A month or so ago I attended the Dressmaker’s Dinner, a social event for Melbourne sewers. It was a delicious meal at a restaurant, with a small group in attendance – my idea of a perfect evening, as I had plenty of light to examine everyone’s outfits and plenty of time to chat to them about sewing and many other things! I decided that instead of sewing a new dress, I’d sew an outfit – pants, top and jacket.
Really, this outfit was planned around the jacket. The sequinned fabric was a gift from a delightful sewing friend. The sequins were embroidered on a stretch mesh, and I used plain black stretch lining to underline it.
It took me a little time to decide which pattern I’d use, and I settled on Butterick 6464. This is a Lisette pattern, designed by Liesl Gibson, and I always have faith in her designs (although I believe that she provides the design concept and sketches for Lisette patterns but Butterick do all the actual pattern making, grading and instruction writing).
There are three pieces included in this Butterick pattern, and they are described as follows: Very loose-fitting jacket has dropped shoulders and contrast bands. Fitted pullover halter top has back button loop closure and contrast neckband. Close-fitting pull-on skirt has elastic in wide waistband.
As you can see from the line drawing, this is a straightforward style. There aren’t many pattern pieces, which makes it a good choice for the sequinned fabric. I laid the sequinned fabric over the underlining, and cut them out as one. Something I paid a lot of attention to was centring the design so that it was balanced on the front and the back of the jacket. I probably cut this out as size 12.
Once the pieces were cut out I overlocked all the edges of the sequinned mesh and the underlining together so that I could handle each piece as one and it wouldn’t fall apart. It was also a good way to enclose the sequins along the edges. Most things that you read will tell you to remove all the sequins from the seam allowances. I took the lazy route and left them there, after determining that they were small and not too dense, and would easily be sewn through. I had a good feel along the seam allowances once the jacket was sewn, and removed all the sequins that were caught in the stitching and were sticking out so had scratch potential. I left the rest. I also hand-stitched the seam allowances to the underlining to keep them looking flat.
The contrast fabric that I used for the collar and cuffs was in stash – it originally came from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 per metre table, and the colour and sheen worked beautifully with the colours of some of the sequins in the main fabric. I also used it to hem the jacket by sewing a folded strip to the hemline right sides together, then turning it to the inside, understitching near the fold, then finally hand-sewing it in place. I really wanted to keep as many sequins as possible off whatever I was wearing under the jacket!
Since this was a pattern I’d used before it came together very easily. This fabric is a bit slippery to work with, so does need adequate pinning, but goes through the sewing machine and overlocker with ease. I’d been lucky enough to get the last of it from Style Arc after my first go at a pair of Georgie pants in this fabric resulted in beautifully sewn pants that had been cut out with the stretch going up and down the body instead of around it. They ended up in the bin. Take it from me – check, double check, then triple check that you are cutting out your bengaline with the stretch going AROUND the body. You won’t be able to get your pants on otherwise! (I still can’t believe that I’d sewn up the entire pair of Georgie pants before I realised what I’d done….)
I used the pockets, complete with topstitching, even though it’s unlikely that anyone will ever get to see them! I know that they’re there. The same thing applies to the fake fly stitching. The waistband has elastic inside it; these are pull-on jeans (my favourite kind).
So, on to the top. It’s a pattern I have used before, and always like on me. It’s the Love Notions Lotus Blossom Blouse.
The pattern description says: Do the twist! This top is simple but packs a fun surprise. The dolman sleeved blouse is a flattering top meant for light weight drapey knits that are the same on front and back. The neckline features a gradual v-neck that is a breeze to sew. The back of the blouse can feature a special fabric such as stretch lace or a really cool scrap of knit you’ve been hoarding for years. The surprise in this blouse is the twist at the front. The shirt-tail hem really makes this top a great choice for just about any pants or skirt style. Fabric recommendations: Lightweight and drapey knits that are the same on both sides such as cotton/rayon, jersey, modal, activewear, dancewear, jersey/rayon. Knits that are the same on both sides are usually solids and stripes. If you have a print you’d like to use that is not the same on both side you may piece the front.
I used a wool/lurex knit from Clear It for the top. It was slightly sheer, and different colours on each side, so I decided to cut it double for the top. This eliminated the problem of the wrong side showing on half of the front.
I spent ages trying to come up with a way of constructing this top so that I could have most of the seams encased between the two layers of fabric, but in the end I just overlocked the edges of the two layers together for each piece then treated them as one.
Because I’d already overlocked the edges – and to reduce bulk by pressing seams open – I constructed the top on the regular sewing machine. I used a narrow twin needle (in conjunction with double sided fusible tape) to finish the neckline, sleeves, and hem.
Overall, I felt great in my outfit. I really enjoyed the shine and sheen and contrast of textures. It was lots of fun – and I generally enjoy some fun in my clothing!
I accessorised with Django and Juliette shoes, long earrings, and my mum’s Glomesh purse. Not everything matched perfectly but the different pieces worked together in my eyes. All the sparkle!
One of the benefits of sewing an outfit like this is that I can hopefully mix and match the pieces in different ways with other items from my wardrobe. Not that I’ve actually done that yet, but over time, I think that I will! They’re also pieces that can accommodate weight and shape fluctuations, so they’ll hopefully stand the test of time and become “classics” in my wardrobe.