Practically picnic-a-porter

By now, you’d think I would have learnt that it is physically impossible for me to walk into an op shop “just to drop things off”. Recently I took a swag of stuff to the op shop around the corner and of course couldn’t resist having a look while I was there. And what did I find but this African printed tablecloth for the huge sum of $1.


Seeing as I don’t even have a table so to speak, a tablecloth was not exactly high on my list of shopping priorities, but this print? For $1? No, there was no way I could just leave it there! Especially with “Ulikula Ukijua Vumulia Jua” printed on it – for some reason I have a weakness for textiles that declare their provenance so clearly. (At least I presume that’s what it says – something like “fabric made in xx”? I couldn’t find out much about it except this page which seems to be a kind of Kenyan shopfront for African fabrics and dresses).

Although I harboured fantasies of entertaining guests around a table set with this cloth and fabulous flatware, realistically I have never hosted a dinner party and couldn’t see it happening any time soon. It would be great as a picnic cloth too, I thought, but even those don’t happen much (although I did just have one yesterday in celebration of my impending birthday!). So I fell back on the default of “turn it into clothing to get your money’s worth”.


I folded the  tablecloth in half longways, cutting out the centre strip with the textile workshop name on it to use as a headscarf. Then I sewed the two remaining large rectangle bits together at the side seams and made box pleats around the waist, adding a zip at the side and a waistband made from other black material I had lying around (those odd scraps always end up coming in handy eventually!). The material is quite stiff, which makes the skirt naturally swingy, although it might go a bit softer once washed.

tablecloth5And there you have it – a skirt and matching scarf for $1, theoretically perfect picnic attire unless you’re in Melbourne and the weather goes chilly, which is what happened yesterday. My plan to take some decent shots of this outfit while eating alfresco with friends was foiled by the wind, so it was back to the trusty-but-terrible indoor shots. Not what I had planned for my last post before hitting the big 4-0 tomorrow, but at least the photos can only improve from here on*. Bye bye, 39, you’ve been an …interesting… year but I’m hoping 40 will be kinder to me!

*(especially as I scored a free tripod from a lovely reader on the weekend and will actually start using it once I work out how to set it up! No more balancing the camera precariously on piles of boxes!)