I am so excited to share with you all my latest addition to the “What I Made’s” of my Vintage Capsule Wardrobe: the Coco Butter Ensemble! I had a bit of a time coming up with the name, the two final contestants being “The Peanut Gallery Ensemble” or “The Coco Butter Ensemble”; the former having rather hilarious inside-jokes attached which only a few people could catch on to (you know who you are 😉 ), the latter being just a nice, classy title. Classy won out in the end 🙂
The finished product turned out quite different from the original sketch, I must admit 😉 (For those of you who might be a bit behind in my Vintage Capsule Wardrobe Series, you can find the kick-off post here.) After a little change of heart, I decided against the double knit t-shirt, which was sort-of replaced by a weskit instead. I must say, was quite off in my color choice for the skirt sketch, lol! Note to self: don’t just look at the receipt description and guess the color of the fabric based off that. But then, cocoa makes me think dark chocolate as opposed to Nesquik cocoa brown. Ahem. Moving on!
I have yet to totally cement in my mind just how much yardage is in 60″ wide fabric. When I ordered 2 1/4 yards of this wool suiting, I was a little taken a-back by just how much there was! But, more is always way better than less, so it was a happy surprise. 🙂 I immediately put together my favorite weskit pattern with my original skirt design in my head, and started to get really excited to finally have a suit-like ensemble added to my closet.
Fabric: Cocoa Wool Suiting / Buttons: Vintage (Stash-busted) / Zipper & Notions: Joann’s / Thread: Gütermann / Weskit Pattern: Simplicity 3659 (Vintage) / Skirt Pattern: Eye-balled
I need to note before I go on, that this was my first time working with wool. And I’m never going back. Cotton has nothing to this stuff in warmth, workability, functionality, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. If you can’t tell, I’m in love with the stuff 🙂
My first project was the skirt, and I was so thankful to have the generous help of Lily in giving me a little guidance on how to go about making it. I was a bit daunted at first by the pleating job. This was the second-ever skirt I had pleated, and I’m a formula-oriented girl, so I had a bit of a time wrapping my head around making the pleats exactly perfect in width and spacing mathematically. I just needed a friend to tell me to eye-ball it, to push me into just diving in and ditching the mathematical stuff.
I kind of want to nick-name this skirt “The Never Ending Project”. I went through about 3 adjustments with the pleats, basting on the waistband and trying it on to make the fit as perfect as possible. I’m a perfectionist, and I really wanted this skirt to be as well-fitting as I could (without pulling my hair out over it, that is.) I don’t like to wear ill-fitting clothing, and I wanted to want to wear this skirt. So! Lots of adjustments. 🙂 After I thought I had finally gotten it perfect (I’ll catch up to that cliff-hanger later), I finished up the waistband, added a hook-and-bar, and then began hemming the skirt. 120″ of blind hemming. Who-boy. I got through that, though after snagging the hem with my shoe a few days later, I went back over my first blind hem with an additional set of stitching going in the opposite direction to insure stability. So, 240″ of blind hem. Whew.
So! Now onto the weskit! That went off without much of a hitch, just a couple little episodes here and there that were quickly mended. I used Simplicity 3659, a pattern from 1951. The weskit is lined in the same material as the outer fabric, which makes it a deliciously warm piece to wear! We were up at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving, and I was wearing this exact blouse, skirt & weskit pairing outside in 40*-50* weather without outerwear, and was entirely comfortable in my shirtsleeves. Can you tell I’m in love with this set? Well, I am 🙂
I was so happy and satisfied when I finished my weskit, but grey clouds loomed ahead. The most disastrous thing happened when I tried on the weskit & skirt together. I had totally forgotten to take into account the symmetry that this ensemble required, so when I discovered that the front & back pleats of my skirt did not match up with the placket & back points of my weskit, I was a little dismayed. A little? Who am I kidding! I was getting pretty tired of continually modifying the pieces of this ensemble at this point.
Oh the drama of sewing.
The skirt was the culprit, as the weskit aligned with my anatomy better. So, being rather used to adjusting the silly thing, I promptly set to work fixing my error.
I went through two more adjustments before I finally got the pleats perfect. And boy, but am I glad I did! It would have been no fun wearing this ensemble knowing that the symmetry was off and overall it didn’t look as smart and polished as I would have liked.
Look! Look! Do you see it? Perfect alignment. *happy dance*
The buttons on my weskit are a vintage wooden set from our stash. I thought they added a slightly-quirky touch while still remaining classy and refined.
Oh, and remember the hook-and-bar that I added? Well, it wasn’t a good width for the waistband, so eventually I decided to switch that out for a large snap paired with hooks and eyes, which made for a much nicer, more concealed finish. Adjustment #… I’ve lost track. 😛
So what’s the moral of this story? You have to work hard to get something that looks nice and functions well. This ensemble was a labor of love, though I am so happy that I put in as much time and attention to detail as I did. I have already gotten many wears out of this weskit & skirt pairing, and eagerly anticipate more to come! Next up? A wool Christmas dress! Stay tuned!
Ever had a never-ending sewing project?
-Charlotte, the youngest sister & singer