It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Black Sheep Peony

Some of you may remember my stormy relationship with The Peony. (aka Diane Ericson/ReVisions Peony Vest) I exposed the sordid details in these posts - after numerous fits and starts, we ended up by tying the proverbial knot.   Well, I'm sad to say that, although Mr. Peony still hangs around here, we never go out...he's just too...flashy.  Ill-fitting.  He's larger than life, and sometimes it's just all too much.

And then I met his distant cousin.   Who is, shall we say, the Black Sheep of the family.  I guess there's just a part of me that's still attracted to the quintessential bad boy.  What can I say.  I'm a sucker, as long as he's soft and cuddly and warms the cockles of my heart, and this black sheep does a good job of that.  :)

Here we are together:

Not only that, but he's willing to expose his soft side in public!
(Overexposed to show details better)
He has some rough edges, but then, don't we all?  I really like the honesty with which he's willing to display them :)

And a pocket, because some secrets really should be kept out of sight:

I really think that this relationship has a LOT more hope than the original peony:  (Not that I'm tied down completely - we have an open relationship. and #1 is open to some alterations that may make him more suitable for outings.....we'll see......)

The back story (aka, the nuts & bolts of how things came together):
A couple of years ago Fabric Mart had a pile of leathers & sheepskins at ridiculous (low!) prices, and although I tried to resist, I failed.   Both the orange pigskin of #1 and the 2 sheepskins for #2 came from that failed resistance.

The sheepskins were a bit small, so squeezing the pattern pieces on was a bit of a challenge.  (aside: Although I did alter the muslin & pattern pieces ahead of time, knowing that I needed to make them smaller, I was too lazy to actually sew them together & test the new sizing - I would have done MUCH better with layout had I done that.....hindsight.....Especially since I kept cutting the new vest down numerous times during the making)   *sigh*:

I have to say that I really had fun making this vest.   And solidified a few aspects of the type of sewing I enjoy the most:
  • Playing with design aspects during the making, as opposed to having it all figured out ahead of time.
  • Being able to cut and slice and alter at will, because of the forgiving nature of the fabric used; i.e., no worries about fraying & cut edges, mistakes can be easily hidden or incorporated into the design, and there isn't even a set and specific grain line to worry about!  
  • It's a "natural" fabric (animal rights advocates notwithstanding.....) but still has some forgiving stretch, which makes it relatively forgiving.
  • It's really easy to work with, and a pleasure to touch and feel.  :)
  • It was SO simple and easy to construct!  Although I like a challenge, doing something that doesn't even require opening the directions is such a pleasant change!
Which leads me to the construction.  Since I'd made this once before, and went through some hair-pulling sessions trying to get the lining to fit and hang right after a multitude of alterations (not to even mention all of the embellishments....no, we're not going to mention them...), I already knew how the pieces fit together, so I truly didn't even open up the direction sheet.   I just sewed up all of the vertical seams first, and stitched the seam allowances down, then fitted the shoulder seams last:
Binder clips are an awesome necessity
when working with natural skins!
No holes in the fabric, 

and they hold even the heaviest of fabrics together very well. :)

I ended up cutting in the armholes - a LOT - and even sliced off the side seams after (I thought) it was all done, taking in the sides by even more inches than I had originally.   The pattern sizing goes to XS - by the time I was done, I probably had an XXS.   (and no, I am NOT XXS!)

As far as construction details, I have to admit that I was more interested in having fun with this than in following detailed sheepskin cutting and sewing guidelines.  Since I planned on exposed seams, I didn't shave off the fur on the seam allowances, but I did trim it away along the seam line itself:
Note:  I was not anal about clipping along the exact seam line - this is basically eyeballed. It worked fine.   All that fur is VERY forgiving!
I used a Jeans needle and walking foot on Penelope, my Grande Dame 201, and she did a stellar job on the stitching.  I used "taut sewing" techniques, giving the fabric a bit of extra pull from the rear when necessary, since the skin & fur varied in thickness by quite a bit.  I did not use anything to keep the seams together as I sewed, I just practiced Slow Sewing and held my seams together by hand as I stitched. A bit of waviness in the seam allowances was not going to bug me on this one. :)

Oh, and one Absolutely Essential Tool when working with sheepskin is:   a hand vacuum.   Just leave it out, plugged in and ready to use, during the entire process.  You'll be using it a LOT!

The Results:
The Woman In Black





Closeups of the Closures:
















Next up are a few necessary main course/protein/cake/whatever-you-want-to-call-them projects.  The necessaries.  Jeans.  Jammies.  Work Clothes.

Maybe I'll sneak a small bit of frosting in there now & then.   Because that's what I do.  ;-)

Meanwhile, Mr. Black Sheep and I are going to do a bit of grocery shopping. :)  Dressed as above - no jacket!   This is the first time in months!  The sun is shining here, and I'm seeing bulbs popping up, but not too much in the way of flowers in my garden yet...soon...real soon....  I've noticed that I seem to be sewing a bit more realistically lately, regarding seasonal sewing.  I've put away the last piece of wool that did not get made up into a coat, and I'm looking at Springish transitional clothing - I used to be SO far behind, starting wintery clothes in March...I think I'm learning!

Are the rest of you Northern Hemisphere sewists gearing up for Spring/warm weather sewing?  And are you antipodeans still enjoying and sewing your sleeveless garments?  Here's to Happy Sewing, whatever the season :)

32 comments:

  1. How fabulous -- love the hat too! Karen

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  2. Excellent choice of materials for the peony vest. Really sharp and a clever post as well. Sew enjoyable:)...cheesy I know, sorry I couldn't help myself. I would love to make myself a shearling vest, it is so practical for our weather, but I just have not been able to justify the expense. How exciting that you found a good deal on them and then actually sewed them up. Bravo!!

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    1. With just a little foresight, I would have bought more! I didn't realize I wasn't going to see those prices again :(

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  3. I do recall your affair with the Peony, Jilly, and your hours upon hours of hard work. Maybe someday you will be able to go out together. For now, you are looking great in the black sheep distant cousin - wearing your beautiful smile as always!

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  4. Love the vest...but OMG, the HAT!!!!

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    1. I SO lucked out on that hat! A friend was getting rid of it at a yard sale. Translation: free to me :) A classic fedora that fits my head perfectly!

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  5. Jilly, this is my absolute favorite garment you've made. Well, except for the silk jacket you were making when we first met. But this is just so cool. It looks great on you, and I love how you made it yours. Great work!
    Bulbs popping up?! We got 27" of snow in the past day, and you're talking flowers. Oy!

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    1. Wow, really? Your favorite? omg high praise indeed!

      I'm pretty sure I just read 27" of snow. I think I did. No, I couldn't have....simply cannot relate anymore (My Montana days are long long long behind me lol!)

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  6. What a cute top - I particularly like the brightly colored one!

    Any yes, I am sure that Spring is around the corner and thoughts are drifting to cheery, summery clothes . . . . as well as a travel wardrobe as I will be in Adelaide in September! Woo hoo!!

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  7. Cute vest AND hat!! I look forward to seeing the vest in person tomorrow!

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  8. What a fantastic "black sheep" vest! You make it look so easy, had I not seen your long term work on Peony #1 I would be quite beside myself with envy. As it is I have great appreciation of your panache in wearing it, particularly with that delightful hat!

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  9. I just flat out love that vest!

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  10. Your black sheep is terrific. Artsy. Out there. It has a rough, edgy quality to it that you wear very well.

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  11. Oh wow! Love your black sheep. I haven't taken the plunge into leather sewing, not that I don't want to, just a bit intimidated! Your vest is fantastic! Still winter here, so still sewing up wool stuff. Looking forward to spring and starting to think about my Easter dress! ~Teri

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  12. It looks great! A sheep skin vest is one f those times when a home sewer can really make herself a normally unaffordable luxury. I did this last winter, and I was surprised by how easy shearling is to sew.

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  13. Jilly, definitely has your personality, this one. What a triumph!

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  14. Awesome vest! You look fantastic!!

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  15. Wow! Not only really fun and funky but incredibly flattering on you as well! I love it. Sad that you and the orange version don't get along so well but I'm betting you can tame it to your will. At least once you let it out of the doghouse...

    Alternatively, orange is my favourite colour - just sayin'.

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  16. Gorgeous! and so nice to see and, more important, FONDLE in person. I think Lisa wasn't kidding when she wanted to take it home. Heather

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  17. I just adore it with the hat! A wonderful accomplishment and truly inspiring.

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  18. Get your bad self over here, Mr Black Sheep.
    Lisa from BABES

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    1. You may have danced nicely together, but he's mine. All mine. Hands off, babe ;-)

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  19. Love the rough edged black sheep! He is a keeper!!!

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  20. Oooooohhh. JillyBe, this makes me want to travel down to California in an attempt to become "the other woman." This is fan-freaking-tastic!! And you look utterly gorgeous! You did a fabulous job with this project

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    1. When I said we have an "open relationship", what I meant was that *I* get to go out with others....sorry if I misled you };-)

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  21. Fantastic vest! As usual, a fun piece that suits you well!

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  22. Wowwww. It's so cool. Love your photos with big smile..

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  23. Thank you for doing the Peony in this material. Great idea I'm going to have to copy! Gorgeous!

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  24. This vest is just fabulous! I love the rough edges, and your debonair attitude. Bravo!

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