I began this project in April, a week after I debuted my me-made dress at my friend’s wedding. It was intended to be a fashion forward type of project but a simple and versatile one. You see, most of my previous projects were occasion-oriented. I made it for a specific occasion but wore it only once. After it made it’s debut, it sat in my closet, never to be worn again and only gazed upon. Fond memories were attached to it but I wanted my me-made garments to have longer lives. It was a shame for them to be unworn because the construction and fabric were always killer and on point. Because of this, I changed my focus for this project. I wanted to wear it more than once, with many things, to many occasions, and dress-up and dressed-down.
The inspiration for this project was varied and scattered. Collaging sketches I had drawn and compiling pages I had torn from magazines, I noticed that a lot of my inspiration was from nighttime and pajama dressing with a 1950s vibe. When I began this project, I worked in technical design for sweaters, knits, and intimates (I’m now a blogger for the company) and many of the garments I handled could be worn during the day despite the fact that it was considered lounge, nighttime, or evening wear. And why not? The fabrics were mostly made with buttery fabrics that were tactile orgasms of the hand. They should be worn during the day not not reserved for nighttime only. Shortly after collaging, I read this article about a fashion trend on the horizon – matching tops and bottoms. It was a new look to my eye and it was a refreshing one. Also, we’ve been on a kick about polished dresses and skirt suits a la Mad Men for many seasons and I think thought this was a nice evolution of that trend. All of these influences – nighttime dressing, 50s aesthetic, matching tops and bottoms, and Mad Men – came together to create this project.
Simple? This project was not that. I was a very bad seamstress and researched the fabric after I had purchased it. As stated two paragraphs above, the silhouette of each piece is simple because one, I wanted the garment to be versatile and two, because I wanted the garment to be all about the fabric. I had tweed in mind when I began this project but when I saw 4 yards of vintage yellow tweed fabric on Etsy, I pressed ‘add to cart’ and ‘checkout’ without a thought in between. When the research portion of the project came around, I quickly learned that tweed needs lots and lots of TLC. According to many blogs and books, including Claire Schaeffer’s, tweed needs to be reinforced with interfacing, quilting, and other kinds of reinforcement becuase it is woven loosely and therefore, will sag and fall out of shape over time if this step is skipped. I really didn’t want to put in this extra work – my last project was rather intense – but I wasn’t going to make a poor quality garment. That just ain’t me.
So I did it all and I did it all to the tee. Perfectly too. I interfaced, I hand quilted, and then I machine quilted. I pressed at every step and I used silk organza, not muslin, as a press cloth. I was on such a high with the way the project was turning out that I added some fun and glamorous details. The back neck and sides of shorts have slit opening that have this sparkly ribbon as closures. I also beaded the front neck. Yeh, that’s right, I beaded. Every single bead.
The project may not have been simple, and that’s okay because I overcame it, but the project was certainly versatile. While in Florida, I wore the blouse with a pair of hot pink capri pants and kitten heels and I wore the shorts to dinner with a chambray top and again, with kitten heels.
A success? I think so! Onto my next project I go…