Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sewing Formalwear: Vests and Ties for a Friend's Wedding

Recently, my sewing time has been consumed with an epic wedding project for one of my good friends. 

I made vests and ties for all the men in the bridal party -- six vests, five neckties and one bow tie.

Ashley, the bride, has been a good friend of mine (and sorority sister!) since college. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and made the most beautiful guest book tree for our guests to sign. Not only that, she helped do the dishes after my wedding. Now that's a friend right there!

When her husband-to-be told me that she wanted vests for the wedding to match the bridesmaid dresses, but that the shop was trying to charge an obscene amount for them, I, of course, said I would make them.

I apologize for the quality of the photos -- they were taken in the wedding tent, late at night, when we were several hours into the reception. And I took them with my cellphone. But I just couldn't resist sharing this project!

This was one of the most thoughtful, beautiful weddings I've ever been to and it was done at the home of the parents of the bride. Ashley planned out the most lovely minute details, from the table dressing, to the flowers, to these vests.

For most of these, I used Simplicity 4762. The tall guy on the right got Simplicity 1506 (basically the same pattern but in big and tall sizes).

The patterns actually worked out well for sizing. I made a muslin for the fellow in the bow tie (he was a bridesperson, which is why his tie is different) since he lives close to me and would be available for fitting, but, happily, the envelope size for his suit size was a great fit. For the rest of them, I just went with their straight suit sizes and the vests all fit well (especially when they don't have their arms up -- I promise they were all long enough!)

Since I knew I'd need multiple sizes, I traced off the pattern in each size and ended up making two smalls, a medium, two larges and a 1XL. The ties were all identical, so I was able to batch cut them and sew them up in a couple nights. The bow tie (it's actually a fake bow tie and is held on with hand-sewn plastic snaps) was super quick to sew up, too. The ties are all a bit flimsier than normal store-bought ties, but they were fine for the one night.

As far as fabric goes, the bride requested some shiny, textured fabric, so I ordered a large amount of swatches from Fabric.com. When she came to visit, we could not believe how exactly this fabric matched the bridesmaid dresses (plum Alexia Bridal dresses). It looks like the exact same fabric (and maybe it is!) I ordered 15 yards while the fabric was on sale -- I knew I'd need around 12 yards and I wanted a little wiggle room just in case I made a mistake! The fabric came in a giant bolt. It was a pretty intense mail day, let me tell you. 

For lining, I used black pongee lining, also from Fabric.com, since it was only $3 a yard. Not the best stuff on the planet, but cheap and it got the job done. 

The entire front of each vest is interfaced with medium weight interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. (The only real "splurge" of this project at $6 a yard -- I was worried the cheap stuff would cause massive wrinkles in the poly shantung and I'm really glad I went this route.)

The buttons are cover buttons purchased from Etsy. On the backs of the vests, which I didn't get pictures of, there are gold vest buckles from JoAnn. 

All in all, I think they turned out well! And I managed to keep them cheap -- around $35 per vest/tie set. Which is at least cheaper than the $90 the shop wanted to charge -- and I think that was for vests alone! It was a tough project, just because of the scale of it, but with a little bit of wine and a lot of movies, I made it through.

The groom looks happy with them, right? It must be the vest he's happy about. Or I guess it could be the whole wedding thing. ;)

Now the only question is what  to do with all that leftover purple poly shantung!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Birthday Suit for My Favorite 4-Year-Old (New Look 6257 and New Look 6576)

When I received the birthday wishlist for one of my favorite little friends, I was tickled to see that he had requested not only clothes, but "a birthday suit."

The list also included such gems as "a gold-colored bike that moves" and "a balloon that has a string." But of course I fixated on that birthday suit. 

The Birthday Boy's current Favorite Thing is, of course, balloons, which served as the party's loose theme. 

You know where this is going, right? 


And, of course, a matching dress for his 7-month-old sister, my Goddaughter, who is much adored by her older brother. So much adored, in fact, that he included presents for her on his birthday list. What a generous guy!

I wasted no time in ordering a pair of Michael Miller balloon fabrics from fabric.com. These are quilting cottons, which mean they are easily washable (always a relief, I imagine, for parents.)

I also got some turquoise rayon Bemberg from Hart's Fabric. The buttons were a guessed match at fabric.com, but I think they turned out to be fairly close to the turquoise balloons on the fabric.

The pattern I used was New Look 6257, which includes pants, a mandarin collar jacket, a vest and a dress pattern.

Yes, this outfit is possibly a bit clownish and maybe even a bit girly. But Birthday Boy's parents are about as interested in gender norms as vegetarians are in meat -- and if you can't wear crazy clothes when you're 4, when can you wear them?

One of BB's grandmas was kind enough to measure him for me. He's a bit small for the size 3 (which was the smallest one in the pattern), but I needed to cut an extra inch or so to account for his height.

The pants have an elastic waist. I cut the elastic exactly to his waist measurement in the hope that even if the pants were big on the leg, they'd fit in the waist.

It turned out I didn't need to worry -- the pants fit fairly well!

The jacket was pretty easy to assemble -- more so because it had only a mandarin collar and didn't require a full on collar or lapel scheme. I used cuff and collar interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply to interface the collar. The button edge is interfaced with light fusible, also from FSS. 

The pattern was fairly difficult to match because of the scale of the repeat, but I managed to get some climbing balloons onto the button area.

I also got to work on my technique for bagging linings, which was nice. I have a new winter coat planned and, silly as it may sound, I feel much more confident about the lining now that I've accomplished it on the small scale.

I love rayon Bemberg for lining -- it feels so luxurious!

At the last minute, I decided to make another pair of pants from a slightly stretchy khaki I have in my stash. These pants use so little fabric that I think I can still get a skirt out of the yard-plus of khaki I have left.

You can't really see it in these pictures, but I realized as I was pressing everything that I could not tell the back from the front of these, so I sewed a small grosgrain ribbon tag into the back of both pairs of pants. It's hard enough to dress a preschooler -- who would want to do it twice because the pants went on backward the first time?

All in all, I'd say the balloon suit was a hit. BB wasn't too impressed at first, but then his mom asked him what was on the pants and you could see his eyes light up when he took a look and proclaimed them to be "BLOONS!"

And so he put it on, in the middle of the living room, right then and there, in front of all the guests. (Who were mostly all family, but it was still amusing.)

Of course, it's difficult to resist making little girl clothes, so I made a matching dress for BB's sister.

This is New Look 6576, made up in size small. It's got shoulder buttons to make it easy to take on and off. I imagined it would be cute for the end of summer -- it's finally getting hot where I live -- just to wear over her diaper. Probably a shirt and tights could go under it, too, though its a very summery fabric.

I broke the first button I tried to sew on -- hit it with the needle and snapped it in half, so she got some random buttons I found in my stash that were the same size since I had exactly six of the turquoise buttons. I'd already made the buttonholes, so we were pretty much stuck with these, but I do think the purple looks nice.

I never got measurements for this, so I just eyeballed based on the pattern paper -- a dangerous proposition -- but it worked out and fit perfectly.

I've been absent from the blog a bit lately because I've been tackling a huge project for a dear friend's wedding, so it was nice to take a little break and do some fun kid sewing. Both of these projects were easy to turn out and very very quick. The pants each took about 45 minutes from cutting to finishing, as did the dress. The jacket took a bit longer, maybe a couple of hours. 

Do you all sew for others? I enjoy it -- as long as the expectations aren't too high. This was a nice, low-stress project. Like a little sewing vacation!