When I first saw this fabric on the Sawyer Brook website, it basically reached through the monitor and demanded that I own it. The name of this fabric was Cucurbits and to learn more about this name, visit Barb's Fabric Blog (the blog of the owner of Sawyer Brook).
When designing my SWAP, this fabric was chosen to be the central focus and all the other fabrics were picked based on colours found therein. In real life, the colours in this fabric are far more vivid and rich - it is one of the most beautiful wools with which I have ever worked.
Obviously, I needed an amazing pattern (or two) to showcase this exquisite fabric - something simple and classic. I decided to create a Chanel-style suit using Simplicity 3108 for the jacket and Vogue 5521 (which is my SWAP wardrobe pattern) for a slim skirt.
The Vogue 5521 slim skirt was very straightforward to sew - two darts in front, two darts in back, side zipper and a waistband. The only interesting thing about this skirt is the kick pleat. The back of the skirt is cut on a fold and a straight line of stitching, parallel to the centre back fold, creates a large pleat in the centre back which extends down to the hem. This pleat is pressed to one side and stitched down 8 inches above the hem. Below this, the pleat releases to form the kick pleat.
The Simplicity 3108 jacket is wonderful. It has a round neckline, 7/8 length kimono sleeves, buttons down the front and two decorative pocket flaps. I love the cropped length of this jacket - it sits at the perfect spot at the top of the hip. The jacket fits exceptionally well due to the shoulder and elbow darts. It is these small shaping darts that set the vintage patterns apart from the modern - it is unfortunate that most of today's patterns have so few of these useful dressmaker details.
Both the jacket and the skirt are lined in chocolate silk charmeuse, which finishes off the inside in a luxurious manner. The buttons on the jacket are gorgeous. They are vintage glass shank buttons that have a tortoise pattern. They add the perfect finishing touch to this jacket. I have included pictures of this suit in action:
I also have a couple of questions to answer.
*Nancy K. said, "Do you end up having to do a lot of grading on these vintage patterns or do you find them in your size? I'd also like to know when you sleep, you accomplish so much I am just in awe!"
Firstly, I actually do sleep so I have to find time for sewing elsewhere :) What helps is that I don't watch much TV and I don't have kids for which to care. As well, since I am a teacher, I am usually done work each day at 2:30 (except for afternoons when I have meetings or when I am swamped with marking or lesson planning) and I have two months off in the summer. All of this adds up to free time for sewing!!
In terms of vintage pattern sizing, I don't usually buy patterns unless they are in my size (which varies depending on the era, but I find just about anything with a bust of 31.5" works for me). I tend to be too lazy to do a lot of grading up or down.
*email@example.com said, "I have a question about lining a skirt. The skirt pattern doesn't call for a lining; it's a very simple nearly straight skirt - just curved a bit at the hip - with an elastic waistband. Will I use the skirt pattern to make a lining for it? will the lining be attached just under the waist band? Or Should I treat the lining and skirt as one and make the casing for the elastic with the lining there also?"
You definitely can use the skirt pattern to make a lining for a straight skirt. Check out this helpful webpage (this is not for an elastic waist skirt but the principle is the same). Of course this assumes that there is a separate waistband into which the elastic is inserted.
However, if the elastic is inserted into a casing made by folding down the top of the skirt, you can handle it two different ways. If you are not worried about the waist being too bulky, construct the skirt and the lining, place them wrong sides together and turn down the top of the skirt and the lining together to form the casing for the elastic. Alternatively, remove all but 5/8" of the casing allowance from the top of the skirt and the matching lining. Sew the skirt and lining right sides together, along the top, with a 5/8" seam allowance. Turn skirt right side out and press along the top being sure that the lining does not show on the right side. Sew around the top of the skirt at 1" (if the elastic is 1") to create a casing that consists of the skirt fabric on the outside and the lining fabric on the inside. Be sure to leave a bit open to insert elastic and then finish sewing. I hope this makes sense.
Up next, the coat...