2-piece ‘Jumpsuit’ (Halter Top & Style Arc Antoinette Trousers)

The hissy two-part shimmering black snake finally hatched. I tried really hard to get her to this year’s Jungle January Party, but Brain Freeze said No. It didn’t help that I picked two styles of garment that I haven’t tried before. And even she’s made with my Mom’s Kabuki sized top & skirt, there still wasn’t enough fabric for things to go according to plan. So neither part came out as I had hoped. But as they’re memories of Mom, I’ve styled them as best as I could & hope to wear them loads when the weather’s warmer.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

BEFORE

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AFTER

WORN WITH: 3 Burda 2012-05-109 lace applique top; 4 Miss Selfridge jeans; 5 McCall 6078 cowl neck top; 6 Refashioned RTW leopard skirt; 7 Refashioned Mom’s RTW tibra-ziger skirt & sash

 

The Design & Pattern

The design started with the drape of the fabric. I thought this slinky knit would be perfect for the side bow tie halter top design that has been stuck in my head like forever. I think I first saw something like this on TV, then on the high street. But now I can’t seem to find a perfect specimen to show you. The closest are these:

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I was originally planning on using a floral silk Mom gave me, but I was worried that its floatiness would make the front neck gathering (& its inhabitant) too puffy. I felt safer testing the design with this limpy knit. So that’s Mom’s Kabuki top taken care of.

As for the Kabuki skirt, turning it into another shape of skirt would be too easy. And too prim & proper for me. I needed edge. Another vague idea floated up from my primordial soup of mental clippings: matching trousers for a ‘jumpsuit’ look. Ding ding! I get to try a look that I otherwise wouldn’t go near. While I admire jumpsuits on other women, I can’t square with having to strip to go to the loo. This way I get the look without the loo hassle. Plus I multiply my wearing options. Win-win!

Top:

This was draped on Q. I actually sorted the trousers pattern first. And after struggling to fit the ready-made pattern into what I thought would be enough fabrics, I was in no mood for more of the same. Only the front neckline was gathered. The back I kept sleek & went for a slight A-line at the side seams. The neckband I ended up keeping simple & made the bow tie a separate sash for extra wearing options. But now it doesn’t work so well as a bow tie for the top. Win some lose some. The tie this time was made from only one sleeve. The other sleeve was sacrificed to the trouser pockets.

Trousers:

Style Arc Antoinette Pants

 

…Chosen because it had a bit of slouch & a bit of sleek, so hopefully would fit on the unpicked skirt panels. This is the first time I tried a Style Arc. Love what bloggers like the Clothing Engineer achieved with their patterns, but was put off by the high cost & single size paper pattern format. What if I pick the wrong size? Luckily the Style Arc Etsy shop sells cheaper PDF version of the pattern in multiple sizes. While the multiple sizes are not nested – you’ll have to print out each size separately – at least you won’t have to pay & wait for another size if your first choice isn’t quite right.

I did have to tweak the fit of the trousers, but as I made mine with a knit instead of a woven, it seems pointless to list the changes in details. I may need to tweak the changes again if I make this in a woven or even a different knit. Suffice it to say I needed crouch reshaping, waistline reshaping, and shifting inseam & side-seam slightly towards the centre to get rid of major wrinkling under my bum. I also had to adapt my pencil skirt block to make a replacement waist facing that fits my body shape better. Unfortunately I forgot about the ease in the skirt block, so the trousers hang lower than I wanted.

BTW I moved the zip to the side seam because I just can’t get my head around CB zip on trousers even though I have no problem with CB zip on skirts. But it’s partly about convenience for sure. It’s easier to see what I’m doing with side zips & hooks. And as I grow stiffer with age easier to reach too. For zips that get zipped & unzipped more frequently (think loo again!), these little practical details matter!

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • There were a lot of making it up as I go along. Like figuring out what need to be interfaced or stablised. I think I might have overdone it with the stablisation of the armholes and crotch. The top end up being shorter than when draped originally. The trousers would have been a bit tight in the crotch if the trousers hangs an inch above my belly button as intended, but luckily (?) it hangs lower thanks to built in waist ease.
  • Unfortunately even with the trousers hanging lower than intended the length still wasn’t long enough (due to lack of fabric). I had to add length at the hems with scraps, which unfortunately were on a different grainline. Hopefully it’s not too noticeable, or if it is doesn’t look too odd.
  • All hems were faced with the skirt lining Georgette because (A) I didn’t have enough of the slinky knit, and (B) the glittery bits of the slinky knit is rather scratchy. Most were bias tapes to conserve fabric.
  • Style Arc Antoinette Trousers instruction: This was clear enough for an intermediate sewer like me. It’s a bit on the short side (like Burda), but has diagrams for the tricky bits – like the front pleats (not sure if these were added after JamieDFC’s review on Denver Sew). What still is a bit of a problem is front facing peaking out due to the weight & bulk of the pleats. So like PoldaPop I also tacked my front facing discretely in the pocket / pleat area. That’s something so easy to forget when designing or picking a design – the force of gravity. I’m sure this is not the first time garments go unintentionally lopsided because someone forgot that extra bits of fabric or embellishment also add weight to one side which needs to be balanced somewhere else if the garment is to hang as intended.
  • Sash: I didn’t have enough of the slinky knit to do double layer sash as I normally do. So one side is the skirt lining Georgette. I was worried the slinky knit will grow more than the woven Georgette cut on grain, so it was stablised with ProTRICOT fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply – chosen because of its claim that it won’t interfere with the drape. The result is softer than the other interfaced bits, but for this super limpy slinky knit the drape does stiffen a little. Still works for this sash though.

The Verdict

Because the top is shorter and the trousers hangs lower than expected, I’m a bit on the fence with this refashioning project. I mean they’re still wearable, but the slight disappointments killed any desire to jump up & down in this psuedo jumpsuit. And does it counts as refashioning when none of the original design feature or sewing were reused?

Regardless, it’s still a piece of Mom with me. But I think I need to move on & get back on track with my SWAP, or at least sew with my own fabrics. It’s quite depressing too to be constantly reminded of Mom, or her absence rather. I’m still not getting the hang of grieving yet…

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Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 3 designs

So while we have the green jersey leftover out, on the off chance that there’s more leftover after the green fake suede jacket, we have more designs that make use of it. I’m really going for it now – Stash busting that is. Three of the fabrics in this batch have been in the Stash since before I even moved to London. They must be over 20 years old now!

batch 3 designs
batch 3 inspirations

So step up candidate heather blue sweater / rib jersey, dark teal jersey, and whatever’s left of the apple green jersey. I think all three were from NY Elegant.

I’ve always wanted the rib one to be a cardigan. But I’m not sure if I could make it work. Normally cardigans have two sizes of knit – bigger ribs for the hem, cuffs, and maybe collar / front button band; and finer knit for the bodice & sleeves. It’s neigh on impossible to find such made-in-heaven pairs from fabric stores. (I’ve tried recently with plans for brown and black cardigans. So many different browns. So many shades of blacks!) I’m not sure yet how I’m going to solve this one. I might just cut the hem & cuffs smaller and ease in the bodice & sleeves. Or I might try this fake ribbing technique from an old Threads article which The Sewing Diva demonstrated here.

In any case, the inspiration is Vivienne Westwood (again!). Her orb logo cardigan and cardi-short (???) I’m obviously turning the cardi-short into a cardi-skirt. I highly doubt I’ll get much wear out of a cardi-short. The skirt I’m planning fake front opening. Don’t want any wardobe malfunctioning now do we.

The dark teal jersey I’m thinking a Sybilla F/W 1989 inspired tie-front jacket. And another shrug collar top which I might be able to wear under the matching jacket? And if I’m really lucky and have enough leftover, maybe this color-blocked zip-front top inspired by Peter Pilotto S/S 2012 and based on Burdastyle 2013-06-124 zip-up tank.

Going back to the fake suede theme, the last two in this batch is for the most heavenly fake suede like drapy fabric I found in NY Elegant. So soooooft. Not sure the designs I pick are right for it. The fabric might be too limp. On the other hand maybe a limp drapy fabric would be the best candidate for experimenting with blocky oversized top like this Dolce & Gabbana F/W 2013 drop-shoulder T inspiration. Maybe it’ll mold to the figure rather than box it. And I’ve been yearning for a fake suede or leather slim pants. The inspiration here is Patrone 325 #15. (I’ve been rather unlucky with my Patrone subscription. The year I subscribed they have hardly any that seem designery or editorial. Lots of casual wear which doesn’t really inspire me or suit my lifestyle. Where did all the designer knock-offs go!!!???) In any case, OMG, imagine the feel of this buttery fabric on my legs, OMG, will I be able to get anything done while wearing it? And isn’t it about time I face my fear of pants fitting?

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Me Made Holiday Report Card

In the suitcase…

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Tops

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  1. McCall 6078 Cowl Neck Sleeveless T-shirt
  2. Franken McCall 6078c Cowl Neck Leopard Print Sleeveless T-shirt
  3. Burda 2012-09-123 Painted (Byzantine) T-shirt

Bottoms

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  1. Burdastyle 2012-05-113 Draped Leopard Print Skirt
  2. Refashioned RTW Leopard Print Skirt
  3. This is the only non-Me-Made item in my suitcase. Or is it? I did shorten then turn up the hem to wear it as a capri. So can I be cheeky and count this as Me-Made as well? 😉
  4. Refashioned RTW Heidi Skirt. Not blogged. But it’s pretty much the same make as my Improv Embroidered Taffeta Pleated Skirt

Dresses

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  1. OK, another borderline cased. RTW Victoria Secret Dress altered to fit me better. Does it still count?
  2. Improv Tent Dress. Not blogged yet. This has got to be the Happiest Oops & my favorite make. Ever. It has gone on almost every holiday with me since I made it – I think that was back in 2003.
  3. V1159 Donna Karan Twist Front Dress

Keeping Warm…

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  1. Wrap Cardigan based on Burda 2011-06-139 Bluemarine Wrap Dress, planned a while back, but only finished during this trip. So not blogged yet. I was actually finishing the hemming just before checking my luggage in for the flight to Ohio! But boy was I glad I finished it. I wore it so many times during this trip.
  2. Franken Burda 013-02-121 Sweater
  3. Improv Faux Shearling Stole

Accessories

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Actually worn….

I got to hand it to you Me-Made-May girls. I don’t know how you manage a whopping 31 days. Even with just 14 days I couldn’t keep up with the photo-documentation.

No, worse, Mother Nature intervened (too hot AND too cold). So despite packing enough for 15 outfits ((3 tops x 4 bottoms) + 3 dresses) I keep sorting to the same few comfortable outfits. Here are the few photos I did manage to take…

What I’ve learnt…

I need to stop making tight fitting summer clothing! Skin. Wants. To. Breathe…And. Feel. The. Breeze.

And watch out for grainline, stretch, & gravity! The two sleeveless cowl neck tops were based on the same pattern. But the yellow one was cut on the crossgrain while the turquoise leopard one was cut on the regular lengthwise grain.  As stretch is greatest in the crossgrain on most knits, the yellow one’s armholes have obviously stretched thanks to gravity and feels comfortably loose. The turquoise one didn’t. So was a bit too binding for hot NY summers.

The Final Score

I think that will have to be a B at best.

I did force myself to wear everything at least once. But some days I just had to change midway through the day. There is only so much I’m willing to suffer for fashion!

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Ohhh Lulu Betty Retro Hot Pants

OK, I know I’m over the age for wearing hot pants. But ever since I collected these clippings I wanted one. No matter what.

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Besides, if I go for a slightly retro bathing suit style, and wear it only in hot sunny and beachy places like the Maldives, surely it’d be taken as modest bathing suit rather than skimpy short shorts.

This of course means rushing to make one before my holidays. Otherwise I might never get to wear it. Especially living in dreary London.

The Pattern

Again, I had a couple of patterns I thought might work. Both are actually billed as lingerie patterns.

I made ‘muslin’ of both and settled on Ohhh Lulu…Betty Panties this time. I’ll probably make the Burda Style one in the future as well. To wear around the house for my own pleasure if no where else. (Yeah, like many men, the Other Half doesn’t really get these granny pants. He calls my Betty Hot Pants “diaper” for chrissake! Rude boy.)

Style Shots & Mug Shots

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(Sorry, couldn’t resist showing off the lovely lagoon just outside our water villa in the Maldives. There’s not much fish on this side of the resort. But on the plus side the sand is soft to walk on without the prickly fresh corals. At low tide, you can walk across the lagoon to the sandbank. I don’t swim, so that was perfect!)

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Fabric & Notions Used

Off-white Knit Double Cloth from B&J Fabrics in NYC bought a few years ago. It’s a med-heavy weight stable knit that’s satiny on one side and a nice spongy double knit on the other. The two fabrics are held together with what looks like double-sided adhesive film. Unfortunately the satiny side is marred in places. So I went for the double knit side.

MaxiLock serger thread from Wawak (formerly ATS). 3/8” clear elastic for the leg holes. Decorative elastic (like the type found on thigh high stockings) from Macculloch & Wallis for the waist facing. Invisible zipper.

Size Used

XS per hip measurement chart.

Changes Made

  • Sway-back adjustment – shortened CB by 3/8”. You may have noticed I haven’t been consistent with my adjustments. My excuse is that I still haven’t quite worked out the correct back fitting yet. Anyway, this 3/8” was nowhere enough. Hence the horizontal folds at the waist in the photos.
  • Shortened the crotch length as the muslin was a bit baggy there.
  • Scooped out a bit more from the front leg curve to remove bagginess in the crotch.
  • Made the back leg curve more shallow to cover a bit more of my bum.
  • Added straight side seams to accommodate an invisible zipper. My fabric doesn’t stretch enough to pull over my hip while still being snug enough at the waist. It would be a bit weird if this was a panties or a proper retro swimwear. But as it’s hot pants in heavier fabric, I don’t think it’s weird to have the zipper.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is clear. But again I didn’t really follow it faithfully as I’m making this as shorts rather than panties.

I inserted the zipper first. Then sew up the side seams, followed by the side-front and side-back seams. Because my fabric is bulky but still slightly translucent – like most whitish fabrics – I had to spread the seam allowances apart, top-stitch along both sides, and trim close to the top-stitching. For the leg hems I stitched the clear elastics to the wrong side so that when I turn the hem in and top-stitch, they’d be hidden. For the waist I stitched the decorative elastic to the right side, turn in, top-stitch, then tack the lower edge of the wide elastic to all vertical seams. Again, I turned to my trusted walking feet and stretch stitch for almost all of the sewing.

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Would I sew it again

Hmmm…maybe one more Hot Pants in black. Then as granny pants as the designers intended. I’m feeling old enough to retire those skimpy panties that give you the wedgie. Ouch.

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Made myself an Endless Dress

The rabbit hole has been a pit of sweat shop lately. I’ve never sewn so much. Not that I’ve gotten any quicker. There was just about time to tidy up before I had to move on to the next one. You see, I’m sewing for a dream holiday in the Maldives. So there was no time to rest.

endless_s1_4First off the assembly line…An Endless / Limitless Dress / Skirt / Asian Pants.

Because it’s suppose to be easy. And because as a convertible I’d have options even if I don’t manage to finish anything else.

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The Design & Inspiration

So this is the one I saw in Threads then stumble upon the instruction online by chance. The very clever Marybeth Bradbury had came up with the instruction for her Endless Convertible Dress after being inspired by the Limitless Convertible Dress by Danish designer Emami.

original_1Actually, I had came across Emami’s Limitless Dress before. Friends who were into fashion had discovered it years ago. I thought it was really clever. But as it was expensive, I didn’t buy one.

This time, I did feel pangs of guilt and wonder if I should buy one. You know, to support independent designers who come up with clever design ideas. For the art of this garment is in the wearing instructions, which Emami provides video demonstration for on their website. As Marybeth’s instruction shows, there’s very little sewing involved. Plus the price seems to have come down.

In the end I made one instead of buy one. Because the colors Emami offer were a bit too drab for my current taste. Sorry…

The Making

OK, so this is suppose to be dead easy. Depending on fabric you should be able to get away with 3 seams and probably finish in an hour or two. But as I’m fairly new to 4-way stretch fabric and to using a overlocker, it took me a bit longer. Also, being a visual person, it took me a little longer to follow Marybeth’s verbal instruction and quick sketch.

So here are my learnings. Maybe it will be helpful if you decide to make your own Endless dress.

Fabric & Notions Used

Mustard color Viscose Cotton Lycra 4-way Stretch Fabric from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics. I ordered 3 meters, but probably got like 3 m 16 cm because I had enough left over for a separate bandeau top and a sleeveless cowl neck top. It was the lightest 4-way stretch fabric I had and it has a lovely soft touch and fabulous drape – perfect for a dress like this.

Skin color lightweight Power Mesh from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics for the underlining.

Gutermann polyester thread, and some woolly nylon I got in America long time ago. 3/8” clear elastic.

Size Used

It’s kind of a one-size design utilizing full width of the fabric. Depending on your fabric and your waist measurement, it’ll come out differently length-wise.

Changes Made

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  • My fabric curled at the selvedges, so I cut off about 1-1/4” at both selvedges. I forgot to adjust the 30” measure to the center of the waist hole. So this leaves me with a slightly shorter skirt at the sides. Thankfully, the dress style make the mistake less noticeable.
  • I used one of the selvedges to make a matching spaghetti cord instead of buying separate cord.
  • My waist hole is slightly bigger because my fabric doesn’t seem as stretchy. You need to make sure the circumference of the hole for the waist will stretch to fit your hip so you can pull the dress / skirt on. But don’t make it so large that the skirt slips down while you wear it. It’s knit, so you probably want 0 ease or even negative ease at the waist (ie your waist measurement or smaller). I also reinforced the waist hole with clear elastic in the hope that this will prevent the waist from being stretched out of shape with wear and becoming too loose. We shall see if it works over time!
  • I made my waistband taller / longer thinking that I can then wear the band as a strapless tube bodice. Now having worn the dress I can tell you that it’s a bad idea. The weight of the skirt will pull the band down leading to wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson. (Luckily I was wearing the draped part of the skirt as a haltered front at the time.) Separate bandeau top is the way to go.
  • I also added a layer of lightweight power mesh as underlining to make the waist band less flimsy as a tube top. This turns out to be a bad idea again. I didn’t tack the underlining to the fashion fabric at the fold. So when I wore it, the underlining wouldn’t stay up and instead bunched up near the waist.

When I get home, I’ll probably reduce the waist band to Marybeth’s original suggestion of approx. 6” finished height and tack the underlining or remove it completely.

Verdict on the Instruction

Marybeth’s instruction is a bit sketchy, so I think you do have to have some sewing experience to know how to finish the garment. It’s not difficult, but if you’re someone who like each step to be spelt out in details, you’d struggle a bit. I’m happy to muck about with pattern drafting and improvise the sewing, so it’s not a problem for me.

You can see how I interpreted her pattern instruction in the diagram above.

Sewing-wise, I used mostly my sewing machine to give me better control over the stretchy fabric. I’d sew on my sewing machine first with reduced pressure foot pressure, a walking foot, and my machine’s basic stretch stitch – a kind of narrow zig zag stitch. For the waist seam I then sew on the clear elastic, again on the sewing machine. For waist band center back seam and waist seam I then reinforce & clean finish on the serger with a 3-thread overlock.

The hem / casing for the cord is simply folded over twice and edge-stitched with the sewing machine basic stretch stitch.

For the rest of the skirt, I did consider doing a rolled hem. But the experiments on scraps weren’t promising. The fabric was stretching into lettuce edge hem which I didn’t want. It also made the hem stiffer which doesn’t work well with this drapy dress style. So in the end I left the hem as raw edges – as implied by Marybeth’s instruction. The fabric doesn’t fray, so the unfinished edges aren’t a problem.

Would I sew it again

Probably not.

While I do love the idea of convertible garments, the ones I tried so far have all been a bit uncomfortable to wear. The threat of wardrobe malfunction is always on my mind as nothing is firmly anchored.

It can also be difficult to make the garment look good from all angles. I love how this dress look in the front. But with the styles I’ve tried so far the back always seem to look the same and not reflect the lovely style promised by the front.

Here are the styles I tried on holiday. It was really too hot to experiment more.

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And here’s one taken before I went on holiday. It’s my Buddhist Monk look! 🙂

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I need to experiment more with the wearing options. In any case, making and wearing this one has given me ideas on styles that would look great with this fabric (hint: lots of drapes). And it goes to show beautiful garments aren’t always about complicated design and sewing. Simple can be just as beautiful.

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