Monday, September 28, 2015

Dressing and Sewing for a Reunion

Years ago I heard Peggy Sagers share that her princess seamed sheath dress was a "reunion dress." As she stated, that's when you need darts and princess seams to make you look your best since you want to make a lasting impression on people you seldom see. Well, I think she was talking about a high school or college reunion but point made.  You see, I have a reunion coming up in a few weeks, one that I have been busy planning for a year.  When my girlfriend and I were setting up our rooming together arrangements, the first thing she asked me was "What are you going to wear?"  We both laughed because one of our fun activities is snoop shopping at a high end store in our home town....and wondering where on earth people are wearing those glamorous gowns on the "formal" side of the store.  Chi chi gowns are not something I have needed nor will need in my life so I'm relieved from having to make corselets and all the underpinnings that make evening wear look and feel good.  
No, this is not a high school or college reunion, instead it is for my 8th grade parochial grammar school class from northern New Jersey.  I've shared pictures before from our yearly lunch gatherings and this is really just a larger, more significant version of that get together.  But as I told another friend who just attended her 50th high school reunion, you want to look good enough so that 27 years from now when a classmate reads your obituary he or she says, "Darn she looked good last time I saw her."  
Because I sew I have double demands on my outfits. Yes, I want to look good but I also want to make sure I wear something I've sewn.  
The reunion will be October 10 and the weather could be anything from warm and sunny to cool and rainy.  Fortunately these are strictly casual gatherings.  We are going to tour our old grammar school (originally built in 1931) for an hour then reconvene for an appetizer buffet and cash bar at a nearby restaurant for the afternoon with a walk through our hometown retail area and stop for ice cream afterward.  Dinner on your own so you can talk at length with a smaller group.  There will be more than two dozen classmates and about a half dozen significant others.  There are  few people who have never attended our previous big two reunions and I am thrilled that they are making the effort to attend this one, most like the last "big" effort we make to get together.  
I want my outfit to be versatile enough for those weather variables, flattering but comfortable enough for plenty of walking....and nice enough for me to be proud that I sewed it.  My first thought was to make myself a new "stitch and flip jacket" and that's my project this week. 
Basically a stitch and flip jacket is a faster but similarly comfortable Chanel-like jacket....or now the preferred term seems to be "iconic French jacket."  Me, I just call it another stitch  and flip because that's the technique I learned ten years ago from my first online class via Patternreview and the late Shannon Gifford. 

 I have raved before about what a marvelous teacher Shannon was and I have sewn a half dozen jackets with these techniques and they all are as wearable and cozy as when I first made them.  I was happy to see that Shannon's entire set of course materials are still available at PR  Shannon Gifford's classes on PR   and I think they are worth every penny and more.  When someone in the class wanted her to explain how to make this techniques "more Chanel-like," Shannon proceeded to add an entire additional jacket with step by step pics showing how she did that.  Here's a copy of the Threads issue 111 with a shorter version of this technique  "Line and Underline in One Step"  
I spent a few hours last week deciding which fabric to use from my resource center....this silk tweed from Fabric Mart....and putting together a sample with fully fused very lightweight interfacing and 1 inch bias cut self fabric fringe.  I am using my well-loved Simplicity 4698 princess seam jacket that Sarah Veblen fit on me ten years ago....and that fitting help was the best investment in my sewing skills ever.
I want a longer jacket to wear with skinny pants and longer sleeves for fall weather.

I went into my closet to look at those other jackets and decide what I liked best or wanted to change this time around.  I'm going to add shoulder pads so examined how I did that on the turquoise tweed jacket that you see in my profile picture (with now departed basenji Sam)  
Quilting stops so shoulder pad can be inserted

No shoulder pads in this jacket but there's velcro in case I want to use them
I like the silk tweed pockets on the bias
Love this Louise Cutting technique to cut fashion fabric on the bias and use a small brush to make it  unravel.
I spent the most time block fusing the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces then exactly the same pieces in lining, in this case Bemberg rayon also from Fabric Mart.  The sewing is rather simple and the Threads article is a great overview.  An hour or two of sewing, pressing open (and cooling the fabric, always my impatient moments) trimming then top stitching....repeat all the way around and on day two I had the body of the jacket, sewn and also "quilted" to make it more "Chanel-like" and also because it makes it even cozier and more sweater like.  
First stitch and flip jacket nine years ago and just as wearable today

In the next few posts I will show how I add shoulder pads to this design and then my finished jacket.  I have not made a semi-tailored fitted garment like this since my coat project last winter and I am enjoying sewing with woven for a bit more of a structured garment.  I think it will be nice addition to my fall wardrobe and perfect for the reunion gathering.  Are you doing any "special event" sewing these days?

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting jacket! Reunions...scary stuff! My 50th high school reunion is next summer, and I'm torn about whether to travel and attend, or just enjoy the photos on FB. I was not the extravert in my class :-)


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