A few weeks ago I got an email in my inbox that practically had me bouncing off the ceiling in excitement.
It started innocently enough; would I, by any chance, be interesting in working together on a craft project? – I love craft projects, so I would, and I read on.
Would I, in fact, be interested in working with Laura Ashley to see what I could come up with to make from their packs of craft fabric fat quarters? Would I? – well never have my fingers felt so slow moving over the keys as when I typed out my ‘trying to play it cool but barely smothering the super-excitement’ reply. We talked about ideas, I spent so long eyeing up the fat quarter packs on the website that the cookies kept advertising them to me on every other website for at least a week, and then last week a little silver parcel plopped onto the doormat and in it was treasure indeed.
Laura Ashley was, I suspect, the Cath Kidston of my mother’s generation. The fabrics were fresh and new and sought after and I still remember the matching Laura Ashley dresses that my sister and I had as our Sunday best for a couple of years (and she had again a couple of years later – the joys of being the younger sister!). But while I may have a serious weak spot for Cath, nothing has dimmed my affection for Laura, so to get the chance to just play in their fabric collection. I could have made a hundred different things with such pretty fabric but in the end I knew that for a whole host of reasons, perhaps in an effort to right the balance from my childhood, it was my littlest girl who should be the beneficiary.
I’d originally thought of making some sort of sundress, but when Elma and I opened up the parcel there was just one thing she wanted; a twirly princess skirt. It was to be long, and it was to be twirly, and that’s all she cared about. My plan was that if I was going to make something that couldn’t be handed down to Pip then it would have to last for as long as humanely possible. And so I planned an adjustable waistband, echoing the maternity elastic of some of my pregnancy jeans, so that for now it could be a long twirly skirt, but one with definite room to grow!
And this is the result: One almost a full circle skirt, made up of 14 panels cut from fat quarters (using all five from the duck egg pack and the two palest purple from the amethyst pack), and sewn together to create a spinning whirl of soft floral colour. All the details on how to make it, what I used and how the waistband worked are over in my tutorial on the Laura Ashley blog (together with a fabulous tutorial for making a sewing machine cover from the very talented Esther at Inside Out & About that I really ought to try)
Elma adores it. She wore it, newly finished, for the photos, and then all that day, and then all the next one so that she could take it to show her playgroup teacher, and I’m pretty certain it’s done duty as part of pyjamas too.
Her happiness with whatever I made was always the chief motivation behind the project, but I’ll admit that when on Tuesday, when my tutorial appeared actually on the actual Laura Ashley website, I was ready to burst with happiness too – twirling all round!