Curtain couture: How to make a Mary Katrantzou-inspired lampshade skirt

peacock skirt feat

It’s not often that a singing nun, a children’s book and a Greek fashion designer can influence a crafty make… but today’s project does just that.

Taking inspiration from the original singing nun played by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (sorry Whoopi) I decided to indulge in a little curtain couture and whip up this beauty.

Hillarys Blinds is hosting a competition to get people cutting, stitching and blogging their way to something wonderful with a one-metre square fabric sample… so here’s my entry.

This lovely Bird Parade is a new print in the Country Retreat fabric range which jumped out at me from the computer screen, and was promptly requested, because, well, I love peacocks.

Peacock print fabric

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a sucker for their beautiful plumage, an admiration that started when I was a little girl.

My aunty and uncle bought me the book The Little Peacock’s Gift when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

It’s based on a Chinese folk tale which is a similar story to the Ugly Duckling – a child-friendly moral tale teaching that goodness and kindness are the most beautiful traits a person, or bird, can have.

It’s a beautifully-illustrated book which prompted my love for these stunning creatures.

Peacock print close-up

The Greek fashion designer who inspired the piece is none other than the supremely-talented Mary Katrantzou.

I loved not only the style of the lampshade skirts and dresses she sent sashaying down the catwalks in 2011 and 2012 but also her bold use of colour and print.

This fabric seemed like the perfect one for such a style so I decided to roll up my sleeves, use my imagination and approach this project Mama Vintage-style by sacking off a pattern and wing it based on my measurements!

You will need

  • Fabric (1×1 metre square)
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Wonder web


Lay out the fabric on the floor and fold it in half (or in this case as close to half as possible – being sure to keep the peacock’s head attached to its body!)

Measure your waist circumference, halve it and add an extra couple of inches wiggle room – this will be the width of the front and back pieces.

Note: Be sure to place the fabric correctly – ensure that that two peacocks in all their feathery glory grace both the front and back of the skirt.

Material folded in half and measured


Cut into two equal-sized pieces and place the other piece of fabric to one side – this will form the waistband later on.

fabric measured and then cut


Right sides together place the front and back pieces together and, by eye, gauge and mark out an exaggerated angle which will form the flare of the skirt.

This works particularly well with curtain fabric because it retains the angular structure rather than dropping and forming a soft ‘swishy’ skirt.

angle marking - extreme


Cut along the marked out lines to form the base of the skirt.

cut out sharp angle


Pin together the side seams (using straight pins) and mark out front and back darts to give the skirt added shape.

pin side seams and pleats


Sew up one side seam completely and repeat on the other side leaving room to insert a zip.

Sew along the darts and then, pin the leftover fabric (right side to right side) onto the top of the skirt to form a waistband.

attaching waistband


Insert the zip into the side of the skirt.

Here’s Mama Vintage casting her expert eye over proceedings…

Mama Vintage guru


Using straight pins outline a hemline and then, starting from one side, take out the pins and fix them using wonder web until secure.


Turn the skirt right side out and press hemline to ensure the wonder web has bonded firmly and to give a neat finish.

skirt finished

And after all that it’s time to enjoy it!

air born!

Here’s a mask I picked up from a fancy dress shop shown next to my lovely new skirt.

skirt close-up with feathers

On the back of the skirt I managed to get in two full peacocks too – pre-planned or a stroke of luck? (Both!)back skirt

It seemed rude not to give the mask a whirl and try it out with my Mary Katrantzou-inspired number.

Perhaps not a look to rock down at the supermarket…!

mask on arms

What do you think? If you like this tutorial you might want to fancy checking out this Twiggy-inspired number and this paisley print mini dress.

There’s still time to enter the competition and get crafty! For more information click here.

15 Responses to Curtain couture: How to make a Mary Katrantzou-inspired lampshade skirt

  1. Vix says:

    that’s fantastic, the fabric is utterly wonderful, I’d be scared to put scissors to cloth! Thank goodness fro the guidance of Mama Vintage. xxx

    • manc_vintage says:

      I know! Always have a pot of tea on the go and bribery biscuits while I’m sewing in case all that knowledge encased in her beautiful head fancies going out! xxx

  2. Amy says:

    Oooh that fabric is great and I love the finished skirt! Lovely that mama MV was there to help :-)

  3. Great idea, great, simple design, great fabric and GREAT finished skirt! When Mary Katranzou first sent her ‘lampshade’ skirts down the runway, I went out and bought an actual (large) lampshade from a charity shop, intending to turn it into a skirt by adding a very stretchy waistband. Never got round to it though and the shade went back to the charity shop…

  4. SJP says:

    Mary Katrantzou is one of my favourite designers! I’ve often looked at curtains in the charity shops and wished I had the skills to turn them into skirts or dresses like yours :)

    • manc_vintage says:

      Ooh do it! It’s really straight forward and the more rigid nature of curtain fabric means it holds the flare better than your classic ‘clothing’ material :)

  5. Porcelina says:

    You are honestly quite the clever clogs whipping up this beauty! I’m not a confident sewer, but seeing things like this gives me inspiration, and i have hauled the sewing machine out with the intention of doing a few bits, alterations mainly, now that we are heading into lighter evenings.


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  7. Hilde says:

    This is so cute! Love the fabric too!

  8. Great pattern, great colours and a great idea!
    And of course a lovely, really lovely result!
    The peacock mask is an inspiring accessory, well thought ladies!

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  10. Jayne says:

    Where did you get fabric from, need some desperately!

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