Armed and Dangerous

Have Passport, Will Travel

  • Passport? Check.
  • Factor 50 Suncream? Check.
  • Ghoulishly white legs? Check.

Someone pass me the fake tan, quick!

Unless I finish that last sewing project my mad brain has planned for today, this is probably the final outfit shot you’ll see, prior to my catching the Heathrow Express. Nervous? Excited? I can tell you exactly how I feel via the medium of a dramatic scene that is on constant loop inside my head right now:

I arrive at Passport Control. Long-term readers will know that I am already in a fizz of fury, as I hate being told what to do, and Passport Control is the ultimate in being told what to do. How I gnash my teeth! How my hands fist! What I wouldn’t do to jump a rope and run towards Duty Free. But I can’t. I have to be good.

Someone taps me on the shoulder. They’re wearing a uniform and a sad face. They start to talk to me slowly and quietly. ‘I’m afraid we can’t let you on this plane, Karen. You’re simply not a good enough person to deserve all the fun you’ve been anticipating. Whatever hopes you’ve been clinging to, please let them go now. Go home. Unpack your suitcase. Forget this dream.’

That’s how I’m feeling right now! Overdramatic? Moi?!

Back to the outfit. I wanted something really cool for the hotter temperatures my doughy British body will be experiencing in the US of A. The skirt is made from a two-tone linen that I bought for £4 a metre at Goldhawk Road. It’s a fabric I’ve felt drawn to innumerable times, but always resisted. (Why is it easier to resist solid colours, when a print will immediately turn me into a puddle with an open purse?) As my gaze lingered on this fabric for the -enth time, and I’d just been told it was less than half the price being charged in the shop on the other side of the road, I did think, Just give in, Karen. Buy the damn stuff. You want a linen skirt for your trip, anyway!

This is my second version of the Ginger skirt. I used a flat felled seam on the front centre seam for some interest. Please note that flat felled seams are much easier to construct in crisp cotton than fluid linen! I didn’t cut on the bias this time. The skirt came together very easily.

I chose to line it in some lemon muslin, keen to keep all fabrics natural and breathable:

I’m going to say something possibly contentious now. Want to know the secret to a well-inserted invisible zip? Stump up the money for an invisible zipper foot for your machine. As a novice Sewist I kept thinking that if I just tried harder, applied myself more, sewed with more patience, I would achieve the levels of excellence I saw elsewhere. Then I spent £35 on a new foot (wince!) and haven’t looked back. Why hadn’t anyone ever told me this? So, now I’m telling you. (I’ll enjoy reading any comments that beg to differ on this point! I may simply be inept.)

The top is a Sorbetto and I refuse to apologise for that fact! I’ve stopped counting. But, look! Ickle sailing boats! Perfect for the breezy joy of a holiday. The roll of fabric was selling for £3 a metre, leaning awkwardly against an open doorway in some derisory attempt to draw attention. Derisory or not, my heart melted on sight. It would have been easy to employ some self control and walk away and I’m very glad I did not.

So, there we have it. One last outfit for the holidays. I’ll be interested to see how the linen stands up to being packed in a suitcase. Any tips for easy linen care in a tiny hotel room, let me know!

Finally, a big thank you to all the people who left such staggeringly eloquent and wise comments on yesterday’s blog post. There we have it again – more empathy. I felt extremely humbled by the care of thought and real insight that went into your words. What a clever bunch you are!

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41 Responses to Armed and Dangerous

  1. I love the crispness of that Sorbetto. Easy care for linen? That usual old travellers’ tip of steam: hang your skirt on a skirt hanger and have it in the bathroom while you shower so that the steam will help it de-wrinkle (although you might strike it lucky and find a hotel room with ironing facilities). Best way to ensure steam is turn hot water on first then cold. Don’t leave skirt unattended. You might forget it.

  2. sewbusylizzy says:

    Amen to that. I just purchased an invisible zipper foot and it’s worth every cent (penny for you). I felt like slapping myself for waiting so long after I inserted my first properly invisible zip!!

  3. is an invisible zipper foot very different from an ordinary zipper foot? (I’ve been looking at pictures online but, you know, it’s difficult to see enough detail.)

  4. Bridget says:

    Totally with you on the invisible zipper foot, totally revolutionised my zippers!

  5. I wish you a safe trip and hope to see you on may 9th! The factor 50 sunscream can be useful, but don’t forget that in San Francisco, dressing like an onion is key, you really need a jacket, sweater and scarf on most days, at least after 4pm (or all day long when it’s windy, which happens often). 🙂

    Did anyone mention to you that there’s currently a Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition at the De Young museum?

  6. Miriana says:

    35 quid – lawks! They help lots, but I don’t think I’d know that if I’d had to stump at that much as I wouldn’t have one.

  7. Kat H says:

    I’m fully with you on the invisible zipper foot – makes life soooo much easier! I wouldn’t be without mine.

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  9. Great travelling outfit Karen – & the boats are totally “holiday wear”
    I did not even attempt an invisible zip without the right foot, but luckily mine was about £10-£12, so the expense for me came with the other feet that I added to the basket to “make it worthwhile”….pintuck foot, narrow hem foot ….
    Have an amazing time – we’ll be thinking of you xx

  10. Amy S says:

    You can get a plastic invisible zip foot for a few pounds. They have adapters for different machines in the pack. Not as sturdy as a metal one made for your particular machine but work and less pricey if you can’t afford or find the other.

  11. Marie says:

    I love this outfit, perfect for warmer climates and a breezy holiday! I’m so excited for you and hopefully once past Passport Control you’ll feel more relaxed ;o)

  12. Jane says:

    Love the Ginger and the Sorbetto, oh those little boats!! I swear by my invisible zipper foot, in fact when I posted a similar paragraph about their wondrousness last year, everybody who commented agreed! Mine was only about £10 though, your Bernina must demand expensive bits of kit!
    Karen, have the most wonderful trip and a safe journey, I’ll be thinking of you too. xx

  13. Debi says:

    LOVELY outfit! I just love both fabrics….have a fabby time on your trip!!!

  14. Pippa says:

    Ok I officially love that sailing boat print. I keep shying away from prints like that as half my life is spent sailing I think it might be a bit over the top. But that one is gorgeous. Where did it come from?

  15. Debbie says:

    Great outfit, I really need to make a Ginger skirt myself. Have a great trip.

    £35 for an invisible zipper foot, oh my goodness. I bought mine for under $5 and it has attachments for different makes of machines. Granted it is plastic, but it should last for a fair number of zipper insertions!!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Love your new outfit. That print top is adorable. Have a wonderful trip and dress in layers for SF. As Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” 😉

  17. Kerry says:

    I L.O.V.E. the sailing boat Sorbetto, it is fabulous.

    Re zips, I get a good result putting in invisible zips with the one-sided foot but only since I read the Colette tutorial about ironing the zip first to flatten the teeth so you can get closer. But you never know, I might be able to get an even better result with the proper foot.

  18. Molly says:

    Great looking outfit! But I’m not sure how much warmer it’s going to be in the US seeing as how we’re having crazy weather all across the country. Sometimes I really wish I didn’t live smack dab in the middle of the US, there isn’t anything interesting for people to travel here for (except maybe Mt. Rushmore, if you’re into that sort of thing)!

  19. Brenda says:

    I live in San Jose, California which is about an hour away from SF. I would love to join the meet up but it doesn’t work with my schedule. SF is usually breezy and cool. You will have a marvelous time, I’m sure! I love my zipper foot and can’t imagine inserting a zipper without one. There is no way you could get a great result!

  20. Sarah says:

    American hotel rooms are generally not as small as European/Australian ones, and nearly always come with either their own iron and board, or access to one somewhere. Ask at the front desk if you can’t find one in your room.

  21. Amy says:

    I think the Sorbetto was made just for you! And, a new outfit just for your trip! Bring a coat though. It gets chilly here at night. I am looking forward to the meet up.

  22. Portia says:

    Have a stonkingly wonderful trip honey 🙂

  23. Jenn-NY says:

    I really love the color of the skirt. If you haven’t packed already, I have heard that if you roll rather than fold and/or layer clothing in gift-wrapping type tissue paper, wrinkles are minimized. If you are lucky, there might be an iron in your hotel room too. Otherwise, there’s always the steam-it-in-the-bathroom method. Enjoy my old hometown (I’m jealous, tied to work on the East coast these days)! FYI, is a good source for local restaurant reviews online…
    ~Jen, NY

  24. gingermakes says:

    Gorgeous outfit! I love both of these! Have a wonderful time in California– wish I could be there! San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I know you’ll have a great time! Oh, and I echo that you should bring sweaters– it can be quite cool there!

  25. Sewist from across the Pond. says:

    The first time I was taught to insert an invisible zipper the special foot was recommended and everyone I know uses one. Fortunately, I was using an industrial machine so it cost maybe $4 (2.4 GBP). Bernina presser feet are quite expensive.

  26. nothy lane says:

    I love the sailboats on your Sorbetto and the skirt looks great too. Very flattering outfit. Linen tips? bring a steamer or borrow one from the hotel. Better yet, just hang it in the bathroom while you shower and look a bit crumpled. Your on vacation, what do you care?

  27. Bold Sewist says:

    Lovely outfit! Have a fantastic trip – I hope you need the sunscreen!

  28. Evelyne says:

    Anyone that doesn’t have an invisible zipper foot and says they don’t need one, is in denial. My daughter’s first go at an invisible zipper was using an I.Z. foot and it came out perfect!! Worth every A$..’cos it’s a bernina. Ps: love your top and skirt and have a fantastic time.

  29. redsilvia says:

    Oh Karen, I’ve been a flight attendant for 13 years and let me assure you that they will let anyone into the US. You’ll be fine. They may even roll out the red carpet for you if you say please and thank you.

    Your new outfit is lovely but as a lifelong San Franciscan, I beg you – please bring a JACKET! We get very chilly here by the ocean. Don’t worry, it’ll be nice weather but the lovely fog rolls in every night so none of us need to buy air conditioners. I bet you’ve got a few pretty jackets and sweaters in your bag already though…

    Have a good trip and see you soon.

  30. neeno says:

    My invisible zipper was a god send!!! But then all of a sudden it stopped doing it’s job! I don’t know why and I can’t figure out why. I started using my regular zipper foot, rolling the zipper back myself and the result is just as clean because I have full control. I miss my invisible zipper foot though.

  31. Meg says:

    I’ve just finished my first Sorbetto and I like it. I wasn’t sure I was going to get as obsessed about them as you, and make multiple versions, but your sailing boat version is making me reconsider.

    Is the invisible zipper foot different to the invisible/regular zipper foot that comes as standard? My incluced-with-machine zipper foot has grooves supposedly for an invisible zip, but try as I might I can’t get the stitching right in the crease of the zip tape.

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