I must have lost my mind! I have finished a complete three piece suit in that delicate silky rayon stuff that can snag on a gentle breeze. The lapse in sanity aside, I think it turned out really well.
From the beginning, the fabric was the greatest challenge for this project. I bought four yards of it a while ago, as well as a matching black lining for it, intending to make it into a simple dress. I never had the time or the inspiration to take scissors to it until flipping through my boxes of patterns I came across and old McCalls “Non-stop Wardrobe” pattern – M5193. I had made this suit about a decade ago for my college interview in a burgundy corduroy.
It was very good luck that I was able to squeeze pants, a vest, and a jacket out of only four yards without breaking any grainline rules. Of course it wasn’t quite enough, and I had to use the lining fabric for the jacket collar and facing, as well as the pants waistband, but I really like how the solid color breaks up the floral print.
To make the fabric a little more manageable, I added a weighty cotton underlining to the jacket. It worked wonders in keeping things nice and smooth, and give it a little more body to boot. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the heavy underlining made the jacket softer and even more silky. However, it’s still perfectly light and cool to remain in the Texas heat for a respectable amount of time. I only regret not giving the same underlining treatment to the vest, it might have been a lot less wrinkly and lay a bit better. Maybe the pants too, but they have a good drape as is.
The first time I made this jacket, I forgot that corduroy had nap, and one of the lapel corners always curled up funny. I had to wear a little brooch to pin the collar in place. This time around, I tweaked the pattern so the shoulders fit better, shortened the sleeves, and put real pockets into the jacket. I must have remembered a thing or two from last time too since the whole thing came together in about half the time – about two weeks instead of a month. The lapels on my jacket even lay flat (most of the time)!
The dang fabric though. You can’t really see it too much luckily, but just sewing the button holes mangled the front of the vest and jacket a little bit. I did my best to avoid handling the fabric, but the entire project was like working with a ticking time bomb to get finished before the seam allowance turned into fringe. I got really good at tugging and pulling and begging the fabric back after getting snagged, but there were still a few places I couldn’t quite fix. Doing a blind hem stitch on the pants was nearly impossible, since grabbing a thread of the fabric to “blindly” stitch your hem to usually creates a terrible snag. At least the underlining on the jacket really saved me when it came to hemming.
I particularly like the pants pattern because of the pleats. I mean, it’s actually a rather bare pants pattern, no pockets, the most comically thin waistband ever (I widened mine quite a bit than what was allowed for), and the most meager instructions for the fly. They must have spent all their pattern making money on the jacket, because those instructions are indeed quality, and I look at them whenever I need to bag a lining. But look at the pleats! In a decade, I have yet to find a pattern for pleated pants as great as these.
As wonderful as this suit is, it’s difficult to wear. You’ve got to admit, the thing is flashy! For starters, it’s quite glossy, which means in the sunshine it’s nearly blinding. In indirect light, the large, all-over print makes an equally loud statement. However, breaking up the set makes everything much more wearable. I’ve worn the jacket out with some black slacks without drawing too much attention, and the pants looked perfectly normal when I wore them with a navy blue tee shirt to lunch. Maybe I just need to work up to wearing all three pieces together. Thanks to my lovely husband for the beautiful photos!