Secret Squirrel Stop # 1: Straightgrain to sewpony

July 01, 2013

Secret Squirrel landed in Australia from Belgium three weeks ago.  After three days in quarantine, he was released here in Melbourne and let free to inspire me to sew... An asked Secret Squirrel to pass on these five acorns of inspiration to me to create an outfit for one of my three daughters... 
I sat and pondered and started writing down ideas....I decided to challenge myself to incorporate all five acorns of inspiration to create my outfit.  My thoughts were:

Acorn # 1:  A mandarin duck - tricky...colours, a photoshoot at the boathouse with Juliette eating mandarins? (a bit of a loose connection), feathers??;
Acorn # 2:  'not done' ... I can incorporate this with acorn # 4
Acorn # 3:  A painting by Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige (see larger image here)... I immediately thought of a Japanese kimono and started hunting on ebay for a kimono piece that resembled the painting;
Acorn # 4:  'pleat'...I decided to incorporate this with acorn # 2 and thought of Marta from do guincho's beautiful 3D pleated dresses that she kindly posted a tutorial on.  Fabulous - I had been looking for an excuse to make one of these dresses!
Acorn # 4:  Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.   Hmmm.... the only song that immediately came to mind was "Let's call the whole thing off" (you say potato, I say potarto....).  I started googling their compilations and realised I knew a few from their titles.  "I've got my love to keep me warm" was the one I decided to work with (You can hear the song here.).  I imagined a faux fur vest with hearts incorporated somehow. 

I finished this outfit on Friday night (at midnight mind you).  Luckily Juliette obliged on Saturday morning and I got some sweet shots of her in Secret Squirrel outfit......and here it is!!
Let's 'break it down.....'
The dress

Acorns - 'not done', 'pleat' and Ando Hiroshige's painting;
Pattern -  A-line dress (I adapted my Debbie's birthday dress pattern which I am excited about - it is currently being tested by some fabulous bloggers as well as my sister and good friend).  The hemline is a little shorter in this version.  I used my friend Marta from do guincho's 3D pleated dress tutorial;
Fabric - Chocolate brown gabardine with Japanese kimono pocket.  The pleats are stitched with fawn embroidery thread. The dress bodice is lined with a fabric I picked up at my local fabric store (Spotlight).  I chose it as it co-ordinated with the kimono piece.  It is not my usual style but I think it goes well with the whole outfit.  The print was called "Sakura's Melody" (an exclusive print for Spotlight).

The faux fur vest
Acorn:  Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong duet: Got my love to keep me warm.
Pattern:  Self drafted - I will be posting a tutorial within the next week or so.
Fabric: Faux fur from a Melbourne fabric retailer - GJ's Fabric.  Lined with the same Japanese quilting fabric used to line the dress bodice.  The heart pocket was a piece of the kimono fabric.

The hair clip
Acorn:  Mandarin duck.
Materials:  Dyed feathers and cross grain ribbon.
I bought some dyed feathers from my local craft store and chose thin cross grain ribbon in the colours of the gorgeous Mandarin duck.  I picked out the feathers to match and glued them with craft glue to one of the girl's clips.  I think it would actually look really cool as brooch or scarf tie too.
I was initially a bit worried that incorporating all five acorns into the outfit might look a bit mismatched, but I think the whole outfit came together cohesively and I am really happy with how everything turned out.  The vest is so soft and Juliette says it feels like a pussy cat.
And now...I have the super fun task of passing on five acorns of inspiration to a blogger who is willing to take on the challenge...that is....Secret Squirrel!!!
And here they are...
1.  Tangerine; 2. Patch; 3. Anne of Green Gables - with the hand of her one true love...Gilbert Blythe (did anyone else dream of marrying 'Gil'??); 4. Australia; 5. Something old.
If you would like to be the next blogger in the Secret Squirrel series, leave a comment to let me know.  'Expressions of interest' via comments will close by Saturday  evening (8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard time), after which I will carefully consider and email one blogger to carry on the Secret Squirrel mission.  The email will be sent out by next Monday (July 8th) at 6.00pm (AEST).
If you do not hear from me, you can still sew along!  An and I are working on some cool prize packages for the best sew along outfit as well as the best official blogger outfit.  Read all about the ins and outs of this series and the sew along in our initial Secret Squirrel post.  You can upload your photos into the Secret Squirrel flickr group (But NOT UNTIL the 2nd of August).

Stay tuned and keep an eye on your inboxes...Secret Squirrel is ready to be set loose!!


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  1. It's amazing! I was so curious how the acorns would be incorporated, and you did in an amazing way, all five of them!
    Looking forward to seeing the next stop of the squirrel, I'll try to sew along...

  2. This series is so original, Suz. I can't wait to see what everybody comes up with. Juliette is very boho chic in her outfit.

  3. Great outfit Suz! I am in love with the 3D dress - will have to give it a go once it is warm again. The vest is super cool, too :) I love it how you brought it all together. Now I'd better go get a few yummy nuts to make that squirrel jump this way ;)

  4. love the fur vest - the heart pocket is such a sweet detail!! The next set of acorns is giving me lots of ideas so I would love the squirrel to come my way! Yay for Gilbert!

  5. Incorporating all those acorns was no easy job but you did it!
    I love you 3D pleated dress (thank you for linking to my blog, by the way) and the fur vest is absolutely amazing!
    Does the squirrel feels like coming back to Europe already?!

  6. You did a great job incorporating all those acorns! I wondered how it would all come together, and your outfit looks fabulous! I would love to have the secret squirrel stopover here (and you chose some great acorns)!

  7. If the squirrel wants to explore Maramures with us: always welcome to travel along with us! But to be honest: I think I can never beat your creation! What a beautiful mix!

  8. So cool... One of my favourite outfits so far! LOVE the vest with the squirrel in the pocket! Cute!

  9. This is a serious challenge in creativity! I love the vest and lining with it. And the feathers make the outfit really fun, along with the hidden squirrel! :) I'd love for the squirrel to come to Maryland - but I'll for sure sew-along!

  10. Love the use of the kimono fabric- especially inside the vest. Would love to see the squirrel in Seattle!

  11. this is amazing. i don't even have words! i LOVE that vest. LOVE.

  12. Fantastic! I'm loving this secret squirrel business already! Wish I was at that sewing level to join in ... I shall just have to watch and learn for now :) I saw Spotlight has some great 'vintage' Japanese prints at the moment - I'll keep an eye out for the one you used on the dress pocket.

    1. Hi Serena. The pockets ate from a Japanese kimono. You won't find the fabric at spotlight :)

  13. I'd love to be the squirrel's next stop, I think? Just thinking about the challenge really stresses me out, but I do well under pressure!

    Will sew along, for sure!

  14. Fantastic interpretation of the acorns!. I think the outfit is brilliant and every single piece goes very well together. Well done!

  15. Love the heart pocket on the vest! I think every child loves pockets for treasures. Would love to play.

  16. Love your outfit! This is such a fun concept for a series! Would love if the secret squirrel jumped over to the States ;)

  17. I would love to be a part! My blog is Welcome to the Mouse House ( I am originally from Australia, so this would be a meaningful one for me :)

    You did a great job on your outfit!


  18. Those acorns seem like so much fun! would love to participate!

  19. I would love to participate! My blog is I love the outfit you made!

  20. ACK!!! My head is spinning! Amazing how you incorporated every acorn into a cohesive outfit... brilliant! San Diego's got TONS of squirrels, perhaps he/she may want to pay a visit sometime???

  21. Love the outfit - would like a grown-up version. And would love to host squirrel! (you awakened a nostalgic nerve with the mention of Gilbert Blithe!)Am already thinking...
    As Anne herself said; “It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it?”

  22. Not throwing myself in as a potential squirrel host, but great job interpreting all the inspirations! I can't believe you managed to work it ALL in there. Those pleats on the dress are amazing. And is that a calico critter she's got in the pocket of the vest?

  23. Wow, you handled that well! What a fun task to take on. Kinda reminds me of being in college when we would do "pass and draws"- building a collaborative drawing among friends. Cool! -Caroline

  24. It´s unbelievable how you managed to incorporate these mismatched acorns and pull together such an amazing and coherent look!!!
    I´m so impressed!!!!

  25. Wow! wordless! how do you combine all 5 acorns and turn out to such an adorable outfit.

    And if the Squirrel love the tropical weather, he is welcome to visit me here at Thailand. I'm thinking about the summer outfit for your new challenge. :)

  26. Your creations are very impressive, Suz, I had no idea about images you received from An but you did a great job! Congrats!

  27. You did such a great job. Love the pleats on the dress! I would love to participate in the next round. Thank you for you consideration.

  28. Just stumbled across this little series and was amazed at how you pulled the randomness of the acorns together! Well done and I love the whole outfit! Can't wait to see what the next comes up with.

  29. Awesome!! You are very talented Suz! Love the whole outfit, truly a boho chic! I'm so excited about the next 5 acorns, i will try to sew along. I'm still new in this whole blogging things and just set up my blog less than a week ago. I Just drop down and say hello and will post some photos :-) greetings

  30. What a fun sewing game! First of all, your model is just adorable. I love your take on the acorns! This outfit is GREAT! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  31. Such a fun game! The flying/leaping squirrel at the end made me laugh out loud for reals!


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