Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ugly pattern: from frumpy to fabulous (or so I hope)

Monday morning… In couple of hours got to head back to work and try to hope I can finish something during the short weekday evenings. There are three projects so close to conclusion; I am really optimistic about this week.

Well, this post is about the ugliest pattern in my stash, an old Sew Weekly challenge. Here is the pattern, which I found in my stash …

I was not sure whether I could or wanted to make something out of it. That patchwork number was such a turn-off, on the verge of being ridiculous.  But I wanted to give it a try and made a muslin.  Two darts and two side seams, but, it came out sooo ugly and shapeless, creating several huge bulges on the back, so I looked like a human armadillo. How can something that basic fit so bad???

Still, I thought I would try to fit the pattern; so I transferred grain lines to the muslin and decided that the best way to go was to drape it using the original pattern pieces but ignoring all the previous darts, marks and seam lines (so, basically creating a new pattern). I lengthened the bodice and made new darts. After some 20 to 30 minutes of work the bodice was done. And, it was such an improvement. I finally had a pattern to work with.

Now, all I had to do was to find a nice fabric to upgrade the look from frumpy to fabulous. I looked through some magazines, before they landed in recycling bin, and came across this Jardin Lace Vest by J. Crew from the J. Crew Collection line.

Can you imagine the price tag for this creation? A staggering $500! And check out what they say: 

"We're sorry. This item has been so popular, it has sold out. We've got other great ideas--just call us 800 562 0258, we're here to help."

Well we live in New York, so no comments... However, for me, the decision was obvious – beautiful Swiss or French guipure lace! Even with the best-quality lace, the final cost will be way below the price of this J. Crew vest.  Have you seen pieces from J.Crew collection? I mean all these pieces are a no-brainer with regard to construction – any seamstress with some reasonable knowledge of sewing will be able to put together most of their styles.  Many of their garments look so fabulous because of glamorous fabric: superior quality materials combined with great styling. I must add that I like how J. Crew designers combine simple design and sophisticated materials. 

So, wouldn’t you agree that it’s all DIY-able???

Meanwhile the Sew Weekly challenge week was ending, and I went to the Mood looking for a nice neutral-colour guipure lace, but could not find anything. They mostly had Alencon and Chantilly in white and black. I then went over to B&J Fabrics (checking my account status first) and found this gorgeous Swiss Guipure Lace.

Don’t ask me how much I paid for it. Hasn’t it ever happened to you that you know you can hardly afford some gorgeous fabric, but there two voices inside of you, one trying to convince you that you cannot afford this fabric and it may end up in your stash anyway, and another one arguing that you ought to own at least one statement piece, your personal one-of-a-kind creation (sorry for this run-on sentence – it’s emotional). So, you end up leaving the store with this treasure in your tote, which you hold with both hands feeling like a criminal stealing a masterpiece.  The lace will be then carefully folded, put somewhere next to your fabric stash and then casually presented to your hubby as something that you had for a while: another de-stashification project, that is. Yes, I feel guilty, but I bought it nevertheless J

…Ok, I had a new pattern, I had the lace – but no, I still had to buy backing/lining fabric. The whole new challenge… And since these shopping tours have to be squeezed in one-hour lunch, every time I go to the Garment district I only get 20 minutes to shop. 20 minutes for fabric shopping is an offence to any serious seamstress, so, after two fabric stores, a trim purchase trip, a week of nasty flu, and in-depth reading of Susan Khalje’s Bridal Couture (for its invaluable lace techniques), I am ready to plunge into sewing my hopefully-fabulous vest. Just need to decide which backing I will choose, the sky-blue one or the gray. What do you think?

At MJ Trims I also got this piece of neon-ish yellow Italian leather trim, which I want to use for a matching belt, as featured on two different backings. I wanted to keep the vest casual, so I can wear it with white summer suit pants, jeans, skirts, or dresses. I will also try to get a dressier belt for an upgraded look, but for now, I am happy with this neon piece.

the color changes slightly on a different background
it becomes yellow-ish and I am not sure I love it

I would love to hear your opinion about the backing and belt options! Any ideas?


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