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Weekend Finery for Of Mice and Men

posted May 7, 2012, 8:44 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins   [ updated May 7, 2012, 8:46 PM ]
First Vest Fitting

What. A. Weekend. 

I can't even tell you how drama-fied it was. I will start first, however, with notes about the vest I was making for dapper Misha to wear to the opera. If you will recall, we had picked out the fabric, two prints actually, and I was ready to do the first fitting. 

Cutting the Collar
The vest fit perfectly, and Misha and I were both quite pleased with how it was shaping up. I took special care to cut the collar and welt pockets with that nice pinstripe at a diagonal. Notice also that I lined up the center front lines (which I had marked quickly with a pink thread hand-sewn along the center front line) and pinned the vest there to ascertain the exact fit.

Of Welt Pockets and Grommets
Sewing Welt Pockets

Next up came the welt pockets. I was so excited to make such a gorgeous vest with functional welt pockets that I commented to my sister that I had never made a one before. Then I realized what a dumb statement that was, since I have made literally hundreds of vests in my work at Utah Opera (USUO); I have just never made one out of my own studio. I did experience a few trying moments of "OMG! How come when Mili cuts that, it's so much better!" (Mili is the tailor I worked for at USUO.) I did manage though, somehow, to come out with a decent product.
Back Vest Fastners

I also grommetted (can grommet be a verb do you think? I certainly use it as such) the back fastners so they would have a lace-up effect rather than using the traditional buckle (the lace-up back on a vest is more period than current fashion, and I think way more posh looking). The grommetting process is always fun, but a bit nerve-wracking since you want the grommets to set properly and not pop out at a random moment.

There is also a real science to pressing the fabric also after you have sewn in the welt pockets or the lining or added grommets. It's a sort of steam and pull approach in order to get the seams to relax a little and lay exactly how you want them to. Alas, this fabric was a bit more difficult to work with than I had expected, but still turned out pretty beautifully (I thought). 
Finished Vest

The Evening Out

And finally, the events leading up to the actual evening were pretty crazy. They involved a deflated me due to dress trauma, a damaged tire (seeing Mindi standing in the Firestone lobby in her sky-hi shoes and formal dress getting a new tire was somewhat memorable), glacial service at our pre-performance dinner, and rather haphazard parking arrangements due to extreme lateness. We did manage, however, to take our own photos on the red carpet (we were too late to join the official photo-shoot line) in the two minutes before we rushed to our seats in the opera house. And the opera was a bit of a tear jerker, so I was really glad my mascara seemed to be waterproof. Nothing really went as planned (and this has been a month in the planning), but, it was certainly an evening to remember.

Current State of the Blue Dress
Also, I'm not sure if you recall, but I had hoped to make my own dress to wear that evening. Alas, when it still wasn't coming together after 30 hours of work up to the day before the evening out, I decided to call it quits. (Hence the "deflated me" statement above.) I think I can still pull this dress together somewhat, but I need to do a few more alterations: re-cut the sleeves, fix the hem, and buy the right accessories. This photo of it gives you a little idea. I am going for a very vintage feel with a slip underneath involving ruffled netting and a hem that stands out via horsehair. But making a dress for myself is ever-so-much harder than making something for other peeps! Fitting, in particular, is a challenge.
A Night at the Opera: On the Red Carpet

So, there were some successes for this occasion and a wee failure, but you must pick your battles. Right? We still managed to look fairly good and have an interesting evening. After all, there is always next season to begin planning for!