Well, I might as well kick things off with a bit of a roar, right?
Those who know me well might be surprised to learn that I have never actually had a leopard-print outfit. Maybe a sweater here, a thrifted skirt there, some cute flats — oh, and there was that faux fur capelet…whatever happened to that? Anyway, I’ve never had a legit ‘ensemble’ in arguably one of the most iconic of animal prints, despite my undying love for it. There is certainly no shortage of leopard print fabric out there, but I guess I just never came across the one with that magic combination of scale, colour, print quality, and price that screamed, “You know you want me on your whole body!”
So when I went online to Fabric Wholesale Direct to order some more muslin, I was totally blindsided by this gorgeous print, which they called ‘Jaguar’, featured on the page. Now, because I am one of those people who will dive head-first down a Google rabbit hole at the drop of a question mark, I immediately had to look up ‘jaguar vs. leopard print’. Lo and behold, I present to you the difference between leopard, cheetah, and jaguar in the handy photo below so that you can impress your friends and win that final gameshow round. You’re welcome. 😉
Back to the fabric: it’s a DTY knit — not something I’ve used much, but at $7.99 USD/yard for this classy, small-scale, caramel-and-black-on-cream beauty, I was willing to change that. Most of the customer photos were of headbands and the most impossibly adorable baby clothes, but I had bigger plans. At first, I thought for sure I was going to make the Jackie Dress by Victory Patterns, but then another idea took shape…
I fell in love with the Eva Top pattern by Cool Stitches the minute it popped up on my IG feed in late 2020. The curved underbust and front corset style lines elevate a basic turtleneck into such a powerful, feminine statement piece. The original pattern had a limited size range, but I got it anyway, figuring I could use my pattern blocks to make adjustments. The first muslin — made in a my-shade-of-nude rayon jersey for my dress form — went well, but I was thrilled when Nicole updated the pattern with some roomier adjustments and bust darts. I did a bit of hacking to echo the same seaming in the back and I’m really happy with the result. I also experimented with a sleeve length that for some reason I never thought would look good on me, but this is why we sew — to step out of our comfort zone and surprise ourselves.
The Doris Skirt by Misusu Patterns had long been in my ‘must make’ pile. I really wanted to highlight those sexy curved side seams in a way that was sleek yet bold, but the right thing wasn’t coming to mind. I’m very impatient when it comes to inspiration and I get super frustrated when it’s not sitting there waiting to sparkle at my beck and call. This is something I’m working on in my making and the rest my life. This skirt is proof to me that sometimes, waiting is where it’s at, and the right idea will come along at the right time if you just give it space. For me, some of that space has recently come in the form of a sewing journal, where I can take more time than my anxiety-ridden nervous system is generally comfortable with to actually plan out my makes. (I used the free PDF lingerie planning sheet that Ying has available on the Tailor Made Shop, but you can also get her lovely full journal on Amazon.) I’d be lying if I said I’m going to plan out every project, but this small step toward slowing down is progress. Once I had drawn in the black jersey binding for the top seams, it was exactly the type of definition and contrast I was hoping for on the skirt. Et voilà – matching set heaven. And can we just say a quick hello to those pockets? On a skirt this body conscious? That is some good design right there, and when I wear this on some indie film fest red carpet one day, you can bet I will be showing them off.
One of the most delightful surprises about this outfit is how versatile it is. Just from the couple of looks I’ve shown here, you can see not only how easily it jumps from date night to boss lady to Sunday afternoon cornhole, but how many different eras it evokes. Oh, and the comfort level is off the charts. The skirt also looks great with a denim jacket and sneakers and the top is equally at home under some overalls or a snazzy blazer.
I have always been in the animal-print-is-a-neutral camp, but after making this dynamic duo, I will go to the mat defending that stance! Eva and Doris, you are my new favourite band.