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?


  1. That lace is gorgeous!! Need to get Susan Khalje book as I'm itching to sew with lace.

    I personally prefer the darker background fabric and think it looks fab with the yellow trim. I think it might give you more choice over what to wear it with as it's not too white or too dark. Not sure if that makes sense.

  2. Really beautiful lace! I can imagine how it happens, you go shopping for fabrics with the 500$tag in mind and that makes other high prices seem not so high!:) I love it with the dark background,it makes the beauty of the lace stand out more, I can't picture it with the yellow trim yet but I'm waiting to be pleasantly surprised!

  3. Gorgeous lace! I think I personally like the darker background, but the lighter one looks so pretty and antique-y, sorry not much help I know!

  4. I think the grey background makes the lace looks brighter and fresher, the blue gives a more antique looking effect - I think it depends on the look you want to achieve. If you're using the yellow trim then I would go with the grey background.

  5. I'm drooling over the keyboard staring at this beautiful lace. I vote for the grey also. The yellow trim is something that would never occur to me so I'm eager to watch how it works for you. yes, the lace may have been expensive but nothing in comparison to the same lace in RTW!

  6. I love that Guipuire lace. I used S Khaljes book as a LOT recently when I made a wedding gown from Alencon lace. The appliqué lace technique works great. That book is so expensive and also out of print which is wierd.

  7. Is this lace still available? I look on the B&J Site, but it is not there. I am in love with this pattern and have been looking high and low for fabric for my wedding dress. Do you have any ideas where to get more of this pattern? Thank you for any help!!!

  8. Thanks for sharing nice stuff dear. I like it modest clothes & jean skirts



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