OK, talk about indecisiveness, this batch is the worst.
And I blame it on all on Chanel.
This one starts with the fabric. Dark olive bouclé from B&J I believe. I can’t remember why I got it. It may be been inspired by a Top Shop coat with fake fur collar that I wore to death. (The lining is in tatter. I’ve meant to redo the lining for the longest time. But who like doing such mend & alteration right?) Anyway, 8 years later and I still haven’t done anything with the fabric.
Now bouclé is a fabric with such heavy cultural baggage. Have you seen much that isn’t the Little French Jacket? And the Little French Jacket has been so done on the sewing blogsphere that I feel I’ve made thousands of them already even though I’ve made none. Besides, this green doesn’t really scream Chanel to me. I have another bouclé (a magenta) that I might eventually make into a Little French with a Twist. But only after the craze has died down. (Any chance of that?)
The only alternative I’ve seen a few times is biker style jacket. I’m not really feeling it with this color. So trolling through my magazine clippings I uncovered a couple of gems that seems like the perfect (literal) matches (I’m very imaginative that way wink wink). They’re the inspirations for Design 1 & 5.
I really like Design 1 from Peter Som. I can’t quite decide if it’s edgy or dowdy. I like that tension. I’m even inspired to incorporate chamomile organza contrast binding into mine.
Another retro look is Design 3 a proper 60s (?) suit for the Lady who Lunches. I’m sure I got that yellow suited inspiration photo from Tatler the UK society mag. But Croquis is looking tubby.
Design 4 is my reluctant attempt to give LFJ a go. I won’t I can’t do bog standard LFJ uniform. This shrunken one featured in Vogue (?) at least is a tad rebellious. But not sure about the buttons on the breast pockets. Might be a bit too in your face. And I’m not sure it works in the dark color I have.
Design 5 I like (probably partly because it’s shown on an Asian model that I can pretend to be). But I can’t see the rest of it. So I’m imagining that it looks something like Simplicity 2508. It’s a design that I can potentially add a detachable fake fur / shearling collar to (if I have enough left over from the fake shearling aviator hat!) But do I have enough of this bouclé fabric for a coat length jacket? Because I do also want to make…
Tada! Another princess pencil skirt. Don’t ask. I don’t even wear them that much lately. But I did make another textured (boiled) wool pencil skirt a long time ago that again I wore to death. I’m hoping for a repeat success. I’m thinking of continuing the chamomile organza contrast binding from the jacket / coat into the skirt.
And the candy cane stripe is just thrown in to remind myself I need to make more of those classy Breton Ts that I wear to death (again).
I’m leaning towards Design 1 or 5. If I wear the Breton stripe T with Design 1 and the pencil skirt, would I look ready for Santa’s Elf Crew you think?
So while we have the green jersey leftover out, on the off chance that there’s more leftover after the green fake suede jacket, we have more designs that make use of it. I’m really going for it now – Stash busting that is. Three of the fabrics in this batch have been in the Stash since before I even moved to London. They must be over 20 years old now!
So step up candidate heather blue sweater / rib jersey, dark teal jersey, and whatever’s left of the apple green jersey. I think all three were from NY Elegant.
I’ve always wanted the rib one to be a cardigan. But I’m not sure if I could make it work. Normally cardigans have two sizes of knit – bigger ribs for the hem, cuffs, and maybe collar / front button band; and finer knit for the bodice & sleeves. It’s neigh on impossible to find such made-in-heaven pairs from fabric stores. (I’ve tried recently with plans for brown and black cardigans. So many different browns. So many shades of blacks!) I’m not sure yet how I’m going to solve this one. I might just cut the hem & cuffs smaller and ease in the bodice & sleeves. Or I might try this fake ribbing technique from an old Threads article which The Sewing Diva demonstrated here.
In any case, the inspiration is Vivienne Westwood (again!). Her orb logo cardigan and cardi-short (???) I’m obviously turning the cardi-short into a cardi-skirt. I highly doubt I’ll get much wear out of a cardi-short. The skirt I’m planning fake front opening. Don’t want any wardobe malfunctioning now do we.
The dark teal jersey I’m thinking a Sybilla F/W 1989 inspired tie-front jacket. And another shrug collar top which I might be able to wear under the matching jacket? And if I’m really lucky and have enough leftover, maybe this color-blocked zip-front top inspired by Peter Pilotto S/S 2012 and based on Burdastyle 2013-06-124 zip-up tank.
Going back to the fake suede theme, the last two in this batch is for the most heavenly fake suede like drapy fabric I found in NY Elegant. So soooooft. Not sure the designs I pick are right for it. The fabric might be too limp. On the other hand maybe a limp drapy fabric would be the best candidate for experimenting with blocky oversized top like this Dolce & Gabbana F/W 2013 drop-shoulder T inspiration. Maybe it’ll mold to the figure rather than box it. And I’ve been yearning for a fake suede or leather slim pants. The inspiration here is Patrone 325 #15. (I’ve been rather unlucky with my Patrone subscription. The year I subscribed they have hardly any that seem designery or editorial. Lots of casual wear which doesn’t really inspire me or suit my lifestyle. Where did all the designer knock-offs go!!!???) In any case, OMG, imagine the feel of this buttery fabric on my legs, OMG, will I be able to get anything done while wearing it? And isn’t it about time I face my fear of pants fitting?
Now in no particular orders, the rest of my SWAP inspirations & designs batch by batch. This batch is all about fake suede!
It started long ago with an A-line real suede skirt I owned. I loved its casual chic but couldn’t cope with the exorbitant cleaning bill. So when it became unpresentably dirty I donated it to the charity shop for someone more resourceful to clean and enjoy. But I vowed to replace it with a fake suede version.
The next step was getting the fake suede fabric. I found it in the home decor fabric shop that used to be in the basement of ABC Carpets in NYC. Perhaps it’s not the best fake suede for garments – it’s a bit stiff and spongy, even after many washings. But I got seduced by the soothing colors and velvety texture. I ended up with 4 colors! One I actually already made into a self-drafted bolero jacket that I didn’t blog. It was a style without much drape, so passable in this fabric. I think my A-line skirt should be OK too. The rust color skirt in mood board above looks fairly similar to the one I’m trying to recreate.
But what to do with the leftover green fake suede? Because it was bought for the skirt, I’m not sure I’ll have enough for a full matching jacket. So I’m thinking a moto jacket like the brown one in the mood board, with sleeves cut from a green jersey leftover from this top.
For the pale blue version of this fake suede I decided to go pencil…well, because I get easily bored? Two similarly shaped skirt in the same fabric in similar tones seems too much of a good thing! I picked princess line shaping again because I’m worried darts will look pointy in this stiff spongy fabric. Again for added interest I’m going for a single front princess slit. And since this adds asymmetrical already I went the whole hog for asymmetry at the waist as well.
Actually, it looks a lot like Burdastyle 2013-09-105 slit skirt apart from converting all darts to princess lines. I might make the matching belt removable so I can get a smooth line under untucked tops and add the belt back for tucked tops. Without the belt details the design just looks a bit off. Even for me!
And since I have a bit more of this blue fabric than the green one, I think I should be able to make a matching jacket as well. But I’m undecided about which design to go for: Burdastyle 2014-02-115 structured peplum top/jacket or Burdastyle 2013-08-113 puff sleeve jacket. I’m leaning towards the puff sleeve despite being paranoid about having wider shoulder than hip (and therefore theoretically should avoid anything that exaggerates the shoulder). In my croquis drawing at least, I tried hiding my shoulder width in the puff sleeve – ie bring the shoulder points in a little bit so the puff goes over the natural curves over my arm joinst rather than stick out & away. Not sure if the fabric would behave this way in real life. But if I succeed, then maybe I’ll look as tall & trim as this virtual me. Comparing the two croquis, I think this one creates a more upward visual effect by breaking the body into a series of narrower vertical blocks. That’s it for my design theory of the day anyway. What do you think? Have you ever abused design tricks to reshape your body without the knives?
I had these design & inspiration posts lined up for ages now, but got distracted then lost the mojo to finish them. But as Me-Made-Tote the Second is from this batch, and possibly the next two projects, maybe it’s time to finish them.
The fake fur shawl should be dead easy. But I’m not sure how useful it’ll actually be. I love the glamor & already bought the fake fur ages ago. On the other hand, it’s so fiddly to wear & isn’t really that warm as it only covers the shoulders. I’m not one who need only spot protection from the cold. Chunky short sleeve sweaters have never made any sense to me either. The other fake fur (shearling) shawl I made a while back has been languishing in the closet collecting dust. So maybe this one can wait.
The fake shearling aviator hat on the other hand would be so timely as height of Winter approaches. This would help me use up the rest of the fake shearling.
But I think I’ll probably make the two white ‘sweaters’ next. I’m losing my sewing room to visiting relatives over the coming month. And for these two I plan to add knitted ribs to the woven gauze bodice. So I can do the knitting while the sewing room is out of commission. I would have loved for both garment to be made from knits entirely. But I couldn’t find any plain mohair sweater knit in a neutral off-white color. What I ended up getting was loosely woven mohair gauze from Moods in NYC, and matching mohair yarn to knit the collars and ribs for the sleeve and bodice hem. The sweater proper is to replace a RTW I loved that I mistakenly shrunken in the wash & dry. I’m hoping there’ll be enough left of the gauze to make the long sleeve shrug.
Lastly are designs for the loveliest double-sided mohair sweater knit I got from NY Elegant. I love both sides of the fabric. And I could really do with some black garments. I’ve been going all browns & colorful lately that my black wardrobe is in seriously neglected state. But it would be a sin to hide the sumptuous orange mohair side. So more reversible garments it is. I’m thinking princess pencil skirt to cut down on the bulk. But I wanted a bit of variety in my pencil skirts. So this one will have asymmetrical front & slit. I haven’t decided on the top. I was originally thinking another cowl sweater, but now think a sweater jacket would be more versatile. Either the Burda option which is quite simple and potentially boxy, or the Vogue option which is more shapely, but might not be as versatile as it might not look as good worn unbuttoned. The other problem with the Vogue option is that it has waist pleats. That might look weird reversed. In any case I won’t have to decide until I get my sewing room back post-holidays.
As I have fitting muslin for the bodice and the sleeve already, I went for the one with the sleeve. And as it’s pre-existing pieces, the neckline & sleeve cap / shoulder area deviates from the designer original. Mine is also slightly more finished than the original, which judging from the photo seem to have raw edges for bodice armholes.
Being the indecisive type I also made my sleeves detachable so the top can be worn as a sleeveless or a sleeved top.
Now, that funky armpit ventilation design detail isn’t entirely new to me. My designer idol of yore COMME des GARÇONS incorporated armpit ventilation into a few collections in the early 90’s. In fact, at one point I owned a CdG jacket with this detail.
CdG Fall/Winter 1988
CdG Fall/Winter 1990
CdG Spring/Summer 1988
Very handy for a sweaty gal like me! ;-) I also vaguely recall reading about detachable sleeves in European garments of the Renaissance. So while it looks strange and avant-garde to modern eyes, it’s nothing new nor always on the edge.
Now the best bit about me-made designer wannabes…I can customize it to my own taste, do a mash up of details I like from different designers & inspiration sources, add in those silly little insider jokes & Easter Eggs that keeps me chuckling to myself through the days I wear my me-mades! :-)
So the back, I added a decorative hanging tab on the outside in homage to tongue-in-cheek Jean-Paul Gaultier. I had a JPG skirt once with this detail and I’ve been adding it to my me-mades here & there.
Finally, for an emphatic “I’m definitely a Dress Form” look, I machine stitched all the fitting guidelines with contrasting threads so they’re visible on the outside.
Fitted Top / Dress Block + Fitted Sleeve Block (minus cut-on gusset)
Both are based on instruction in Kenneth King’s CD books (Moulage, Basic Sleeve) with body variation alteration tweaks.
As I was turning the Fitted Top Block muslin (pictured here) into this top, I decided to tweak the waist ease placement to give me a tinsy bit more waist definition. Originally the waist ease was added at the side seam per instruction. But because I’m fairly straight up & down at the sides, following my natural shape at the side would give me no visible waist. So I moved the waist ease to the front princess waist darts while keeping the bust & hip ease at the side seams. This gives me a tiny bit more nipped in look at the side.
So to summarize, here’s the ease I added to my skin-tight 0″-ease Moulage to get my Fitted Top Block…
0″ ease moulage
+ horizontal ease
+ vertical ease
out 1/4″ + F waist dart width reduced 1/4″
out 0″ + F waist dart width reduced 3/8″
Design Changes Made
Added the shoulder pad shaped pieces for attaching the removable sleeves. And I guess I was trying to (unsuccessfully) approximate the original shoulder line by adding wadding & pad stitching to these shoulder pieces.
Left short wrist slits in the sleeve seams so I can get my relatively large hand through the slim sleeve’s wrist opening.
Made it hip length…because that’s what I’ve already cut out for the muslin fitting.
Cut CF with seam allowances (but no overlap) for a butted CF opening with hook & eye closure.
What I should have also done is to add a bit more bust & waist ease to account for the extra layers of fabric involved! The fitting muslin wrinkle easily. So to get the “I’m a Dress Form” look I interface all pieces with fusible woven interfacing. This make the inside ugly, so lining was called for as well.
These extra layers & their respective seam allowance layers at the 8 vertical seams ate up a big chunk of those vainly spartan breathing / wearing ease I added. If you reckon each interface seam fold lose 1/32 – 1/16″, then that’s a whopping 1/2 – 1″ less ease then I bargained for. Without the extra layers the Fitted Top Block is slouch happy. With the layers and it’s only fit for the straitlaced I-Can-Hold-My-Breath days. Oops. Live & learn.
The lining is edge to edge because…well, the shell seam allowances were a bit tatty from the manhandling to serve as hem allowances. So I picked a contrasting lining for that erm, “intentional” two sided look. This way, the top can be worn as a fitted jacket over camisoles hooked only at the waist & the reverse A side peeking out from time to time.
Fabric & Notions Used
Fabric: Recycled linen color cotton bed skirt from John Lewis
Construction order wasn’t efficient because of the gusset experiment detour. So I had to hand fell-stitch the lining in place at the armhole & CF hook & eye tape.
How to attach the removable sleeves was a conundrum. I considered solid skirt / trouser hooks, velcro, before deciding on the buttons & elastic option. I think this might be best for an area that will move a bit as I raise my arm sideways & forward. The button at the peak of the shoulder piece / shoulder seam near the neckline is on sewn the underside of the sleeve shoulder piece, with a slit left in the shoulder seam as button hole. Two additional buttons are sewn just inside the bodice armhole at the cross-front & cross-back level, with corresponding elastic buttonhole loops sewn into the sleeves. I originally had these two buttons on the sleeve & the elastics on the bodice, but found the elastic peeking out after a day’s wear & stretch. Reversing this allows the attachment mechanism to remain hidden sleeveless or sleeved.
And the other Oops along the way…
That funky alternate side shading…As this was originally a fitting muslin, I didn’t pay attention to which side of the fabric I used. It seems like the fabric, which was an used bed skirt, have faded on one side from exposure to sunlight over the years, so not reversible anymore. Thankfully my random cutting followed a pattern of alternating side (LF & RB, RF & LB). So I can just about pretend the funky shading was erm, “intentional” & part of the “deconstructed look”!
Fusing bubbles…It could be my poor fusing technique. Or it could be the fact that the interfacing has been laying around for over 20 years and the adhesive has disintegrated. Again, thank to the “deconstructed” design I can try to pass this off as “erm, it’s intentional”! :-p
Considering this fitting muslin would have gone to fabric recycling purgatory, I’m pleased as Punch with the result.
It’s a top to be worn with attitude (aka confidence). No shrinking violet here. Not with all the Oops that one has to spin as “all part of the Deconstructed Look”!
The only new ingredient was Bronze Poly Lycra Leatherette from Tissu Fabric, a cheap fake leather for the collar edging – because I can’t be bothered with non-washable real leather! I do wish I used a better quality faux leather though. The leather-like coating is already rubbing off after a few wears. Oops. I do like its look while it lasted though – it’s more copper (my favorite metallic color) than bronze.
Now the main fabric from Mood I love more and more. It was quite easy to work with. And the color while a bit dull on the bolt has proved to be a real team player in my wardrobe.
However, for this pattern, I was still a bit worried about whether this sweatshirtish fabric has enough heft. Many reviewers complained about the huge collar not standing up right like in the cool Burda photos. Burda’s recommended fabric – ponte knit – simply doesn’t have the heft to keep the single layer collar standing proud and tall. Nancy K suggested that the leather edge binding might provide the requisite support. But then the inner part of the collar – the stand & turn part – would still be a bit wimpy. I could have added facing to the fronts and collar as Allison C suggested. But I was a bit unsure about the fabric initially, so didn’t buy yards and yards of it.
Anyway, I decided to try felting the portion for the jacket. Big mistake. Even though it’s suppose to be wool acrylic blend, it didn’t felt at all after being put through hot wash & tumble drying. It just pilled. And softened further!!!??? Oops. Thank goodness I had this pill shaver gizmo in my sewing gadget cupboard. It managed to get rid of most of the fuzz, though it could do nothing about the slight softening. Lesson learnt: don’t be stingy – test on a swatch! BTW the fabric does take gentler wash cycle & air drying. I like to pre-wash almost everything to weed out divas from my closet.
See those little white pills on the upper right! The left is the unmolested skirt fabric.
The shaver gizmo to the rescue!
Almost as good as the unmolested skirt fabric!
As you guessed it, I’ve ignored the pattern instruction again. It’s more atrocious than usual. I’m tempted to rewrite it even though I have no need of it. But that of course wasn’t why I ignored it. With the pattern changes I made (eg cut on peplum) & the techniques I’ve already chosen for the matching skirt, the instruction would have been useless to me anyway. So just some construction notes below in case you want to try out some of the same techniques…
Like with the skirt I’ve flatlocked almost everything – even the sleeve / armscye. The only seam that’s not flatlocked is the left front princess seam with the zipper tape. I think theoretically it could have been, but the zipper teeth wouldn’t feed properly. So the fabric edges was flatlocked first, then zipper & seaming basted in place, then topstitched along either side of the flatlock edge finishing.
Sleeve zippers are attached in the same way as the skirt. The bodice front zipper tape is covered with the leatherette rather than left exposed like on the sleeves.
As I’m using leatherette rather than real leather, the front & collar edging is only done on one side of the fabric and applied like bias facing tape (so with seam allowances). But I had to use Stitch Witchery to fuse this leatherette to the fabric and to itself to keep it flat. Rather than top-stitching the tape, it’s machine sewn on the outer edge & hand slip-stitched on the inner edge.
The hem is again 2-thread wrap overlock edge finishing like on the skirt. There’s no peplum facing on my reversible version – the whole jacket is single layer.
Instead of snaps for the right front princess seam closure, I added hook closures to match the one on the skirt AA side. So again, I folded petersham ribbons in the same way as on the skirt to act like frog closures, fell-stitched these in place, then sewn the hook & eyes to the ribbons. These were placed just below the waist, at the underbust, above the bust, and at the chest (spaced evenly of course).
Style Shots & Mug Shots
So how does it look? Before the reveal let’s have a reminder of the design & pattern photo again for comparison…
I was planning to reuse the pattern, but I’m on the fence about it after my collar turned out just as floppy as everyone else’s (apart from those smart Russian / Polish ladies who made theirs with fabric worthy of cold weather coats).
Having said that, I’m very pleased with this particular make. The fabrics, the pattern, the details just came together beautifully. It’s got the perfect blend of edginess & femininity for my cup of tea. And like its matching skirt it’s reversible-ish too! Perfect for a style commitment-phobe like me!
Doesn’t the jacket look so cool in Burda magazine’s photos? I was seduced. Ever since I sew Marc Jacob’s pastel moto jacket I wanted one in non-traditional color & fabric. I like the simple style lines. It offers a load of possibilities for showing off my double-face fabric: color-blocking, visible reverse side.
34 rather than recommended 36. Because it’s closes to my Jacket Block which I’m using to guide fitting changes.
I’m still trying to work out the best way to use my Jacket Blocks for altering commercial patterns to improve the fit. Here’s my current not so scientific approach:
Lay the commercial pattern over my Jacket Block aligning at CF / CB waist. I’ve traced the pattern onto tissue paper, but also kept my Block on tracing paper to make this easier.
Compare & decide what needs changing, and by how much. Now the how much is a bit of a dilemma, especially when my Block is currently more a Sloper with only the wearing ease and no design ease. There’s the risk of removing all the design ease and end up with the same jacket over and over again. So I decided to try this: Where the pattern doesn’t match the Jacket Block, I check if it at least matches the Moulage & Top/Dress markings before deciding whether to change or not. (My Jacket Block also has markings for the Moulage & Top/Dress Block’s key reference points like bust & shoulder points, bust/waist/hip widths.) For example, I didn’t increase the CF pattern piece’s bust width to meet the Jacket Block bust points because it already meets the Moulage & Top/Dress Block bust point. And while total front bust width (after FBA) is less than my Jacket Block, it’s close to my Top/Dress Block bust width; add to that the back Bust width is slightly wider than my Jacket Block (at princess seam), so I think I have enough bust ease.
Where the shape is really different from my Block, and standard alteration doesn’t get it close enough, I sliced & diced the innard of a pattern piece to pull the seam line into a shape that more closely resemble my Block. See the changes to the Front & Back side bodice pieces for example.
Short Arm Adjustment: Partly done in the lower sleeve area (not hem), and partly in the sleeve cap area to match length removed from bodice armscye for Short Waist Adjustment. So the sleeve cap is shallower.
Widen Sleeve slightly to give me 2″ ease at bicep level. A few other people have complained that the sleeve is too narrow for them, even with stretch fabric. So you may want to check the widths. I have thin arms & could have gotten away with no widening. But 2″ sounds more comfortable for a jacket. I widened at the back sleeve seam. This also gives me a bit more ease in the sleeve armscye – the original pattern doesn’t seem to have any ease. I also followed Jeffery Diduch’s instruction in Threads July 2013 for guidance on how much sleeve armscye ease to include where. I kind of winged this as the pattern doesn’t have as many match point as in his pattern. But I subsequently found his online instruction on how to check the ease of these commercial pattern sleeves.
Checking the sleeve shaping & ease at underarm…
Checking the sleeve height…
Shortened sleeve further: Removed the extra 3″ length in sleeve as I want a more traditional Moto Jacket sleeve.
Added sleeve vent & zippers.
Removed the waistline seam by cutting the peplums as one with the bodice pieces. I was worried about thickness of multiple layers at intersecting seams.
Rather than testing the fit next with muslin I cheated with pinned pattern tissue. Looks OK on Q me thinks…apart from that humongous collar which needed slight shaving / shaping near the collar points so the fabric wouldn’t get all bunched up when the front is zipped to couple of inches above the bust (like in the Burda catalog photo).
So here are my final patterns. I thought I was going to reuse this pattern, so transferred the patterns to card stock (minus seam allowances) to use for fabric cutting.
Tomorrow: The fabric, construction notes & reveal!