Dearest readers, thank you so much for your thoughtful replies to my last post on taking a sabbatical. It was heartening to hear how many of you have had similar thoughts or made a similar change; if so many of us want to trade some income for more creative and living time, I think our working culture will change. If you feel in need of some inspiration, I highly recommend reading through the comments.
In other news, I’ve unintentionally joined Coletterie’s Wardrobe Architect project. Initially I thought I wouldn’t, because I think I sew pretty realistically for my lifestyle and tastes. As I read more of Sarai’s posts, however, I found myself mulling over the some of the topics even after I’d finished reading. The worksheets, questionnaires and mood boards were the final straw.
I’m pretty sure Wardrobe Architect influenced my latest projects. I felt like making something for our friends’ wedding this past Sunday, because it had been awhile since I’d sewn anything dressy. I was planning on making a dress, which is default wedding wear for women, but I knew I would have to wear tights to stay warm enough. I hate tights. My knees and calves are comparatively small for my waist and hips, so I always have to make a choice – sausage waist or pooling legs? Neither, please!
I started thinking about a dressy outfit centered around pants that I could make in black velvetine from my stash. I recently made a croquis of myself last fall so I could iterate through silhouettes more quickly. Here was my initial drawing:
I had a bustier top pattern in mind, used here and here, and I figured I could alter my stretch jeans pattern to omit the yoke and front pockets for some super simple, streamlined dress pants. Here’s how it came together!
I figured I’d make a kimono similar to this one to wear over my outfit, and I wanted to make sure that the fabric I used was festive to balance out the black. My stash yielded nothing, so I haunted my favorite second-hand fabric store. Days before the wedding, I found a gorgeous bright floral rayon. This is going to sound nuts, but I’ve only sewn with floral fabric twice in my entire sewing career (and once was my grown-up flower girl dress.) A loud floral really does keep one entertained during the sewing process!
I can’t seem to resist unfurling my kimono wings… Here’s a more normal pic of the entire ensemble.
I felt comfortable and festive throughout the wedding. And, I noticed that a lot of the stylish older women were wearing cool kimono-style garments as well, some of them with awesome embellishments. I stole furtive, admiring glances their direction.
I have some notes on the construction and fit of the top and pants. Starting with the bustier, which is McCall’s 6325:
I underlined the bustier bodice with cotton voile to minimize the stretch of the velvetine, and lined it with a scrap of organic cotton sateen left over from my quilt. I underlined the peplum-ish part of the top with black silk habotai (also a scrap) to minimize friction against the velvetine pants. The buttons are gold-colored metal.
I went through a muslin with the bustier but I don’t think I have the fit quite right. I took out too much ease from the bust when I was fitting it and had to mess with some of the side seams, make the button plackets wider, and add a hook and eye to prevent gaping. I’d like to make a summer dress from the bodice part, so I will probably revisit fitting the pattern.
You can see on this black-and-white photo where there’s some pulling and twisting through the bodice. Since the velvetine sucks up tons of light, it’s normally not visible enough to prevent me from wearing it.
On to the pants:
These fit almost identically to my jeans. Lisa G noted recently that getting a better fit at the top of her CB rise reduced how curved her back waistband had to be, and I think I will experiment with that the next time I use any variation of this pattern. My super-curved back waistband ensures that my pants stay up, but I think there is some extra ease that could come out of the top of the CB rise. I used Debbie Cook’s fly tutorial again. It’s just the best.
So far, I’ve worn the kimono every day since I’ve finished it, and I’m banking on the other two pieces finding their way into my limited dressy rotation.
The other Wardrobe Architect by-product? I decided the closest things I have to style icons are Alexa Chung and Sophia Coppola. Thirty Pinterest-filled minutes later, I was walking to the bathroom in a trance-state to cut some bangs…