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…
SCENE: Last Sunday night on the boat…
James: So for Simon’s stag night on Saturday we’re going to dress him up like Dick Whittington. I thought he could wear my pirate coat and we’ll get him a tricorn hat and he can carry Bagpuss as his cat…
Me: If anything happens to that coat, I will murder you. I would sooner make a whole new coat than see anything happen to it after I slaved for two years making it.
James: Oh really? You’d make another coat? Would you?
And so begins the tale of how I made a pirate coat in less than a week.
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.
I fell in love with the yellow cocktail dress in the 11/07 Burda WOF magazine, with its wide, square neckline and fabulous 90 degree front darts, and it just so happened that I had just the right amount of butter-yellow duchess satin leftover from James’s pirate coat lining to sew this up. Since the satin was so thick I opted to omit the lining and just go for facings instead, which made this an even quicker project.
Together with my matching fascinator and steel grey satin gloves from the V&A gift shop, I rather overfulfilled the “glam attire” required for my neighbour’s lighting up party on Friday night.
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!
At the end of last winter, my beloved handbag was looking decrepit and sad, and I forced myself to throw it away (but not before taking a memorial photo). The exterior was brown suedette, with the last remnants of James’s dogs playing poker fabric as the lining.
I used that bag to its death, but I knew that come colder weather, I’d set out again to make my 5th (I think?) Hotpatterns Nairobi bag. This pattern was given away as a free pdf when they first launched the site, but as far as I know, it’s not available anywhere any more.