10 December, 2014

Ziggi lace overlay jacket, part 1

I found a lace overlay fabric at our local store over a year ago.  It's a wool-rayon boiled knit in winter white, with black cotton-poly lace bonded to its face.  The bond is pretty good, though I could pull the two layers apart with a little effort.  Still, not wishing to damage the bond, I decided to omit any pre-treating, though I did spray each piece liberally with water during pressing.

Even when I first got this fabric it was destined to become a moto aka biker jacket.  I love the incongruous juxtaposition of classic biker tough with the femininity of lace.  And, again, as with the lace dresses I discussed previously, there are many versions out there, as lace biker jacket shows. Some are sheer, others coloured... while black lace trench coat and black lace overlay jacket give some more variations on the theme.

But then I got sidetracked, and drifted into activities other than for-me sewing.

Fast forward 12 months.... time to find a pattern. Pattern Review is a great resource for that.  It gave me sixteen hits for a "biker jacket" search. Three of those are Burda 12-2009-111 and eleven are the Style Arc Ziggi.  These are really fantastic creations, in a wide variety of fabrics, I am wowed by the leather versions.  And the reviews are so informative!  I found Jrhee's review (if you're not a signed-in member, you  may not be able to see it) particularly useful, as she includes some thoughts on shaping and a very on point comparison with a gorgeous Montana biker pattern from Vogue (V2973).

I went with the Ziggi. Based on others' comments on ease, I checked the bust and hip dimensions of size 8, and muslined that.  Apart from some diagonal drag lines due to extra fabric along the sides, which I got rid of via pinching out the under-arm excess, it seemed to fit very well. But, you  know, Jrhee's comment that the jacket is a little boxy definitely resonated.  It is.  It has all those vertical lines and very little waist shaping.  So I thought, why not add a little pizzazz to this already great pattern, and REALLY make it my own?

Here's what I did:
Enlarged the collar by 2 cm  along its outer edge
Raised the peplum waistline by 2 cm
Gave the main front and back vertical seam (aka princess) lines more of a diagonal angle by shifting them 2 cm to the side at the top and 1 cm towards the centre at the bottom (at the back, the bottom is the peplum waistline).  This also widened the front lapels, of course.
Gave the peplum more of a flare by widening it 1 cm each side at the bottom.
Narrowed each side of the back sleeve seam (the one with the zipper) by 2 cm at the hem, tapering to zero at 20 cm above the hem.

Here's the first test fitting with the fashion fabric and gold trim along the main seam lines:

I do like the new shape of the back seams and the peplum.

The front seems a tad too big.  
And I'm not crazy about the trim on the secondary (princess) seam lines.

The above pic shows that there's more fabric in the upper back than there ought to be. Just look at the gap above the shoulder!  I see that now, but it wasn't apparent in the muslin.  So, in the next version - if there ever is one - I'll reduce the upper back length by 1.5 cm.  This version got shoulder pads.

Also, the photos above are a good demo that emphasizing every seam with trim is not always a good idea.....  

 ...and a test removal of the trim showed how much better the front and sides look when that seam is allowed to blend into the fabric. 

But the front still felt a bit too big and shapeless, so  I pinched out a little on the upper princess seams for a better fit over the bust. And then I took in the side seams about 2 cm each side.  In retrospect, with all those reductions, perhaps I ought to have started with a size 6?

09 December, 2014

LBD refashion and a comment on sizing

I have one Little Black Dress.  Just the one.   Does anyone need more than one?  I surely can't answer that - I've made do with just this one forever.  The dress code at Canadian universities runs more to jeans than cocktail dresses even for the professorial lot, so I never felt the need for more than one. More on point, I've had this LBD for so long, its life with me is to be counted in decades, not years. While not exactly a starving student when I acquired it, it was pretty close.  So this frock and I have a history.

This LBD is definitely not anyone's couture item. It's a pretty basic RTW garment:  polyester crepe, acetate lining. Still, it's pretty nice:   fully lined, with an illusion mesh upper bodice, an empire waistline, great waist to hip shaping, and the neckline, armscyes, back zipper, and the empire seam are finished with satin ribbon for some visual interest.  And it fits me!  Yes, still, or I might say again.... since there were on and off periods during those two decades when it just wouldn't slide over my hips.   Right now, the fit is bang on:  I've been shrinking.

But my little frock is starting to show its age.  A spot on one hip has developed a serious patch of snagged threads, I think from a rough-edged purse or some such.   Plus, consequent to my sewing endeavours, I've become more discerning in what I'd like to wear.  So, great fit notwithstanding, it was time for an update. 

Still, I just wasn't willing to let it go.  It was as close as you can get to a made for me frock.  Therefore, rather than ditching it and starting from scratch, I decided on a little experiment:  an eyecatching overlay!

If you look at the big online fashion stores, you'll see there are tons of lace frocks out there right now. Just do an image search for  lace cocktail dress, sleeveless. Looking at these, and keeping in mind local availability, I had a little brain wave:  why not overlay a lace on my goode olde standebye?  My result might then look somewhat like these:

Bearing in mind that my LBD was, well, obviously black, I wanted a colour that would look good on that background.  Local fabric availability included red, magenta, peppermint green, bright blue, and navy.   I crossed out the nonstarters for you - I won't be caught dead in magenta lace. But red, well, yes, I like red.  It's one of my all time favourite colours. 

And red always looks great with black and on black:

....even when the red is orange:  

But... but.  A couple of days I was struck by a comment on this very demure long sleeved red frock: 

"this is the couture version of the ugly Christmas sweater".  OUCH.  I didn't think it was THAT bad. Call me weak willed, call me sensitive, yet I decided that maybe, just maybe, red would be too bright for me.  Also, the red lace at the local store somehow lacked textural detail. Honestly. 

So I went with this look: midnight navy on black.  The navy lace I found has a fabulous raised texture, and it comes off as pretty subtle: clearly not all black during the day, yet mocking a true LBD under evening lights.  

I sprang for one meter of the navy lace:  nine bucks! (Canadian $ - only eight to my southern friends). 

To create the lace overlay, I plonked me olde LBDe onto the table and traced its sections. I combined the upper illusion mesh and lower bodice into one piece, converting the pieced shaping to bust darts at the front, so ultimately there are only four pieces:  upper front, lower front, upper back, lower back.  All except upper back are shaped with darts.

On the basis of those, I machine sewed and serge finished the lace overlay.  Then I hand sewed the overlay to the dress, folding over at neckline, armscyes and hem, and stay stitching along the back zipper and empire waist seam.  The hand sewing took most of the time, so the exercise took nearly all day, but I was done before dark.

The next day, I added matching blue satin ribbon to the empire seam.  

And that's it!  Out of one meter of poly/acetate stretch lace, I have a new, quite current and stylish navy-on-black riff on an LBD:  

In closing, I want to poke fun make a gentle comment about garment and pattern sizing.  
My old LBD?  Beecher's Brook, size 4. 
My most recent jacket:  Style Arc, size 8, reduced by about 1" on each side seam, so really a 6/8.  
My Big Four patterns:  normally I start with 12, but more and more 10 seems to be a better starting point. 
My Burda/BurdaStyle patterns:  generally a 38.

Wouldn't it be oh so nice if the RTW manufacturers and the various pattern makers all decided to use the same number for the same body measurements?  Right. Dream on. 

04 December, 2014

Inspiration retrospective #1

This is just to close the loop on my previously published grey wardrobe.

To reiterate, my latest jacket was based on New Look 6516.  It looks like the classic French Cardigan Jacket aka FCJ but was constructed using a not-quite-the-oft-promoted-classic-Chanel method:  the quilting attached the fashion fabric to an underlining, while the lining was inserted using the classic "bagged lining" technique.  However...  I took some time to examine the ins and outs of a large number of genuine Chanel cardigan jackets, and discovered that quite a few of them have a standard rather than the quilted lining. So "quilted lining" isn't necessarily the defining characteristic of all Chanel cardigan jackets.  Surprised?

How is mine one different from my previous FCJ's?  Well, let's just say it's furry with a fringe on top. For the allusion and the treat of a young Hugh Jackman in his early musical theatre days, see below:


Indeed, my jacket is fringed, and fringed, and then fringed some more.  After fringing the front, neckline, and all hems, I went back and made some more fringe for the upper armscye:  call me a masochist.  But, this little decorative conceit is often observed in true Chanel jackets, as in here:

and here:

and here:

And the theme of armscye decoration is also applied to merely braided trim, as in here:


and here:

BTW, all photos come from my internet's image search engine.  I've no doubt you can find more examples if you beat the bushes of the internet for a bit.

In closing, here's a little forward looking inspiration from the incomparable Maison de Couture of which we speak:

Now THAT's some Tyrolean bling!