March 12, 2015

Going horse racing in a pair of curtains


Traveling with my friend Biden is a hoot. No sooner had she turned up to join me on hols, but she declared that we were going to a horse race. I can’t say that’s something I’ve ever considered, but the prospect of a once-a-year Bajan event was too much to resist. The question, then, was how to dress for the “elegant” dress code (which was specified as “jacket and tie” because obviously the only people attending would be men /rant over).
The only thing to do? Wear some curtains!
McCall's M6436 and self-drafted skirt

OK, OK, they’re not *exactly* curtains. But this skirt was indeed bought from my favourite upholstery-come-garment fabric store, Zimman‘s of Lynn. I popped in recently with my friend to help her buy fabric for headboards and oops! I ended up with three lengths of almost-garment-quality fabric for myself.

This here is a fairly hefty but loosely woven curtain linen, with, let’s face it chickens, no drape at all. But how could I resist those stripes? So I decided to make like Maria and whip up a skirt. It’s very simple and “self-drafted” – inverted box pleats at the front and back, a side invisible zipper and a faced waistband. I went for a slightly-below-the-knee length which I’ve been favouring recently, though I’ve no idea if it’s actually on trend. The stripes ran cross grain, so across the grain it was cut, further exacerbating the drape issue. And in an effort to make the pleats stay in, I edge-stitched the inside pleats, a tip I picked up from Oliver+S patterns a while ago. It’s hardly my finest work but it’s cheery and fun, and that counts for something at Cashmerette Towers.

McCall's M6436 and self-drafted skirt
I paired it up with my chambray sleeveless M6436 and my new panama hat from Goorin Bros., and we were off to the races!
My first ever racing event was fun – I totally have a magic horse picking ability, or at least, I do the times that the horses win. Andrea on the other hand was doing complex mathematical calculations based on the form book, because apparently she knows about these types of things. I’m not the A1 biggest fan of watching sports but I will concede this was more fun than most, especially when the parade came out, because really, who doesn’t like some synchronised dancing with props?
But really what kept me going was the fact that there was afternoon tea. Oh yes, Barbados, you got me right in the heart with your scones with cream and strawberries. If only I’d known cream teas were available at horse races, I’d have been along much sooner.
Would you wear a skirt made of curtains to a horse racing event? Β Or maybe trousers made from a sofa to the Philharmonic? I want to hear your stories of the most inappropriate pairing of fabric and event, so I can see if I can match it in the future.

27 thoughts on “Going horse racing in a pair of curtains

  1. Sam says:

    Love your curtain skirt. I’ve just made a coat and lined it with brocade curtain fabric.

    1. Jenny says:

      Awesome! That sounds super swanky

  2. bunny says:

    Wow, Zimmans is still there? I grew up in Saugus, the next town over, but haven’t been down in that section of Lynn in quite a while. I remember going to eat at the Chinese food restaurant right down the street with my parents a lot, don’t know if it’s still there.

    Love the stripes, you look very summery! Don’t know if you’re still traveling, but the snow banks are melting fast! Maybe we’ll have a spring after all this year…

    1. Jenny says:

      It is indeed, though it’s so ancient that I always cross my fingers every time I make the trip up that it’s still there…

  3. can i just say the gentlemen behind you did NOT adhere to the dress code? what’s up, men?

    perfect imperfect pairing, and i always love to see your trips! i’m going to offer up martha stewart placemat embellishments on my ralph pink cocoon coat.

    1. Jenny says:

      I know! I should have issued an on-the-the-spot-fine. Men!

      I can’t wait to see your placemat coat. Though you’ll have to excuse me if I accidentally rest my cup of tea on your thigh.

  4. Very stylish, I don’t think anyone would suspect it’s secret. And glad to see you’re a fellow cream atop jammer πŸ˜‰

    I have recently made trousers from IKEA fabric that was surely meant to be for upholstery (https://prolificprojectstarter.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/2308/) so now I feel the need to wear them somewhere suitably bizarre. To date I think my most outlandish pairing is calling a ceilidh (i.e. standing at the front of a barn dance bossing people about) at a wedding wearing a skirt I also made from some more IKEA upholstery fabric (https://prolificprojectstarter.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/rainy-day-skirt/). Made me smile. Especially as my gear was in my matching bag.

    1. Jenny says:

      IKEA to a ceilidh – I love it! I miss ceilidhs…

  5. SJ Kurtz says:

    I still get big props from a one day skirt sew from a 50’s barkcloth curtain – a huge tropical ‘boomerang’ print in golds and browns that I wore to BITS. The pal who watched me do it got me a JOB based on her description of me making this thing. It wasn’t the first ‘no pattern’ thing I’d made, but she’d never seen such a thing. And she was my boss at the time; later someone asked if she knew someone who could make minor miracles, and that’s how I got that fabulous job!

    Great thing about using curtains:they are HUGE pieces, already grained up, often already pattern matched for bigger pieces. AND you can keep their hem! Still thinking about a skirt that uses a grommeted top as the hem. It would look cool, but the grommets would bang into my legs. Maybe a jacket.

    God, now I’ll be fending you all off in the curtain section of IKEA. Back, damn you, I got here first!

    1. Jenny says:

      That sounds amazing! Do you have photos?

  6. Anne says:

    I’m with oona. None of the men in your picture are wearing jackets OR ties! Pffft.
    Your skirt on the other hand, is awesome, and the whole thing looks like a blast!

    1. Jenny says:

      It was indeed! And there were scones, which frankly, beats everything

  7. Love it! It’s a lovely skirt. I once made a dress out of some Indian hand printed tablecloths which I bought at Womadelaide (a world music festival). I then wore the dress back to the festival a year later…..

    1. Jenny says:

      Wow what a great story!

  8. Now I wouldn’t have known you were wearing curtains if you hadn’t told! Great skirt and fabu outfit. Glad you had a wonderful time at the races.

  9. Angela says:

    I love your curtain skirt! There’s a feeling of empowerment when you look good but know you are secretly wearing curtains:) My favorite dress from last year (Vogue 1390) was made from a thrifted shower curtain.

  10. such a fun outfit for what looked like an amazingly fun day! πŸ™‚

  11. Heather says:

    I love your outfit, very horse race appropriate, especially with the hat! Looks like fun!

  12. Nice skirt lady but what I really love is the necklace/pink lippie/chambray combo. Gorgeous!

  13. Meigan says:

    Zimman’s is amazing! I used to live in Medford and would make the trip to Zimman’s every now and then. It’s such a cool place to wander around. πŸ™‚

  14. Jane says:

    I absolutely LOVE your look Jenny (including necklace). Who cares if the skirt’s made from curtains, it looks perfect for the races and so elegant and EXPENSIVE! I want the entire outfit! x

  15. Google ate my comment, which hasn’t happened to me in a solid three or so years. Let’s restart with the bad metaphor all over again:

    I love your curtain dress. All of your Zimmans finds are always amazing. The bird curtain skirt is the one I look forward to the most. It’s not the shirt dress I had a my money on, but it is a winner in my book.

    See? It sucked. Moving on. So, apparently, our tastes majorly overlap, and we may or may not be hat twins by next week. Hear me out. My old dermatologist told me I have freckles. My new one calls them dark spots. Dark spots. My face is going to look like a baseball mitt before I’m thirty. I baptize myself in sunscreen and I needed a hat that covered my nose and Goorin is limping distance from school and why don’t we just not show up to the same places? Gosh, between this and my Leaning In (what a nifty new phrase you’ve thought of) to wrap dresses, I’m basically SWFing you. Weird.

    Lastly, I’m guessing that the reason why the invitation said jacket and tie is the reason why all of my dinner party invitation say white tie. My guests show up in clean trousers and pressed skirts, not a white tie in the house. Sigh. I call it a win, anyway.

  16. Sara says:

    You’d never know it was home dec fabric! the skirt is so pretty, and I love your entire outfit!

  17. Scarlett O’Hara would approve! Curtains were good enough for her, then they should be for any of us πŸ™‚ Your skirt is lovely and you look great!

  18. gingermakes says:

    Um, I love this outfit, but I’m having a hard time getting over my Barbados envy for long enough to write a coherent comment! You could’ve at least brought me back some sunshine!!! OK, as a lifelong horse maniac, I LOVE going to the races, but I always lose my money due to my unjustified, movie-inspired faith in underdogs. πŸ˜€ I believe in you, 1:48 odds horse!!!!!

  19. Em says:

    I’m soooo happy to find you! Read every post back to the beginning – you have a new fan πŸ™‚ It’s making my day to see more of us curvy people coming out from our little dark corners of shame and into the light where we belong!

  20. I made my daughter a dress of quilting cotton to wear to a wedding. It is the sweetest print of golden clovers, crickets, and pink puffy flowers on a white ground. It felt like a good luck charm for my friends. The pattern is So Very Shannon’s Sally Dress, which I totally recommend for all little girls that love to twirl. Unfortunately, my daughter is a perpetual motion machine so there are no good pictures of her in it.

Let me know what you think!