Friday, October 18, 2019

Ensemble Sewing

A dig through deep stash turned up two, coordinating fabrics. One is a double knit, a ponte with rayon (I think). The other is a cotton design by Naomi Ito (brand: nani IRO). It's a fairly beefy cotton, almost the weight of canvas.

So I decided to do something I don't do enough - make two pieces to be worn together. An ensemble is so practical but I rarely plan that far ahead.

First I made a dress out of the ponte. I used my favorite knit dress pattern - the Swing Tee from the Sewing Workshop (TSW), modified to be a dress. The Tee is fairly wide at the bottom, so making it into a dress was a bit more complicated than simply lengthening it. TSW included the measurements for this modification in a recent issue of Sew Confident. I've constructed and worn dresses from this pattern quite a lot lately. Maybe too many. DH has started to comment...

This dress was modified to include bracelet length sleeves and side seam pockets. I chose to make the pockets a single layer to avoid bulk.

This was such a simple make and I do love the color. I know I'll enjoy wearing it.

For my second piece, I chose the Brando jacket, also from TSW. One problem with deep stash is that I begin to imagine that I have way more yardage than I actually do have. As I laid this out, it was obvious pretty quickly that there was no way to get an entire jacket out of my precious piece of nani IRO fabric. I was really bummed about this, but soldiered on, deciding to make a vest instead.

Even a vest was challenging with my limited yardage. By piecing the collar, and making the pockets out of a remnant of Bemberg Ambiance, it worked!

The pattern repeat on this fabric was way too large to even consider matching it at the seams. Some time ago, I decided that large prints are often better used without matching the print. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I have convinced myself that I really, really don't want that huge continuous pattern across my body.

The Brando has princess seams and provided nice places to break up the pattern without losing the overall effect. I think.

The Brando has an interesting collar stand that only extend around the back of the neckline. My fabric was stiff enough that I did not use any interfacing. With the interesting collar stand, I like the way the collar can be folded up a bit.

My greatest challenge in making the Brando was the zipper. A separating zipper is required. I ordered one online but when I started to use it, I realized it was about 1/2 inch too long.

The zipper is fully exposed on one side, so I needed the finish on each end to remain intact. Of course, a separating zipper has a hard plastic stop at the bottom for feeding the two sides of teeth together. And this one had brass balls at the top.

I was lucky to find a fine tutorial online (*) that gave me the tricks I needed to shorten the zipper. One trick was to crush the extra teeth using needle-nose pliers. Then they fall right off. Another trick was to do that BEFORE removing the brass balls.

After removing the teeth, there's room to maneuver the stop off without destroying it. It was fairly easy to pry it open, move it down, and mash it closed again. I was so excited when this was successful!

I was not quite sure how to secure the ends of the zipper to the fabric. I did not see anything in the instructions to help with this. It was one of those times that I really wished to have a sample to copy.

I was doubtful that I could machine sew the lower hard plastic tab to the fabric. But I was wrong. In the end, using my zipper foot, I sewed a tiny square around the perimeter of it to secure it.

I followed the included instructions to add the lining. Too bad I didn't have sleeves to practice bagging the lining! The instructions looked great.

To finish the armholes, I created some bias tape from silk dupioni. Once I finished it, I tried it on over a plain white Tee. I was not terribly impressed with it. The armholes are a bit larger than I expected, and of course, there's nothing to be done about that now. Note to self for next time.

Also there was a bit of gap-o-sis near where the front princess seam intersects the armhole. I did my best to remove the gaps by taking a wider seam allowance there. Unfortunately I was not paying close attention and took in the princess seam in the back of one side, rather than the front.

Yep, this was one of those projects.

I'll have to wear the vest a few times to see how to style it. I'm not sure I love it with the dress.

To me, it reads frumpy with the dress. Maybe with some tights...

 So much for Ensemble Sewing.

I'm not giving up on the vest and I definitely like the dress. I tried the vest with a Liberty shirt and Helix pants here.

There is still hope for the little vest. I think I'll like it with a shorter shirt. I mean, it's kind of cute, isn't it?

* I wish I had made a note on the tutorial. If I find it again, I'll come back and give credit here.


  1. Pity they don't look good together as the fabrics are very complimentary. Hope you find the perfect outfit for your vest as it would be a shame for it not to be worn. Think I would have been tempted to add leather sleeves to achieve the Brando jacket.

  2. I love your creations. Wonderful inspiration!

  3. Even though the dress and vest don't work together, they're both just lovely. The vest fabric is just gorgeous and I definitely like it better with the pants.

  4. I think your vest is fabulous! I know you'll find the perfect companions for it.

  5. Very cute vest. The dress is great too and open for layering.

  6. Whoa Martha! This is fantastic! Congrats. I learned a lot!