Is it a skirt/top? Is it a dress? No! It’s Super Versatile

I was hoping to have finished Vogue 1247 by now. I am in the home stretch, but stretch is the optimal word. Last minute impatience had me rushing to finish the sleeve cuffs and hem, this has led to some wonky and ripply edges. I’m taking a break to return when Little Miss Impatient is asleep (er, that’s my brain, not an actual child or anything…).

In the mean-time, I’ve been dreaming of the next items in my wardrobe challenge. Which is probably part of the problem described above, so I know I shouldn’t, but, well, I can’t help it…

From somewhere I seem to have become obsessed with tops and skirts masquerading as dresses. I first became aware of this phenomenon from vintage patterns, where things I would call a two-piece seem to be called a dress.

Picture sources @ Melanie on Pinterest

(And, conversely, according to Claire Shaeffer, Chanel would oft-times sew a shell top to a skirt in order to make the skirt hang better. This wasn’t meant to be seen as a dress, so seemingly was still called a skirt. Who knew you could play so fast and loose with the terminology?)

Then there came the much-made peplum combo from Burda Aug 2012.

Source: via Melanie on Pinterest

You would think this is dress. Fooled again! It’s a skirt/top. I wanted to make that skirt/top so badly. I think it was about that time that a small neuron stuck up its dendrite and suggested ever so quietly that, even better, if I made two, I could mix and match them, the skirt from one with the top from the other. Might I still do that? Well, maybe… there’s a piece of black hound’s tooth that’s got peplum written all over it. But the turqoise linen is getting made up into a two piece peplum. right. now.

So to meet the requirements of the challenge without looking like a great big peplum weirdo, my plan is to take one of the other fabrics and make both a skirt, which can also be matched with the peplum, and a second top of a different design. That way all four items will co-ordinate with each other, but I still get to indulge in the skirt/top masquerade gimmick, and I’ll have two different looks. I know!

However, (and it’s always more complicated when my brain gets involved), back to the actual Burda pattern, I decided, after reading Fehr Trade‘s review, that I would want to swap the bodice for something else. Various plans ensued: redraft the supplied bodice by manipulating the waist dart into a princess seam; use the top half of the wiggle-dress from Gertie’s Book for Better Sewing; oh, wait, what’s that weird non-pattern at the start of Pattern Magic 2?

Pattern Magic: 'Basic Lesson'

Pattern Magic: ‘Basic Lesson’

So, without further ado here are my initial designs for the turquoise linen/silk blend and African wax fabrics.

Mix and match

Mix and match

I’ve tried to find an on-line example of someone making this, but it seems that most people did what I did initially and skipped over it. The only reference I can find to making this top is in a post, again by Fehr Trade, describing a course she took at Morley College. They’re doing another one this year, look.

So you’ll just have to look at my grainy photo and the shaping lines in my design illustration, until I show my pattern.

This also ticks off one of my challenge aims: using some instructions from the Pattern Magic books.

I’m getting excited about sewing my peplum a year after the trend hit, although, there are some who are, apparently, ‘over’ it already! I don’t care!


A sucker for a challenge

I really enjoyed the Colette Patterns competition. There was a purpose, a deadline and restrictions. Getting creative within those restrictions got my design muscle twitching; planning, testing and finally realising my chosen design was satisfying beyond other sewing experiences.

The start of Me Made May (which I’m not taking part in), got me musing about mix and match, wearable, me-made items. That train of thought, coupled with my sewing competition awakening, morphed seamlessly into to the idea that I could further push myself in design, sewing and wearability by imposing a mini wardrobe challenge on myself. After that, it was seconds till I was pulling fabric from my stash with the aim of gathering together a palette from which I would formulate my designs (which was unfortunate because I was supposed to be cooking dinner…).

Whilst rummaging I came up with The Rules Which Can Not Be Broken:

  • Fabric must come from stash and should include some thrifted items for refashion (notion purchase is allowed)
  • Capsule wardrobe must be separates (too many dresses)
  • Each separate item must go with at least two other items being made and one of three existing wardrobe items

The rules serve as design restrictions, but some wider aims will serve as more of a design brief. They are:

  • Have a mix and match wardrobe I actually want to wear and tie the wardrobe in with current wardrobe items
  • Focus on excellent construction
  • Enact some plans I had last year/make up some long-intended patterns
  • Stretch my sewing and drafting skills with some advanced techniques (and finally complete my personal sloper), and with an eye on THE dress, incorporate skills I would need to enact my currently envisioned design
  • Develop some design concept skills, rather than flit from one make to the next

There were several contenders for my stash palette, but mainly because I wanted to wear the African wax print I bought last summer, I picked the peacock colour-way (or, the turquoise pile).

(Sorry about the quality of the photos. I’m on a steep blogging learning curve and hopefully I’ll get better in time. You’ll see the individual fabrics in much better detail as I get sewing.)

I am matching this selection with three me-made items from my wardrobe, a self-drafted skirt & two Colette Sorbettos, and a weird 1970’s poly jacket I got from Oxfam.

I already had some of those fabrics earmarked for specific patterns so I’m pressing ahead with those whilst allowing other design ideas to percolate.

Hullo world (or, at least, the part interested in sewing)

Louis, Louis (er, and Louis) (from 2noblecrows)

Louis, Louis (er, and Louis) (from 2noblecrows)

The Louis Vuitton eyelet fabric from spring 2012 registered immediately on my bride radar (more on what tickles that in later posts). With the frustration of knowing I would never be able to find that fabric (unless my fabric-stall man outside Sainsbury’s happened to find it lurking in his magical warehouse), I parked it as airy, frothy inspiration. That was until Colette Patterns announced a competition to coincide with the launch of their new pattern, Laurel.

“Yes!” I thought “it’s now or never. Can I possibly recreate something that looks anything like Louis’s eyelets?” The answer, after several weeks of production-line sewing is, probably not! But, then again, does that matter?