Shisha Mirrors and Summer Snowflakes

I spent the weekend developing the idea of combining hemp fabric, shisha mirrors and trim into a circle skirt.  It’s important to start a project with an open mind and plenty of ideas, right?  Yohji Yamamoto says “Are you listening? The fabric has much to teach us.”

After a year in my cupboard, this piece of white bottom weight hemp decided to become a long, full skirt.    I drafted a basic circle skirt as per The Equator Collection tutorial.

I folded the pattern so I could cut it to a certain length, figuring I could round out the corners once I had the general shape correct.  The folded pattern piece reminded me of snipping paper snowflakes.  I already had an uneven hemline in mind as a possibility, so I thought I’d try this shape.  If I didn’t like the effect, I could always just round out the skirt.

Hm.  It didn’t fit the fabric.

I re-folded the fabric, played with the pattern pieces, and eventually this cutting layout came to be.  The side seams of the skirt lie along the straight of grain.  One of the edges has a slight concave curve.  I didn’t intend it, but I thought I’d wait and see before trimming it completely straight.

I couldn’t use the mirror trim.  I pinned it on and despite our misgivings, the skirt fell beautifully.

So beautifully did it fall, I could not in good conscience stitch the suddenly very tawdry looking trim to the fabric.  I’ll use it for something else, another time. Hemp loves to drape in dense, heavy folds.  I want to leave the spotlight on the draping qualities of the fabric without gaudy distraction.

I used an invisible zip, felled the other seams and used a double fold rolled hem on the bottom edge.  Hemp likes simple, tough seams the best. No fancy tailoring for hemp.  I basted 1/4″ from the raw edge and pressed along the basting. The corners overlapped, so I cut off a tiny piece of the corner to reduce bulk,  then stitched it down.  I refolded and pressed, and stitched once more.  It’s a sturdy hem.

It’s HUGE.  I love it.  I sprinkled 12 shisha mirrors over the skirt.  I’m in the process of embroidering them.

My technique will evolve as I stitch the mirrors, I have 11-15 more.  They won’t be an obvious design feature, more a sparkle you catch with the corner of your eye.

I need some lightweight cotton voile to line it.  The only cotton lining I have is a ridiculous shade of kelly, all wrong for this collection (and besides, it may still lose dye).  I can’t find any in my regular fabric haunts, either.  It seems all the voile in Brisbane disappeared!  I’m sure to find some this week.

Thanks so much for your kind words on my gauchos.  They’re perfectly wearable, and I plan to refine the pattern and try again.  Maybe in January.

Question: What’s everyone’s favorite type of neckline for a knit top?  I’d like to know…. Up next- more kimono-style sleeve treatments than you can shake a stick at.


  1. Ooh, an octagon! This will be exciting. The shisha will be such a fun touch, too.

    As for necklines, I like a broad scoop or a square—but V-necks are often better for the larger busted, according to my mother (who is continually on the hunt for a deep, plunging V-neck)

  2. I’ve noticed lately that I prefer a higher crew neck– not so high it chokes you, though. It’s easier to wear a crew neck to work. Can’t wait to see this skirt! I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful.

  3. Ooo, that’ll be an interesting hem. And I really like your mirror detail, the embroidery looks pretty! Looking forward to seeing how it falls.

    My favourite knit top pattern has a scoop neck with gathers at the front and back centres. The depth of the neckline depends on the length of the self-fabric bias tape (although I always choose to cut it on the grain, tbh). So far I’ve had a deeper and thus wider neckline on one version, which looks pretty but can show my bra strap if I’m not careful, and a higher neckline that is still deep enough that my short neck doesn’t look stumpy but that I don’t have to worry about anyone seeing down my top if I lean over.

  4. This is a fun project. I never knew what shisha mirrors were… I like asymmetric hemlines a lot because I feel like I get away with wearing ordinary, plain pieces around them. For knit shirts, I like v necklines and bateau styles, big scoops tend to be very unflattering to my face.

    • I’m definitely thinking I’ll pair this with tshirts more than girly blouses. It has a denim feel, like lovely denim that grows soft as it ages.. edit: I like bateau as well.

  5. Ooooh…I like the asymmetrical hem. And I approve of the scattered mirrors rather than the bulkier trim.

    For knit tops I like crew necks, bateau necks, medium V-necks, medium scoops with a tiny bit of gather at the bottom, or deeper scooped tank tops with trim and interest detail around the scoop. I’m small busted, so deep scoops and deep Vs without any interest don’t work for me. I find draped necks too fussy.

    With that said, a tiny bit of wrong cut can make any of my usuals not work, and the exact right cut and trim and drape can make deep V-s and scoops work perfectly.

  6. I hate high necks. After following Patty the Snug Bug, I know why. Large busted women look droopy with high necks.

  7. Pingback: Finished Object: Terra Incognita Dress « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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  9. Honestly, try Paco Peralto half-circle skirt. Full swish without the petticoats.
    Modern version of a gathered skirt without the bulk. Makes you stand tall and stride out.

    • Thanks for the tip, Ruth…. I’m pretty well set with gooorgeous skirt patterns I love (and I’m too lazy to branch out much…heh), but I’ll check him out sometime. :)

  10. Pingback: Finished Object: Hemp Hurricane Skirt (And Flash Pattern Giveaway) « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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