Operation Lady Tux, Part 2: Jacket

Hello, and welcome to Part 2 of this year’s Holiday Outfit saga! This post will focus on the jacket, and Part 3 will cover the camisole and trousers. (Part 1 is here!)

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Gosh, if only this jacket had pockets for my #awkwardhands …oh wait.

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Back view! (Yes, my hem needs re-pressed and clapper’d)

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Kinda side view?

The Making Of: Jacket

I worked on this jacket–from cutting out to sewing on the button–for about 2-3 weeks. (By which I mean weeknights after work and weekends, in between engagements and stuff.) For the most part, it was a pleasant experience; the rough parts were pretty brutal, though!

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Basically-done jacket; the dressform is lopsided, so the jacket looks a little wonky.

My jacket is made mostly of a double weave wool/nylon/lycra suiting, but features wool sateen suiting accents (both originally for designer Maiyet, bought from Fabric Mart). The lycra content provides some pretty significant stretch, although it wasn’t really necessary for this jacket. The lining is a bemberg rayon. I had all of this fabric (and the hair canvas) already in stash, and didn’t have to buy a single thing except for the buttons (more of which later) and shoulder pads! In hindsight, the main fabric is a bit thick for this jacket, I think.

I didn’t do any tailoring on the jacket apart from making a back stay and using shoulder pads (1/4″, since my shoulders are square and support garments well on their own) and good quality interfacing (hair canvas and weft). I do wish I had made a sleeve head, though–that totally slipped my mind in the moment.

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Lapel in-progress

The pattern, Burda #127B 11/2012, is one I found about a month before the event. It wasn’t exactly what I originally wanted–I was picturing something between a boyfriend fit and this–but I’ve come to appreciate the shape of it. As to the draft, it’s Burda: they’re tough to beat for consistently well-drafted patterns. 😀 The jacket fits okay, but I didn’t change anything there–a mistake in hindsight, as I think it looks a bit like I made the wrong size. I made the smallest size, the 36. The only change I made was to eliminate the sleeve vents (there is no back vent); those aren’t something I would ever use, and I knew that finding that many buttons I was 100% happy with (and which matched whatever I used for the front button) in my time frame would be a huge pain in my ass for no purpose at all. But the pattern does include them, if you’re wanting that feature!

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Lapel dart

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My shitty attempt to show you how nicely a 2-piece sleeve hangs…

Construction

The jacket was not horrid to sew EXCEPT for the collar assembly. Chr*st on a Cracker, that was horrendous!!! I think part of my issue was that the stand isn’t integrated into the collar–it’s a separate piece. This created more bulk and attachment seams, and if I made this pattern again, I’d fuse those two pieces into one. It didn’t help that my wool/nylon/lycra suiting is quite thick and bouncy: it’s a double weave, and it requires very aggressive pressing/clapper application and tends to bounce back anyway. So all those layers of my material together in such a tight area was tough to cope with and shape effectively. I also foolishly didn’t remember to change the undercollar to 2 (slightly smaller) pieces. 😦

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Jacket, laid down flat (from back)

I honestly thought this jacket was doomed because of the collar area after I initially got it installed, but some encouragement from sewing peeps and a couple of days away from the project gave me the grit to Make It Work. In the end, I tacked/sewed some stuff down to get the collar to sit better. It’s not perfect–FAR from it–but it’s good enough for now. (This kills me, by the way–I am a perfectionist, for better or worse, and I cannot endure what I consider sub-par work on my own part. You know that adage, “Perfect is the enemy of good”? It is definitely NOT my motto…)

I ran into trouble with my lining, too. Somehow, it ended up being too small for the jacket–obviously I made an error someplace! I had enough lining left to cut a sizable strip and “patch” the lining between the back princess seams and the center back; this added more than enough ease for comfortable wearing. Luckily, my sleeve linings didn’t need any adjustments. But it turned out okay in the end: I bagged the entire lining, which I have only ever done on a skirt previously. It felt like sorcery!! The one thing that always confused me was how to sew the sleeves together; most photos I’ve seen create the illusion that you’re sewing them together flat, since it’s a really hard thing to photograph clearly. But I finally understood the mechanics and got the whole lining inserted successfully on the first try–sleeves and all! That was a happy moment. Grainline’s tutorial is probably the best one I’ve found online, by the way: definitely check it out if you’re looking for good, clear directions.

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Lining, before insertion (and emergency surgery!)

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Yeah, I picked a boring lining…

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Hard to see, but here’s my mega-huge ease pleat!

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Sleeve hem

For me, the biggest highlights of this jacket are the pockets. I’ve never made a welt pocket of any kind before, but the tutorial by Kennis at Itch to Stitch is SO FREAKING AMAZING. Seriously, it is superb. Her method made so much sense to me, and was so clear that I didn’t bother doing a practice pocket. She has me motivated to make ALL THE JETTED POCKETSES, people.

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Welt flap

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Flap lining

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Insides!

One final problem? Finding a button. I have a lovely little collection of vintage glass buttons, some of which are jacket-sized. Unfortunately, all the ones I had were too big in proportion to the jacket, so I needed another option.  I decided to cover a button in my wool sateen, but the shoddy kit I bought let me down DURING my party. It was a Dritz kit, and despite the package saying you can make the button by hand, I not only bent the first button with my tiny, pathetic hands (I should have taken that as a bad sign and quit right then), but Tom had to use a mallet to get the damn thing to lock in place in the end. My sateen isn’t very heavy, guys–it’s certainly lighter than some home dec fabrics, which this kit said it was good for. But hey, if it works it’s all worth it, right? Yeah, except that this button didn’t work. It fell apart as I unbuttoned the jacket to take some of the outfit photos in Part 1. I had unbuttoned/buttoned it maybe 10 or 11 times, all told. I was totally gutted. 😦

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What was left of my beautifully-covered button. >=( (Sorry about the cat hair–*somebody* knocked this down and was sitting on it, LOL.)

I fired off a very stern email to Dritz, demanding a refund and complaining about the poor quality of the kit. I actually heard back from them, too. They claim that I essentially bought the “wrong” version of this kit (the craft grade one) and that the “correct” version for my use is better (I’m soooooo sure it is…/sarcasm), but they’re refunding my money anyway. Gee, thanks. #not Seriously, how am I supposed to know that this version is total crap?? I certainly didn’t care that it said “craft” on the package, I just assumed I had the right thing. And don’t crafters deserve sturdy covered buttons just as much as garment sewers? I do love that Dritz basically admitted that one version of the kit is shit though…Fellow sewers, beware of Dritz button kits, unless you plan to frame that button and never use it!!

In the end, I ordered another vintage glass button in the right size (since I’ve made the buttonhole, there’s only 1 right size now!) that’s identical to the one I most wanted to use in the first place. It isn’t here yet, so you’re seeing this with no button–sorry!

So that’s the jacket–what a mess, huh? =/ But fortunately for me, most people won’t see the flaws, even though I certainly do. That said, I learned a lot and will approach my next jacket (or a coat) with a more confident attitude. And really, with a wearable (and not totally awful) jacket AND valuable lesson to show for it, this project was worthwhile.

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Much like the jacket, this photo didn’t turn out quite right! 😉

Stay tuned for the final installment, which covers the simpler two pieces: the camisole and the trousers!

Operation Lady Tux, Part 1: Big Reveal and Inspiration

Helloooooooooooo!

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Here I am, having made yet another stupid formal thing for a not-nearly-that-formal work party. 😉 As per usual, it was quite a journey from starting the project to the night of my party, but overall I’m pretty pleased with how it came together. I’ve got a lot to say about this project, not just because things got a little fuck-y, but because IT’S THREE SEPARATE PIECES. So I’ve decided to do a 3-part series: the first installment will cover the big debut of my Lady Tux and my inspiration; Part 2 will cover the jacket; Part 3 will cover the camisole and trousers.

I am also tossing this thing into the ring for Designin’ December, after not playing along last year but finding very definite designer inspo for my 2017 look(s). 😀

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Inspiration

So how did I end up with a Lady Tux? Honestly, it took me some time to figure that out. My biggest issue this year was what type of “Thing” to make. After last year, where I had a very firm idea of what I wanted that was carried over from the prior year, 2017’s outfit was a bit of a second-guess fest. I waffled about what to make starting immediately after last year’s event! Aside from the tuxedo look, I also considered these ideas:

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Vogue 9253; image is property of BMV Patterns

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“The Dress” from Atonement in all its glory! (Image not mine.)

I had fabrics suitable for both looks, but ultimately decided against them. (I was afraid the Vogue pattern would look too much like a robe or caftan in my black and ivory shibori-dyed crepe-back satin fabric, and couldn’t decide how best to approach the Atonement dress from a pattern starting point.) I had the tux fabrics as well–bought with that intention in mind–and decided I might as well make that for my party! All I had to do was decide on what I wanted it to look like and how to style it–you know, little stuff. 😉 My main inspirations were these two outfits:

That is Evan Rachel Wood in Altuzarra at the 2017 Golden Globes, and Gwyneth Paltrow in Balmain at the 2008 UK premiere of Iron Man. (Honorable mention: Octavia Spencer at the 2017 Golden Globes–her navy tux was fabulous as well!) ERW wore tons of tuxedos for events recently, and I was very inspired by just about all of them. And Gwyneth’s 2008 Iron Man premiere outfit is still one of her best-ever looks, IMO–I remember seeing coverage of that outfit at the time and haven’t forgotten it. (Or those fabulous square-toed satin McQueen pumps, because goddamn.) I made this Pinterest board so you all can see more of the looks I was inspired by while I was planning out this thing!

Lady Tux: The Big Reveal

So okay, I wanted a tux. But what would it look like? That was the hard part. In the end, I decided on slim-but-straight trousers with front slash pockets and “racing stripes,” a jacket with a peaked lapel that was single-breasted with one button and which would fall below my high hip, and a lace camisole for underneath (my nod to the Paltrow outfit, basically). I’ll have more detail on all of these things in the next posts!

I used 3 patterns for this outfit: 1 for each piece. O_o The jacket is a Burda pattern that was originally in a magazine but is now available for download: #127B 11/2012. Originally I was hoping for something less shaped and slightly more “boyfriend” in the cut, but there doesn’t appear to be a pattern in existence that fulfills my wants! 😉 This was close enough, especially since it came with jetted pockets and a peaked lapel AND was longer, which I really wanted; I was willing to endure a more feminine cut for those things. The trousers are the pants portion of V9160, aka The Jumpsuit of My Dreams That Wasn’t. Here is where I made a mistake, but more on that later. The camisole is the much-loved Ogden Cami by True Bias.

 

And as you saw in my teaser photo above, those three pieces came together to make THIS ridiculousness:

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I won’t go into construction details of each piece here–that’s what Parts 2 and 3 are for–but I’ll share my general impressions with you now.

You can see the Altuzarra inspo in the lapels, which are peaked and done in a contrasting satin-finish fabric, and in the pockets, jacket length, and single-button configuration; my trousers also have the trademark “tuxedo stripe” down the side seams. I didn’t make my trousers wide or flared though, and obviously the styling is a bit different. The Paltrow outfit inspiration is less direct than how I interpreted the tux, since it’s a dress! But I think it looks like I was inspired by that dress, even if I didn’t make the same kind of outfit.

Overall, I’m basically happy with this outfit. I wouldn’t want another sewer to look too closely at any piece of it though–it’s definitely not my best work. I do think I achieved the “look” I was going for: it’s feminine-ish, but very much has that masculine edge because it’s a tux. One of my co-workers commented thusly: “Girl, you are cold-blooded. For real!!” That made me feel like a fucking badass, you guys! (Especially since that co-worker was wearing a totally amazing sequined dress and is enviably tall and gorgeous.) I will say this: I’m not 100% happy with this outfit as a representation of my work, but it does show well. 😉

Here are some shots from the party:

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Xmas Tux!

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Date night!

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Front view, minus the jacket

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Literally the only time I took my jacket off at the event…

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Unbuttoned!

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The button had just broken before we took these. >=(

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One of us had been drinking (sadly, it wasn’t me)…

So now that you’ve seen the whole shebang here, Parts 2 and 3 will cover the “making of” details for each piece.

Thanks for reading! ❤

 

 

 

An Utterly Unnecessary Holiday Outfit

Hellooooooooo!

I hope you are all having a good holiday season so far–this time of year always seems to blow up my schedule and make me stress like it’s my job, so I for one will be glad when it’s over!!

You may remember that last year, I decided to make a fancy-ass dress for my company’s holiday party. The dress code for this party is not black tie, as you may have expected from the nature of my dress. Rather, the only real stipulation is that people are not allowed to wear jeans. Clearly, I require only the flimsiest of pretexts to go full evening wear on my colleagues! Just before last year’s event, Vogue released V9160 in their holiday collection, and I instantly knew that it would be Next Year’s Outfit. It even made my epic Planning Post for this Fall/Winter!

I bought the fabric for this during the first quarter of the year but left any actual work on it until November–bad idea. 2 weeks before my event, it was clear that some major adjustments were needed; it was a slight scramble and I had to compromise my original vision, but I got it finished. All told, the final item is nice and I felt great in it!

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V9160/Sloper Mash-Up!

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From the back! (The back necklines are symmetrical–the lace on the right side ended up with more blank space at the top, which creates the illusion that they aren’t the same. Grrrr.)

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Snow! It was also sleeting when we took these.

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‘Tude

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Note, if you will, the mirror images of the necklines–pretty proud of that one!

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Without the sash, but now with more Derp Face!

Please excuse the skirt, which had been worn the night before to my party and needs to be re-pressed and re-clappered; I ironed out the “Butt, Meet Chair” wrinkles for you, though! (And yes, I did wear that lipstick to my work party! I also wore eye makeup and some jewelry for that event, but wasn’t about to put it back on for a quick photo session. Meh.)

Fabric!

The lace for the bodice was the first thing I found: it was everything I wanted, from color (Eggplant!!) to width (WIDE) to style (double scalloped, no beads, slight metallic thread usage, beautiful cording, and no tulle backing). It’s a Nicole Miller lace and I got it from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Next, I set about finding fabric for the trousers. I chose wool/silk gabardine because it has that sheen for evening, but would be easy to work with because it’s so stable. Mood had the perfect color, but I found a very-slightly-cheaper price at Fashion Fabrics Club, so I ordered from them. This was difficult, because their website uses different names for the colors vs. Mood’s site, and their depiction of colors was much less true-to-life than Mood’s. I ended up having to return the first cut I ordered–at my cost–and re-order another color. I never thought I’d have to say this, but I should have just ordered from Mood! In the end, I got the color I wanted and it really is THE SAME FABRIC that I swatched from Mood, so whatever, lesson learned.

My rayon bemberg for underlining the bodice came from Vogue Fabrics, who I heartily recommend. I ordered a color card first, which was a massively good choice: do that. My one beef with the experience comes down to color depiction on the site (which is soooo bad in the flesh tone section of colors) and the way they stack swatches and staple them down on the card. Once you remove the staple, you’d better not shuffle your swatches around because remembering what color is what will be impossible, especially given their awful color depiction online. Not that I know anything about that…okay, I totally did that. Luckily, I could search for the color names that I *thought* I was considering and find other sites that displayed them better. Once that was done, I settled upon…*drum roll*…Beige. Corpse-y, but it matches my skin well and doesn’t detract from the lace at all.

Pattern!

The bodice of this pattern is truly wonderful: I only needed to do 1 muslin to confirm the fit (I checked the length beforehand and added what was needed). I could probably have taken it in from the bust to the waist but I didn’t want to risk Hulking out of the lace because it was too snug! The sleeve caps are a great fit for the armholes, with hardly any easing required (and this lace takes easing very, very well). They are rather fitted sleeves though, so if you plan to make this pattern, be sure to check that! And one other thing to be aware of is that this bodice’s surplice neckline is rather…booby. Really rather booby. Like, checking-my-tits-every-time-I-move booby. If I was a busty gal, this would probably have required some adjusting on the pattern itself; as it stands, I’ve got more ribs than tits so I left it as-is and opted not to put a snap there or sew it closed. The pattern calls for small shoulder pads, which I omitted; my shoulders, in my opinion, support the garment well enough on their own.

You may have noticed that there is a skirt on this outfit rather than trousers. There were issues with the pants–despite 4 muslins and getting close to a good fit and being fairly sure about what final changes needed to be made, the fashion fabric behaved so much differently than muslin that it rendered the pants unwearable and unsalvageable. :’-( And since this fabric was pricey, I only bought a smidgen more than what I needed per the pattern envelope. To say that I was crushed would be an understatement: I so badly wanted the jumpsuit from the artwork! And the shape of the trousers was so flattering and beautiful, even in muslin. I was so distraught that I took a vintage cocktail dress to a local tailor to have it hemmed, just in case I needed to wear it to my event. (Hey: that skirt was 3 layers of silk chiffon PLUS a lining, and needed to go from Midi to Mini–I wasn’t about to do that shit myself, deadline or not.) Fortunately, I was able to get a pencil skirt out of my remaining yardage and make it work–truly a Christmas miracle! 😀

Said skirt was made from my skirt sloper/moulage than I made in a class with Nina last year. I knew the darts would probably never match with the bodice, so I cut the skirt out with 3″ side seam allowances; from there, I sewed the skirt darts and then pinned the pieces to the bodice to mark where my side seams needed to be sewn to match the bodice AND fit me. Quick and dirty, yes, but it worked! I hemmed the skirt to 18.5″ from waist to hem because I think that is a flattering length on me; I kept about 2″ of hem allowance, which I felt was appropriate for this fabric and the shape of the skirt. The length allowed me to not worry about a vent, either–yay! The hem was sewn invisibly by hand.

Hilariously, *before* I cut out the skirt, I had a hell of a time with the pattern piece for the sash! It is supposed to be cut on the fold, but I had not one lay plan at my disposal that would accommodate that on what was left of my material! So to recap, I had plenty of fabric to cut out an entire emergency skirt, but not to put the sash on the fold. O_O I made it with a center back seam and honestly, I doubt anyone would think less of the dress because of that! The sash itself is not very flattering on me from the back due to my narrow back waist and the straightness of the sash, but I love the effect in the front! It adds that extra element to make the dress look “Finished.” I always prefer a buffer of some sort in dresses with contrasting tops and bottoms with a waist seam, whether it’s a belt or a waistband inset or something like that, so I am glad I went ahead with the sash!

Construction Notes

This pattern is fairly easy to put together–there aren’t very many pieces! But the lace obviously added some work because of how it needed to be underlined. I hand-basted both fronts and backs to their respective underlinings, which was great for getting the bodice put together. But it occurred to me the day before the party that I couldn’t take the basting stitches out of the surplices without replacing them somehow–the layers would separate and flap around! My solution was to prick-stitch along each surplice in my purple thread, taking care to come up through a section of lace so as to hide the stitching on the right side. It is utterly imperceptible from the outside as a result!

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Wrong side of prick stitches on surplice neckline

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Right side of the same section–can you find the stitches? xD

I didn’t have any real trouble sewing the lace; the cording got bulky quickly, as did any areas of heavier embroidery that got taken up in darts, but my machine handled it just fine. I used my straight stitch plate most of the time to prevent the feed from eating the lace, though! I used a Microtex 70/10 for the bodice by itself, and an 80/20 Universal for the wool/silk gabardine, as well as for joining the bodice and skirt together and inserting the zipper. The zipper, by the way, is longer than the pattern called for: 24″ vs. 22″. I made this decision when I was still planning on a trouser jumpsuit: due to the difference in my waist and hips, I needed more room to unzip and wiggle into the thing! This held true even with the skirt, so #noregrets. I had to call Wawak to order the zipper, because the colors on their website weren’t showing up very accurately and I had Very Serious Questions. Tanya (I think? It’s fuzzy now…) was able to understand what color I needed and give me accurate information about the choices they had; it turned out that the best match wasn’t even listed on their website in that length, but she hooked me up and I couldn’t be happier with the match.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic pattern, and I highly recommend it if jumpsuits are your thing. Just pick a drapey fabric for the trousers–or at least something with more drape than wool/silk gabardine!–and you’ll be okay! I would love to revisit this pattern another time and get my fantasy jumpsuit, but my next project will absolutely be something less stressful!

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Remembered to get one pic on Saturday…3 drinks deep and on the way home, LOL.

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This *felt* treacherous in those shoes…

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“Talk to the fabulous lace-clad hand…”

Have you made a holiday outfit this year? If you’ve ever sewn with lace, how did it go? 

 

 

Humble-Brag – Fabric Edition

Truth time: this post is basically an excuse to brag online about a super-sweet fabric deal that I got. I know my fellow sewists will understand that feeling! (My husband is kind of bored of hearing about it, which is no fun!)

Last week, I was cruising around Pattern Review, as I do most days. I ended up on the Fabric message board, and saw a thread about a 50% off sale at a website called Elliott Berman; that day happened to be the final day of the sale. I could have sworn I’d heard of the place before, and then it hit me: I’d seen their site linked on Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, a truly fabulous sewing blog that I love reading. (If you’re not reading Carolyn’s blog, you must start straight away! Her finishing is impeccable and I love her approach to sewing.) I then remembered that HOLY SHIT THAT’S THE WEBSITE WITH ALL THE DESIGNER FABRICS. I had bookmarked their Chanel page a few months ago but hadn’t been able to bring myself to place an order, since I have responsibilities, etc. ANYWAY. I immediately went to their site and, sure enough, the home page was covered with an announcement for the 50% off sale; I noted that it did not list any exceptions, so I went straight to the Chanel section. I figured they had to have sold out of the two wools I liked, because how could they not? Oh, dear readers, I was in for a shock.

Not only were my favorite wools not sold out, they were plentiful enough for me to order what I needed and I most definitely got every fucking yard at half price. I think my mouth hung open for 10 minutes after I completed my purchase, because this is just not a thing that happens. I’m dying. I died. I’m dead.

Oh. I’m sorry, did you want to see some fabulous Chanel wool that will someday become jackets and capes? Very well:

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Boucle! Look at those colors!!!

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Same boucle, minus the flash on my camera. Yep, still gorgeous.

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Black metallic wool chenille brocade!!

I wasn’t able to get a super-good photo of the black brocade, but it IS metallic and completely fabulous. (The floral bit is the bow that tied my packing slip to the fabric.) I shouldn’t play favorites, but I do. Oh, I sure do. I love them both, truly, but the black wool was the one I decided I would order SOMEDAY when I could justify spending that kind of money on one cut of fabric. It’s just…splendid. And more versatile than the technicolor couture candy in the first 2 photos. So even though I was able to get both fabrics, the black metallic stuff is a little more special to me.

I haven’t chosen patterns for these fabrics yet, but I know they’ll be vintage. I’m naively hoping to be able to get 2 items out of each piece, but we’ll see about that. If only one item per fabric is possible, the black chenille will be what gets turned into a cape. And then I’ll be swanning around resisting the urge to shout, “Oh, do you like my jacket/cape? IT’S CHANEL.”

(I seriously owe the person who posted that announcement on Pattern Review a high-five; like, the high-five to end all high-fives.)