8. Centipedes… I found one about 10cm/ 4in long crawling over my bed when I was about six and I don’t think I’ve recovered from the horror of it yet – and I didn’t even get bitten (stung?).
    You look great, and so does Stella!

  9. Laura says

    Well, I love the skirt, but what I *really* love is the Flora Post reference 🙂 🙂

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