Sunday, April 20, 2008

All the Combinations


The finished group of garments includes one purchased garment, a pair of black jeans, and one previously-made garment, a linen blouse with tucks and lace insertion.

The garments:

V 2390 Wardrobe pattern

  • Jacket in silk/linen broken herringbone (Michael’s bundle)
  • Skirt in silk/linen broken herringbone with stretch lace underlay
  • Trousers in tropical wool (Hancock’s)

M 5138

  • White cotton twill weave (Michael’s)
  • Gray/blue linen (SWAP purchase from Julie; bleached and dyed)
  • Print polyester microfiber (G Street Fabrics)
V 7903 Linen blouse with lace insertion (previously sewn)

Loes Hinse Cowl Top in black stretch lace and blue mesh (Hancock’s, Spandex House)

S 4076, D Gray polyester matte jersey (G Street Fabrics)

Nancy Erickson 1965 Print polyester microfiber pencil skirt (G Street Fabrics)

Purchased black jeans

One Pattern Three Ways

I said in an earlier post that I simplified my plans as I went along. I needed to, because I did not have any TNT patterns. I used the shirt pattern for three garments: A basic white shirt, the gray linen shirt, and the print top.

This pattern was a great choice for this swap. The convertible collar coordinates well with the deep notched lapel of the Anne Klein jacket. In addition, the darts give it a sleek shape that combines well with basic bottoms. There is no collar stand, so it goes together quickly.

I made the white shirt in view d, without any modifications to the pattern.

I reduced the depth of the collar so I could fit the collar piece onto the border of the fabric and shorted the sleeve to just above the elbow. The front and back are the same length as in view a, the cropped version, but the hem is even all the way around.

The gray linen shirt is cut to the same length as view a and with the camp-shirt sleeves drafted for the print version. I followed the trim placement guidelines in view a.

This trim is sheer, so I modified the facing so that it is finished along the edge of the lace insertion.

Unifying the Collection with Embellishments

Finding a suitable stretch sheer for the skirt's underskirt was a challenge. I could not find anything suitable, so I overlapped black stretch lace over blue mesh and zigzagged them together along the vertical lines of the lace, and then cut away the blue so the stripe showed through. I liked this so well that I used the motif on the stretch lace top, cutting away three vertical lines at the neckline.

I also introduced a vertical stripe in the gray-blue linen shirt, creating stripes with black grosgrain ribbon, a black/white cord, and linen lace dyed to match. The lace is backed with black organza, hinting further at this season's trend toward transparency in garments. This amount of transparency is JUST enough for me.

To make the print blouse and skirt more like the Oscar de la Renta inspiration, I used sheer black gauze and black braid to emphasize design lines. The collar and front facing are cut from the border.

More Planning: Pattern Selection

One of the distinctive features of the Timmel swap contest is the design challenge. In previous years, participants embellished their fabric, made two or more distinctive garments from the same pattern, and created a reversible garment. This year, participants sewed at least three garments from one wardrobe pattern. With the exception of the reversible challenge, I have found all of these challenges to be rewarding learning experiences, and I continue to incorporate what I learned through these challenges in my sewing.

I selected a now-OOP pattern by Anne Klein, Vogue 2390. The skirt features a novelty stretch sheer as an underskirt. At first, I did not like the underskirt, and planned to make a simple pencil skirt instead. But as I looked at the spring fashion shows, I realized that I could interpret this design element as one of this year's big trends, underwear as outerwear.

I also liked the lines of the jacket. In eastern Virginia, where I live, summer heat and humidity is brutal. The three-quarter length sleeves would be more comfortable than long sleeves. In addition, I thought the jacket would look less "airline attendant" in navy blue than a more traditionally styled blazer. I also think this jacket will work well with nautical colors and striped tee shirts, which I may add to my wardrobe later this spring.

Finally, as I selected my wardrobe pattern, I wanted a pair of pants that had trouser styling and the wider leg. This pattern features pockets, a traditional fly front, and a waistband at the natural waist.

Looking Back on the Process

The main things that influenced the way this group of garments turned out include:

Selection of the wardrobe pattern:

This determined basic shapes of other tops and bottoms.

Weight loss:

I lost about 15 pounds since the summer, and lost about 5 during the swap contest period. I had no TNT patterns. The fit of the pants, in particular, changed from the time I finished them in January to when I took the photos in April.

Fabric changes:

The midnight tencel gabardine planned for the wardrobe garment pieces faded unevenly in the laundry. I substituted a gorgeous linen-silk broken herringbone from a Michael's bundle. The linen I bought from Julie matched the tencel, so I stripped its dye and re-dyed it.

Design changes:

I simplified my design plans as I worked through the process, and dropped one of the planned jackets.

Six months later

photo courtesy

The availability of the right print determines the direction of the swap. My shopping trip at G Street turned up the blue tribal print. The borders on the fabric offered great design opportunities.

The print sent me back to the spring shows for more inspiration, moving away from the red, white and blue theme. The Oscar de la Renta suit became the key inspiration piece for my swap. The other themes that developed as I sewed included modified underwear effects, with sheers and lace; monochromatic denim blues with crisp white; and the blazer.