Formal Outfit, Part 3: Never Again

I’m starting this by saying – seriously, never sew for an event. It’s stressful. You never have as much time as you think you do, it always takes longer than you think, and you never have to hand what you thought you did. Don’t even talk to me about the stress of waiting for much-needed fabric or notions to ship. Just don’t.

And, the pants did not end up making it. After fighting with the reworked Lazo toile and tape-tracing a pair of Target business slacks that more or less fitted, I had just over a week to go – not even close to enough time to make yet another toile, test it, rework it to the Lazo ‘look’ and make it in final fabric. (Not even enough time for the final fabric to arrive – it turns out that The Fabric Store in my city was clean out of black heavyweight linen and unsure when they’d get more, and I didn’t discover that The Drapery had a black wool twill in stock until the week of, which isn’t enough time for shipping.)

The shirt and vest did get through to the final though, and here they are.


One of the biggest lessons from this is that I desperately need to create a pants sloper for myself. Being the height that I am, I just cannot rely on commercial pattern companies to fit me for pants – because the problem with the Lazo was the proportions. The distances from waist to high hip to full hip to crotch were all wrong, and adjusting them was a small nightmare. At least with a sloper, I have a starting point to which I can add design elements like the waistband or the pleats if I want the same look. Trust me when I say that’s easier than trying to fix proportions that don’t match you.

Another is that I seriously need to work on my hand-sewing skills, and I need to get better at precision with my machine. My first run of the Fairfield shirt had some pretty serious stitching issues in several spots; on the second shirt, the one in the photo above, I ended up hand-sewing several sections because my machine just didn’t seem to be able to do it with enough precision.

I also really need to get some more resources on tailoring things like vest and jacket fronts – working with horsehair canvas, essentially. It turns out I ordered way too much, and well, I’m going to need to use it somehow. I also struggled with construction of the front – the hair canvas kept fraying so I tried edging it with bias tape, but then it was so thick it was difficult to turn the neckline on that side. The pad stitching was damaged by trimming for the welt pockets (which really didn’t turn out as crisply as I’d hoped for) as well, and I’m still not sure if I did it right. I’ve had a few more ideas on getting that nice tailored front – I’m thinking Fray Stopper treatment on the hair canvas pieces, or possibly using bias tape ironed flat to hold it onto the sew-in interfacing, so I can then pad-stitch the entire assembly as one piece to the front fabric. Not sure how it’ll go though.

But despite all my criticisms, I got plenty of compliments at the event, and quite a few people beforehand who saw the above photos on social media seemed to like it. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that one is usually one’s worst critic.

And a hiatus…

On the very last night of making the vest as well, I got an email from my landlord that my lease won’t be renewed this year.

Which has led to a lot of emotions and a lot of scrambling to find a new place.

It’s been hard to stay motivated to sew with the looming prospect of needing to pack it all away again shortly, so for now I’m going on a hiatus. I’ll be back when I have another home.

And, unfortunately, this is also where I need to link my Paypal and Ko-Fi, because it’s a very unexpected expense at a very difficult time, and I’ve yet to find a replacement for that day job. So, if anyone feels generous – now would be the time.

%d bloggers like this: