Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Project Reveal, Part 1

Our local fabric store is having its third annual Project Runway style competition.  I have finally decided to enter this year, along with a friend.  It is a way to get me motivated to get some sewing done, and to revamp a coat I have had for almost 30 years.  Les Fabriques is our local store, and their take on Project Runway is called Project Reveal.  When you sign up for the competition, you have access to four class sessions of the many that are held throughout the summer and fall.

Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the coat before I deconstructed it, but here is a drawing of the pattern for this 1980's coat to give you an idea of what it looked like.

The coat was a winter white wool with ivory lining, and the big shoulder pads of the 80's.  I have not worn this coat in many years and it definitely needed a makeover.

The theme for this competition and the challenge is all things Thomas Jefferson.  We are to find something inspirational in Thomas Jefferson's life and times and then use that as our starting point.  The first night of the class we discussed our ideas, looked through costume books, and looked at the Monticello website.  We were also given a mini-challenge of incorporating a quote from Jefferson into our project.  So, here are the photos that I pulled out as an inspiration to my ensemble.

I really love the men's coats of the 18th century.  I ride horses, and I have always loved the fitted riding jackets, especially the long dressage coats.  So, I chose to use the men's coats as a starting design for my new coat.  I then spent some time looking at the Monticello site and looking for quotes.  The two quotes that have inspired me are:

"Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall plant them for posterity" and in speaking of poplar trees, Mr. Jefferson calls them the "Juno of our groves."  I absolutely love poplar trees, and will be using the shapes of the leaves in my design.  

In addition to the coat, I was encouraged to design two other pieces so that I would have an ensemble for the runway walk.  I have chosen to design a skirt out of a silk rayon velvet that I bought a couple of years ago on sale, and a fitted corset.  The only fabric that I have bought for this project is the heavy silk for the corset.  I bought a cream, double-faced silk.  The corset design will be using the stomacher shown below as an inspiration.

I will embroider the middle section of the corset with flowers from Mr. Jefferson's Monticello garden.  If you haven't visited, it is a beautiful place to spend some time. I knew that the fabric needed to be brightened up, so I dyed the silk and the wool to a bright spring green.  I decided that I did not like the bright side of the silk and that the creamier green on the reverse side was a better tie in to the velvet for the skirt.  

As I looked through all my sewing  and craft magazines, I came across this beautiful image from Selvedge.  This is a Bruce Oldfield design of a boucle wool coat with a floral collar.  This is a stunning coat, and I love the sculptural element of the collar.  I may try to design something like this collar for my coat using the leftover pieces of wool after I have cut out my coat pieces.

Using the pieces of the coat, Kimberly with Les Fabriques helped me drape a muslin for the coat.  Here is a shot of the top of the coat.  The piece underneath is a shape in the coat, and the new shape is the one on the top with two pleats below the bust.  I am still trying to get a good fit on my muslin, but I will show it as I progress.  I have finished the lower skirt of the coat and it fits quite well.  I will also use it as a skirt pattern.  I had to shorten the coat quite a bit to be able to use the dyed wool that I have.  So, it will be more of a 3/4 length coat than below the knee, but I think it will work well, especially if I design the skirt to be an echo of the design of the coat.  To be continued...