Monday, August 20, 2012

Sparkle-osity

I had some fabric; fabric that I loved but that intimidated me with its gorgeousness.  It is beautiful and luxurious, and I used to take it out of my stash periodically and smile and sigh over it, admire its intricacy, its texture, bask in its golden glow, and dream of the beautiful garment locked away inside it.  I wanted it to fulfil its promise but I was frightened of ruining it.  I wasn't sure that I had the skills to make something worthy of it.  Finally I got the courage to release it from years of imprisonment in the stash and allow it to shine...
And now it is: a gold sparkly cardigan!
The fabric is light stretchy jersey knit, that has been fully sewn all over with miniature gold sequins.  It has been in my stash for several years, ever since those happy golden sparkles seduced me during Fabulous Fabric's annual 50% off all sequinned and beaded fabrics Christmas sale ...
The shell of the cardigan is entirely hand-sewn, since very shortly into the project ie. the cutting stage; I realised that no sewing machine needle was ever going to cope with those little metal sequins.
Whilst I was sewing it I found myself chanting in my head a pointless monotonous mantra "I am my own sweatshop; I am my own sweatshop" with a mixture of wonder and disbelief that I was even going down this path.  I mean, I don't mind hand-sewing.  I even would say I like hand-sewing, I like it a lot! but I have to admit this was a very time consuming project.  A labour of love  :)
The sequinned fabric was quite scratchy and uncomfortable on the wrong side; so I lined the cardigan completely with a soft, primrose yellow cotton jersey.  This was much quicker to construct, being entirely run up on my overlocker! in fact I had a little chuckle to myself at the difference in time to make the two  :)  but attaching the cardigan to the lining was also done completely by hand.  They are sewn together around the neckline, the front edges and lower edge, and the two sleeve edges.
Stitch techniques:
Sewing the shell; I stabbed the needle up and down for each stitch in a quilting stitch configuration (two stitches forward, one little stitch back), searching with my needle each time for a gap between sequins or a hole in the sequins.
Sewing the shell to the lining;  the edges of the sequinned shell are turned in over the edges of the lining, encasing it, and slip stitched in place, again searching for the holes in the sequins for each stitch.
For the entire hand-sewing component; I would do a triple stitch repeated in the one sequin for every 5cm of stitching or so, to lessen the chances of the whole thing unravelling if (heaven forbid) a thread does break.  This is not a completely unlikely scenario, since the fabric is, of course; very heavy! which does place strain on the seams.
I have been working on this cardigan on and off for a full month... and I have a massive re-awakened respect for the hand-sewing and beading specialists of India.
Both the cardigan and the liner were cut using my own custom-fit Tshirt pattern, cut with a centre front opening and with a deep Vneck.
I hand-sewed brass press-studs down each front, so I can close the cardigan so it looks like a little Tshirt or jumper, if I want to.

Some might think this a silly and frivolous cardigan, in fact I am a bit nervous about the reaction it is going to get... the last time I posted a sparkly garment on my blog here I received a very back-handed comment  :(  but I love it and it is going to be a lifelong player in my wardrobe.  This might sound nerdy; but I feel quite exhilarated that this super-exotic thing is now hanging in my wardrobe.  To have something as impractical and fabulous as this in my possession... I feel like an exotic butterfly has flown in through the window and chosen to alight on a hanger in my wardrobe...!
I just hope I can live up to its gorgeousness!

Details:
Cardigan; self-drafted, made of gold sequinned stretch fabric, lined with pale yellow cotton jersey knit
Tshirt; self-drafted, actually the very same pattern as the cardigan! made of white cotton jersey dyed red and brown, details here
Skirt; Vogue 1247, of purple stretch denim dyed brown, details and my review of this pattern here, and this skirt styled in 6 different ways here
Tights; Kolotex
Boots; Sempre di, from Zomp shoes

73 comments:

  1. Oh my, what a lovely garment! I'd guess if someone had a negative comment it would be rooted completely in jelously. You are quite an accomplished artist and I hope that the beautiful garment gives you joy each time you wear it.

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  2. What an amazing cardigan! It fits you beautifully and the fabric is fantastic. I've never seen metal sequins--what an unusual fabric. I hope you enjoy this sweater for a long time. Congratulations on cutting into a fabric that was intimidating you.

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  3. I love the clean, casual lines with the spectacular fabric! I also love your decision to photograph it surrounded by the richness of graffiti and urban trash. Well done!

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  4. That is special, I think everyone needs a glittery pop piece. Great location for your pics, too!

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  5. These are stunning photographs! The backdrop sets it off perfectly.

    I don't think that it is an impractical garment at all. I think you'll be surprised at just how often you wear it.Well done on all that handstitching.

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  6. Good work!

    And I am continuing to marvel at the variety in your backdrops!

    I have a similar piece in silver in my stash. I hadn't thought of making it into a cardigan...

    Brenda

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  7. Oh, this is stunning! I can see this being worn with all sorts of outfits. I agree about it being a lifelong player in your wardrobe. I think we all make a garment every once in a while that feels special. I have a few things that I've painstakingly handsewn (though not entire garments) that give me a little thrill when I wear them. Enjoy this cardigan and wear it whenever you can!

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  8. Really luxurious and pretty! You are at the head of the trend - sparkly is IN. And I so hear you on the hand sewing. I entirely sewed a garment by hand recently, but it's fiddliness was pleats, not sequins.

    I love how you've posed in such an industrial setting. But how colorful with all that graffiti. Great great great!

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  9. Very nice! I totally understand that feeling of joy just having something silly and sparkly in your closet, even if you don't wear it that much. And it looks super cool against the graffiti!

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  10. Hello from Missouri in the US. Very lovely cardigan, I would not worry about Negative Nellies - I would wear this to the office, for a girls-night-out or dinner date with my husband.
    Very lovely, and hats off to having the patience to hand sew an entire garment.

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  11. Oh my goodness. Absolutely gorgeous! It looks like something featured in Vogue magazine.

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  12. I have some sparkly gorgousness in my stash too (not quite as sequinned all over as yours, mine is black on black half circles) and it has been maturing too while I build up the courage to release the perfect garment from it so I know how you felt! :) I think your did an amazing job and it hands so nicely too. Who doesn't love sparkles?! :)

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  13. Truly STUNNING! That is perfectly in style right now. I admire your patience, that couldn't have been fun to sew with.

    I also admire your photography, please tell me more about your camera and if you have an assistant or if you use a remote and a tripod. That really looks like picture right out of a fashion magazine.

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  14. Love it! This may take on the role in your wardrobe of fabulous jacket that elevates every outfit you pair it with.

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  15. A: It's gorgeous
    B: You deserve a piece of luxury in your wardbrobe
    C: I would have taken the time to hand sew this beauty as well.
    It's a great sparkly piece.

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  16. You absolutely should not care what others think about your sewing.If you love it nothing else matters.

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  17. really great to read about how you handeled the fabric during construction, enlightens me for if i was to ever try such a thing! fantastic job, love the little lable too

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  18. Such a beautiful garment. Well done for hand sewing it. The effort was well worth it.

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  19. I'll bet you'll be surprised by how versatile this cardigan actually is. I love the mantra..."I am my own sweatshop." At least you have a healthy understanding of what's involved.

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  20. Oh my goodness...you NEED to find someplace to wear that on a regular basis! ANY excuse to wear it will do. Gorgeousness!

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  21. love it. may be a bit expected but I think during the holidays it would be especially nice. and a girl needs sparkle all year round.

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  22. It is a beautiful garment but I'm afraid I never would have had the persistence to finish.

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  23. I adore the grunge and the glamour of this shot. What a gorgeous cardie!!!! Congratulations on your sweatshop results - seriously fabulous!!

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  24. The first thought in my head when I saw the photos was "It's so beautiful!" You are absolutely amazing for hand sewing this cardigan together, but how worth it because as you said it will be a player in your wardrobe forever!!! If you change your mind on that, let me know and I'll give you my address! Ha ha!

    I've never understood why people would post a negative comment, haven't they ever heard the old "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all!" mantra?

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  25. I love the sparklosity of the cardigan against the grungy backdrop!

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  26. I admire your patience. Handsewing a lining into a jacket is one thing but an entire garment is admirable. I love the rags to riches photograph. Your cardigan would be the perfect garment to throw over a dress in the evening.

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  27. Sparklosity is a wonderful word for an equally wonderful top. Can I ask did you remove the sequins from the seam allowances? My DD has asked for a dress with sparklosity and this part discourages me.

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  28. Thank you! Gail; sorry! but no I did not remove any sequins.. since they are all sewn on by hand with the same thread linking lots of neighbouring sequins, to cut any of the threads within the fabric would lead to the surrounding sequins gradually dropping off over time... and eventually bald patches around your seams. For that reason for my slip stitching of the edges; I sewed through each of the holes of the sequins on the cut edges of my fabric to help keep as many as possible on there. I should have noted that in the post, sorry :) Will fix that up.

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  29. I think you'll wear this for years and years. It's simple but very special, and the gold will go with so many things. Totally worth the effort.

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  30. very beautiful - and very special. Good thing it took so much time - you want to keep this kind of thing exclusive.

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  31. You are just brilliant with your design concepts for garments. You definitely have 'an eye' for bringing out the best in fabric. And the location - how crazily perfect is it!!!

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  32. Very pretty. I love the photos

    Have you made the top from the Vogue pattern. Having seen your skirt I am tempted to get this pattern myself. I probably would hve bought it earlier but the top put me off.

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  33. It's not nerdy at all to want something special in the closet. When I first came to Britain it was one of the things I loved - women seemed to put on sparkly, velvety, satiny clothes for any old weeekend evening at a pub or restaurant and so I began my collection of (store bought) 'evening wear'. Sadly, I don't go out that much and I soon learned I really don't have that lifestyle. So, your next challenge after all that work is to get yourself out more often! Your cherished fabric is probably very proud to be seen out in public now!

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  34. That is a serious labor of love - good work! It's just beautiful!

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  35. What a beautiful thing you have created! You do look very elegant wearing it.

    As for your skills, I swear if you can't do it, then no one can! I wish I could be half as talented as you are:)

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  36. What a beautiful garment from this amazing fabric. It is such a special piece, I can imagine it being worn for years, as a modern classic. I appreciate your detailed description of the construction, what a lot of work, but the outcome shows it.

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  37. Love it and wear it with joy.

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  38. Sparkly little jacket has been on my want-list for a long time. I love yours - great colour and a lovely finish!

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  39. That looks really lovely! and hand sewn!!! marvelous!

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  40. I smiled as soon as I saw your jacket - it's fabulous. A bit of sparkle is fantastic and I think it could be a great 6 ways garment :)

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  41. Stunning. Great idea to use the holes of the sequins to sew through. I have a small piece of sequinned fabric, perfect for a collar and cuffs perhaps?, that when I get around to doing something with it, I will handle exactly the same way as you did. Once again Carolyn gets "pinned"!

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  42. Gorgeous! The color of the sparkle fabric is perfect on you. I agree with other commenters that you will find lots of places to wear your new sweater. All of your sweatshop labors paid off big!

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  43. I think it it exquisite and I love the way you styled it! So gorgeous and you can wear it in so many ways.

    That you handsewed it makes it heirloom quality, in my opinion. Wonderful!

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  44. Holy cow. Took me a minute to close my gaping mouth. What a stunner! And those photos! Love the contrasts with the grungy location and the glamorous outfit.

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  45. wow.

    I love the photo shoot too. How fun is that? Although it does look a bit scary ...

    I think you'll wear it more than you think. With jeans and a Tshirt it really isn't that formal, is it? At any rate, I think you should wear it alot. It's lovely!

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  46. I love love love these photos! I'm getting a kind of Velvet Goldmine vibe. Very cool project!

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  47. I love the cardigan & what a fantastic photo. However do you find all these interesting places?

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  48. now i am absolutely convinced there is nothing you can't make!! that's gorgeous!!!

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  49. Absolutely stunning and worth every hand stitch.

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  50. I would also like to add my compliments. A beautiful garment. Well worth all that time consuming work. You must feel proud and you do deserve to. Your first few sentences of this post rang a lot of bells for me. I have also had fabric that I loved so much and was scared to sew. Never quite finding the right project. Crazy really. One piece I kept for about 15 years ( yes 15!) - in the end I feel out of love completely with it and gave it away.

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  51. Wow, this is a wonderful cardigan! I usually are amazed by all the things you do and all the technical aspects you share with us. But this is such a beautiful garment. Enjoy wearing it any way you feel like. You're simply the best!
    JJP

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  52. Dear Carolyn , I am so sorry if you took my comment to be negative - I thought I was being supportive ! You have done an excellent job of your cardigan - I can only imagine how long and patient you were in hand sewing just difficult fabric. I do think too the gold colour is marvellous and will go with so many of your other creations.

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  53. Wow, this is beautiful! I've done a little hand sewing on quilt pieces, but not on something wearable, which I think makes it extra special. I hope you get plenty of opportunities to wear it.

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  54. I don't understand why anyone would make a nasty comment about your garments. They are all gorgeous and the bling makes them even that much better. :)

    This cardigan is gorgeous and I want to make one now!

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  55. Your cardigan is gorgeous! and because you chose to use clean lines for this adorable fabric I know you will be using it a lot, even with jeans. Great job!

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  56. Beautiful!
    Well thought out for construction of a not that easy piece to sew.
    The backdrops to your photo shoots are fabulous!!!

    Great work!

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  57. Me encanta tu chaqueta, me parece una preciosidad y estoy deseando poder hacerme una.

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  58. What a fantastic sparkle cardi! I love how great it fits you. I, too, made something sparkly entirely by hand a few years ago, and it felt satisfying and very special to be that connected to the sewing process. There's no going quickly with sequins!

    You look gorgeous and should wear sparkles daily. :)

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  59. Its so pretty!
    I really wish I had the determination to relearn my sewing skills. Its been so many years I would really have to dust off the few skills can remember!

    Oh, thank you for stopping by my blog! Terri is just great, isn't she?

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  60. I think it's beautiful and makes you look so elegant and glamorous! :)

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  61. It looks fab! I wish I had the guts to wear something like that.

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  62. Way to go! I think it's fun and happy, and it's quite impressive that it's hand sewn! :)

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  63. So glamourous. Great photo shoot.

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  64. Fantastic cardy and it will add such a wonderful bit of sparkle to your wardrobe!

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  65. SO beautiful! You are so talented.

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