Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tippi Hedren Suit - Butterick 2178 & A Confession

I have to apologize; you know that deep freeze the eastern part of the US experienced this weekend?  The one that left everyone snowed in, stranded at the airport, and living in below zero temperatures? It's my fault.  Yep, I did it.  

I made a muslin this weekend.  Which caused the eastern US, and hell, to freeze over.  

I know, I should have seen it coming and warned all of humanity.  But I was too excited about proceeding with my Tippi Hedren suit based on her costume she wore in the film, "The Birds", which I got to see in person at the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

I've been obsessed with it for months.  Before I left on vacation, I bought Butterick 2178 on because the jacket closely resembles Edith Head's creation:

 And then in Rome, I found this gorgeous wool/cashmere blend that I knew I would work beautifully:

 This shot shows the color more accurately:

It was 55 euros per meter and I bought three meters.  I goggled that and it works out to 3.28 yards of 60 inch fabric for $ 223.54.  By my calculations, the cost is $ 68.15 per yard.  That's actually not the most I've ever spent on fabric, but it is expensive enough to warrant a muslin.  

I wasn't so much concerned about the fit; the pattern is a 34 Bust which usually fits me fine, and this jacket isn't close fitting.  What I was more concerned about was understanding the instructions on how to put this thing together.  The collar is actually very similar to the Gertie coat, but the instructions are typical 1960s directions; that is, they are limited to one page for the jacket, the skirt, and the blouse:

That's it.  For the whole outfit.  (A far cry from Gertie's extensive sew-along!) Plus, the instructions called for sew-in interfacing which I have no intention of using and I want to make sure I understand the order of construction without it.

I made the muslin out of actual muslin fabric - I have a whole bolt of it.  No, I don't know why either, since I never make muslins.  I think I got it a Joann's and I must have suffered a seizure that day because  I have no other explanation as to why I have an entire bolt of white muslin fabric.

So here it is:


Not very exciting is it?  That's why I don't make muslins, because they aren't exciting.  But this one actually ended up being very valuable.  The instructions for this pattern are pretty blithe about the whole project; one section tells you how to pin the undercollar to the back of the jacket and then tells you to sew "in one operation" the front jacket darts and the undercollar to the back of the jacket.  I did not perform this step in "one operation", but in about six, carefully pinning and matching and sewing repeatedly.  The collar, like the Gertie coat, has a lot of "Y" seams, as quilters would call them.  They are tricky.

I ended up making one sleeve to check the length because the illustration on the envelope depicts the jacket sleeves ending just below the model's elbow.  Tippi's suit sleeves are longer than that, I want the longer length:

My muslin reveals that the sleeve length is actually longer than the pattern illustration shows and I am very happy with it.  Here's a photo which shows the suit in a little more detail, although I think the color is off; it is not this olive in real life:

 You can see that the collar isn't exactly like my pattern, but I like the pattern's collar better, so I'm going with it.  Also, you can see the sleeves have small one inch or 1.5 inch cuffs.  I like them, and I'll add them to my suit jacket.  

And Tippi's suit has patch pockets that go all the way to the hem of the jacket, which I've never seen before.  The pattern only has pocket flaps (but no pockets).  I like the patch pockets, so I'll add them as well to my version.

Finally, the pattern has no pattern pieces for a lining.  Tippi's costume was lined - I saw a photo of her running during the film, and the jacket was definitely lined, although it is a bit hard to tell because the designer Edith Head managed to find lining the exact same color as the suit.

My fabric is so beautiful and soft, it can slip through the proverbial ring.  Any jacket made with it deserves a lining.  So I'll have to draft a lining pattern, which I have never done before.  Based on my experience with the Gertie coat, I know I need to not use the back collar facing pattern piece and use the back pattern piece for my back lining, but add a one inch pleat in the back for ease.  I'm not completely certain how to make the front lining piece, but I'll review the pattern pieces of the Gertie coat to see how she did it.  I think I can figure it out.  

A couple of more facts about this costume; Edith Head is said to have designed it, but Edith Head's name was attached to a lot of films (especially Hitchcock's films), and there is no guarantee that she actually designed it.  It is possible that someone working on the costumes for the film did it.  Six of these suits were made for the film; necessary since there is the whole scene where Tippi Hedren is attacked by the birds and her suit is torn and bloodied.

I believe I will have enough fabric for a dress to go with the jacket.  The original costume has a sleeveless, high-necked dress with small gathers at the waist.  The skirt has a kick-pleat.  The photo above doesn't show it, but it was worn with a large belt with a square belt buckle.  My plan is make McCall's 5972 dress, a Laura Ashley pattern I've made before:

I'll make the blue version - the one without the collar.  I love the collar, but it shows under sweaters and jackets.  At this point, I'm going with this pattern because it only takes 1.25 yards of 60 inch fabric to make it, and my fabric has a twill weave which doesn't lend itself to gathering; I think a smooth waist is the way to go.

So that is it for now.  I started cutting out today, and I need to start drafting those pattern details I'm adding:  pockets, cuffs, and a lining!


Vicki W said...

1. You crack me up.
2. I wish I could write like you!

Audrey said...

So it was you. I never would have guessed. I got to wear my shearling coat today thanks to you. Okay, I am over that novelty, now do something to make it warm again. Nice looking muslin, foretelling a fab jacket.