Secret Squirrel Stop 5 - Amos el to As it Seams

By Victoria As-it-Seams - 02:28

When Secret Squirrel turned up at As-it-seams, I nearly fell over my sewing box!
The Secret Squirrel series is a year-long sewing journey created by An from Straight-grain  and Suz from Sewpony.  Read all about it here

Secret Squirrel contacted me via Amy at Amos El and gave me these five acorns of inspiration; polka dot, pumpkin spice latte, clock, The Princess Bride and watercolours.

 I've already 'sewn along' to the Secret Squirrel challenge twice, here and here.

But this time, the pressure was on...
For a start, what on earth is a pumpkin spice latte?
I'm a strong coffee girl - especially when Secret Squirrel arrives!
I decided I needed some basic ground rules;
  • Don't spend loads on fabric. 
  • Make something practical and wearable. (ie don't get lured by that Princess Bride and sew a gorgeous fancy dress costume.)
So after much pondering, and then some frantic sewing, I produced this dress, and reversible waistcoat .

OK so let's break down those Acorns.
I started with watercolours - and had a  moment of inspiration when I remembered this maxi skirt in my bag of clothes-that-I-love-but-never-wear.
It's a patchwork of silk from old Indian saris. The silks are gorgeous and the intensity of the colours seemed to have that intense almost translucent quality of watercolour paints. And the patchwork looked just like a paintbox.
So the skirt was sacrificed to Secret Squirrel and cut up into little squares, ironed to interfacing. Don't they look pretty!
Then I set about stitching them up again, patchwork style.
Now that Princess Bride. Firstly; thanks Amy at Amos El for getting me to watch this film, I  loved its humour and fantasy! Lots of ideas for clothes, but I decided not to recreate a costume, but to go for a general mediaeval vibe. This muted green cotton seemed a little Saxon, and  I added a 'jewelled belt' of the patchwork silks to make a dress that was a bit 'mediaeval maiden', without being too costumey. 
The pattern is from this book - modified slightly.
I fully lined the bodice in pink voile.
I cut the front button opening at the front side, rather than centre, as the pattern suggests. I wanted a plainer look across the bodice, because I was adding the silks to the waist. 
I also trimmed the sleeves down. Flouncy sleeves won't work under a cardigan or coat, and I wanted this dress to be practical.
The back-opening button placket is, again bright pink, and the button loops are hand-made in pink embroidery threads. 
Oh and look who turned up on a silk square? That pesky squirrel in the form of a scrap of Kokka fabric left over from this blouse.
A thin band of silk squares finished the hem of the dress.
And, can you see? One of the squares is polka dot ! Hurray! Three Acorns down!

Ok now for that pumpkin spice latte?
What? You drink these things?

Hmm... A google-search produced an image. Orangey-brown frothy coffee?
There are two fabric shops in our small town, and the ladies in both shops are very patient  when I mutter things like "pumpkin" and "latte"... And I struck lucky - this corduroy and wide-ribbed white velvet. Paired together this is, I believe, a pumpkin spice latte!

I drafted a very simple pattern for this reversible waistcoat, fastened with a single button and loop, with a snug wide collar. It's not a perfect creation but I like it very much - and I think it continues the mediaeval Princess Bride vibe. 
And the clock... well what waistcoat is complete without a watch pocket? Ta dah! Clock acorn ticked off!
A teeny pocket finished with a scrap of my current favourite fabric from Jenny Baker's Nordika range. The same fabric also made a pair of ties on the back of the waistcoat, adding a pop of collar.

That Secret Squirrel set me off on a sewing journey. And my silk sari skirt is now in pieces...what is a sewist to do? Why keep on sewing of course! Watch this space... Watercolour Dress, Mark 2, is in the pipeline....
I had lots of fun with Secret Squirrel's challenge, but now he's pff again with a new set of Acorns for stop number 6 as he traverses the globe on his way home Straight Grain.... His  acorns are:
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Blue
  • David Bowie
  • Pockets
  • Great Britain

If you would like to host Secret Squirrel on his journey, leave a comment on this post. Check your inbox in a week’s time… you may be the chosen one to pass on the baton of creativity that is Secret Squirrel!

If you don't receive a message from Secret Squirrel, you can still sew along and add your creations to the Secret Squirrel flickr group.   There are some amazing prizes to be won! See below!

If this is your first visit to As it Seams, welcome! It's lovely to have you here! And,  my fabric giveaway is still open, hop over here.

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  1. So lovely Victoria!! The dress looks really comfortable as well as pretty which I think is important. I also have never heard of a pumpkin spiced latte, and can't really imagine it tasting great but I do love your vest!! I love the pic of your daughter running...she looks so happy!! Thankyou for joining in our series... you did a great job!! My hubby would love your acorns...he is British and a big David Bowie fan!!

  2. This is wonderful, Victoria! The dress definitely has a medieval vibe and the jacket is my favorite part of the whole outfit. Beautiful!

  3. I love those ties on the back of the waistcoat! Orange and blue is probably my favorite color combo :) We would love to have the Secret Squirrel stop by!

  4. Wonderful! I don't know if I can make an outfit that is as creative as yours, but I would love to give it a try! Marte from Compagnie M.

  5. That's a beautiful outfit! I love your interpretation of the watercolours!
    Secret squirrel also made me discover your lovely blog! It seems like we started sewing the same way (I also remember sitting next to my mother sewing doll's clothes). And it was my three-year old daughter who made me start to sew again...
    If secret squirrel would like to visit Belgium once again, I'd be more than happy to welcome him!

  6. I love it ALL! The silks as watercolors! The watch pocket! That vest makes me thirsty...and I can totally picture the dress in the movie. You did great!!

    1. I finally had a pumpkin spice latte! Hmmm, was better than I thought it would be, and was definitely the right thing to cheer me up at 1am in JFK waiting for a delayed flight!
      But a pumpkin spice New York cheesecake was the best!

  7. You did a great job! That saris fabric looks so beautiful on the dress. And I really love that waistcoat. It looks so comfy and warm. I'd love to have Secret Squirrel to my house. It's still warm here in the south of the US and my house is surrounded by the acorn trees!

  8. I love your use of fabrics - especially the various colors of silk! Do you know the manufacturer of the white velvet? I would love to get my hands on some of that ... I can just imagine the possibilities :)

    1. Hi Teri - yes, the white velvet is really inspiring. I'm thinking about getting some more. Maybe sewing something for Me! I don't know the manufacturer, but I will pop into the shop next week and ask the ladies. They're used to me asking lots of questions now!

  9. Awesome pieces!
    You did managed to incorporate all the acorns and complete a totally wearable (and stunning, if I may add) outfit :)

  10. I love the how you did the strip of saris near the bottom of the dress too. so cute!

  11. That dress turned out really well! Looks so sweet and fun, I am sure it will get lots of wear.
    I would love the chance to host Secret Squirrel here in Australia at

  12. i would love to do this! it looks so fun. i love what you did and it was so fun to read about your creative process. :)

  13. I love your interpretation! Princess Bride is one of my all time favorite movies. And even though I have never had pumpkin latte (*gasp*), I think you got that perfectly!
    What a fun and challenging game!

  14. Victoria, your outfit is super! I saw a pic on Suz's blog very late last night, and even before I followed the link to see who the host was, I knew it would be you! You are the queen of detail. Goodness, how patient were you turning your silk skirt into these beautiful patchwork bands on the dress! Love the colours of the dress. Those accents of pink on green are just perfect. The dress look super fun and comfy. And look at your daughter's smile running in her new dress :) The waistcoat is super cute, and colours are perfect. Well done!

    Of course I would love to welcome Secret Squirrel back to Oz :)

    1. That's so funny that you knew it would be me. It's the tendency to fiddle about and do something crazy that must have given me away!

  15. Victoria, you nailed it! Those were though acorns to incorporate and you did it marvelously! I'm giggling about your pumpkin spice latte comments... you've never had one? They soooo good!!! :-)

    Oh, i wanted to ask how you took the third to last picture... were Missy is running towards the camera. That pic is beautiful! Share your secret?

    I won't put my name in the running to welcome Secret Squirrel this time around... my month of November is shaping up to be too busy at work and at home so sewing is going to be at a minimum.... hopefully I'll get him to stop by another month though!

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts about New York!


    1. I finally had a pumpkin spice latte! At 1am in JFK! It was the only good thing about a delayed flight. Might do a blogpost about NY, even though it's a bit off-message...will wait for the jetlag fuzz to subside.
      And now a confession - I didn't take the photo of Missy running, or the one beneath it. I work in a newspaper and begged one of the photographers to meet me in the park with his camera. So, sorry I can't help! It's all magic to me too. Now that Im trying to take decent pix myself, it's made me really appreciate the work our photographers do!

  16. Ha ha, you did sooooo well with the pumpkin spice latte - I had never heard of that either being in oz. These new acorns look very interesting......

  17. AHHHH I want to join the fun!! I love your dress and the secret squirrel wants to come to Asia next!!! Hong Kong needs a visit! Emily :o)

  18. Wow, Victoria! You are so clever! I love that jewelled belt which remade from your sari skirt. What's a nice sacrificed. :) These outfits turned out practical as your intention. They are beautiful and unique, I'm sure your little girl will get worn them very often.
    And for Mr. Secret squirrel, he will be very welcome to visit my sewing space here! Please fly across the pacific to pay a visit me at Bangkok. I very eager to meet him! ;)

  19. I adore that waistcoat! The "pumpkin" fabric is just lovely. Great interpretation of the acorns. I'm also glad you watched the princess bride. It's one if my favorite movies from my childhood. So sweet. Your dress is so well done and works beautifully for the secret squirrel OR everyday use which is a bonus.
    Great work!! Oh, and I'd love secret squirrel to stop by Maryland some day ;)

  20. Amazing, Victoria! I love those colors.... Thznk you so much for sewing along with Secret Squirrel... again! :-)

  21. so so lovely! i LOVE what you did with the watercolors idea!

    i first heard about this sneaky secret squirrel too late in october to sew along anything for my little man, but i would just love if he stopped by my place! either way, i'm excited to sew along this time! i'm sure my little man would love a tiny spandex david bowie outfit... haha!

  22. This whole outfit is amazing! I love every little detail and you nailed each of those acorns while meeting your goals...well done in deed! I'm thinking Secret Squirrel would love to try a little more grown up look over at

  23. I LOVE the buttons down the back - they are so sweet with the pink showing through. I thought the use of all the acorns was wonderful and the waistcoat is incredible. I especially like the little pocket. I have never done a Secret Squirrel, but I made time (and a Blog!) and took you're acorns to task :) Thanks for the inspiration. You can check out my efforts at:


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