Monday, September 30, 2013

#3 - Bundle Challenge - It's Moto-rific!

Welcome to Challenge #3 in the FabricMart Fabricista Fashion Challenge!


Rules for Challenge 3

Challenge #2 was so much fun! Challenge #3 presented a different sort of challenge. Here are the rules:

Using the 6 yard Bundle we have sent you, make a 2 piece garment. What is in the bundle is a mystery and everyone will receive something different. Try to incorporate the three fabrics in some way. You can use fabric from your stash to finish your look, but keep in mind that the bundle fabric must make up a majority of your outfit. You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, the way you use your fabrics together, and fit.


I received the following three fabrics (clicking the pic takes you to the link on the FabricMart site):

  • Gray plaid flannel, 2.5 yards.
  • Black poly/cotton ponte, 2 yards (though it was actually more).
  • Navy soft cotton print with tennis rackets, 1.5 yards.

In addition to these three fabrics, I added a few supplies:

  • Strips of bias silk organza for making the fringe.
  • Fusible tricot interfacing - used only in the back neck facing.
  • Cotton twill tape sewn to the outer edge and the pocket edge.
  • Two keyrings from the local hardware store - used as closures.

Bleaching the Fabric

I was pretty happy with the black ponte (I've sewn with loads of black ponte - it's right in my wheelhouse) and the gray plaid flannel, but the tennis rackets presented a challenge. While the navy tennis racket fabric was very smooth and soft, I didn't like how it looked alongside the homespun grey flannel. It just didn't work for me. I considered various options, including dyeing the tennis racket fabric to black, chopping it up - for example into bias strips, or using it (as is) as lining.

During my musings, I wondered how it might react to bleach. I rarely use bleach, but I had a container of liquid bleach in the laundry room that was very old, and half full. I first immersed a square of the tennis racket fabric in a 50/50 mix of bleach/water for 8 minutes. It lightened to a mauve color. The tennis rackets were still very evident, but the mauve color worked much better with the grey.

Bleaching the yardage.

The water turned a berry color.

I used the remaining of the bottle of bleach, mixed with an equal-ish amount of water, on the entire piece of fabric, for 8 minutes. After rinsing, I ran it through a cycle in the washing machine and dryer. I can't say that I love the fabric, but the color feels more harmonious with the grey.

The resulting fabric.

What to do...

We received the 3rd challenge on Monday morning. I spent Monday evening trying to decide what to do with my three fabrics. At first I was thinking of using the black ponte for pants and some sort of top with the grey plaid - I'd even started choosing patterns. After thinking on this for awhile, I decided that it was a fairly predictable way to use the fabrics and I didn't want to be so predictable.

So, it was back to the drawing board. I decided that I wanted to make a moto-style vest and to pair it with a black ponte sheath dress with 3/4 length sleeves. Once this decision was made, I had a lot of fun planning the details of the moto vest, which uses all three fabrics: the plaid is on the front, the pocket, and the back neck facing. The black ponte is the back and the front facings and as the armhole ribbing. The tennis racket fabric lines the shell and the pocket.

Garment #1: Vest

I started with my TnT moto jacket pattern which I first made in July, the Eggplant Pleather Moto Jacket. For this version I made quite a few changes:

  • Left off the sleeves.
  • Omitted the collar.
  • Shortened by 2".
  • Did more fitting, especially through the hips. I took in about 6" at the hips between the side seams and the CB seam.
  • Drafted a lined bias pocket.
  • Made bias fringe and attached it around the outside edge of the vest. I also used it around the outside edge of the pocket.
  • Hand sewed charcoal grey cotton twill tape around the outside edge of the vest and also around the outside edge of the pocket.
  • Eliminated all zippers and used two keyrings as the closure.
  • Cut back the armholes and finished with a ribbing made from the black ponte.
    Armhole ribbing. I love this technique as the ribbing pulls the armhole in close to the body.

The front of the jacket features princess seams. I wanted to match the plaid, but with a large bust alteration, you have the choice of matching the plaid either above the bust, or below, but not both. I chose to match below the bust, as I will usually wear this with the lapels open and that will mostly obscure the princess seams above the bust.

Bias Fringe

Three years ago I made a jacket using a Sandra Betzina pattern, Vogue 1036. As part of this project I made some bias fringe to insert into the seams. Bias fringe is different than regular fringe, as you start with bias strips of fabric and separate the threads to make the fringe. It is very time intensive.

Gwen, of the blog All My Seams (and who passed very recently) asked that I write a tutorial on how to create the fringe. You can see my page on Bias Fringe Technique. You can refer to the tutorial for the specifics, but here are some photos of this project.

For this vest, I made three strips of bias fringe. Two were about 24" long and the third was 36" long. The 24" strips took me about 2 hours each to fringe. The 36" strip took me about 3 hours. It was challenging to fringe the plaid flannel, especially once it had been washed. Flannel tends to "grab" itself and doesn't easily separate. This technique is easier with a boucle or a handwoven fabric.

Cutting the 1.5" bias strips.

The bias strips cut and pressed.

The fringe on the right is in process. It is wild and unkempt. The fringe on the left has been "groomed" and pinned to the front of the jacket.

I didn't want the fringe to be overly heavy, so I only lightly trimmed any errant threads, leaving the rest to look a bit uneven and more organic.

After the fringe was inserted into the outer seam of the vest and the pocket, I wanted to add a bit of definition, so I hand sewed charcoal grey cotton twill tape to the outer edge of the jacket and to the pocket. I hand sewed each edge of the narrow twill tape. This step was also quite time intensive, but I enjoy hand sewing.

Bias Pocket

I have showcased zippers quite a bit recently, so I wanted to avoid zippers on this moto vest. I mulled over my pocket choices and decided to add a bias patch pocket with rounded edges. I also featured the bias fringe and the cotton twill tape around the pocket.

Keyring Closures

Look Ma, It's Keyrings!!

Auditioning the key rings, along with the bias fringe. The fringe on top is in process.

A few weeks ago I was in the local hardware store buying electrical wire. At the cash register, they have a display of keyrings, including caribiners. In the display was a silver-colored keyring that intrigued me. On each end of the keyring there is a round metal circle that can hold keys. If you trigger a little mechanism, which you push like a plunger, the larger keyring separates into two smaller keyrings, each with one ring. I was very excited by this keyring, though the guy at the cash register clearly thought I was odd, as his response to my exclamations over the cool mechanism was a dry, "We do what we can." I thought this keyring would make an interesting closure, so I bought one. I went back this week and bought a second one, as I wanted two for the vest.

To attach the keyring to the vest, I made 4 loops out of the black ponte and put one loop through each ring. I top-stitched the loops to the vest.

This may be my favorite part of the entire project.

Garment #2: Dress

For the dress worn under the vest, I used another TnT pattern. I first made the Marcy Tilton Shingle Dress last May. This time I omitted the shingles and made the under layer. I used 3/4 sleeves, the same as before. I made a few changes:

  • Cut the neckline 2.5" lower in front.
  • Used a regular necking binding, a la Sarah Veblen.
  • I shortened the dress by 4".
  • Hemmed the sleeves and the bottom. (The original dress had raw edges.) For this I used my coverstitch machine.
  • Took in 8" (2" from each side seam) at the hips.
  • Took in 2" (1" from the underarm sea) at the bottom of the sleeve.
  • Omitted the shingles (as mentioned).

This dress sews up so quickly, especially if you leave off the shingles. It makes a great LBD!

I thought it might be interesting to show you the fitting I do which is typical for me. I first sewed up the dress as it came out of the envelope (after I'd done my vertical-only FBA, which I did the last time I made the dress. Here is how the dress looked after I'd sewn it up, but before I'd hemmed it or take it in:

Before hemming or taking in the dress. You can see that it is designed for a Pear Shape, which I am not.

After taking in the sleeve (2"), and the hips (8"), and taking up the hem (4").


I'm very pleased with this outfit! I am disappointed by how much the plaid fabric pilled with one trip through the washer/dryer, but I like the overall effect of the plaid moto vest. The dress will be a great basic and I might even cut off the neckline to make it a bit deeper and then replace with a new ribbing. The ponte washed and dried beautifully with no signs of pilling. But my favorite aspect is definitely the keyring closures!

More Pictures

Worn open

Fully closed

One lapel open

Both lapels open

I like how the fringe stands up at the back neck!

Flashing the lining



  1. Brilliant and can't believe we used the same pattern! Mine to come later in the day (I hope)

  2. Looks fabulous! Love what you did with the tennis rackets and the collar is great too!

  3. Another great week for you! Really nicely done :)

  4. Love it -- your creativity amazes!

  5. Every week you push the creativity to another level! I am in awe of this outfit especially because it's something I WOULD wear! This is just tooooooo fabulous for words!!!!

  6. This challenge seemed even more daunting to me than the last one, but you have made something that looks great!! Thanks for showing the side fitting. I am also a straight figure and always have to get rid of that hip curve, too;)

  7. Wow wee how'd you manage to get that done in a week!? I was struggling!! Way to go, looks great!

  8. Really wonderful, although it seems to me that you hid those ugly tennis rackets (and who can blame you). The inventive closure shows just how brilliant you are!

  9. Simply amazing, your entire outfit is just fabulous. I really like the everything you did to the vest. Great job.

  10. There is always so much ingenuity in your work. I think you might be on of the most creative sewers I've ever "met".

  11. The entire outfit is great but I really feel the need to comment on your incredible creative mind....something I do NOT have. I have to depend on others and hope they don't mind my copy cat moves. I never would have thought to bleach the tennis fabric and I definately would have never seen closures for garments from the keychains. Brilliant! Absolutely love the keychain idea.

  12. thanks for all the details and you came up with an amazingly wearable pieces. fantastic.

  13. You never cease to AMAZE me! Love what you did with fabric that was a "challenge".....

  14. Love the way you did the trim and the clasps, and it all looks very good together. Too funny because I also brought Kwik Sew 3764 out for this challenge, though ended up using something else.

  15. Love it! It must be so empowering to realize that your creative powers are equal even to...white tennis rackets on navy!

  16. No matter what crazy challenge they come up with, you manage to perform a miracle. Awesome! You are so inspiring.

  17. This is a great outfit!!! That vest - the bleached tennis rackets, the fabulous fringe, the key ring closures - you totally dominated those fabrics!! Brava! But especially the fringe! Especially the pocket! Sigh. Many good vibes heading your way for the voting!!!

  18. I love the closures, I really love the fringe. The best part is how wearable the whole outfit is - it reflects your style so well! I have bleach too, but faced with this challenge and these fabrics, I would have been inclined to drink it. You really hit it out of the park on this one - super super impressive!!!

  19. Amazing! Your creative genius is increasing by leaps and bounds...such an unexpected use of the fabrics...and it works, perfectly. AND, you did this while working a more-than-full-time-job, AND you did some social things. Wonder Woman!

  20. Okay, you can make/create anything! I love both pieces! I'm glad to see that dress in black, since I plan on making an LBD WITH shingles out of ponte. You get my vote!

  21. Nice job! Hated that tennis racket fabric so bleaching it out and relegating it to lining was perfect. The other fabrics work well for you. Good luck!

  22. Wow Shams! Thank you soooo much for showing the before and after of how you adjusted the pattern. I thought you were magic in knowing how to adjust patterns. I learn so much from your blog, I feel like you are my friend and mentor. YOU ROCK!

  23. I was most curious about what you'd do with that tennis racket fabric. You rose to, no, way above the challenge! Love the key ring closures. Hardware stores are just another source for sewing supplies. :)

  24. Wonderful outfit, lots of creativity. You will surely survive round 3.

  25. Brilliant effort. I especially like your adventures with bleach. I have a red linen that's too red..hmmm

  26. Love love! What a great outfit. So creative!

  27. You impress me so much! love what you have done with the fabrics. That tennis fabric only deserved to be used as lining - good thinking to bleach it.

  28. I couldn't imagine what anyone could do with that tennis fabric, bleaching it or dyeing it, really are the only choices.

    The vest is sublime, I love everything about it, especially the keyrings. Silly me, I actually use one of these for keys. What a waste.

    The dress looks so good on you, thanks for posting a photo of before and after alterations. Love this whole outfit.

  29. That black dress turned out so flattering! Looks great! I couldn't wear the vest (it's way too much for me) but it looks great on your!

    Good job and another interesting post.

  30. Brilliant idea with the bleach! The whole combination together looks perfect ... J

  31. Lovely! I like the fringe and the maroon/burgundy tennis racket print looks great as a lining! Wonderful job!

  32. Your energy and creativity are boundless! Another "boutique" outfit where you have taken an off-the-shelf pattern and made it your own... with the added ingredient of a mystery bundle of fabrics... you are ace at taking classic designs and adding an arts-y twist :) congrats on another great entry.

  33. This is a really cute outfit on you. For some reason I seem to remember you wrote that you weren't a dress person, but you look fantastic!

  34. Great use of the challenge fabrics! Those tennis rackets would've paralyzed me.

  35. Oh's a gorgeous outfit!!! I like the fringe and the key chains...everything!!!!

  36. You are a creative genius. Fabulous!

  37. wheeeee. I am in love with this outfit. I just installed Evernote and you are one of my first notes. May I pin this also?

  38. Perfect save on those tennis rackets! And I'm THIS much in love with the key ring closures! (translation: making note & stealing for future purpose.....) I think this contest is pushing your (already awesome) creative edge to new realms - way to go, and well done, once again!

  39. Well done, Shams -- again! Love the dress and vest -- great pieces!

  40. that is AWESOME!! I love this. I am enjoying this contest so much - you are knocking it out of the park.

  41. Great Fringe! And I love, love those keyring toggles!

  42. Oh Shams. As usual, you didn't disappoint. That's a very chic outfit. The dress looks wonderful and that vest takes it to a whole differnt place. I love the whole thing!

  43. Brilliant! You have my vote!

  44. There are some really interesting ideas in your vest. Can Australian's vote?

    1. Sure, Gail! Anyone with a desktop, laptop, iPad, smart phone (etc) can vote. Thanks!

  45. Diane - You certainly put a lot of work in creating this fabulous vest. I certainly hope your win... YES I voted for you.

  46. Wow this looks, fantastic. Is there anything that you can't do? :)

  47. I love the idea of the twill ribbon next to the fringe...I am going to make Marci Tilton's jacket out of a woven wool and I am going to put fringe on the edges, so this is a good idea instead of doing a stitching edge. Thanks.

  48. Looky here:

    I found "my" nautical print fabric in these Gitman shirts and saw your tennis racket fabric! Thought it was sweet!