Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A dress for Leslie

Hope Leslie's friend doesn't mind me showing these pics; they are the only shots I have of the original dress in detail. Wherever you are, thanks!
My friend Leslie is getting married. This is generally a good thing. I like to see people happy, especially friends. She wants me to make her wedding dress. I am generally ok with this. She's got one picked out that she likes, modeled after a traditional German dirndl (hope I'm spelling that right). The lines are good, a basic simple design. The bodice is fitted with straps over the shoulders that go up to a high neckline in back. The skirt is a fairly simple A-line, with a long godet inserted into the back seam. The thing that makes it especially charming is all the trim on the bodice, straps and around the back of the neck. It kinda looks like frosting at first glance. When you take a good look at it, it seems to be several lines of pleated or manipulated china silk, or possibly organza, with a few other pieces interspersed.
Good points: the dress is a simple design, only requiring a simply draped skirt and some strategicly placed darts in the bodice.
We don't have to replicate the original in every perfect detail; I want it to be clean and elegant like the original, but I have some leeway.
Challenges: Leslie is in Germany, which makes fittings difficult. I have taken measurements and altered my dress form appropriately. I hope that's enough.
The chosen fabric is a silk dupioni with only a little texture, in a slight winter-white color. It should look lovely on her, but it is proving slightly difficult to obtain in this area. She brought me a swatch from one local store that looked good, but she was told that if she wanted to purchase any of the plain silk fabric, she would have to purchase at least half a yard of an embellished dupioni which retails at about $100/ yard. We both though this a bit silly, since neither of us would have use for it, and I don't want to purchase something that expensive on speculation.
Some of the trims look easy to fabricate, some of them I can't figure out just yet. I have some ideas and some leftover scraps of poly-organza to practice with. Let's hope I get it right.
I have constructed a muslin mock-up of the basic dress. The bodice is fully lined in muslin, the back has piping inserted in the fiddle-back seams, the straps are attached at the front with safety pins, the hem is pinned up, and I even put a zipper in so it will be easy to try on. I'm mostly looking to see if I got the size right, and that the style is basically what she wants. I know there are a few things I want to change: I made the straps a little too wide; I want to reposition the bust darts toward the center so they run in more or less a strait line down to the waist seam, making the darts slightly more separated at their bases; I want to reposition the front skirt darts so they start where the outside bust darts end, but the end of the dart will be in the same place; I want to respace the back darts so they are centered in the back panels; and I want to remove some of the back fullness, probably out of the godet side of the back panels. I had originally draped that seam at an angle, but I cut the mockup on the strait, so it ended up a bit full. I think it would make the back a little cleaner.
The original dress fabric is a bridal dupioni silk. From the picture, I can see it is mostly smooth with just a few little slubs that give it a slight texture. It is almost as smooth as a taffeta, but not quite. This texture is harder to come by in this area. I found some dupioni silk at Joann fabrics, originally priced at almost $25/yard. Fortunately, I had a coupon. I got 5.875 yards, and it is 60" wide, so I'll have plenty. The mockup only took 5 yards of 45" wide muslin, but I'd like some extra just in case. The only drawback is that it is paler white than the swatch Leslie found. The texture is right, though. I bought it anyway, and have kept it in its plastic bag. If I don't mess the fabric up and she doesn't end up liking it, I can take it back.
The trims have been the latest challenge. The bodice has 8 lines of trim, 5 of which are created from pleated or manipulated tubes of fabric. I have figured out the first one, I think. I made a china silk tube, flattened out to one inch wide, and marked its length with one inch intervals. I drew the line of application on the bodice, marking it with .25 inch intervals. I then stiched the tube down to the bodice, inch by inch, forming soft knife pleats at a 4:1 pleat ratio. To stitch the pleats together, sew the center points of 4 adjacent pleats together. Then circle-sew the corners of pleats 4 and 1 together to form the clover shape.
The third trim from the bottom is a 1" wide tube that has been box pleated and tacked down to the bodice, then the centers of the box pleats are tacked together. I saw this done in a Vogue pattern I have, so this was easy to figure out.
We will not be using the traditional apron with this dress, so the waistline trim that hides its attachment will not be necessary.
More updates after I talk with Leslie...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Problem with Handmade Items

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to stop making children's clothes for my etsy store, liquidate what was left, and afterward only make kids' stuff for friends with kids. The problem is that these things just don't sell for any amount of money that reflects the time and effort I put into them. For example:

I made two of these little dress-and-hat sets recently, one each for two different friends who are expecting in November and December. The dresses are about a 6 month size, and the hats are about a medium for a baby. I enjoyed making them. The pattern is one I've used variations of before (Simplicity #4711, size "S"), so it wasn't terribly difficult. I was shopping at the fabric store for a different project when I found the red gingham fabric on sale, and figured I could do something with it. So I got it and some other bits and bobs, washed it, and cut and made the two sets in a batch. The materials cost: $6 for the fabric, $0.35 for the ribbon, and $1.60 for each of three cards of buttons, which amounts to $4.80 for buttons for both. Add on about $2 for thread, some interfacing, a machine needle and a little bit of Stitch Witchery; these are supplies I already had on hand and use small quantities of or can use on several projects (like the machine needle, if I'm careful), and should only account for a small fraction of the cost of any one thing. So: for two sets of dress-and-hat combo, $13.15 should cover the cost of materials (minus tax, which is about 8% here), with very little material left over.

To save myself some time, I made these sets in batch mode, starting with the hats, and working one step at a time on both items. I got the hats done and had made the bodices of the dresses when I decided to finish off one of the dresses that evening, because I would need to give it the next day, then finished the skirt of the other dress early the next week. Luckily, the skirts are very simple, gathered into the bodice and machine hemmed with lines of trim over the hem stitching. The only difference in the two dresses is that the first dress had two lines of trim at the hem, and the second dress only had one, since I ran out of trim. The labor from the beginning of cutting to stitching on the last button of the second dress took 8 hours.

The breakdown: I have been charging $10 per hour for stitching jobs, which I have been told is pathetically cheap, and I should be charging at least twice that. Anyway, $10 X 8 hours is $80 + $13.15 for materials = $93.15 for two sets. That's $46.58 per dress-and-hat set.

Who pays that kind of money for baby clothes?

Honestly, folks. These things are put together well, with decent materials and all the care you'd expect an independant seamstress to put into her work. They will last through the first kid, and probably on through the second and third as well. But when the kid grows out of the thing so fast, why on earth would a new parent pay upwards of $50 for one outfit? They're probably so tired from midnight feedings and scared stiff of future college payments that that pricetag would render them a gibbering wreck for a full 10 minutes. But when they can go to Walmart and get an outfit for $10 that will do the same job (and what does a baby care about where it's clothes come from anyway), why would you bother with handmade, especially when you don't have a personal connection with the maker, and if you did have a personal connection to the seamstress, why wouldn't she just give it to the new parents?

This is a bit different with adult clothes; adults don't change size nearly as quickly as little kids are expected to (most of the time), so a special, custom made outfit for an adult could be allowed to cost more if you couldn't find what you were looking for in the average shop.

Here's another example: Last Christmas I knitted my husband a hat:

I wanted it to be blue, because it goes with his eyes. I wanted it to be very soft, so it wouldn't irritate him at all. I wanted it to fold up very small so he could fit it in his coat pocket to bring along everywhere, in case the weather turned cold unexpectedly. And I wanted to use a quiviut blend because I love knitting with the stuff. The yarn is a blend of 40% quiviut/40% merino wool/ 10% silk. It is $60 a ball. Yup, $60. I knitted it on #5 needles, so it took about 24 working hours to knit it. The pattern is very simple; a variation on the hat pattern in the book Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. Using the same $10/hour charge, if someone were to ask me to knit one exactly like it for them, I'd have to charge $300 for it to be worth my time. Yes, I could have gotten a ball of soft fingering weight yarn for about $5, but I'd still have to spend three days knitting the thing. And yes, the average person would have spent about $5 for a simple, functional hat and left it at that.

A word about spare time: My spare time is still MY TIME, and I want to use it to do the things that I love doing. One hour of spare time is not worth any less to me than an hour spent working my day job; in fact, it is often worth more to me because I can spend it learning new things, and not just doing the things I'm already good at.

So, long story short; I don't feel that the average person is willing to pay the kind of money I would have to charge for the kids' stuff I make for it to be worth while for me to do it any more. I had high hopes for these dresses when I made them, but now they just make me feel sad and underappreciated for the work I put into them. Sometimes I contemplate just dropping them off at Goodwill, or waiting for the next disaster relief collection so I won't have to look at them again (I would have dropped them off at the local Starbucks for them to bring to Joplin, MO after the tornado, but they said they had already gotten enough clothing donations at that point). For now, they make me heartsick.

Monday, June 13, 2011

One singular sensation

Lately I've been working for a local theater company. I work in a cave and they give me projects to do. It's been great. These are some of the pretty things I've been helping to create:

I made all the men's vests, six pairs of their pants and two jackets (that's minus the rows of rhinestones, but I did help put a lot of those on). No, I am not the designer-- Brad has done a great job with that. There were about 8 or 10 other people directly involved in cutting out pieces of costumes and putting them together in the right order and putting rhinestones on them to make them look pretty. I'm just the minion who put together a pile of vests. I also did some alterations. See the guy in the blue shirt on the left? I took his shirt in;

Pretty good, huh? Especially since me and the flatlock machine aren't best buds or anything.

This has been all-consuming work. Well, that and all the dalmatian fur. I've made a couple of skirts and dog tails and such, but mostly I haven't been working on that one. I'll put up pics when I get them. Of course this means I haven't been doing much else, though I did finish my kilt and actually wear it once.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Well, the steampunkery has been put on hold. Since it's a project solely for me to use up scraps and maybe make something cool to wear to a con I may or may not end up going to, I've kind-of gotten into some other things. For one, I had some brainworm projects that just wouldn't get out of my head unless I sat down for a few days watching Pride and Predjudice (again) and stitched things. Here's one: Here's another:

The ideas for these have been wandering through the back of my mind for months, and since work is rather slow, I thought I'd get on them and get the stuff out of my fabric cabinet. That green bodice was particularly persistant and wouldn't let me go for a good 12 hours, not until I finished the hand embroidered knotwork on the front. The strawberry dress was also planning to usurp my sanity at one point, and I couldn't stop humming "Strawberry Fields". Fortunately, that one was a relatively quick project, and the final result is pretty, so the brainworm ideas have abated, for now.


I may have gotten myself into something. For Christmas this past year, I made my friend's son a kilt. He's seven, and he takes a highland dancing class. He's been in classes for a few months now, and has learned enough to perform little dances in school performances. I had never made a kilt before, but I had found some very lightweight wool tartan fabric on a recent trip to New Hampshire that was only $4.50 a yard and 60 inches wide. I figured that I could make him one with a deep hem so it could be let down (his current attire for dance class being a sport kilt his grandmother found, from a polyester blend that velcros in the front with an almost non-existant hem; good for practice, easy to wash, but more a utilitarian uniform than a heritage garment). I figured that I might make some mistakes and that the wool I would use was extremely lightweight for the purpose, but also knew that he'll grow out of it in a few years and need a new one anyway in his proper tartan, so I might as well make him one out of this cheap (really cheap! in a good way!) stuff, just for practice.

He loves it.

Every time I see him now, he's wearing his kilt and vaulting over the livingroom couch. Sometimes also in his pirate shirt. It's terribly amusing.

Apparently, he wears it around enough for friends-of-friends-of-friends to see it, and word gets around. A couple of people have asked me if I can make them a kilt, and how much do I charge? To which I have to reply that I'm open to the idea, but I'm not sure what I'd charge for work, fabric is expensive, though. To which they say, "Well, think about it."

So this is what I'm thinking: Work has been slow since the week after Christmas, so the cash flow has been pretty depressing. I need to do something to bring in extra cash; another part-time job right now is not an option, because I'm holding out for a seasonal job in a costume shop, starting beginning of April. I don't want to get into something just in time to bail out when I've got the hang of it. Sewing work is good, if the jobs can come through on a regular basis. I don't need too many to keep me occupied, or to pay the bills, but I need to keep them coming. One kilt would keep me occupied for a week or two (this last one took spare time from 3 weeks before Christmas). I charge $10 an hour for sewing work (really cheap, I know), but how many hours does it take me to sew a kilt? I made this as a gift, so I wasn't really keeping track. I only know it was a freakin' long time. I figured I'd probably make a few more for friends and family, including one for myself, but I didn't think anyone around here would want to pay me to make one. Professional companies in Scotland charge upwards of $500 for a kilt, and who do I know who has that kind of money to spend on one garment?

Apparently, there are a few people around here who are very proud of their Scots ancestry (and who isn't) enough to want a kilt to show it off. One of them told me they'd rather pay someone they know than send away to a company overseas. Well, maybe that local phone number is my selling point. But if I don't know the hours involved, how can I tell someone a typical price?

So: how long does it take for me to make a kilt? The only way to find out is to make one and keep track of time. So that's what I'm going to do. I'll keep track on this blog post, so I know where my timesheet is, so this post will change a bit over the coming weeks. I'll be using the instructions from Tewksbury/Stuehmeyer's book The Art of Kiltmaking. Since this will be considered a practice run, I won't be using nice expensive tartan fabric. I'll be using a black-and-white mini houndstooth weave fabric I picked up for about $8 a yard. I know, it won't be a real kilt, but I'll use the same construction method. This is mostly just for time purposes anyway (with a winter wardrobe staple as a happy biproduct).

Feb. 5, 2011: It has taken 2 hours and thirty-five minutes to rip the fabric to the right proportions, mark it, record what all the measurements are supposed to be and fold the fabric in preparation for sewing. I am doing my marks with lines of hand basting in blue, because I know from the last one that my chalk wears off through much handling, and I don't want to have to go back and guess where I marked out the front apron. I now have a neat little folded bundle of houdstooth cloth.

I have thread, needles and pins. I think it might behoove me to make a template for the pleats before I stitch them. They taper from 17/32 inch at the waist to 27/32 inch at the bottom of the 8 5/8 inch fell. I'm thinking a template is good.

Later that evening: 2 hours and 10 minutes later, I have basted the edges of the apron, sewn it down and done 4 pleats, taking into account the buttonhole for the waist strap. The template didn't work out too well; I had to pin-baste it to the center stripe of each pleat, making sure the center lines matched up, and then I had to measure the pleat anyway to make sure I got it right. So I'm not going to use the template. I'm going to put this down for the night. The houndstooth is making me go blind.

Feb. 8, 2011: Spent 45 minutes stitching 2 pleats. Very tired. Hands are cold and stiff.

Feb. 10, 2011: Spend about 2 hours sewing in pleats before going to bed early. Have to get up early to dip strawberries.

Feb. 11, 2011: Spent about 30 minutes sewing in pleats. Got beyond the halfway point and found I had forgotten a pleat about 7 pleats back. *sigh*. Pulled apart pleats 5 and 7, sewed the missing pleat in. Now I have to figure out if I can sew pleats 6 and 7 together properly without pulling out pleats 8-14.

On another note, today I met with Steph's highland dance instructor, who had expressed an interest in knowing someone who could make kilts for students. She seems quite nice, no nonsense, with a lovely Scots accent. She has a closet full of bits and pieces of various costumes, including some skirts and a few kilts. She showed me two kilts in particular, same tartan. One of them was made by Elsie Stuehmeyer--it has her label in it, and the teacher says she knows Elsie, which is rather fun. I'm not sure what I was expecting from seeing a kilt made by someone who has made enough of them to actually teach classes in kiltmaking. I suppose from all the mass-produced clothes we wear, I was expecting something that looked so precise it could have been mass produced. When the teacher first brought the kilt out, it did look very precise, and the teacher has kept it in very nice shape. When you get up close to it, you can see the work she put into it. The stitches are very even, the pleats are all of a uniform size, the tartan on the buckle tabs match the fabric underneath, and the sett is accurately reproduced in the pleats. But it still looks handmade, in that it has a character. Handstitches vary a certain amount from person to person, and even in what one person does on varying days. The label inside is one of the type that you can order by mail or online to be made for you, one of those "Made for you" types. It was quite a lovely piece. I suppose all of us, including myself, have a picture or an ideal in mind of how clothes should be because of all the mass-produced items out there. "Handmade" or "homemade" does not equate with imperfection. It means individual, made by a real person; and because of that, every item they make is unique no matter how much that maker tries to produce two of the same thing.

Feb. 12, 2011: Sewed pleat 6 to pleat 7. Was able to do it without ripping the rest of the pleats apart, since I could just about fit my hand between the two pleats in the back. This only works because I am essentially pleating to the stripe. If I was pleating to the sett, and if I had pleated everything to look correct while still dropping a random pleat, I would indeed have had to pull out pleats 8-14 to get to the dropped pleat and then put the tartan back in right. Took about 20 minutes.

Feb. 17, 2011: Spent 3 hours sewing pleats, approximately (measured by a couple of Dilbert episodes and two episodes of Dr. Who, Tennant's first season). Only 3 pleats left!!!

Feb. 18, 2011: Spent about 2 hours stitching the last 3 pleats and stitching the last pleat to the underapron:

It's still incomplete, obviously. Now we get to stitching the join between the two pieces, hemming all 7 yards of it, then doing all the fiddly basting and shaping bits, interlining and lining. So far, it has taken 10 hours 20 minutes (approximately) to ready the cloth and stitch the 24 pleats. I hope I am at least 1/3 of the way through this.

Later, the same day: It has taken an hour and a half to trim and sew the join and fell it down. I've also spent half an hour basting up the hem, but I haven't gotten very far with it. Hemming is going to take a while.

Even later that same day: I've spent an hour basting up the hem. I've gotten near the first pleat, and there's a little bit of hem shaping there that I want to do when I'm fully awake, so I'll stop for the night.

Feb. 27, 2011: After a relatively bad week dealing with insurance adjusters, car rental agency and car fix-it shop, I have finally come back to the kilt. Spent 3 hours basting up the last little bit of the apron, then hemming it to slightly past the halfway point. At this rate I'm estimating that a hemmed kilt takes about 1 hour per yard of kilt to hem. I'm trying to figure out if there are some general steps in this process that take a predictable amount of time, like sewing each pleat or hemming. For instance, if it takes about 20 minutes to sew one pleat and an hour to put up each yard of hem I may be able to create a simple formula to estimate the total time it takes me. I know some things will just take their own time and I can't prepare for them, but if this gives me a better idea of the time commitment or some step I need to streamline, it'll be good for my work in the long run. Hopefully I'll be basting the pleats in place before I go on vacation.

Feb. 28, 2011: Spent another 3 hours hemming. Still have a little left.

Mar. 20, 2011: Spent half an hour hemming up the last of the kilt, then took about an hour to baste the darts in the inside of the inverted pleat and get the last little bit ready to baste the pleats down.

Mar. 23, 2011: It's taking a long time to baste these pleats in place. I started it out wrong at first and had to take a few out before I finally got it right. I've done 4 lines of basting and need to do two more. Four hours. This is taking forever. The thinness and monotonous uniformity of the pattern is slowing things down, I think. With a tartan, I can at least see visually where a stripe runs all the way down the length of the kilt. With this fabric I have to follow the stripe down with my finger, all the way, or else I lose it.

May 9, 2011: Two jackets, 6 pairs of slacks, 14 shirts, 10 vests, and a pair of curtains later (and several alterations)... I finished basting the pleats down, including the deep pleat and inverted pleat, cut out the backs of the pleats and did the steeking. This took about 4.5 hours. I had to stop when I got to the bit about the stablizer, and realized I didn't have any in my bag (I was out of the house at the time).

May 12, 2011: Spent about 3 hours stitching the canvas interfacings to the apron and underapron backs (as well as other miscellaneous basting). Had to stop when I ran out of hair canvas to back the pleats.

May 13, 2011: Spent about 2 hours sewing in the canvas in the back of the pleats, then moved on to finishing the edges of the apron and underapron. I've pulled the piece of fabric for the apron fringe and basted it into place, now I just need to sew it in.

May 14, 2011: It took about 45 minutes to sew the fringe edge of the apron down permenantly. This took me longer than expected, as sewing with a headache is not as productive a time as when one is feelin' fine.

Later that day: I've spent 4 or so hours stitching on the waistband, detailing and basting the buttonhole and pressing the kilt, and then cutting and punching the holes in the straps. I need 3 buckles.

Some observations: I've been wrapping the kilt around me from time to time. I was a little dismayed at first to see that the apron edges in the front didn't line up. I feared I had gained some weight since the time when I measured myself for it. When I pressed it, though, the edges seem to come together fine.

Wool is quite wonderful. When I basted down the inverted pleat I was getting lots of rippling and bubbling, but careful pressing has seemed to solve this.

Using a presscloth is good: I got a lot of buildup and rust out of my iron when I was pressing, and I'm glad it went onto my muslin scrap instead of the wool.

Using a micro-houndstooth weave is perhaps harder than using a boldly striped fabric with a nice polite repeat. Whenever the instructions say to stretch the fabric and line up the stripes I have to keep track of the woven line very carefully or things don't tend to line up right. If I had to do this again with a non-tartan fabric I'd probably hand-baste in several stripes at different intervals in order to match up to important points. I know this would mean a lot of hand basting and take hours to do, but it might result in less fiddling around later.

I think I put the waistband on with the weave going in the wrong direction. If I was making this for someone else I'd be more concerned and probably pull the thing off to reset it. As it is, it's such a small band, and this is for me anyway. I'm just going to leave it.

May 15, 2011: Spent three hours sewing on buckles and one of the straps. Actually, I sewed on the strap the right way, thought it was the wrong way and pulled it off. I sewed it back on, but the wrong way this time. Discovered I had done it right the first time and had to redo it. Bother.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Etsy sale on Kinsale Cloaks

Ok folks, here's the deal. I have several Kinsale cloaks listed at my Etsy store, The Blue Silk Rose. I'm currently storing them in my hall closet. I'd like to make a few new cloaks this year, but I need the current ones out before I get into that. So, to give you guys and gals some incentive, I've made a coupon code to give you 20% off any Kinsale cloak in my store, from now till Feb. 1, 2011. Just type KINSALE into the coupon code box at checkout. I know there are a lot of people out there who like the look of these, and I hope it encourages you to get one and find out how wonderful and dramatic they are.

How it works:
Choose one of the Kinsale cloaks listed.
At checkout, type KINSALE into the coupon code box to get 20% off your cloak.
The rules:
This offer is good until February 1, 2011, at which point this coupon code will become inactive.
This offer is only good on Kinsale cloaks listed at The Blue Silk Rose; no other shop will honor this coupon.
This coupon code will not be honored on any other item in my shop; just the Kinsale Cloaks.
This offer is not valid on custom orders, just the cloaks currently listed.
When the cloak ships it will be insured, with delivery confirmation, signature required. It will be insured at the regular purchase price of the cloak, not the coupon price.
Questions? Leave me a comment here, convo me on Etsy, or drop me an e-mail: redsilkthread@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mosaic jacket

I cleaned out my fabric cabinet yesterday. The doors actually close! All the way!! So I decided this evening I would start some work figuring out the jacket for my steampunk outfit.

I decided to start out with a fairly generic looking pattern and see what comes of it. This one happens to be Butterick #4154. It's a close-fitting bodice with princess seams, with a couple of simple sleeve options. I kind of like the shape of the bodice, because princess seams tend to fit me well. I'm not sure about the sleeves just yet. The sleeves are fitted, with a dart at the elbow for shaping. Fitted sleeves can be hit or miss with me; my upper arms are slightly large and when I put in a fitted sleeve I have to make sure I can get my arm into the thing, let alone have room for wearing ease. Usually, though, if I sew into the seam allowance, tapering it to 3/8 inch near the underarm, I do ok.

I'm taking a chance and making it strait off in my fashion fabric. Usually this is a no-no. However, my fashion fabric is comprised of little pieces I'm going to sew together, and I'm not above a little 'whittling' to get what I'm looking for. What I have is a big bag full of scraps left over from making my friend's Christmas dress last year, and then the skirt for me just a month ago. Some scraps are large, some are small, some are long and skinny, some have rounded edges. By themselves I don't think I could get a whole jacket out of them. What I like to do, though, is serge the pieces together along any strait line in any scrap I can find. Since serging cuts and sews in one motion, I can quickly get larger pieces. All I have to do is press the small seam allowance down to one side. If a piece of fabric I'm working with is too small in one corner, I just serge a little piece down to that spot. The finished product has grainlines going in every direction, if I've used little pieces. This can look very pretty with the light shining on it, but it does mean the finished product has no definate grain line to make the pieces hang right. Also, with dupioni especially it means that the resulting pieces have lots of weak points. For this reason, I use the resulting pieces on more structured garments, and mount them on fusible interfacing or muslin. This is the back before I've mounted it on muslin.

Here it is after mounting.

Knowing that my hips can be a little bigger than some patterns, I cut the back piece about 2 inches short. Instead of extending the back pieces all the way down, I'm going to end with a box pleat ruffle that scoops down a little from the base of the jacket. It will be one of the last things to go on, because I haven't quite figured out its particulars yet. It will, however, allow me some extra hip room. I've sewn the side back to the back almost all the way to the end of the back piece, just left a little loose for a seam allowance.
As it turns out, most of the body pieces were cut from larger pieces, so there aren't a lot of unpatterned seamlines; most pieces have one off to the side, but it's not the drastic mosaic effect that I had first pictured. This is ok though.
You can see a little bit of the cabbage effect in the sleeves, the lower one especially.
The front looks quite plain at the moment. Not too many extranious seams. The neck is quite high, but that might work itself out once the lining is installed. The sleeves are indeed tight. I'm also not sure if they will fit over my Gibson girl blouse. I'm not opposed to cutting the top third of the sleeve off, though, and installing a puff. Maybe that will be the place for the mosaic tile look. It may also give me greater freedom of movement, as the rest of the bodice is a little tight.