Monday, March 10, 2014


As Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) approaches, I am preparing, as best I can, to blend in. The first year I just wasn't thinking at all. I brought clothes appropriate for a somber meeting, or maybe Sunday School, but not even Easter. Yes, boring.

When we arrived Daughter2 showed me the runway dresses she and BFF had rented for CFW. You know, thirty-somethings, slim, and going to a party.

Last year I did a little better. Black silk TSW Plaza pants with a black silk shell. The jacket is a soft, sheer High-Five jacket with just the smallest bit of bling. Daughter2 modeled during CFF last year for several of  Charleston's boutiques. You can see here that she loves to ham it up in a picture. Her BFF is in the center.

This year I am getting a bit more serious. I am not slim (still) and would not want to be 36 again anyway. Even if I could dress like Daughter, I would feel silly. So my goal this year is a little bling. Lower case bling. bling that allows a sixty-something, over-weight person to sort of blend in.

After much digging at Gail K in Atlanta, I was drawn to a beautiful purple lace that could go to a party. It was just beautiful. I thought - perfect for grandmother-of-the-bride, perhaps. Not the look I wanted.

Then, just as I was about to give up and buy my old standby - silk dupioni - I saw it. Sitting in the isle. $40 per yard. But perfect.

I really love this fabric. I'm keeping this on my dress form so I can pet it. Despite its appearance, it is really quite supple. It is a sheer black mesh with tiny silver sequins. The black lines that show up in the photo are just the bare single layer of mesh. Tiny sequins are stitched on top of it to create the swirled effect. 

After the salesman cut the fabric for me, he had to sweep the cutting table. Sequins everywhere. He assured me that once the seams were enclosed, the shedding would stop. And, amazingly, he was absolutely right.

CLD's Pure and Simple (PAS) top seemed the best pattern in my stash for a fabric that is really not like any fabric I've ever sewn. PAS has horizontal bust darts, a little shaping at the side seams and shoulder seams. Sadly, it is now OOP.

So I cut out the two pattern pieces. My whole sewing room was aglow with sequins. A customer at Gail K's suggested French seams so as to avoid having the raw edges next to my skin.  I sampled a French seam on a remnant and realized that would not make me happy. Way too bulky. 

So I decided to line it with black Bemberg Ambiance. Ambiance works great with so many fabrics and it was just right to pair with this non-fabric fabric. 

I even had fun assembling it, so as to avoid as much handwork as possible. I love handwork but not on sequins. I stitched the front and back together in the sequined fabric, as well as the lining. Then I layered the face fabric and lining, right sides together, stitched the neckline and turned it right sides out. Easy-peasy. A little crunchy, but easy.

Next I used a variation on the bag-a-jacket technique to sew the sleeve edges together. I pinned the shoulder seams together so nothing would twist as I manipulated it. I reached inside, where all the raw edges were and lined up the sleeve edges, RST. Sewing required two passes.

I trained the neck and sleeve edges over my ham with a tiny bit of steam and finger pressure. (And I understitched these edges by hand later to keep things flat.) More crunching, but surprisingly easy to handle.

To finish the lower hem, I turned the piece inside-out and stitched RST for all but about 5 inches so that it could be turned right side out. Again, easy-peasy, but a little fussy. And I only sewed the last 5 inches by hand.

I had thought I'd wear this with a favorite silk-and-wool jacket that gets very little wear in my very casual life.

Husband pointed out that it takes me right back to the office, or maybe an office party. So I guess I'll have to show my arms. Maybe the flash of bling will make it hard to actually see my arms.

Must remember to stand straight
All in all, I'm pretty happy with my first foray into sewing on sequined, fancy fabric.


  1. Love it! This bling suits you so well. And you are certainly not overweight!! Thanks for the sewing tips, I have yards of sequin fabric handy for when I have the nerve. Signed: AQOBIA (A Queen of Bling In Atlanta).

  2. Gorgeous, Martha! I would LOVE to have that in my closet!

  3. Gorgeous! That is one cool top!

  4. you should be pretty darn happy with this one! nice choice and great job.

  5. Just PERFECT! So, so pretty and just the thing for the occasion.

  6. Great fabric. I am all for wearing daytime bling!

  7. Beautiful, Martha! That wonderful fabric looks great in that classic, simple design.

  8. You always look so classy! I love this look!

  9. I agree and disagree with you. First the disagree, you are slim. The agree, Who wants to be 36....again. I like now so much better :) this top is fabulous, but then everything you do is!

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