My boyfriend and I are currently saving up for the mortgage deposit to buy a boat (a huge barge, not a tiny narrow canal boat) to live on starting this winter. We don’t want your average housewarmi- sorry, boatwarming party, so we’ve already decided it’s going to be a full pirate fancy dress theme. And if you’re throwing a fancy dress party, you’ve got to be the best dressed ones there!
For him, I bought Simplicity 4923 and have very slowly started to make the jacket portion out of a gorgeously thick, black silk velvet I scored at Walthamstow Market for £3/mt (by rights, it should’ve been at least £20/mt). He picked out some very nice hemispherical antique brass buttons from MacCulloch & Wallis plus some dark gold braid for the accents.
Wow. After nearly two years, I finally finished my boyfriend’s black velvet pirate jacket. Lined with gold satin, with functional pockets, functional buttonholes, brass buttons, tons of interior pockets for his gadgets, and hidden pocket inside the cuff for his Oyster card. There was so much handstitching on this and velvet is such an jerk of a fabric that I seriously wasn’t sure I’d ever finish it. I had problems at pretty much every step of the way, the majority of which stemmed from the fact that you can’t iron velvet. At all. Made in a different fabric, with non-functioning costume parts as indicated on the pattern, this would be a fairly straightforward project.
But since he wanted silk velvet and satin and for everything to function, plus have pockets absolutely everywhere, combined with a hem a mile long, this turned into a complete nightmare of a jacket. The handstitching alone took more manhours than I actually want to think about without bursting into tears. I did manage to make one big mistake near the end, even though I was so careful to NOT do it in my planning. It would’ve been impossible to fix without a complete deconstruction (and stitching lines remain in velvet forever), so I just left it as is. See if you can tell what it is from the photos, and I’ll reveal all below…
So following on from my high class, designer escapades last week, I’ve now got something a little more, err, salt of the earth to show you. I’ve taken to calling this the “Appalachian Wedding Shirt” (and being from Perry County, PA, I’m allowed to say that!), but it’s also a gift of a gift, and I love when I can do that.
The (officially licensed!) John Deere quilting cotton was a gift from my friend Sharon, who bought it at her local Amish fabric store and presented it as a gag gift in my stack of fabrics that made up our wedding gift. John Deere is a completely unknown brand amongst my circle of friends in central London, but we knew our friend Simon would love this, and he travels all around the world on business so we knew it’d get seen a lot, too.
I paired this with Simplicity 5273 (now Out Of Print), which I’ve made many, many times for James in various guises and it’s my go-to pattern for a quick and easy button-down casual shirt for him.
You may remember Simon from the quickest pirate coat ever (and yes, he still wears it!). But this shirt has been a mental project for almost a year now, since Simon was overheard at our wedding complaining to other friends how “it’s not fair that James just picks out any fabric he wants and Melissa makes it into a shirt for him!”. ha! So we thought this would be perfect for him…
James’s first reaction when he saw the finished shirt was “It’s horrible! Simon will love it!”.
(Apologies for the mobile phone photos!)
I’m very excited because this is the first opportunity I’ve had to crosspost anything between this sewing site, and our site for our boat, Hendrik!
We’ve got a total of six skylights on Hendrik – four flat metal ones in the front of the boat where we live, and two peaked, wooden framed ones in the back captains cabin which we rent out to our lovely lodgers. We’ve largely been able to keep our front skylights from leaking too badly, but the age and design of the ones in the back meant that they really needed some covers both to limit the drips and to protect the woodwork and the original 1930s patterned glass.
(this is the larger, saloon skylight)
So a few months ago I got some swatches from Pennine Outdoor to have a look at their tent fabrics, and decided that the “UV Treated Window Material” (P49) and “PVC Coated Polyester” (P9) would work best. Importantly, since I had the swatches I also tested to make sure I could sew through these on my regular domestic machine! I bought two metres of the green and one metre of the clear, which came to £23 including shipping (and this gave me plenty enough for these two skylights, and probably enough for at least one of our flat skylights).
It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt for ages now, but it’s mostly because I’ve just been so busy with life (running, socialising, wedding planning, the boat, and my garden, mostly) right now that I’ve been sewing in tiny increments here and there! But it’s finally complete, and I even managed to sew up the bias cowl top from Patrones 292 (#19) to wear with it!
Even though these go so well together, I’ve actually got no shortage of other things in my wardrobe to wear with either, so there’s no “orphan coordinates” here! And I managed to sneak some mustard and navy into my wardrobe a bit earlier than I’d planned, too!
Continuing on with my need to fill my wardrobe’s trouser-shaped void, I decided this time around to try (gasp!) a different trouser pattern! But since I still wasn’t sure how well BWOF 05/2006 #112 would fit me, I opted to sew it up in the leftover black cotton drill from Simon’s pirate coat so that nothing would be lost if the fit was awful.
Frankly, I should’ve trusted Burda more – the fit is even better on these than on my casual TNT (“tried and true”) pattern I’ve been making for ages. These trousers have a seam running down the front leg that goes right into the pockets at the waist, and I think this extra seam really helps to shape them more closely to my legs.
I couldn’t wait for the photoshoot to wear these, though – so forgive the wrinkles! By this point they’d already been out for a friend’s birthday cocktails followed by langostines (yum!) in Soho, plus a full day at work. So just trust me when I say that there are no fit wrinkles when they’re fresh…
While I’m pretty much in love with every dress from the November Burda WOF cocktail collection, I found myself flipping back to the yellow dress, #105 more than the rest. It’s only 4 pattern pieces, but that 90 degree dart at the waist is just too cool, and I’m very much into sheath dresses this year. I still had some gold duchess satin leftover from the pirate jacket lining, so I lined up the pieces and was able to fit the dress out of the fabric with hardly any scraps to spare (I just love it when that happens!).
I’m still waiting on the invisible zipper I ordered online to be delivered, but as I was waiting I thought I’d try my hand at making a fascinator to match the dress!
I’ve avoided all talk of SWAP (Sewing With a Plan, roughly – sewing a bunch of garments in terms of a wardrobe instead of separate pieces here and there) even though everyone else around me was doing them. For the most part, it was because I bought fabric for specific projects and I created these as the feeling took me.
However, since I’ve lost weight, my wearable wardrobe has decreased considerably and I came to the realisation last week that I don’t own any trousers that aren’t jeans, period. I’m also doing more presentations at work that require me to dress a bit more nicely, so after 5 years of wearing teeshirts and jeans to work, I have a large hole in my wardrobe in that regard, too.
Going to America last month and the subsequent fabric and pattern buying orgy left me with the supplies for a wide variety of garments. So naturally my mind turned to the best ways I could see to use both patterns and fabrics to fill these holes in my wardrobe.
I’ve devised the following plan, though I realise it will more than likely take me the entire fall and winter to accomplish it.
Remember that velvet pirate jacket I was working on, ooh, two years ago? Well, as much as I hate that thing and all of the fabric choices associated with it, I have been slogging through and doing a few things to it here and there over the past few months.
I’ve been doing so many long and involved projects for other people recently, that I’ve realised that I haven’t done anything for myself in a while. My sewing schedule is pretty much booked solid through to Christmas now, so I wouldn’t be able to make anything for me until at least January! So this Sunday, when I finished my housemate’s Gez’s party dress early (more on this later this week, I promise!), and got to a good stopping spot on my boyfriend’s pirate jacket, I suddenly found myself with a free evening. Starting at 5pm with an unopened pattern, I had the following shirt finished by 9pm (in amongst making dinner, too!).