Thursday, October 16, 2014

Made! - Concert Attire

Confession: the top mentioned in this post was finished a month ago.  Writing about sewing always takes a back seat to actual sewing when I get busy.

Both of these makes are for when I perform in concert. The first garment, a v-neck tunic, was made for the marimba competition in Italy last month.

Marimba Top

I used Simplicity 1325, View D, and pretty much made a size 10 with my standard adjustments: take length out of the upper back (ehhem because I stand up straight), lengthen the torso between the bust and waist, and add some extra length at the hem for good measure.

I've recently started cutting size 10 in the Big 4 instead of a 12, in the bodice anyways. This happened as an accident, honestly.  Maybe the yoga is narrowing my upper half (note to self: focus yoga on BOTTOM HALF), or maybe it's the practicing.  Or maybe it's the nervousness creeping up and making me forget to eat. Either way, I just like making clothes that fit, whatever size they may be.

Pretty lapped zipper down the center back

I saw this fabric and had to have it. It has all of my colors in it, from the dark red to the bright turquoise hidden amongst the animal print.'s animal print! Zebra and leopard, I think. I like how it's disguised in the overall design.  The lining is the same navy polka-dot fabric I used to line my dark floral architectural dress.

Sorry...upside down

really like this pattern.  Usually low necklines have a gaping problem, but this one isn't as bad as others. I can wear a black camisole or strapless top underneath, both of which are comfortable performance attire.  I like the subtle shaping at the shoulders, and how the neckline hugs the neck without getting too close.

I did make half of a muslin to test the fit of the top, and am glad I did because I figured out I should cut a size 10 instead of 12!  I don't buy special muslin fabric. I instead use scraps from leftover projects. For example, the muslin fabric for this top was leftover from the TN Cotton Blossom dress I made for my sister (original post here).

You can see the fold where I took some length out of the upper back.
Should have also messed with that dart a little bit. 

This top was specifically for Round 1 of the competition.  I wanted something new that fit the music but made me feel confident because I MADE IT.  For some reason I always feel like I'm "putting on" when I wear fancy clothes made by other people when I perform.  But when make it, it's like I'm just owning another part of the performance, and it's comforting rather than high maintenance.

The top brought me luck, as I played well enough to make it through the first round of the competition!! :)

Evening Skirt

In today's performance climate it is still customary to wear all black, though a pop of color is acceptable (see above!!), especially if the performance is a solo concert.  As the vast majority of my performances have been as a percussionist, I have always had to wear pants to facilitate the movements necessary to play the instruments.  I've long since envied those that can wear a pretty dress and not be hindered by it, or worry that when they reach for the low C that the strapless top will suddenly fail.

I've grown weary of wearing pants when I perform. I knew long ago that I needed a change.  Unfortunately, a floor length black evening skirt can cost a pretty penny. Fortunately, I am obsessed with sewing. 

Using Simplicity 5006, I made this skirt of AWESOMENESS as soon as husband and I returned from Italy.  

The back.  Three large hook-and-eyes on the waistband.  The material doesn't look so wrinkled in real life.  It lays flat effortlessly against my back.
Yes, technically, this is a lingerie pattern, but I don't think it has to be.  I chose View B, and simply omitted the petticoat/underskirt. I was left with the long skirt and extra-wide waistband with boning, including stretchy bits on the sides.  At first I contemplated redrafting the waistband to eliminate the stretchy parts, but then I realized they probably make the skirt much more comfortable and would be my best friend at all those post-concert dinners.  Ha! 

Stretchy bit is between my fingers.
After finishing some high-waisted marimba pants last winter, I had a small square of high-quality black knit left.  Good thing I didn't throw it out! It was the perfect weight to function as part of the waistband of this skirt. (Don't you love it when sewing stash hoarding works out??? Makes ya feel a little less guilty about the whole thing...) :)

Interior of the skirt: you can see the thick knit and the boning on either side of it.  Since I didn't line the skirt I just finished all the inside edges with double stitching and a zig zag. NO FRAYING. arg.
The side seams are finished as flat-fell seams.  Since I ended up taking a LARGE seam at the center back where the zipper is, I had enough material to wrap around the raw edges of the zipper tape, which not only looks really nice but also meant I won't have those annoying zipper scratches that can result from an unlined garment.  Huzzah!

Beautiful, non-scratchy zipper.

Speaking of lining, I contemplated lining this beauty.  I decided not to, considering the heat from stage lights and the fact that I have to move often on stage.  Lining would just get in the way and I would worry about tripping on it, not to mention I'd essentially be making the skirt twice and something about that just bothers me. I'll get over it one day, I'm sure.

The material used is a black polyester/mystery taffeta fabric I bought on super-duper clearance at JoAnn's.  There aren't locally owned apparel fabric stores near me, so JoAnn's or Walmart it is.  This stuff was $3/yd.  It has a sheen to it that would annoy me under normal circumstances but is actually perfect for stage lighting, as it makes the skirt look really expensive. 

Ah, yes. A RTW skirt could have cost me $80-$100, if not more. 
Laurel's skirt:
     fabric - $6 + stash busting
     zipper - $2?
     hooks & eyes - $1?
     joyful hours of sewing - Priceless

I'm looking forward to wearing this skirt in two concerts later this month: one at The University of Tennessee, the other at Concord University.