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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Balenciaga + Ericson = CB Bolero = Win!

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I recently bought 3 patterns from Sandra Ericson of Center for Pattern Design, all inspired by Balenciaga.  I've already made up 2 of them, and the 3rd is ready for a muslin- that should give you an idea of how impressed I am with the designs!   But it's more than being impressed.  There is intrigue, puzzlement, challenge, awe, and in the end, a highly wearable piece that is as much a simple work of art as it is practical clothing!

Imho, Balenciaga +  Ericson = wearable haute couture for the masses!  OK, so not exactly haute couture technique, but you get my drift, right?  I certainly give thanks to Ms. E. for bringing his patterns to the public!

I'll start with a shot of the finished CB Bolero:


I'm delighted with the results!   The fabric is an unusual double knit of unknown content - it has almost a neoprene-like feel to it, but not really....   It was such an odd fabric that I only bought a shade over 2 yards (and that presented a major challenge fitting this pattern on it!)  Now that I've worked with it, I wish I'd bought more!  It's stable and easy to work with, and the cut edges are so clean I left the hemlines raw (something you RARELY see on anything I make!)  To see just how versatile the fabric can be (is it fair of me to rave about a fabric that is probably impossible to find anymore?  sorry......[evilgrin]), check out shams' dress (which, btw, is an entry in the Fabric Mart Challenge - visit the link  & please vote for your favorite in the contest)!  (Do I need to say out loud that my personal favorite dress was made by shams?)  ;-)  The fabric, btw,  came from Fabrix in SF, my absolute favorite discount fabric destination! 

I really thought I would end up with a casual piece, but once it started coming together I was concerned that it was going to be too dressy for me to get much wear from!  (clearly I don't get out on the town in a fancy way much).   In the end though, this is a piece that can be dressed up or down, and I WILL get a lot of wear from it!

The sizing is 8-18.  This pattern appears to run on the small side - I made a 14, but I added length by cutting it at the size 18 at the bottom.   And then I left the hem as a raw edge, so this added a total of 2-4" in the length.   I did end up cutting in the shoulders by almost 2" at the widest cut (to accommodate my narrow, sloping shoulders), but I think I would need to do this even on a smaller size.  The bias drape of the piece allows for a lot of flexibility in fit, but if you want to make it from a piece of precious fabric, I would definitely recommend a muslin.

On to the construction.   I don't know how helpful my pics & explanations will be, because the way it's put together is far more puzzling than meets the eye when looking at the pattern pieces.  Genius is what it is, imho!   To look at the finished piece, one can easily think it's just a circle with sleeves cut in.   Hah.   I HIGHLY recommend a dress form helper, and if you're like me, you'll be draping the pieces on over & over again trying to figure out exactly how it all goes together & which edges to put together for the seams, and which sides are RS and which are WS....  Of course, there are NO hints or instructions on seam finishes, or any sort of finishing tips at all.   This is stated up front - these are "'educational patterns'; that is, they are unusual and most often have some feature that is a learning experience which is the whole point in publishing them."

Note:  I don't mean to discourage anyone - sewing it all together is really quite easy, once you understand how it works.   It just took my brain on a bit of a voyage before it all made sense to me.

Construction Steps (the dry & potentially boring stuff - but if you end up making this, hopefully the following will be helpful!):
After sewing in the darts, you sew the shoulder seams (instructions say to sew the side seams as well, but since I was figuring it all out step by step [I did not muslin it],  I used slightly different steps.)
Note the folded over section at the neckline -
when I was cutting this out I thought that the CF was at the lower edge of that fold.
Wrong.
CF is on a folded part somewhere in the center of that piece!
Not obvious until you start putting it together....
Enclosed seams are advised for all of the seams.  In the following pic, note that the shoulder seam is sewn by matching the armscyes of the front and back pieces.  The extra fabric on the front will be folder over to meet the "collar", or "cape".
  

Once you attach the 'collar' (i.e., the back portion of the cape), at the shoulder seams, there can be a lot of bulk at the shoulder seams if you use a fairly thick fabric (which this is).   With a fair amount of seam trimming, it worked well though.   A thicker fabric like this will really stand away from the body; a thinner fabric would give more drape, but one of the beauties of this pattern is that many fabrics will work well with it, even sheers!




I won't even pretend that I can explain what's happening in the following pic.   I just added it to show you how confused someone (i.e., ME, can get while trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces go together!   Really, it isn't all THAT confusing, it's just that, for me, draping it on another body was a necessity to have it all fall into place!

The following pic shows the collar/cape and the front piece sewn together, after the collar has been attached at the shoulder seams, and the front piece has been folded back to meet the edge of the collar piece.

Are ya with me?

A try-on at this stage showed that the shoulder slope was  too broad on me, in no small part due to the stable thickness of the fabric.   I adjusted the seamline, bringing the back (collar) piece forward a bit, and trimmed it by over 1-1/2" at the deepest cut.

Finished Jacket, with sleeves set in, inside out:
Reminder to Self (for the Umpteenth Time):
Certain actions are OK to perform post-midnight.
Serging Set-in Sleeves is not one of those actions.
 


After the bolero was completed, I realized that it was just a tad bit fiddly/slippery, and decided that buttons were called for.   I added a button on each side of CF, and in order to keep some flexibility, decided to just use various ties as closures, so that I could mix & match whatever I want to wear it with.  A little touch of brilliance, if I do say so myself! ;-)


A few shots of the finished piece in action.  

A slightly more casual look:


Note:  The green tie here is just a cut-at-the-last-minute strip of fabric 
matching the top (a Burda T-neck).  
 I promise I won't go out in public without a more finished tie!


And a dressier option:
(Worn with The Dress, and The Trippens)  




The tie closure here is a a scrunchie hair tie
(something that has never worked on my barely-there hair, even when it was long!)

The feedback I've had from everyone who's seen this cape/bolero/jacket/thingy in person has all been very positive.   Even from people who don't normally like capes!  I expect to see a lot more versions, since I personally know half a dozen or so people who ordered it after Sandra's presentation at Artistry in Fashion.

Besides a variety of fabrics, Sandra suggests options like cutting the back a lot longer for a more elegant look.   You could also easily eliminate the sleeves for a sleeveless version.   I can see a slew of very different-looking pieces from this pattern!  I have a lot of other projects on my plate, so I don't think I'll be making another one immediately, but I'll definitely keep this in stash for another fabric to jump up & down wanting to become another CB Bolero.

How about you?  Have I convinced you that it's worth a go?

29 comments:

  1. I've been fascinated by the CPD patterns as well and your cape looks great is this mystery knit (as does Sham's dress). You are clearly happy with the result and with good reason, its fabulous on you!

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    1. Thanks Dilliander - it really is fun to wear!

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  2. Well, it looks like you've been more successful with the Bolero than I have been with the Pyramid. I have had numerous "design opportunities" (aka swearing) with the Pyramid, and since there's not a lot in my stash that's suitable for bias cut designs, I've used some precious fabric and had to make it work! I'm on my third now, and I do believe that three times is the charm. Crossing my fingers. I will bring all iterations on Saturday, see you then? I do believe that a CPD fashion show is in the works.

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    1. Yes I'll see you Saturday, & I'll have my practice version of the spiral top too....maybe more :)

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  3. Wow! What a knock out garment. I'd never heard of these patterns before your Artistry in Fashion post, but now I'm curious, and I can't wait to see your other makes. Also, I can't imagine you with long hair! It's funny how we meet people, and we assume they've always been just as they are when we meet them. Anyway, I'm hopeful you will get lots and lots of wear out of this bolero. It looks like just the thing for those in-between Bay Area days.

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    1. Amy I think a few of her patterns would really appeal to you. One thing I notice is that I, personally, don't much care for a lot of her color or fabric choices, and I don't think the samples shown on the patterns showcase them to their best. I'll be blogging about the Spiral Blouse soon - check that one out!

      Oh, and I just bought a scanner - you may eventually see more vintage pictures of me than you ever wanted lol! :D

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  4. This is magnificent! You look smashing in this piece - love that photo of you looking skyward. Brilliance indeed - I definitely see it dressed up or down, and your Trippen shoes, wow. I'd be interested to know if your tie closure idea came after midnight or not. Trying to do sleeves after midnight is a trap I'll never have to worry about...:) And the fabric's texture gives this piece the perfect form.

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    1. Thanks Melanie! Not sure about the timing of the button inspiration - since it was born of practicality, it probably wasn't a post-midnight aha moment ;-)

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  5. Stunning! I'm one of those 'doesn't usually like capes' people- but this one! functional and smart and elegant and versatile. Gorgeous! -Kimbersew

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  6. Fascinating construction details and great tutorial and photos. I like your description of taking your brain on a journey...nice way of saying...I was confused, I was stumped...and then it all became clear after much head scratching! Your entire outfit says, "I'm ready for Fall!" The tie closure is unique and way more interesting that pony tail bands, that is for sure!

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    1. It's nice to know that the tutorial photos appear to be helpful....maybe I'm the only one prone to such confusion lol!

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  7. Looks great on you! I've made the Spiral Top as a muslin and need to get back to that pattern and make a wearable one. Thanks for all the wonderful pics and details.

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    1. Linda I REALLY like the Spiral Top - I look forward to seeing yours!

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  8. A beautiful jacket, Jillian! I forgot to try it on last Saturday as I want to check what size I should make. :)

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    1. You'll probably be able to try on multiple sizes before too long, given all the makes!

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  9. What a great piece! It looks lovely on you and I do agree it is going to be versatile. Plus, I love your photo shoot:)

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    1. Thank you Angela! Playing dress-up for the shoot was fun :D

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  10. Nice, Jilly. Love the way you have styled it too.I will bring my unfinished muslin of the Spiral Top Sat. for some help to make more to my liking.

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    1. Oh good I'm glad you're coming on Saturday!

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  11. You look SO chic. I love it with that green, it's perfect!

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  12. Really impressed with your styling Jilly. Great jacket and you'e shown how versatile it actually is.

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    1. Thank you corecouture - I consider your styling comment high praise, coming from you! :)

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  13. Wow - that is quite stunning. Whilst it looks quite simple, I guess it is like a swan - loads going on underneath to make the outside look great!

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  14. absolutely marvelous-I am on my way to bed and shall dream about this lovely piece. You have been producing great work :-)

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  15. I was just telling Shams how much I love this jacket! Hoping to make my own soon...

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  16. Thanks for spotlighting this pattern....beautiful result!

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  17. Jill this cape is just fabulous. It will be such a versatile item for the wardrobe. I love the cute little buttons and your fabric choice. Hope you manage to lay you hands on some more :)

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