Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Wedding Outfit! (New Look 6911, McCalls 5431, Ottobre 02-2013-02)

In exactly a month I am going to be in London getting ready to celebrate my friends N and L who are having a civil partnership ceremony. I always say they are getting married but unfortunately they will actually miss the transfer from the "civil partnership" to being "married" by a few months, which is a shame. Anyway, it's not a traditional sort of wedding, but I wanted to wear something floofy and summer-wedding-y, and the bigger challenge was I also wanted to make it 100% myself. Since I am moving to Ireland in 2 weeks and will not have Flossie (my dressmaker's dummy) or my camera with me, I had to take photos today:

The Wedding Outfit: Jacket (New Look 6911), skirt (McCall's 5431) and top (Ottobre 02-2013-02 hack)
This oufit is made of three pieces: a turquoise 100% linen jacket made with New Look 6911, my first ever piece of clothing that could even remotely be described as 'tailored'; a semi-circle skirt made with McCall's 5431 in white taffeta and white and turquoise georgette, with a white polycotton lining; and a white 'silk touch' jersey with stretch lace in white, made with a hack of my favourite jersey top pattern, Ottobre 02-2013-02. I also previously made the clutch I will be carrying.

I made the skirt first. It's a pattern I've made and reviewed before and liked a lot the first time. Since the size 20 was a little bit big, this time I made the size 18 which fits much better. As before I made the skirt up straight out of the envelope with no pattern adjustments. However, this time, I upped the complexity quite a bit in terms of fabrics used and the number of layers.
Skirt: Clockwise from upper left: front view, side view with ruching, textured taffeta layer, lace hem on taffeta layer with cotton interlining
There are basically three layers of fabric. The top layer is a lightweight polyester georgette in white with turquoise flowers, bought as a remnant from eBay. The waistband and the second layer are made of textured white taffeta, also bought from eBay though this time by the metre. It's officially curtain fabric, apparently, but eh, whatever. I bought the textured taffeta rather than plain because I wanted a fall back plan in case the georgette overlay didn't work. As it is, it's very pretty but you can't really see it.

The taffeta was also polyester which is gross against the skin and also even the two top layers together weren't totally opaque, so I decided to underline the taffeta layer in inexpensive white polycotton (using my favourite underlining/bound seam method, which produced gorgeous results every single time). At the end I hemmed the taffeta layer with white lace on the inside. The overlay is loose over the top of the skirt (rather than sewn into the seams), so it has a bound slit where the zip is so you can take the skirt off, and I used french seams throughout. I used 48mm wide lace on the hem of the overlay and ruched the bottom 13cm (including the lace) up the side seams in order to create the frothiest skirt I could.

Inside: white polycotton underlining with bound seams
Sounds great, right? But actually, oh my god, that OVERLAY. I am NEVER EVER doing anything with georgette again. It was a nightmare from start to finish. It slid around when I was pinning the pattern and trying to cut it and I ended up having to recut one panel from a very scant amount of fabric. It shredded every time I tried to manipulate it. When I hung the skirt overnight, the bias stretch went crazy and the hem ended up all over the place (hence the deep lace at the hem, it covers a lot of wavy hem sins). To be honest, I was so sick of the overlay at the end that only the fact that I would be deeply uncomfortable in a plain white skirt at a wedding and didn't have the time or money to make a whole new skirt saved this skirt from being a wadder. In the end though, I am pretty happy with it. It's twirly and frothy and wedding-y in the extreme!

For a break, the next thing I made was the much easier top. This is just the same Ottobre Woman pattern I've made several times already but again with a little bit of a hack for wedding purposes.

Wedding top, hacked Ottobre 02-2013-02 (front and back view)
The standout feature of the Ottobre top is the relaxed curve of the side seam and the fact it's intended to puddle at the hips. I wanted to make the top so it would not be quite so full at the waist so that it would fit better under my jacket. I just re-drew the side seam to be straighter and sewed it up. The big hack was a reprise of my previous Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee hack. I moved the seams at the shoulder and introduced a second fabric that covers the top of the shoulder to about the shoulder blade.

Fabric wise, I really wanted silk jersey for this top. Then I saw the actual price of silk jersey (£30/m, anyone?) and went with something a little less bank account breaking. The fabric is called "silk touch" and it's a very nice lycra jersey that does, indeed, feel like silk. On the back, I used a floral stretch lace in white, having learned from the previous attempt to do a yoke that it would work better with a stretch fabric. Both fabrics are from Tissu, easily my favourite online shop for knits.

The top went together really easily and quickly except for the neck binding. I am in despair over my neck binding problems. They always stretch out and I just don't know how to prevent it when I'm sewing. It drives me insane.

The very last thing I made was the jacket, mainly because I really had to work up my courage to make it. And yet, it was way easier than I ever expected and I looooove the outcome, even if it's not without problems. You can read my Pattern Review here, but here are some extra thoughts. Also, totally co-incidentally, I happened to make this while the Natural Fibre competition is on, and while I have exactly zero expectation of getting even 1 vote, I decided to put it into the competition
just for a laugh.

I am really pleased with the pattern I chose because, as mentioned previously, it allowed me to use a previous attempt at an armhole princess pattern as a starting point. It's also really really simple -- there's literally nothing to do except construction seams and seam binding. I am kind of amazed at how good my life decisions were as far as this jacket is concerned.

Seam binding on the inside of the jacket.

For instructions, I did use the New Look instructions, but I also used two PR courses for further assistance: Create a Jacket Muslin and Sew a Designer Unlined Jacket, both by Angela Wolf. I got them ages ago in the sale (and they are on sale right now as well!). I wouldn't pay full price for them, but I am happy with what I got for the lower price I paid back in January-ish.

Is it weird that I almost like the inside more than the outside? The seam binding is all done with a Liberty cotton print that I got from the factory shop in Lancaster. I am no fan of Liberty in the ordinary run of things -- I tend to find the prints fussy and old-fashioned -- but there's no denying that it makes some gorgeous bias tape for seam binding.

The main fabric is 100% linen from Fabrix, which is my actual local-ish fabric shop also in Lancaster. I have to admit I squealed when I found the perfect linen to match the georgette skirt, and not even too painfully expensive. The linen was GORGEOUS to work with, except for a slight tendency to shred that the seam binding happily covers up. The only problem is that oh my GOODNESS does it ever crease. It's going to look like a RAG by the end of the day at the actual wedding. The photos above were taken STRAIGHT after I ironed it, and it still looks creased like you wouldn't believe.
Without buttons; the sleeve problem
The buttons in the main shot are not actually sewn on yet. I don't think they are the buttons I am going to use in the end. Too big, not the right colour. I'm tempted to go for something other than buttons -- maybe snaps? Or hooks? Still thinking about this, anyway.

As far as problems go, I really only had one, and that was easing one of the sleeves in. One of he sleeves went in PERFECTLY, but the other kept getting tiny snags, which you can see above on the right. I unpicked the worst of it and managed to massage it down to just these two tiny pleats, but the fabric was starting to fray very badly so I couldn't risk unpicking it again. You really can't see it on the finished garment, but I know it's there and it annoys me. However, it's a HUGE boost to my confidence that I got the sleeves in as well as I did -- I had visions of being there for multiple hours just setting the sleeves, but it really wasn't anywhere near as time consuming or difficult as I thought.

Gosh, this has been a mammoth post. Overall, despite all the problems with the skirt and the nerves I had about making a jacket, I'm really genuinely thrilled with my wedding outfit. It's not perfect, but it's good enough that I won't have any qualms about wearing it. One last note: the cost. Definitely not cheap, is all I am going to say. For just the fabrics plus the lace for the skirt, it hit around £60, and that's without taking into account patterns, the muslin for my jacket, overheads, etc. I was kind of aghast at this until I started thinking about what I would have had to pay for an outfit if I had bought it. Bear in mind I can rarely get fitted jackets that actually FIT unless I go to Pepperberry. The closest thing they have to my jacket is this little lightweight blazer, which I guarantee would not be made with half the care that I put into mine, and oh, by the way, costs £65. So, I am calling my outfit a win, even at £60+. :D


  1. Wow - I really love the print on the skirt, and that jacket is my favourite colour in my favourite fabric, so it's fair to say I might have to steal the idea!

    I personally love the slightly crumply look of linen, but for the wedding, you could try using a little starch to make it a little less prone to wrinkles - at least on the front. Either way, it's a really fantastic outfit, and best of all, I'm sure you'll get a lot of wear out of the pieces individually.

    1. forgot to mention - you might know this already, but you always want the fabric with more length on the bottom, in contact with the feed dogs, so they're doing some of the easing work for you. So for sleeves, you have the sleeve itself on the bottom and the body on top.

      The neck binding might be stretching out because of presser-foot-pressure - is it adjustable on your machine? If it is, you can lower it a little fore sewing knits.

    2. Thank you! I'm really pleased with the outfit. The whole outfit started from that print fabric for the skirt, actually. I picked it up months ago because I liked it even though I had no specific plan for it. Once I started to think about the wedding outfit, everything came from trying to fit around that print. It was unfortunate that having done all that it was the thing that caused me the most problems and almost ended up being scrapped!

      I did try the presser foot on the bottom trick but it just didn't want to work. Part of the problem is that my armhole really needed more re-shaping than I gave it and so it was a bit awkward to sew. I'll know better next time! My machine is definitely not sophisticated enough to have pressure foot pressure adjustment! It's an ultra basic Janome that I got for £99!

  2. Great outfit. Love it - especially the jacket - beautiful. I am wondering - did you wash and dry the linen before cutting - or are you going to dryclean it?

    1. Thank you! I washed and dried the linen. In part this was because the label said I could, but also because I'm horrible allergic to the sizing a lot of companies put on their fabric. Basically, if it can't be washed, I'll probably get hives. At any rate, in this case it washed and dried fine with no shrinkage at all.

    2. Thanks - I am about to start sewing with Linen for the first time.

  3. Very pretty outfit, just right for a spring wedding. And all three pieces can be worn as part of other outfits. I love the extra touch of the Liberty floral binding used in the Hong Kong finish on the inside of the jacket

    1. Thanks! :D I think my favourite thing about the jacket is the bound seams actually. They just look so fancy!

  4. Very nice outfit, Westmoon! It will be perfect for a spring wedding. The jacket color is beautiful & really like the bound seams.