Kenya safari skirt

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You can’t beat a bargain like this – £2 reduced from £3.95 from the Hospices of Hope shop in Orpington.

I have had this silk skirt in stash for a while now, but it only ever had one destiny: to be part of my safari wardrobe. The khaki green colour, which I’m generously calling ‘olive’, conjures up safari and jungle images for me. It’s a colour I’d otherwise never wear, and you know I am fond of a challenge, so I set to work.

Obviously the size had to be addressed. I unpicked the waistband a small way at each side seam and cut it apart in the middle.

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I then took in the skirt from the waist, tapering down to the hips. I did the same to the lining.

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Having measured the new waist of the skirt, I sewed the waistband back together, taking it in by the required amount.

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After pressing it the right way out, I could topstitch the unpicked area back together.

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Here’s how the new waistband looks…. just the same as the old one.

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Much better, but… well… it was missing a little something. OK, a LOT of something. I dug out some African wax print fabric in a complementary colour.

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I wanted to add a colourblocked panel at the bottom of the skirt. So… I cut off the bottom section in a straight line.

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I cut a new panel from the orange fabric. I cut the back slightly curved so there is a slight ruffle there, which moves as I walk (in place of a vent).

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The ruffle is overlocked, turned under 5mm and topstitched. I didn’t want a heavy hem ruining the drape.

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It’s quite a simple update but the skirt looks SO different!

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These pictures were taken in our hotel suite in Tsavo West National Park, one of the places we stayed during our safari. It was incredible… just look at the view from our suite:

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I wore the skirt while we were actually out on safari too!

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The safari jeep has a roof that raises up so you can stand up to get a good view of the animals. It’s ideal for taking photos (well, when the jeep isn’t moving, anyway!). Then when you’re driving at any speed, the roof can be closed.

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We spent several days doing game drives in Tsavo West and Amboseli national parks. Here’s a quick summary (by which I mean, here are a gratuitous amount of images) of some of the animals we saw….

Elephants…

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Lots of elephants…

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Giraffes…

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Giraffes are awesome. These are Maasai giraffe but there are three types in Kenya: Maasai, reticulated and Rothschild’s.

We saw baby giraffes too!

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Birds of prey…

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Grey-crowned cranes, which our guide just called ‘crown birds’.

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Ostriches and ostrich chicks!

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Flamingos!

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Flamingos are actually really creepy close up… they have red eyes!

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A tortoise!

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A terrapin!

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Buffalo… these guys look mean.

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Wildebeest…

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Thomson’s gazelle (also, Grant’s gazelle)…

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Impalas. We also saw oryxes, waterbucks and kudus.

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An agama lizard. Check out those colours.

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A hyena. This guy looked like he’d been in a fight.

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Zebras!

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Baboons and vervet monkeys…

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Dik-diks…

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Scorpions! (This was as close as I was prepared to get. We saw loads in the hotel but I was too busy panicking to take any decent pictures).

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HIPPOS!!!!!

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Oh hey, what’s that over there under that tree?

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Oh it’s just some Lion mums watching a bunch of LION CUBS!!!

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OK, OK, we’re leaving….

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We’re outta here!

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We stopped on the way home to have lunch just inside the Tsavo East national park, and took advantage of the incredible views to take some more pictures.

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PS. I also made a maxi dress from the orange material. It’s just my bodice block cut with a slight boat neck, with a pleated rectangle for the skirt, plus bias faced armholes and neckline. Glamorous but comfortable, it’s perfect for enjoying a G&T sundowner…

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That concludes the Kenya posts, you’ll no doubt be happy to hear. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

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54 comments

  1. Karen

    Can you show us exactly how you use the french curve to get the shape of the back hem please. Also what other things are these french curves good for doing? Lovely refashion but need more details pretty please.

    • charityshopchic

      French curves are fairly useful – I mainly use them for armholes – but mine has a straight edge on one side which I use as a regular ruler which is why you can see it in the picture. I didn’t use the french curve for the hem section this time, I just drew a quick curve by hand. That is just the way I roll, I’m afraid. The shape you want is a hockey stick or ‘j’ shape, then cut two of them and join the J ends together. Like a straight rectangle blended into a flounce section. I thought this would be obvious from the pictures of it, but maybe not.

  2. Mary Amateur

    The dress is gorgeous! Kenya also! I am refashioning my Indian shirt with embroidery similar to the one which You wear and it is so thin material (viscose+cotton) and it is tearing apart. . Do You have some tip about this?Thank You! p .s. Where is Yours “safari suit” ?

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks so much Mary, sadly there wasn’t enough time to make and wear a ‘Safari Suit’ but maybe next time ;-) Not sure exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your blouse, mine is courtesy of Ralph Lauren (I didn’t make it). If you are adding lace to it, try sewing with tissue paper under the material, or even with the material sandwiched between two layers of tissue and then tear the paper off. That should help stabilise. If it’s embroidery you’re doing, iron on some interfacing behind the area you’re going to embroider, then peel off and cut away the excess once you’re done (like in my bowling shirt post). Good luck!

  3. Katie

    I love the maxi – the scallop pattern placement on the bodice is perfect! And SO jealous of all those safari photos.

  4. Jacq

    I’ve really enjoyed your series of posts on your safari wardrobe, it co-ordinates brilliantly. Love that maxi dress :)

  5. Johanna Imhoff

    Love both the maxi dress and the skirt. Your cheetah is a hyena, though. I went to Kenya in college for a few weeks…It’s 13 years ago now! I’ve been enjoying living vicariously though your blog!

    • charityshopchic

      You’re absolutely right it is a hyena. Sorry, I was writing this late at night and obviously the words got confused in my brain! I have changed it in the text now.

      Kenya is such a beautiful country… my first experience of Africa and I loved it. I really want to go back there someday!

  6. Purplesmudge

    Hi, just wanted to say I love the olive skirt paired with the orange material – it really brings it to life. What camera do you have by the way? Your pictures are awesomeX

    • charityshopchic

      Hello and thanks so much for commenting! Glad you liked the skirt.

      We use a Panasonic Lumix G2. The main criteria is the lens though. For the safari pics we had a telephoto lens and for the pics of me we use a prime lens (actually a’pancake’ lens). Email me if you want more information on which exact lenses we have.

    • charityshopchic

      Ha, thanks Nicole! It’s my attempt at African style :) As for my hair… that’s what happens when you forget to go to the hairdresser! Not a conscious move I assure you. I am in desperate need of a trim!

  7. kristiellkay

    The skirt really does look completely different! And WOW that maxi!! Serious glamour.

    P.S. Are you sure the cheetah isn’t a hyena? The weird ears make me think hyena, and the way he looks like he was on the losing end of a fight, haha

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks Fiona, I completely fell in love with the orange fabric and it was perfect for the trip! I want a whole orange wardrobe!

      We had an incredible time in Kenya, it was my first time in Africa and I would love to go back someday!

  8. Kristin

    I really loved your Kenya series – thanks for sharing all of the pictures! And I absolutely adore your maxi dress as well!

  9. clsoetcasefiles

    I WANT TO GO TO THERE! Great remake but I love how casually you tossed off the “Oh and I also made this breathtaking maxi dress but whatever”. That dress is MAGIC HOUR.

    • charityshopchic

      You should totally go there, it’s incredble! We had the best time. HAHA that dress I made as a total afterthought in about an hour or two, the night before I was leaving. It’s just a bodice block, slight scoop neck, bias faced arm and neck holes, with a pleated rectangle for the skirt. That said, I did feel incredible in it, so I had to include it here!

  10. Ann

    I have very much enjoyed your Kenya photos, both safari and wardrobe. Although I’ve never been to Kenya, I have read a lot about both Tsavo and Amboseli Parks. If you haven’t read it already, you might be interested in “Elephant Memories: 13 Years in the Life of an Elephant Family” by Cynthia Moss, and “Love, Life and Elephants” by Daphne Sheldrick. As the title suggests, the Moss book relates the author’s observations of a large herd of elephants over a 13 year period. I got so emotionally involved in it, that my husband threatened to take the book away from me if I couldn’t stop crying. The second is by the widow of the former warden at Tsavo National Park. After he died, she started an orphanage for baby elephants and rhinos. It took many years to perfect a milk formula for the elephants, but now the babies thrive. Each orphan is assigned a human caregiver, who lives with the baby 24/7. When they reach about 4 years old (if I recall correctly), they are taken to a special meeting place, where an adult female “graduate” of the orphanage takes them into her herd in the wild, and teaches them how to be elephants. Elephants, just as humans do, learn, rather than act on instinct. Perhaps you visited the orphanage on your trip. I agree with other comments that you look every tall in the maxi dress, which is lovely on you. I also liked the special touch you added to the skirt. Thank you for your wonderful blog, which I very much enjoy reading, although I seldom, if ever, comment.

    • charityshopchic

      Hello Ann, thanks so much for commenting! Thanks also for the book recommendations, I will check them out. I loved seeing elephants in the wild. One thing that really surprised me was that they hung out in such large groups, even 20 or more in one group, like an extended family. It was an extraordinary sight, one I will never forget.
      I am really glad you liked this maxi dress and skirt with an African twist. Thanks for your support and keep reading!

  11. Heather Hogan

    I love this post! You got to see some of my favorite African animals, I love the khaki green skirt (a color I love to wear, but I’m a redhead) and all the outfits you put together with it, and the maxi dress is beautiful on you! Especially with that necklace… pretty!

  12. Elena

    Oh wow, your maxi dress is stunning! The fabric suits it absolutely perfectly. I loved your pictures too – those baby elephants made my heart melt!

  13. Desarae

    I love this! It was so fun seeing all of your Kenya adventures! I love the orange print maxi! Simple yet so pretty and flattering. :)

  14. Fadanista

    Wonderful post. Did you visit the Karen Blixen Centre and feed the giraffe? I can’t remember the giraffe’s name (Albert?) but was struck by his black tongue! Also, cute warthogs!! I love the maxi dress and also the nice touch with the skirt. As always, inspired!

  15. clareyszabo

    Such a great post Sally! Of course you know I’m all over this with those animals. Such brilliant photos, can see your camera investments are well and truly worth it when you get beautiful photos like this; the Giraffe shot is stunning. I’m loving that maxi so much, very elegant and perfect for this holiday. But I also think it’ll be perfect for this summer too even when you’re not sunning yourself in South Africa!

    • charityshopchic

      Hello! I thought this might be up your street. I certainly learned a lot about wildlife while we were out there. As for the maxi, that one is definitely going into my summer wardrobe for next year!

  16. jenny_o

    Nice job on the skirt, looks especially lovely with the orange top … and the maxi dress – GORGEOUS! I loved your Kenya series. Your photos are beautifully done. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  17. refashionunique

    Such a great dress! I really love your work! Fast Fashion lovers often have unconscious prejudice about the discarded cloths in second hand charity shop. They think those old cloths are out of fashion and unwearable. However, it will turn better if you fix them and add creativity on it! Therefore, your work really underpins the ethos that underlies my campaign. I am arranging a social network called Refashion_Become Unique, where people can meet others who are passionate about creating a sustainable fashion future. It engages publics to refashion their discarded cloths.I would like to hear your thoughts and please feel free to use any of the ideas on my blog in your articles.

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