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!

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