I thought this doozy of an ‘end of 2018 make’ deserved its own post. (Excuse some of the photos, I wanted to show process stuff and some of the images are a bit shabby!)
The inspiration for this outfit was varied but mainly came from the fabric which had been in my stash since 2016 when I first identified that I needed some good separates for performing in. I purchased this silver and navy quilted brocade from The Fabric Store with a voucher that a then colleague gave me as a thank you present.
I always planned to make pants and a top, but didn’t have the idea of a suit style outfit until planning an outfit for the wedding of our good friends Peter & Nigel, who were getting married in Melbourne. The great thing about a wedding with no bride is there is no worry of upstaging her! And as we had been asked to perform during the ceremony, and these are good friends who know me well, I knew that they would be more than happy for me to bring out the big guns!
When the Breaking the Pattern book by Named arrived in my mailbox, I immediately took to the Utu Pinafore, and it wasn’t long before 2 + 2 began to equal 4 and the idea for my silver tuxedo came to life.
Step 1 was toiling the pinafore. That was a piece of cake. It fit perfectly with no alterations. Part of the reason I make so many Named patterns is their patterns appear to be drafted for a very similar build to me. Win.
Step 2 was finding and toiling a pants pattern. As I mentioned in my last post, this didn’t prove as easy. I ruled out the first pair of Burda pants I tried, and once I had toiled and muslined the second pair (Burda 3/2010/109) and made the following adjustments I was ready to take a deep breath and cut into my precious silver fabric.
- Added length to the rear crotch via a wedge that graded to nothing a side seams
- Made the side seams straighter, less curved
- Took width out of both the front and back legs increasing the amount removed towards the bottom of the leg
- Adjusted the centre back seam for my sway back
I made the vest first. I cut 13cm off the length of the original design. I made it up, except for hemming and buttons and then put it to one side so I could ensure the proportions were right once the trousers were done.
I then moved onto the trousers. Because I knew I wanted a very slim fit and the fabric had next to no ease, I interfaced all the side seams on each leg to strengthen the seams. Then I decided to make flat piping with the navy satin I used for the lining to give a nod to tuxedo stripes. I did what I could to ensure that the design was even on each leg – that the print travelled level across each leg and that each leg (and bodice pieces for the vest) started and began on the same part of the fabric. My brain cannot deal with the kind of thinking and precision that ensures pattern matching so I just hoped the light reflecting off the metallic silver would distract people enough not to notice!
I got almost all the way done on the pants and then realised the waistband curve was too deep for my straight waist. The day before New Year’s Even was not a fun one, when I came to the realisation that I needed to undo all the day’s work and redraft, cut, interface and attach the waistband. But I am very glad I did!
As I told myself at the time, there is no point rushing the finish on a project that has been so painstaking at throughout. So I remade the waistband (which lead to pants that didn’t feel like would split the moment I sat down!).
Then with assistance from my sister, my close friend and Alex, I sorted the length of the trousers and the vest, removing a further 8cm from the original length of the vest. The vest fastens with beautiful glass art deco buttons from my favourite vintage store, conveniently located about 1 kilometre from my house.
The suit managed singing, sitting, standing, eating and dancing involved with the wedding with no issues. I was very careful at the beginning of the evening, still being a little fearful of the lack of ease in the pants, but by the end of the night when the party music was on and the champagne had hit the blood stream I wasn’t at all worried.
(The funniest thing is that I road tested sitting in the pants about 100 times and tried them on each day leading up to the wedding to ‘break them in’ but never had any worry about the vest until the moment I sat in our Uber and fastened my seatbelt. I looked down and saw that the deep V on the vest became more of an O when I sat down and most of my girls were on display! Next time I wear this I will make sure I have found a nice navy lacy bra that has good coverage to have something more in keeping with the outfit to display than my black push-up job!)
I received a number of very nice compliments about my outfit and it even got a shout out in one of the groom’s speeches 😉 I am very proud of this final make of 2018 – there is something very satisfying about having a special piece of fabric be realised in a way that feels 100% right. I can’t wait to wear it again, and already have plans to wear it to the opening night party of the show I am in in March/April this year. I think both pieces will have a life independent of each other too, and know they will be excellent additions to the performance wardrobe.