Once again, my favorite local fabric store, Fabrique, was hosting their remnant challenge where you can win up to $200 in store credit by making something from the fabrics in their remnant bin. The selection of remnants was much more picked over this year, but I finally had a eureka moment when I found a piece of pink ultrasuede. It's a funky color and the stiffness of the fabric limited my garment options quite a bit, but it is perfect for cutwork, and that seemed like a fun way to turn boring fabric into something really unusual.
Since I already have some experience with cutwork, I knew what I was getting into (sore fingers and many many hours on mindless cutting!), but I also knew that it usually goes faster than you'd think and the payoff is well worth the effort. Although it is perfect for cutting, ultrasuede is not the most forgiving fabric for tailoring, so I picked a basic mock wrap skirt pattern from my stash that dates from 1977. This pattern has minimal shaping and and no zipper, so I was hoping that it would be simple enough to work with the suede.
Next I drew out a border design based on Mexican papel picado (perforated paper) banners. As an art teacher, I thought it would be fun to take a traditional art form that we study in class and translate it into fashion. The hardest part was getting the design to curve to fit the shape of the hem, but luckily, Photoshop came to the rescue and helped me bend the borders without too much frustration.
Next, I printed out my patterns for the entire border design and stuck it to the back of the ultrasuede with spray basting adhesive. I used an exacto knife and a leather punch to cut the pattern, and it took me 6 days to get the cutwork done... which is actually much faster than I expected.
The only part of this project that gave me problems was assembling the skirt, which I thought would be the easy part. HA! I underestimated the amount of time it would take to make the lining due to the scalloped hem, the ultrasuede liked to stretch when I sewed it, my experiment with spray fusing was a failure, the skirt was too big, and the waistband just refused to go on. But I pushed on through and the skirt was finally beaten into submission. I turned the skirt in to the fabulous ladies at Fabrique with 3 whole hours to spare before the deadline.
When I was finished with the cutwork, I was left with a big bowl filled with little tiny scraps of the ultrasuede. These little pieces reminded me of confetti, so to celebrate the end of a VERY long week, I decided to indulge in a little silliness. I'll probably be sweeping ultrasuede bits off of my patio for the next year, but it was so worth it! :)
This was a fun project, and I enjoy having a chance to step away from the authentic historical projects for a little while and flex my creative muscles. Thanks to Fabrique for hosting this inspiring contest!