Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hits and misses

I'm working on my latest dress (yes, yes, there has been progress) and, as usual, have needed to try it on periodically.  This one has a side zipper.  I haven't done a lapped zipper in any location, let alone a side-seam zipper, since before the turn of the century.  It went in OK and all that, but the combination of a side zipper, not extending right into the armhole but just below it, and a close-fitting skirt means that this dress is not easy to get into.  Which worries me about whether I will like to wear it.  Which in turn leads me to ponder what exactly it is that makes a sewing project a real hit.

If we can identify the magic criteria, I could perhaps ensure that I'd have more hits and fewer misses. 

Not that I have an indecent number of misses.  But there are definitely items that I turn to again and again, and those that stay hanging in the closet.  Have a look at these jacket projects, which all date back to 2007.      

First some hits:

Jacket is #108 from Burda WOF, August
2006.  Top is OOP Vogue 2683
I love this jacket.  I wear it constantly in the winter, along with the simple bias-cut matching top.  In fact I've made the top (Vogue 2683) so many times I lost count.  I wear the pair with a long pale grey skirt or with plain brown wide-legged pants.

What I love:  The fabric - the leaves are woven into the fabric - purchased at Tissus Tuéni in Montreal.  The colours - mix of warm brown and beige, and cool greys.  The fit.  The piping.  The collar.  I like being able to throw on the jacket and top for an instant ensemble.  I like being able to take the jacket off if I overheat.

Vogue 1472 - Paris Original (ca 1959) 
Next, what about this jacket, made from a vintage Vogue Paris Original Christian Dior pattern, found (uncut and including the Vogue label with the Eiffel Tower) at the Fabric Flea Market one year?  I made a skirt to mimic the one in the pattern but with some room so I could actually walk, climb stairs etc.

What I love:  The fabric - lush wool with a woven-in design, purchased at the Wool House in Toronto.  The somewhat boxy but still refined fit.  I appreciated the couture details, like the fact that the collar is cut so that the corners are perfectly square and on-grain (CB seam is off grain as a result), and that a perfect amount was already included for turn-of-cloth.  The buttons are vintage glass, purchased from a local collector.  I did a good job on this jacket, pad stitching and all.  Bound buttonholes, even on the non-working sleeve vents.  (More photos here.)

This is a very feminine suit, but still (am I deluding myself?) powerful.  I wear it often with a little shell.  A jacket and sleeveless top combo is very practical in my office.

Unfortunately, doing a great job sewing-wise isn't the ticket to a hit for my closet.

Vogue 7908 (Claire Shaeffer pattern)
This jacket fits, it's well-made (more pictures here), and it combines orange and teal in a tiny woven-in pattern. I love the colours and lined the body with orange silk.  However from a distance the colour is less interesting, and the jacket fabric is a little stiff.  I think it is a wool blended with some synthetic.  The stiffness carries into the very structured collar (I think I used a fusible hair canvas) which fits very close to my neck at the sides.  This isn't completely uncomfortable but detracts somewhat from the feel of the jacket on.

There is an unsuccessful matching skirt, which is seamed in a way that makes it impossible to turn into something else, unfortunately.  So the jacket is a bit of an orphan.  That's a problem.  I like it, in theory.  However it doesn't get worn very much.

Do these garments reveal anything to you about my style and preferences?  Want to see more ancient (pre-blog) projects from The Sewing Lawyer's closet?


  1. I have learned that orphans in my closet don't get worn or since I make separates more than anything, is that the garment that gets more wear, ie mostly pants, I like to have at least 3 tops that go with it. You have much more formal needs than I do but while you make separate pieces your wardrobe says that you like matching pieces not mix and match pieces. You treat separates like a dress,in other words, take 3 pieces out of the closet and wear them together.

  2. It's hard to tell in the pictures (every computer is different), but the jacket (orphan one) looks a little on the grey or blue side, and wondering if that's why it's not worn that much..you look like your skin is more ruddy and warm colors would be better.....but I may be off, cause like I say, every computer does colors differently. Wish there was a place we could all point to - a color chart - that was the same on every computer. But alas, I wish I could eat ice cream every day too!

  3. I love this post and tour through a couple of your faves. The vintage suit is wonderful and powerful.

  4. Wow, you have sewn some very beautiful and chic outfits. The hits are hitting high!

  5. I like the pre-blog photos. You sew amazingly and I love seeing your finely tailored work.

  6. Very interesting! I think you should continue; you might stumble onto the secret that makes a garment successful! Or, at least, you might discover the 'certain-to-fail' traits!

  7. Yes please, would love to see some more. I wear a similar wardrobe and love seeing the jackets. I remember those above and love them all.

  8. I'd love to see some more of your pre-blog items :) I adore your work - you sew beautifully.

  9. I would love to see more! Fascinating to see what works for you and what doesn't. Is it the warmer grays and shorter lengths that you prefer? I The top two jackets also seem a bit more feminine.

  10. Ms Kay, I would love to see more of your creations.
    All the jackets here are gorgeous, the first is my favourite.
    I tried to find the Claire Shaeffer pattern after seeing it in one of her books, I think it may be discontinued now. Do you plan on making it again in another fabric?
    Thanks for the show and tell and 'Hi' from Vancouver Island ;)

  11. Yes, please, more, more! I aspire to making a jacket with padstitching some day, and when that day comes I will return to your photos I'm sure. Until then, please do share more!

  12. Yes! to more "antique" photos. Themes: I hear a call for quality in every dimension; they all have it, for certain. Problems: a need for some wearing comfort; the long jacket lacks a little In this regard. Next, perhaps you have a liking for details that make a statement on their own, without embellishment? In contrast, to me the long jacket asks to be a canvas for a glorious accessory, such as an art brooch. It looks fab with the orange silk top! Buttoned, a little more stark. Lastly, I wonder if the long one suffers from one of those subtle suit style changes that always defeat me? DH and I are always mystified by this issue in menswear, as well.

  13. I can't get enough of your sewing! I long to have the patience to do as good a job as you do. I'm always in a hurry to be finished rather than basking in the glow of the creativity. Yes, please, more of it all from you!

    As I've said before, you wear it all well. Such a figure you have!


  14. This is a fun game! I think part of the reason the last jacket doesn't get worn much is the length. Jackets have been shorter for many seasons now and hip length can feel a bit dated. I think that's part of what is subconsciously throwing you off. I like the lines of it and the fit is great. Maybe swap out the brown buttons for blue? Keep it in the closet, longer jackets will come back eventually!