Monday, March 3, 2014

Folkwear Victorian Vest & Sewing Room Reveal!

It's a snow day here in Richmond, VA, so an opportunity to update what I have been working on the past month or so!  After completing the Tippi Hedren suit, I was left with scraps from my 3 metres of fabric I had bought in Rome.  In an attempt to keep the good time going working with this wool/cashmere blend, I decided to make something from the scraps - no amount of this lovely fabric should go unused.  I scratched my head and came up with the idea of a vest - yes, that's it!  I'll make a vest.  I had large enough scraps for two front pieces, and then I could use a coordinating fabric for the back of the vest.

I've never made a vest before, but I thought it would be a good idea because my workplace has declared Fridays as jeans days, so 20% of my workwear is now jeans.  Making a vest would allow me to wear this yummy fabric on Fridays and weekends.  Yay!  Not being a western type of person, and probably under the influence of too many Downton Abbey episodes, I was thinking Victorian and Folkwear Patterns had one:

I thought the fitted vest on the far left to be the winner - it is shaped for the female figure and looked wonderful.  I planned to use the wool/cashmere fabric for the two fronts and the rayon/silk fabric on the left that I ordered at FabricMart for the back:

It's a vest, right?  How hard can this be???  Pretty hard, I discovered.  It seemed that everything that could go wrong on this seemingly simple project, did.  I mean, beginner sewers often make a vest as a first project and I had just finished the Tippi Hedren suit, drafting my own lining pattern in the process.  I thought I had this.

I was so wrong.  I cut the fronts in a single layer so that I could fit the pattern pieces on the scraps.  In doing so, I found I had failed to flip my pattern piece, so in essence I had cut two right side pieces, but no left.  This wasn't fatal since the right and wrong sides of this wool/cashmere fabric aren't very different, so I just flipped one piece over and declared it fine.  

It was a portent of things to come.  I kept making rookie mistakes, like pressing darts the wrong way.  I used habotai silk for the lining, which I knew would be evil, and it was.  My attempt to find buttons was a fruitless search, so I ended up trying to cover buttons in the wool/cashmere fabric in two sizes, but neither could handle the thickness of the fabric.

And when it was done, I found the waist to be a little small, even though it seemed to fit when I basted everything together prior to the final sewing.  I don't know what happened - maybe I was confused as to where the center front was located.  

But the biggest problem was my failure to recognize that the vest only came to one's waist.  Victorian women wore Victorian vests with Victorian high-waisted skirts.  Which is pretty obvious, right?  But I failed to consider how this would look with jeans, which aren't waist high these days, unless you are wearing the dreaded "mom-jeans" from the 1990s.  My jeans aren't particularly low-rise, but there is a good three inches from where this vest ends and my jeans begin - not a good look.  I searched high and low and found exactly one garment I owned that was high-waisted enough to wear with this vest - a grey Cabi knit maxi skirt.

My enthusiasm to finish this vest that can only be worn with one garment in my wardrobe waned considerably.  Especially after three weekends of work.  So I basically called it a day and gave up on buttons, closing the vest with my cameo pin I got at the Vatican on our Italy trip:

 This solution had the added advantage of leaving the waist free, thus, eliminating the too-tight waist problem.  I used the rayon/silk for my undercollar:

 Here's that nasty habotai silk lining that was a bitch to work with:

 Here's the back, which I did think worked well and looked pretty good.  Ignore the wrinkle, I had been sitting:

 In sum:  the only way this vest is going to get any substantial wear is if I start making Victorian high-waisted skirts, and given my recent steady diet of Downton Abbey, that is a distinct possibility.  At least I now know what adjustments I need to make if I ever make another and that I'll have to make a Victorian skirt go with it.

I do want to make it plain that any problems I had with this pattern is not the fault of Folkwear Patterns - it was all due to user error and the fact that my sewing brain took an enormous holiday during the making thereof.

The other project that has been going on is the transformation of my sewing room!  Until about a month ago, it looked like this:

And now it looks like this:

 Vicki gets all the credit for this; she came over and got me organized!  See the big cabinet in the corner?  That's where my fabric is these days.  And here is The Carpenter's old kitchen table, raise to 35 inches so I have a proper cutting out table in my actual sewing room:

 He sanded down the top for me; I haven't decided whether to leave it unfinished, or prime and paint it.  I'll think on it for a few years.  Here's a book case in the corner holding pressing things and vintage patterns:

 Here are two cubby-hole thingys we got at Home Depot; Vicki came up with the idea of adding a shelf on top of both, providing more horizontal surface area and stablizing the two.  The Carpenter built and painted the top shelf:

Also those blue, yellow, grey, and green baskets are now holding patterns, sewing magazines, buttons, and various notions.  My zippers are on the top shelf, in old flower vases.  And, for the first time ever, I have a full length mirror in the house.  (How did I ever sew without it???):

 Vicki also came up with idea for peg board over the cutting table.  I still haven't quite organized my tools on it:

My pressing area is pretty much the same, but the bookcase provides so much more space to store my pressing items:

I still need to hang my sewing themed artwork, but my picture hanging mojo is low, so I went ahead and took these photos before I completely junk up my beautiful sewing space.  : )  Thank you, Vicki!  And a big shout-out to Tammy, who came over and helped us put all this new furniture together!

Happy sewing, y'all!


niema said...

Your sewing room looks lovely! I need to get a full length mirror too.

Sorry that you so many problems with your vest. It looks nice on you.

Vicki W said...

The serger is going to fit perfectly on the shelf behind you. The room looks great! Guess I'll come over one day and hang the art or assign Tammy to do it one day while you are at work.

Mary said...

I really like the colored baskets on the shelves. I may have to use that idea.

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

Great job organizing your sewing studio! Hmm, I think that your cutting table would look fabulous if you collaged old pattern tissues on it. Give it a coat of polyurethane and then painted the legs a nice pastel color to go with the rest of your room.