Outer Where?… Then, And Now.

Today we have a special edition of Outer Where?, my collection of posts on cold weather clothes I’ve made but can’t wear in my current home state of Florida.  I’ve cranked the AC down in my new apartment, bundled up and collected some exciting material to share with you.  This edition is special because it features not only the requisite me-made coat/jacket, but also a new rendition I’ve finished recently that I really can and will wear this season. 

Now hear this: The 90’s are the current decade years on deck for resurgence!  I didn’t realize how appealing I would find this phenomenon from a fashion  perspective, but here we are.  Now, I’m not exactly primed for circulating flannel plaids, slip dresses and Converse sneakers back in my wardrobe.  Brown lipliner (or anything brown),  The Jennifer and skinny eyebrows a la Kate Moss are not calling to me. what I’m really excited about is that little cusp of the early 90’s before the release of Nevermind came and obliterated the last residue of glamour and exuberance from the 80’s. It’s weird, I know. I’ve discovered I’m really jiving on a blend of Versace and Bill Blass for my next makeover.  Maybe it’s just my new job.  After recent restructuring I’ve been moved to work on a brand that designs a lot of animal prints.  And big, gold accessories… can’t forget the accessories.  Case in point, look at this sparkly gem I just picked up last week:

When I was studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology I had to work-study position  in the periodicals library.  We received boxes and boxes of magazines donated to us all the time, and already having complete, bound collections of all the majors, we would put them out for students to scavange.   Least popular but a favorite of mine were the late 80’s  / early 90’s issues, especially anything from British Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar during the years when Liz Tilberis was the editor.  I have a set of binders in my sewing space chock-full of pages torn out of magazines going back 4 or more decades from which I draw inspiration every day, most of them filed in my memory from paging through  so many times.  Particular fantasies I’m having lately draw on the concept of uber-coordinated ensemble dressing… here are a few ideas that have been in the forefront from my archive:

From the look in the middle there are some editorial notes I find amusing. 

What every woman needs – a white cotton suit that’s versatile enough to go from a.m. to p.m.with nothing but a change of accessories. By Chanel.

Well, okay then! 

I even have a pattern in my stash that is ready for a big moment in my wardrobe, Simplicity 1016.  It’s got a capelet! AND gold buttons… AND epaulets. Oh, the possibilities!

Coming back from that tangent, I hope you are following me so far… here I am drawing nearer to the subject of Outer Where?  Another major contributor to the style I am talking about is Donna Karan.  Maybe it’s that I am getting older, that much closer to 40 than 20, which makes me more appreciative of this grown up, sophisticated but bold kind of dressing.  I think Donna really exemplified this type of fashion I appreciate more after accruing some maturity.  I mean, it could also be an effect of seeing so much of Hilary Clinton’s pant suits this campaign season, but I’m going with Donna. 

Unfortunately Donna Karan patterns are out of print after the licensing agreement with Vogue Patterns recently dissolved, but I have several in my stash.  #V1129 is probably my favorite of all, and it’s the one I am featuring today. 

The first garment I made from it several years ago was from a decadent splurge on a wool double weave in my favorite color: RED.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but neither am I.  I am equally fond of pink, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a lot easier to be taken seriously in red.  I am always keen on the idea of red for jackets and coats, because it cheers me up to wear during dark and dreary winter months.  When I came across this pattern and the eventual fabric for it (this hardly ever occurs at the same time), I had a pretty significant brainstorm triggered by these familiar images from my magazine archive: 

There’s just something about the big drape of fabric coming off the lapel in this style which I find both glamorous and practical – no separate scarf needed for schlepping around town when there’s a chill in the air.

This is a wonderful fabric that stretches both lengthwise and crosswise, with the most wonderful drape and color; the kind of good quality wool that doesn’t feel itchy or smell like a dog.  I bought it at a time when I rarely had the spare change to afford a splurge.  Treat it as an investment, I said… and basically kept my fingers crossed that my sewing chops would not fail me during the making.

This is the same fabric I used to make Little Joanie, my favorite pencil skirt which I shared early on in this blog.  The natural conclusion of course is that it may be time to finally wear these two together.

Drawing from the animal print memo I picked up from my new job, I was really feeling like I could use a sartorial injection of it pronto.  I had found this printed french terry on Girl Charlee during a sale and expected I would make up a cool little moto jacket-sweatshirt hybrid.  When I received it I found it was too light weight for that idea.  Not to worry, I drummed up another idea pretty easily. 

Now, terry would not normally have been my first choice for this Donna Karan garment.  The model on the front of the envelope is wearing tweed and the recommendations on the back all call for fabrics with some substance.  Given the current fashion for infusing athletic references in as many ideas as possible, I liked the idea of mixing up the sporty softness of terry with a garment that would be interesting to twist in a more casual way.

In order to support the seams and keep the shape in areas where I need it, I used a fusible tape. I like this one I found on Amazon while looking for Vilene, which I had come across in a few sewing references. Vilene happened to not be as highly rated, but since this stuff is not a unique invention I went with the masses and am pretty happy. 

This is the application before overlocking on the armscye/sleeve seam.

After the whirlwind of moving, layoffs, traveling, starting a new job, and traveling again I am really happy I’ve been able to get back to sewing, and also writing again. I hope you get to see more of my projects soon! 



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