My biggest project of 2013 was a mini wardrobe for my cousin Mary. She's a grad student living out of state and I was asked to make her some new clothes while she was in town for the summer. It didn't seem like too large a task at first. Then I remember I have three kids and that makes it take ten times as long. Oh well. Mary and her parents are good and patient. Her parents told me she needed some new clothes for symposiums and other similar grad school activities. In Mary's words, "My mom and dad want you to make me some clothes they won't hate." I love my family. :)
Perhaps my favorite part of the whole project was my creative freedom. I was told Mary needed two blouses, two skirts, two dresses, and a blazer. The day I took her measurements I asked a couple of questions about favorite colors and prints to give me an idea of what she likes. Then I went to town. There are few things that can get me so giddy as fabric shopping with someone else's money.
First up is the button-up blouse. It's just a pretty basic top with pleated sleeves. I chose the pattern because of the options with cup sizes. There's no gapping between the buttons there. Yay! The fabric is and emerald green polyester with a nice, fluid hand. The pattern was pretty straight-forward.
Blouse number two is Butterick 5610. I wish I'd chosen a fabric that holds the pleat better, but it was certainly pretty. The purple has a black lace printed on it. This pattern is also very straight-forward. The only thing different from what one might expect is that the yoke and sleeves are cut in a single piece.
My favorite part of this project, hands down, was the skirts. I used a pattern I'd been hanging on to for a few months. I love the seam lines on Vogue 8750. It added a lot of visual interest. I knew both Mary and her parents would love it. The skirt are classic enough to please them and have an unexpected twist to make her happy. As interesting as the pattern looks, it really goes together quickly, easily, and logically. I really need to get around to making it for myself.
I love the fabric for the skirts as much as I love the pattern. When I spotted the royal blue moleskin fabric it practically leapt into the cart. The fun twist on this skirt was the facing. The pattern uses a grosgrain ribbon and I chose one with rainbow stripes. Her mom was unsure about it when she saw it in the bag of goodies but i assured her Mary would be the only one to see it.
|She probably would have appreciated it if I'd cropped out her toilet...maybe later|
As much as I loved the blue skirt, the houndstooth is my very favorite. Mary had said she liked that pattern. I'm a sucker for it myself. The moment she told me she liked it I knew the straight skirt needed to be made in houndstooth. As icing on the cake, I decided to put red piping in all the interesting seam lines to really make them stand out. If anyone could love that skirt as much as I do, it's Mary.
|How great does she look in that outfit?! Seriously, she's a knock-out.|
Mary's dresses were also a blast to make. I can't find the pattern I used for the black and teal dress (borrowed it from my mom) so there's no link for that one. The top is cut on the bias, though you wouldn't think so because of the print. It has a cowl neckline and gathering detail at the waist. The hardest part about working on this dress was adjusting the cowl so it wouldn't fall to her navel. We were going for "classy" with all these items and visible bra simply doesn't fit the bill.
|The dress is both lovely AND comfortable|
The second dress was also lots of fun. The pattern was pretty boring. I chose it because, like the green button-up shirt, it allows for a fuller cup size. The fabric was a real find. It was on the clearance table for $1.99/yard, plus an extra 50% off. Ninety-nine cents a yard? Yes, thank you. Because the dress pattern is so plain-jane I knew I could do something more daring with the fabric. It's a stable knit that's smooth on the inside and has a touch of texture on the outside. Kind of like moleskin but also very different. I thought this dress would pair really well with a bold-colored belt and shoes, so there's still room for embellishing. Probably the highest praise I got for the dress came from Mary's dad. He told me he usually thinks animal print is trashy but that it looks nice on Mary. It's always gratifying to pleasantly surprise a customer. Even better when it's family.
Oh, the blazer. The #&%@! blazer. Of all the pieces in the mini-wardrobe, this is the one for which I gave most responsibility to Mary. I am thoroughly convinced that a dressy jacket like this is one that you must love or you will not wear it. Ever. To make sure it was something Mary would like, I chose several patterns of different styles and had her select one from the narrowed-down list. Vogue 8845 is what she chose.
I was excited to try out the pattern because its construction is so out of the ordinary. The sleeves are a raglan style attached to the back yoke, the lapel is wide and dropped, and all the shaping in the front is formed by the pleating. Click on the pattern link to view the line art and you'll see what I mean.
My excitement for the jacket was short-lived. Out-of-the-ordinary style details require...creative work in altering the pattern to fit the person. Mary has several fitting issues, particularly in the shoulders, forcing me to be brilliant. Brilliance takes time. Lots and lots of time. As you can see from the picture, I did finally achieve brilliance and was successful in making it fit. It may sound like I'm simply bragging about the jacket but that sucker was a beast! I always keep patterns after I use them as a just-in-case-I-ever-want-to-use-it-again. The joy I felt at tossing this pattern in the garbage was palpable.
|Hated the pattern, but it looks good on|
As a bit of info about the jacket fabric, I chose a washable polyester so it could be tossed in the wash. The button on the front is attached with snaps because it can be neither washed nor dry cleaned. I just snipped off the shank and attached the snaps on back with epoxy glue. Because everything took so much longer than anticipated I had to ship several of Mary's items to her apartment at school after she went back. It was less than a week of wait time (I think) so not as bad as it could have been. Doing work for people gives me a great deal of satisfaction, I just need to remember that trying to do sewing work with kids in the house is a challenge. All in all I'm pleased with how the mini wardrobe turned out. Mary rocks everything she wears.