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More Chic than Sheikh

More Chic than Sheikh

Cue the drums of Lawrence of Arabia, and Omar Sharif riding out of the shimmering heat haze on a camel. Omar Sharif, yes that is who Midnight Black Jacquard Palms conjures up for me, and not just because of those palm trees, oases of wool in a sheen of black silk. You see, Mr Sharif was a frequenter of the South of France casinos and a top contract bridge player, a chap who sported black tie an awful lot, in places where ladies were very couture clad.

Midnight Palms Jacquard and Blue Dusk Palms Jacquard both ooze couture elegance. I have been trying to resist getting my hands on metres of them for some time, but woohoo, they are Fabric of The Month and at a frankly ridiculous price so...I mean, six pounds per metre for a wool and silk fabric of over 150cm wide at the price of a cheap and none too cheerful high street poly cotton is ‘pinch me, I must be dreaming’. Resistance at this stage was thus useless, and so I am the very happy owner of three metres of both varieties.

Happy is, to be frank, understating it. A picture does not do these fabrics justice. Since I have made up a dress in the Midnight Black Palms Jacquard I will confine myself to that one. To begin with it screams LBD, except I am no longer the right age or shape for a little black dress, and so content myself with a CBD, a classy black dress that is not so little. If Givenchy had found this fabric, he would have dressed Audrey Hepburn in it and she would have looked stunning. If you have the figure, the LBDs are not difficult to make (just to wear well), and I would certainly recommend one in this. Accessorise simply and let the fabric and your contours do the rest.

In practical terms, this is not a difficult fabric to use. I was a little nervous at the thought of the prewash, since it combines two fabrics - virgin wool & silk - that are standard ‘dry clean only’ ones, but my tried and trusted lukewarm hand wash with delicates washing liquid did the trick as always, and the fabric was very docile. I would recommend ironing when it is just short of fully dry for best effect (and a moderate iron or a damp pressing cloth and a hot one). This means your dress can be washed by hand if someone spills a glass of Shiraz over it, or a sauce gets shifty.

I French seamed except where the lining fully enclosed the bodice of the dress I made (a vintage Simplicity 8245, just discontinued so if you find it, snaffle it up fast), and no, the dress was not originally lined, but I decided on a contrast lining that might just show with the back slit, as well as looking tidier. I used a venezia lining in ‘light pomegranate’, which is essentially a dusky dark pink, and it adds a little zing. I am not a pink person, but with black it is a great accent.

Image 1

The overall effect is chic, flattering, and feels good. It is the sort of dress that makes one want to walk with that extra hip swing, even if one is of an age when such things are ignored. 

Image 2

The pattern has a sash, but I have not got the right fabric for that to hand and so have tied a silk organza scarf about the waist to give a similar effect.

All in all, I cannot see how anyone would not be over the moon with Midnight Black Palms Jacquard, with what you can do with it, and what is can do for you. Give it a go, and then get yourself a hot date(palm), but not with a camel!

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