Tuesday, October 11, 2011

... sparkly bridal bolero

In my last post, I promised more “soon” - and as that was weeks ago, it’s now apparent to all that I have a very lackadaisical sense of time. Actually, parenthetically, one phrase I overuse more than any other is “the other day...”. For me, it can mean something that happened last week or last year - it’s the perfect temporally ambiguous qualifier for a forgetful person like moi. But it does kind of drive George nuts.
ANYWAY, back on topic, I have a really fun project to share. I do believe that I mentioned my exceptionally talented friend Emily designed the logo/business cards/other assorted collateral for my Filia clothing this summer. As she is a super-busy graphic designer, I didn’t expect her to do this for me gratis, so we bartered for it. I love bartering - it makes me feel like I’m back in elementary school playing Oregon Trail, only with less fording and my whole party isn’t dying of dysentery (I was not very good at Oregon Trail). Emily was planning an October wedding in Napa Valley, so we decided that my half of the bargain would be some kind of coat or wrap that she could wear during dinner (in a wine cave, so cool!). 

Here's where we're going with this. Read on for details!

After a bit of brainstorming, Emily settled on a loose, open jacket made from sequined fabric that would sparkle in the candlelight. She bought the fabric in San Francisco and shipped it to me in Maine with her measurements while I worked on the design. I knew the color and shape of Em’s gorgeous dress and wanted to complement that, while also keeping the shape simple (since it was made out of blinged-out sequins) and comfortable. It went through a couple iterations, but ended up being a pretty basic bolero shape with bell sleeves. It was disco-fabulous with a little hint of 1930’s glam!

Working with the sequined fabric was a new experience. After I had made a dry run of the jacket out of muslin to get the shape I wanted, I cut the pieces out of the sequined fabric. 
Estelle, helping me work out the design in muslin

Faaaaabulous fabric

To prep each piece for being stitched together, all the sequins on the seam line and in the seam allowance had to be individually removed. Each sequin was stitched to the fabric with three thin threads, so each sequin had to be snipped in two places to avoid cutting the threads, which could make other sequins fall off. This turned out to be hugely time-consuming and left me with a claw of a right hand not seen since taking blue book exams in college.


About half-way there.

When all five pieces were prepped, I flat-lined the body of the jacket to give it a little more weight (the fabric that the sequins were sewn to was whisper thin). I didn’t do so with the sleeves so they’d be nice and drapey. Then it was basically just a matter of sewing it all together and lining it. The last step was looking at the finished jacket to see where removing some of the sequins had left “bald spots” and stitched some leftover sequins on by hand to fill in those areas. 

The result:

I was pretty happy with it - overall it wasn’t too difficult and it was fun to learn how to work with new fabric. I admit I was a little afraid it wouldn’t fit when I brought it out to her in California, but luckily there was no problem there. Emily was a beautiful bride and the wedding was stylish, romantic and a heck of a party. Plus, I think every gap and nail hole in the pine plank floors of my living room will be filled with gold sequin bits for months to come. Festive!


  1. wow that is a lot of work, but it looks really cool. For the record, my party always got Typhoid on the way to Oregon, so you are not alone.

  2. what a beautiful, sparkly jacket! You have the patience of a saint to work with those sequins....yikes!!!