I am very excited to post about this project: a silk brocade and ostrich feather skirt! That's a mouthful, right? Here I'll tell you how I made it, in case you want to make your own version too.
This is how it came about. I saw this great DIY ostrich feather skirt on the blog "Meredith and Gwyneth, the New Yorkie". I love how she made a longer, knee-length skirt, which was really different than the party-dress mini-skirts that I had seen before with ostrich feathers.
I decided I wanted to make one, and set out to find ostrich feather trim. With this kind of trim, the feathers are set on a ribbon, so it is easy to sew on. (I wouldn't want to try and glue individual feathers onto a skirt!) I figured these ostrich feathers were probably artificial and available at my local fabric store. Apparently not! Definitely no ostrich feathers for sale in my city. And after extensive online scouring, I could not find any artificial ostrich feathers.
My mother-in-law, who is an enthusiastic environmentalist, suggested trying to find a source in Canada, maybe from an ostrich farm, since that might be more environmentally responsible, rather than sourcing them from far away. But no luck.
So, eventually I bought some on eBay. I had planned on buying white feathers, but when I saw the lovely light mint green, I knew that is what I wanted. I kept thinking what a gorgeous clutch these would make too. Check out this photo of a Kate Spade clutch I have since found:
But the problem was that to get enough length to do two layers all around a long skirt would have cost a bundle. So, I decided to buy about half of what I would need and set it on a brocade skirt in layers.
Check out these inspiration photos which show ostrich feathers used as an accent, and in different ways on skirts:
1. Antonio Marras, 2. Ralph Lauren, 3. Massimo Dutti (Sources according to Pinterest - so I don't guarantee reliablity!)
I also figured that placing the feathers in layers would be better for someone of my shape - a bit heavier in the waist (ahem!). If I had made a really thick pad of feathers from the waist down, I think I might look like a chicken. (Or I guess an ostrich?!) At least this strategy would elongate things and let me avoid padding my hips too much.
I ordered this gorgeous silk brocade fabric from the store Everything Indian on Etsy. This photo does not do it justice. It is a heavy silk, and changes colour in the light. Lovely!
I made the skirt using the Burda Style Pattern 7124, view B, no lining and no extra high waist option. It looked great as a skirt on its own and I was tempted to keep it like that. I recently saw that J. Crew has got a red and green brocade pencil skirt this season, which is somewhat similar:
But then I thought what would I do with the ostrich feathers? So I decided to keep pursuing the plan.Then it was time to add the feathers. While my inspiration blogger Meredith had glued hers on, I decided to sew on the feathers. I started with the bottom row, and pinned them on at an even distance from the hem. While Meredith hung hers up while working on it, I just put the skirt on an ironing board to do the pinning.
I then simply sewed a straight line, pulling out the pins as I went. Then I added a second layer of feathers, placing the ribbon as close as possible above the first ribbon. I did another set of two layers in the middle of the skirt, and a single layer at the top of the skirt, because I ran out of feathers! In this shot you can see how it is a little thinner at the top. (You can see the fabric's beautiful shininess a little better here too!)
The only trouble I had was in sewing the second line of the middle layer on - I kind of had so many feathers piled on one side and skirt piled on the other, it was hard to get the needle at the right place.
Also, if you decide to try this, note that the feathers must be glued to the inside of their ribbon, and as a result, any pins you use, as well as the sewing needle, will get very sticky.
And that's all it took! Call me crazy, but I wore it to work. I figure why have nice clothes if you never wear them? I was complimented by a random woman I walked past, which was great! I only lost maybe one feather all day. I actually think that if I ever get tired of the skirt, it would probably be possible to remove the feathers and re-use them on something else - make that pretty clutch perhaps?