So, everyone at the Mood Sewing Network decided a couple of months ago that we would challenge ourselves to make pieces that were inspired by the Spring 2014 runway. Real talk: this shit sent me into a panic. Runway? I can honestly say I have never even so much as glanced at a series of runway photos, let alone determined an outfit based on what I saw (I’m not saying this in an ~ooh, I’m so cool I just don’t even pay attention to fashion~ way, more like, yo clueless!). Furthermore, it’s difficult for me to grab “inspiration” from something without just blatantly copying it. I spent an entire month agonizing over designers, pouring over runway sets at style.com (holy crap, there are a lot of them) and wringing my hands over what to make.
Then I discovered Alberta Ferretti.
I still don’t know who this designer is, exactly, but the entire runway show is magical. Bright, saturated colors! Crisp white accents! Flowers! Stripes! This is the kind of inspiration I can get behind! I decided to make myself a *wearable* (emphasis on wearable ;)) version of my favorite look.
Figuring out the fabric and patterns I would use was almost as difficult as picking a designer! I knew I wanted to make a striped skirt with pleats similar to the runway version, because I just really love how that turned out (plus, who doesn’t love a good striped skirt?), but finding a good striped fabric on the Mood Fabrics website was haaard. I mean, they have all sorts of good stripes to choose from – but very little in that specific combination of wide, irregular stripes in bright saturated colors. I know, I know – this is supposed to be an inspiration, not a literal interpretation. But dangit, I wanted those irregular stripes!
I’m not going to tell you how long I spent picking through the Mood website with a fine-tooth comb; let’s just say I probably know every apparel fabric they sell now. I did finally find my big prize, though – this amazingly bright orange stripe cotton sateen is the clear winner. Woohoo! Of course, it clashes with my hair like big time crazy bad, but whatever, I picked all this shit out pre-blue LT. Anyway, I just love love LOVE the bright colors of the stripes – it’s not quite the same colors as the inspiration skirt – it’s way more happy springy! Yay spring colors!
I was originally going to make the fabric in a skirt that is more similar to the runway inspiration – no button front + pleats all the way around – but at the very last minute (like, right before I cut into the fabric, lolz), I changed my mind and decided to go with a pattern I knew I would actually wear and love. Enter the Kelly skirt! Cutting that shit took forever, btw. I agonized for a long time on how to cut the stripes – where each color and wide stripe should hit. I used the inspiration photo to help me decide how to cut the waistband (it was originally going to be a mess of stripes on it’s own, but I like it as one solid, thick stripe!), and was careful to match up the stripes along the side seams, the button front, and the pockets. Like I said, it took forever, but once I got the pieces cut, the actual assembly took no time at all.
The fabric is described as a lightweight cotton sateen, but it’s weighty enough to work as a bottom weight. There is definitely some texture in the weave, and it stretches quite a bit. I made sure to stabilize the waistband and button placket so the fabric would keep it’s shape in those areas, and used a long stitch on my machine for all the topstitching. It presses very well – really easy to get a sharp crease in there, yeah! – but it also tends to leave pin holes. For areas that needed to be pinned together and topstitched (such as the button band and inside of the waistband), I fused the pieces with a long strip of stitch witchery instead of pinning; this keeps everything in place and makes topstitching SO much easier! Especially if you tend to miss spots and only discover them after you’ve finished topstitching the seam, which means they gotta be ripped out and restitched so you catch the entire fold (er… not that I would know anything about that…). That shit’s not a problem at all when you’ve got Stitch Witchery on your side. Yay, Stitch Witchery!
Since my skirt is so bright and colorful, I went the boring route with my top and made a classic button-down shirt. I seriously considered adding embellishment – or even making it into a crop top, because, why the fuck not? – but in the end, I stuck with the classic tried and true. Mainly because my wardrobe is sorely lacking a solid white button down with sleeves, so I know this shirt will get quite a bit of wear with other pieces to mix and match. I used this Theory lightweight cotton shirting – which, if you were wondering, took almost as much agonizing as find the perfect stripe. There are SO MANY WHITE SHIRTING FABRICS available at moodfabrics.com! SO FUCKING MANY. Like, how do you even choose? I figured that I’ve had really good experiences with all the Theory denims I’ve bought, so the shirting fabric must be just as excellent. Which ended up being true – this shit is soft as angel’s wings, presses and stitches beautifully, and it’s right along that line of being *almost* sheer because it’s so lightweight. A skin-colored bra is a must with this fabric. The only drawback is that since it’s 100% cotton, it does wrinkle like crazy. Like, when I pulled it out of the dryer, it was a hot mess of wadded wrinkled ball I don’t even know what. Good thing it presses well! :)
For my pattern, I used Butterick 5526. Like I said, I knew I wanted a classic button-down shirt but nothing in my stash was exactly what I wanted – everything was either a relaxed fit, or had something twee like a peter pan collar or an abundance of ruffles cascading down the front. Which is fine – clearly I like these patterns enough to even have them in my stash – but I wanted something super basic. Butterick 5526 perfectly fit the bill – I went with the princess-seamed version with 3/4 sleeves, and I’m actually a little surprised at how much I like it. I made the size 6 with no muslin, with the hopes that the princess seams would give me enough room to play around with the fitting. It actually came out perfect straight out of the envelope – I KNOW, RIGHT? – although next time, I will shorten the sleeves because they are stupid long. They’re supposed to be 3/4 and they come to right above my wrists – in that weird spot that’s not quite long sleeve, but rather looks like I measured my arms wrong. Wah wah! I’ll just wear these rolled up, I guess. I also may reduce some of the ease out of the sleeve cap in the next version; these were pretty hard to ease in smoothly and there are still tons of wrinkles. But, for the most part – it ain’t bad!
I did try to jazz up the shirt a little bit by adding topstitching, but for the most part – it’s just a plain jane backdrop to an awesomely loud skirt. I love it!
Ok, now I have to tell you my secret – I didn’t start sewing this until Saturday morning! On top of that, it had to be finished and photographed before dark on Sunday – and I had a wedding to attend on Saturday night. I spent so long agonizing over my designer inspiration, then the fabric, then the pattern – that by the time I had everything (mostly)figured out, it was time for me to get on a plane and head to NY. When I got home on Monday, I had another more urgent deadline that needed to be taken care of asap (more on that later), which put this project on the backburner for a few days. Needless to say – I was pretty stressed come Saturday morning! I like to think I’m pretty efficient when it comes to making things quickly, but even that’s a stretch for me, especially two garments. I’ll be honest – I was tempted to half ass this one, just for the sake of time, but I decided early on that it wasn’t even worth my while if I didn’t end up making something that would be wearable past this photoshoot. Which means I forced myself to slow down – I made time for fitting, for the details like topstitching, for fixing mistakes (oh yeah, I totally sewed that collar stand on backwards the first time NO BIG DEAL), for eating lunch. But hey, look – not only did I actually get it done, but I actually made something nice without cutting corners.
I know my outfit isn’t quite as fashion forward as what I could have done, but I am elated with how both pieces turned out and I can’t wait to give them some proper wear to welcome spring in with loving arms. Come on, spring! I know you’re lurking back there somewhere, time to come out of hiding!
One last thing – most of y’all are probably aware by now, but just in case you weren’t… By Hand London is going to start printing fabrics on-demand! How freaking awesome is that?? They need some help with costs to get production started, so they’ve got a Kickstarter going to raise funds. You can get some pretty sweet loot in exchange for your money – from tote bags, to coffee mugs, to free patterns, to private sewing lessons – but even $5 helps. Every little bit adds up! I am so so excited for this new venture that the BHL ladies are seeking out, and I really hope they meet their goal so it can become a reality (especially if it means I can start printing wildly tacky fabric to my heart’s desire). You can check out the Kickstarter here – watch the super cute video, and I dare you not to fall in love. I dare you.