Thursday, October 29, 2015

And what do I do with this fabric??? I know, make a pantsuit!

One of the things I really enjoy about my ASG neighborhood group is the camaraderie and the fact that we both challenge and support each other!

For the annual Chicago Chapter fashion show y group decided to do a group challenge using a Spoonflower designer fabric. The print chosen was Entangled by Heather of Hang Tight Studio. 

My first process in this project was to order several auric samples from Spoonflower. If you have not used Spoonflower I encourage you to check it out! There are thousands of designs and you can even upload your own design. This print on demand service allows you to order as little, I believe a fat quarter, up to as much as you would like. There are quite a few fabric types, 19 in total,  that you can have your chosen design printed on. I choose to have samples printed on 3 fabric types; organic Cotton Sateen, Linen-Cotton canvas and organic Cotton Knit. The samples come in a large 8x8 swatch. Large enough to launder and really get a look and feel of the print/fabric combos. 

The challenge we set dictated that 60-70% of the outfit had to use the Entangled print. The print comes in 6 colors, grey, navy, dawn, green, light pink and blue. I choose the grey.
I had several ideas floating in my head... A wrap dress from the jersey, a tench coat from the canvas or a pantsuit from the cotton sateen. Obviously the pantsuit won out! It just fit more into what I had been sewing this spring and fall. Gave me an excuse to use my new jacket pattern, my perfected pants pattern and to play with changing up the designs on both of those. I also felt the cotton knit would not work for a dress and that the canvas was too stiff, would have needed too much prep of wash and dries to get it broken in enough.

Once I got the fabric, 5 yards in total, I decided that it would need to be underlined with an imperial batiste. This would help keep it from wrinkling too much as well as give it just a touch more beefiness. After consulting with Sarah Veblen the decision was also made to add some color to it. I really did not like the thought of head to toe print fabric. Besides, I LOVE color! So I added teal color to break up all that grey. Let me tell you I pondered and thought and daydreamed and pondered some more on how to make this happen and happen successfully. This was a long term project! I ordered my swatches in mid-June and finished my sewing in late September! 

There was a lot of work! The pants and jacket were both fully underlined. Meaning I had to cut double the number of pieces and then hand baste all those buggered pieces together. I did the pants first, they were easier of the pieces. No paint, only underlining and then hand sewing several swarski crystals to the open vent. The vent gave me a slight bit of trouble and was a bit fiddly because of the double layer of fabric. I did my test run in muslin and it came out perfect. In retrospect I should have eliminated the underlining in that area. Lesson learned for next time! 

Next up was the jacket, with the pants out of the way, I at least felt like I had something accomplished! For the jacket I cut out the fashion fabric and then added the paint. I used a silky shimmer acrylic paint for fabric and with a very small brush I very carefully filled in the white ovals. I wanted a graduated look so I carefully marked all the pieces so that the top quarter has all the ovals filled in and then the second quarter has them going from fully filled to nothing. As you can imagine just lining up all the pieces took some time. I had to paint on 13 separate pieces of fabric and very, very carefully! I had NO fabric leftover to spare if I mucked it up!! The painting was done while I was on a trip to my parents for 10 days. 
After the paining I hand basted all the imperial batiste underlining to all 13 pieces... Good thing I don't mind hand work! With that complete I decided to construct my 3 piece sleeves first. Since my sleeve pattern is adjusted to fit me exactly I could complete the sleeves and totally finish the hem and working 3 button vents while they were flat. As you can see in the picture below I used a teal China silk for a Hong Kong finish.
To keep a sleek look I decided to use covered buttons. This was my first time ever using covered buttons. I bought a kit at my local shop and sort of followed the directions. To make them feel more substantial and avoid shine through I first glued a piece of batting to each button. I also put a bit of glue inside each piece before attaching the backing. They came out lovely!!! I even made a couple extra for my button stash in case I ever lose one from my garment.

With that done the rest, well almost the rest was easy peasy! 
The main construction and the hong Kong binding all went together nicely, of course I took my time, no rushing on this kind of project! 
The hardest part was the collar. I drafted 2 different collar shapes for this jacket. Both are shawl collars. The one I didn't use had points to the side versus this more traditional style. 
This one just looked problem was that I was really stuck on which fabric to use and what kind of treatment. I really, really wanted a textured collar. So I took a couple hours and played with 2 different fabrics and several texture techniques. In the end I opted to use the teal tissue taffeta and I sewed multiple lines of stitching in a longer stitch and shirred it. While pulling up the threads I also used this to help shape the collar. The back is more loosely gathered and the points near the jacket are more tightly gathered. Once I had this done I sewed it to the muslin piece and trimmed it to the correct size. Then I applied some of the shimmer paint along the shirring. I think this treatment turns out lovely and the silk collar feels cool against the back of my neck. 
The tissue taffeta is a fun fabric and the iridescent properties of it really change depending on the lighting.

The hem and the inside facings were all done by hand... More handwork. I think it just looks better that way! I also added a handy inside pocket for tissues or a piece of candy. I like to add my inside pockets near the lower edge so that if I have anything in it it does no look lumpy on my chest.
Can you see the pocket? It blends right in!

It was really a lot of fun to model this outfit on the runway!
I did also make a tank to wear underneath. That fabric was a polyester silky and after sewing with the silks and lovely organic cotton sateen it just felt not quite as nice. 

Here is a shot of my sewing friends with their creations as well. Photo courtesy of Wendy Grossman.
I would have preferred different shoes but had a real hard time finding grey in the right tone to match... I'll have to keep my eye out for a pair of teal flats! 

This project was one heck of a labor of love! Luckily I think the print is close enough to a stripe that I can wear it for work, spice things up a bit!

I'd like to say that after this project I moved onto something a bit easier.... But no, not me! I needed a fancy dress for 2 weddings and so I aLao entered that into the fashion show. I figured if I really had a committed deadline that I would make sure to get it done :)

Stay tuned for next post of my pink wool dress and jacket.

Happy sewing!
And of course, a picture of my beautiful grand baby!


  1. Fabulous work, Steph. I love what you do with color and your attention to detail is impeccable. Your work is such an inspiration to me.

    1. Thanks Wendy!! It's great to have such a supportive group of sewing friends :)


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