Further adventures in tailoring

March 9, 2010

So here’s the upshot of my latest adventure in pattern making.  It all started when I ventured into the Mall of America once more in February.**  I was trudging around trying to find the Verizon store when I walked past Burberry.  And then walked past again.  And then went in.  I felt a little awkward about even being in the store as I am so patently unable and unwilling to purchase anything within but I couldn’t help myself.  I was just finishing off my little plaid coat of last month and so I was inordinately interested in construction details.  My extended curiosity conveyed the wrong impression to one of the painfully stylish salespeople who mistook me for a serious customer and came over to talk.  “Try it,” she said, “that one is so cute on.”  So I set down my tote bag (keeping the display table between her and my dingy hiking boots) and picked up the coat in question, surreptitiously noting its price as I did: $650.  It was, in fact very cute ‘on,’ and it had a nice solid heft to it and the plaid wool lined up perfectly at every seam.  Impressive.  But of course it was totally unthinkable so I looked in the mirror from every angle and then shrugged it off.  “I think the sleeves are a little short on me.”  “Oh that’s no problem,” she replied, “we have a tailor who comes in regularly to make those little alterations.”  For $650 I’m not surprised.  I made a non-committal noise and left the store.

On my way out, though I snapped this picture of the shirt on the mannequin thinking that I could replicate it at home.  Certainly I won’t be able to get hold of the bold plaid that they probably have trademarked but I’ll mess around and see what I come up with.  Here’s my first stab.  I’m thinking that I’ll probably make a couple versions of this shirt since I really like it and it seems to be everywhere right now!  I’ve seen the same design, a tunic top with shirring across the front and sometimes in the sleeves, in J.Jill, Eddie Bauer, and on the street (even here in sleepy La X!).  This is made in a dark brown paisley pattern that my aunt sent me last year.  Its just a bit stretchy which is a little more forgiving for a first draft pattern.

To start with I made a “rub off” of a couple of old  button front work shirts that have been hanging unworn in my closet for years.  Rubbing off is a pattern making term I just learned; it means to base a pattern on a piece of clothing that already exists.  I did some reverse engineering to solve the collar problem and then free formed the sleeves with an additional shirring detail both at the cap and at the cuffs (which are 3/4 length).

There’s also a little shirring at the back were the yoke meets the shirt back.  I liked the repetition of the detail but when I tried it on I discovered That it had just made the shirt incredibly baggy as well.  I’m not aiming for skin tight here but I didn’t want it to be a potato sack so I was all set to rip it apart and take out the extra fabric in the back when my mom suggested a few darts.  What a notion!  Darts are a staple of fitted clothing that has nearly gone the way of the Dodo in this age of spandex in everything but they worked like a charm.   Here it is turned inside out so you can see them more clearly.  I ran one up each side (where a princess seam would fall) and then added a center one for good measure.

It really pulls in the waistline again but they feel really subtle.  Its hard to judge it ‘on’ (as the Burberry clerk says) because one can’t see one’s own back.  But it looks good on the model.

So now its pretty much done!  All that remains is to attach the buttons to the front placket.  I got some last weekend that are a golden-y light brown color but now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have chosen something a bit more subtle so I haven’t put them on yet.  Thoughts anyone?

**  Side note: I see very little to praise in this establishment – its horrible, commercial, noisy and plastic.  And yet its not even a “the most;”  the most overwhelming mall I’ve ever entered isn’t the MOA  (as its advertised around the twin cities) but the Ayala Mall in Manila, the Philippines.  Now that was a monster mall worthy of the name.  It had a sprawling and totally un-navigable layout which organized shops into districts – the clothing district, the electronics district, etc – and could practically be lived in.  Not only did it have several distinct theater areas, and the city historical museum within its walls, to serve its devout patrons they actually held mass in one of the courtyards at several times of day!  By comparison the Mall of America is just a big ugly wannabe.

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