Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jareth III: Vest

The last component I made for the costume was the vest.  This was the hardest pattern to select.  Since Jareth never takes off his coat in the scene, I am not even sure that it is a vest.  In fact, it looks like some kind of waist-cincher.  I looked at several under- and over-bust bustiers/corsets.  I decided against them because I thought it would make my figure look too feminine and even cross-dressing as David Bowie is still cross-dressing.  Plus, I was going to be wearing this to work and that it might be construed as too sexual (though since I no longer work in an office full of pervs, it probably would not be a problem, but I didn't want to take that chance).  I then started looking at vests, and thought Simplicity 3629 would be nice because it covers the hips.

I picked a beautiful brocade and lined it with the same satin I used for the blouse.

The coat ended up taking me longer than I thought it would, which left me with one weekend in which to make this garment.  My thoughts were "It's just a vest, so how hard can it be?"  When will I learn not to open my big mouth?

I made the mistake of not reading the instructions before I set out on this travail.  First off, this isn't really a vest: this isn't open in the front and the buttons are just for show.  It actually zips up the back, which I think would make this qualify as a sleeveless top or a bodice.  Anyway, I was strongly considering transforming it so that it was split up the front, but being pressed for time, I decided against that.  I figured I might as well omit the buttons and the pocket flaps too.  (I desist faux pockets.  Do it right or don't do it at all.)

Let me note here that this pattern is meant for beginning sewists: seams are not trimmed or clipped, there is no call for under-stitching, and the way the straps are attached calls for the seam to be exposed. Pressed for time or not, I was going to have none of that.  It made more work for me, but I felt that would look better in the end.  I nearly finished the garment that Saturday, leaving me to just under-stitch and insert the zipper on Sunday.

The under-stitching only took fifteen minutes.  The zipper is a little weird here: it zips from the top down, but it actually runs the whole length of the garment.  A separating zipper would have made more sense, and should have been going bottom up.  But as I said, I was not going to deviate because I just wanted to get the damn thing finished.

After inserting the zipper, I tried it on an...  It got a couple of inches and stuck.  This is quite unusual because I am bottom-heavy; it is far more likely for something to be tight on my tips and loose on the upper body.  I ripped out the zipper and tried again, stitching just on the edge of the zipper tape.  No go.  So I tried again, doing the zipper as a bottom up.  Still didn't work.

It had become obvious that I was going to need more fabric in the back.  The vest was ludicrously loose on the hips, so I didn't need more fabric there, and was fine through the shoulders.  It was just the ribs that needed help.  I played around with inserting fabric just into the small area that needed more room, but I couldn't get the zipper to lay flat through it.  I bifurcated the piece because I figured it would only lay nicely if it was exactly in the middle.  I was right, but now the back was too small again.

At this point, I was just about ready to give up.  I had been working on this stupid vest all day and was frustrated beyond belief, as well as tired and hungry.  It seemed the only was I was going to get this to work was splitting the vest up the front and making it faux double-breasted.  I didn't want to do that because I liked how the lines laid, but it didn't seem like I had any other choice.

I had the scissors ready to split it up the front when something occurred to me: Jareth never takes off his coat, so this wasn't necessarily a waist-cincher or a vest.  It could be a cummerbund, a big fancy belt, or even part of his shirt.  I had already deviated by bringing it down to my hips, so being perfectly accurate was already out.  Jareth wears a corset vest earlier in the movie, so why not just do that?

Running on adrenaline, I dug through my notions stash to see what I had.  The proper way to do this would have been with boning and the grommet gun.  I wasn't planning on tight-lacing, so I could skip the boning, and I had already had enough frustration for the day that the thought of facing the grommet gun nearly brought me to tears.  However, I found a large amount of grommet tape nestled among my ribbons and trims.  I honestly have no idea where this came from or why I had it.  I have used grommet tape before, but it was always on faux leather and this was on grosgrain ribbon.  I can only surmise that I saw this on sale and figured it would a nice addition to my stash.  Regardless of the reason, I am grateful I had it, because it truly saved the day here.

Bleary-eyed, I grabbed the longest ribbon in the stash (a metallic silver which would have been quite nice if I hadn't been wearing a silver-grey blouse under this) and laced it up.  Well, wearing it backwards, I laced it up.  I just had to make sure it would close over my ribs and look okay.  I got to the waist, said it was good enough, and threw it in the wash.  I bought some contrasting blue (to match the coat), but never had a chance to lace it up entirely until the day of the party, wherein I discovered the ease on the hips was even more ridiculous than I remembered.  I grabbed some safety pins, taking EIGHT INCHES off the hips; you can see this in the pictures where the side seam looks a bit lumpy.  Even so, it is still laced right to grommets there.  I can only surmise it is because this is to be worn over a skirt, but it still seems excessive.

After the party, I took a bunch of that ease out, as well as edge-stitching the vest (like the coat, it did not want to lay flat).

So, would I recommend this?  If you even think that your rib cage might be wider than is typical, or you have a broad back, I would say no.  If you do, make a muslin first.

After wearing this to work on Halloween, a co-worker asked me to make her one too, so I will be facing this crappy pattern again.


  1. I absolutely love your costume!! I think you did a beautiful job on it, and it inspired me to make one myself! While I was researching reference pics I found what was under the jacket. I think your costume is perfect and you shouldn't change a thing! I merely thought you would be curiuos as to what actually is there. Again don't get me wrong your costume is perfect! I just wanted to show you in case you were wondering. :D please don't be mad.

    1. Thank you! Good luck on your costume.

      I'm not mad at all. I'm glad to see what was really under the jacket. That would have been a lot easier to make than my vest.