I got it into my head after seeing the faux Persian lamb on the Fabric Mart site a few months back that I would be using one of my blog posts to make *something anything* with the amazing fabric that I rarely see at fabric stores and heck, rarely see in real life. (And now all of their faux Persian lamb is gone, but maybe they will get it back in one day!)
Confession time, though...I already OWN a faux Persian lamb jacket, a black car coat that I purchased at Macy's in 2003. So why in the world would I want to make another one?
Well, the colors that Fabric Mart offered were stunning, not the basic black that I owned, but a gorgeous light tan/golden color and a baby pink. And since I love retro fashion, I knew I had seen many jackets/coats made in the mid-century from the more atypical hues. I chose to use the golden color, since I feel like it is more versatile, but I was very tempted to try the baby pink. In the end, I bought a small amount of the baby pink to make a coat for CW one day. I know that will thrill her!
So even though I *knew* my schedule would be tight in February and March (I made my son a fully tailored blazer for his First Holy Confession in the last part of February--last photo, btw), I knew that the time and effort that would go into sewing up a fully lined, partially hand-sewn, vintage jacket would 100% worth it. And I think though you can tell I am tired in the above photo, you can also tell I am super excited to show off my new make. :-) (So much so I couldn't stop myself from posing like Lady A).
1. It sheds after cutting, just as would happen with regular velvet. The faux high pile furs shed way worse, which is why you are told to cut into the backing only when working with those faux fabrics. You could cut into the backing of the lamb, but it really isn't necessary since the leftover bits aren't that difficult to clean up.
2. The velvet loses its texture super fast if you overpress. I only overpressed once, and I learned my lesson. From that point on I would briefly press, very gently, with a bit of steam, and then finger press. All of my darts turned out great, but to ensure they stayed flat, I stitched them down in the seam allowance to make sure they didn't flop out of place. Also, make sure to trim the darts and seams as much as you can without losing the integrity of the structure. The fabric quickly thickens up at seam junctures, so bear that in mind and try to limit your patterns to ones with fewer seaming details. I felt like the jacket I chose was a nice fit, enough darting and seaming to be interesting, but not too complicated and tailored to make fitting it and reducing bulk a nightmare.
3. I don't know about other faux Persian lamb furs, but the two I received from Fabric Mart were backed with a thick (I think--cotton/poly) backing. This backing was great...and made my life so much easier. It made marking the fabric very easy (more on that in the next bit of the post) and it was sturdy enough that absolutely NO interfacing or interlining was needed. Woo! The job of making this jacket still took a ridiculous number of days (thanks, hand sewing!), but at least interfacing and interlining were not part of it.
4. I bought a walking foot for my machine in 2013 right before I set out to make my daughter a Rapunzel costume which included a ton of velvet and tulle and lacy bits. Let me tell you, having that walking foot was amazing and made the job so much easier. This time I knew the machine would only have the walking foot (and straight stitch plate) on it so that I would be ensured of a fabric that maintains its "look," and seams that properly lined up. I am sure you can get away not using a rolling foot or walking foot, but from what I read there are lots of difficulties sewing velvet with a regular foot. (Crushed pile, uneven seams, fabric slipping all over the place, etc.) In addition to helping with the lamb, I also found it was great at helping with the poly charmeuse, which is the devil wrapped in a pretty package (talk about slippery and static-y nightmares!).
On the right side of the fabric, you can't see any of the marks, so this is exactly the right method to use for this kind of fabric.
The only thing that I absolutely needed on the right side was the pocket to be marked, so I thread traced the pockets using a navy thread so it would be seen and when the time was right I could place the pockets on the front properly.
I wouldn't say that what I did was "couture," but the elements were there. I also hand-basted my set-in sleeves on both the lining and main body to ensure they sewed in correctly with the machine. Another thing I did was to hand tack the hems in both the jacket and the dress. The fabrics of both show every sewn seam, so I knew that I had to hand sew these to make sure the fabric didn't pucker or go wonky with a machine sewn hem. (In fact one of my hand sewn hems was visible from the outside--not the stitches, mind you, but the tautness from pulling the thread too tight...it was a sad moment undoing all that work and redoing it properly!)
I decided to add the dress after seeing I had about a yard and a quarter left over. I had always wanted to try Butterick 5211, and this seemed the right time to do so. I had to interline it with a white poly so it wouldn't be too sheer, and because the poly charmeuse shows every hiccup in stitching, that interlining was great so I could attach my hand sewn hem to it instead of the main fabric.
The jacket called for a full lining and a proper facing. I kind of love the interior shot of the jacket, it looks so "finished." It also called for two buttons, but I ended up only using one. I may add another, but for now the one is fine. I chose not to topstitch the collar and edges since that would be a whole lot going on with this fabric, but if I do make it up ever again (unlikely!), I would topstitch then.
By the way, I ended up purchasing the Simplicity 1054 from an etsy seller in size 16, which correlates to a bust of 34".
The shoulders are certainly "present," eh? I have square shoulders and typically shy away from using shoulder pads, but the pattern called for them and without them, the upper part of the bodice would have looked sunken, so I am glad I went with them. I actually kind of like how it looks, and may have to try more patterns that call for traditional shoulder pads.
I really wanted to be like this lady here. I think though I am decked out in brighter colors, we have a similar "look."
Of course now I can see diagonal drag lines on the right arm. Darn. I assume those are from a larger arm circumference than I need or I set the sleeve in just a touch wrong. Hmm.
Butterick 5211 in a size 10 at the shoulders/bust and grading out to a size 16 (not in the packet, I added an inch to the pattern) at the hips. I did add the pockets, but after seeing how static-y and sticky this fabric is (even the poly interlining, dang), I regret that choice as the pockets get the same way. I ended up adding a slip, and while it helps, it still gets clingy. Take it from me, only use the pockets if you know they won't stick to your body and the dress. (BTW, you can see my slip, shoot. I thought it was short enough.)
I feel like it needs the belt, though, so plan on making one with the fabric or having one from your wardrobe to use (mine is from J. Crew from a few years back). Without the belt, it is just really shapeless. (I don't know how the cover model ended up looking so adorable...probably something to do with her being a model.)
but they do have a lot of charmeuses with floral designs (including a silk charmeuse that I purchased to make another dress from one day).
Okay, that's it from me for now. I hope all of you are having a lovely weekend, and I hope that some of you will give either retro patterns OR fun, unique fabrics a try soon. ;-)
By the way, if you have some faux furs that have a higher pile to them, check out my fellow Fabricista's post on how to use them in your sewing.
~Dina of My Superfluities.