Playing whales



Dalya El-Masri


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Mikolaj Dadela - Photographer

Outline the story …

A story behind this bolero.
I have this beautifully fitting little knit bolero. It is chunky and adorable. So why not to reproduce it, but in totally different, non-stretching fabrics, with embroidery-applique I´ve never tried before and in the most hectic time of the year, so I could show off and enter the Foundations Revealed competition? Heck, yes, headless start!
In early decmber all components came together - dreamy wool crepe fabric, I was scared to breathe on, some unclear, but magical images of playing whales, radiating life snd joy, in my head and this year´s theme.
The year 2022 did affect me to my foundation´s core by happening of most dreaded thing: war. I am Russian, my best friend is Ukrainian and we live in Germany - all countries with enourmous political weight and loads of regret over war-crimes committed at different times in our history. As this godless act goes on and on, we have learned and are continuing to learn, that joy still exists and there is a blessing in every sun beam, star twinkle or snowflake falling. I wanted my design to mirror this simple yet uiversal truth of finding happiness and comfort in every heartbeat during the time on Earth gifted to us.

Outline the construction…

So, I wanted to reproduce that snugly-fitting knit bolero with wool crepe and blue cotton batiste as lining to highlight the "whale" applique. In the process of mocking up lace insert I decided to use batiste as interlining and take smooth tightly-woven sky blue linen for lining for the whales to stand out clear enough.
For the first time in my life I´ve made four mock-ups. Because there was no way for my fabrics to behave as a knit... Well, they still do not.
I also found that I can only make darts on the lining side to make bolero fit over my bosom and leave wool to fit over, which it surprisingly did. That strategy was a win.
What was not a win - the sleeves. I wanted them to evoke feeling of a wave, but ordinary butterfly-type sleeves didn´t seem go with the design at all. I still am not sure that I´ve made a right decision here.
I´ve also learned a bit of piping for this project.
For embroidery I´ve mounted wool on tough cotton canvas, which was painstakingly cut off after it was completed. I have assembled the layers by hand, using slip-stitch.
I didn´t have enough time to sew a dress, so I purchased a second-hand one (Noa Noa), enlarged it, using fabric from its sleeves, remodeled sleeves out of the fabric rests and adorned it with lace to remind of foam´s frothiness.
My materials come from France, Russia, Brussels, Poland, China, UK and Japan.




  1. Avatar Steffi Wee on May 10, 2023 at 10:36 am

    What a charming creation! So elegant and cute at the same time

  2. Avatar Lowana O\'Shea on May 20, 2023 at 6:33 am

    What a delightful bolero! It fits you beautifully and your embroidery is just stunning. You should be so proud of your entry 🙂

  3. Avatar Jenny jenny b on May 22, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    This is such a lovely project, and so versatile – I hope you treasure it for years to come! The embroidery is so delicate!

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