The Pirate YARRty

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…

Spending Spree

For the past few months, I’ve been very disciplined about not buying any new fabric and working solely from my stash. I’ve been very good at reusing fabric leftover from old projects, but also in finally using up ones I just never got around to using after purchase. While this may seem rather angelic of me, it all hid a dark secret – I went on a veritable fabric buying orgy while in America on holiday. As much as I love Walthamstow Market, nothing in the UK compares to the price, quantity, and breadth of fabric available in America.

To give you an idea, here’s most of it laid out:

Vest of all

Simplicity 4951 is one of the first patterns I ever bought, and is by far the most frequently made out of all of the patterns I own. I made the jacket once (which is now happily worn by my mom), but it’s the camisole I come back to time and time again.

It’s a very simple design – a top piece with two joined triangles and a gathered underbust seam that you double (and since it’s lined if you’re small like me, there’s no need for a bra), a rectangular bottom front piece, and a taller rectangular back piece. Add some bias tape or ribbon straps, and you’ve got the perfect summer top in under an hour and under a meter.

Hot chocolate

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!).

The pirate jacket

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.

Vintage black satin evening gown

I made this in November 2005 with ten day’s notice. My boyfriend told me that his best friend’s birthday party was back on for the weekend. This wouldn’t cause too much alarm in most cases, but this was her 30th birthday and she was renting out a country house for an entire weekend with a black tie catered dinner on Saturday night.

Yes, I said “black tie” – that means I needed a posh evening gown in 10 days!! I don’t have posh money, but I did have a this pattern, Simplicity 5876, for a vintage evening gown that I fell in love with but had no occasion to make or wear