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29 April 2016

What a flattering pencil skirt, Vogue 1656 by Donna Karan

After the heartache of a shattered pleather that marinated too long in my stash, I immediately took mental inventory of what other fragile fabrics in my stash might be deteriorating as we speak. One of the first fabrics to pop into my mind at that moment was this lovely pleather with a flower print.

Nothing like panic to focus the mind, eh? This fabric has only been sitting in my stash for 3 years but I don't want to blink and find myself 10 years later with another crumbling fabric in my hands... So I immediately picked a pattern and got to work and this is what came out:

My awkward pose notwithstanding, this is a very flattering skirt. The skirt pattern is from 1995 and from the pattern envelope you don't even notice the skirt. But it is by Donna Karan so we know we must look at the tech drawing. Indeed, then you see that the skirt has princess seams and a yoke, all working to produce that trademark flattering fit that Karan is well known for.

Unfortunately, this pattern comes in single sizes only! Was that the norm back in the 90's? I know that some people complain about too many lines on a pattern sheet, but my waist and hips don't share the same size so I really appreciate, no, need multiple sizes. My pattern for this skirt is size 14 only, so I had to add 0.5cm to each seam (princess seams as well as side seams) to bring the hips to my size. Easy enough to do, but I'm just saying, I like having multiple sizes right there on each pattern piece...

I do not dare to iron pleather, especially this one that is so thin. Instead, I used a gadget I bought recently to flatten real leather seams. The cylinder is really heavy and it worked very well on this pleather. I used it as if it was an iron, flattening each seam after it was sewn: first flat, then to one side and finally flattening the topstitching to "blend" the stitches with the fabric. And presto! all seams lay very nicely flat.

The skirt has a very tapered shape, but there are two kick pleats at back, one on each princess seam. They provide plenty of room for walking, so the skirt is very comfortable.

Here is a 360° view of the skirt. That weird pose in the middle photo is me trying to show you the skirt yoke... sigh! I didn't do a review at Pattern Review because there isn't much to say about this skirt, it's a classic design and it went together with no special efforts required.

I'm quite pleased with this skirt and I am especially pleased that I "saved" this fabric from withering to dust in my stash!

Now, before I go I want to show you something: my prize patterns from Eva Dress have arrived!

Actually, they got here some 3 weeks ago, but I've been traveling quite heavily for work, coming home just long enough to do a load of laundry and pack again. So only now I had time to take them out of the envelope. I think I know which one I want to make first...

Thanks again Eva Dress for this very generous prize!

09 April 2016

Burda 11-2013-117 and shattered dreams of Rick Owens

My entry at this year's Bargainista Fashionista contest at Pattern Review is a copy of an Alexander McQueen dress which I love and I've already worn twice. But this dress was not what I had first planned to make for the contest. Originally, I was planning to make a copy of a Rick Owens moto jacket that mixes leather (pleather?) with knits, both thin and chunky. Isn't it awesome?

Trying to figure out how to copy it, I searched everywhere for a photo with a front view (or any other view!) of this particular jacket, but alas, I came empty handed. I did find quite a few other Rick Owens jackets like the ones below. They all have the same large and wide open collar, and the tied half belt. The half belt in particular gives a very flattering shape because it essentially becomes two long triangles placed sideways emphasizing the waist.

It is possible that the jacket I wanted to copy has the body front and back made in the thick knit and only the sleeves in pleather (+ thin knit undersleeve). I cannot really tell from the photo that I have, but it doesn't matter. In my mind's eye my copy was always going to have only the fronts in the handknit. Oh, and yes, Rick Owens works only with black and greys, but I cannot live without color, so a royal-blue/deep purple is the most I was willing to compromise.

So here is my version. Turned out OK, right? If only... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

For my copy I used Burda 11-2013-117, an asymmetric short moto-jacket with peplum.

For the handknitted fronts I had the perfect yarn in my stash. A long time ago I made a simple bolero knitted jacket with it, but it turned out too boxy and I never finished it. Plus I also didn't like the unpolished texture that resulted from the uneven thickness of the yarn. Too "imperfect" I thought. But Rick Owens' pieces always have a punkish, rough coolness to them, and so this "imperfect" yarn would be perfect for this copy.

Since the fronts would be hand knit, I didn't want to use all four pattern pieces and have seams in the knitting. So, I combined them into a single pattern and knitted that shape, making sure to use increases-decreases and shortrows as needed to shape the fronts. Hence the "bubble" you can see where the bust goes. On Ravelry I kept notes of how exactly I knit the fronts, although they are probably not useful to anyone unless they have this precise yarn and jacket size.

For the rest of the jacket (the back, the sleeves and the half belts) I used a thin pleather in a lovely matching blue. I thought I was so lucky to find this matching pleather in my stash. "Good thing that I had saved it for the past 15 years", I thought. Yeah... and now you begin to realize where the problem comes in, don't you?

Indeed! Fake leather doesn't "keep" well. The plastic had completely dried up in those 15 years and the fabric just began to crumble every time I handled it. Ugh, the heartache! My lowest point came when I tried to convince myself that the shattered fabric added to the "punk vibe" I was going for. Sure...

So why did I finish it, since it is clearly not wearable like this? Well... On the practical side I did want to check how it would look, both the fit but also the combination of textures, and that tied closure. Now I know that I really do like it and so it will be worth trying to find a replacement fabric. On an emotional level though, I think that finishing the jacket was also my way of grieving for this fabric. And coming to terms with my fabric addiction. Sigh...

Does this kind of thing ever happen to any of you out there with large stashes? What other "surprises" can I expect after 20 years of collecting fabrics? Ah, well... I love my stash so we take the good with the bad, don't we?

I leave you with a view of all sides of the jacket, so you can see the nice shape of this pattern. And here is my review of Burda 11-2013-117 at Pattern Review.