Sorry for the homespun photography. I am working on it!
Black is one of my favorite colors. Alexander McQueen’s Dante collection in 1996, and Helmut Lang’s 80’s minimalistic designs in black leather made me yearn for strong black pieces in my wardrobe. With the revival of the 80s and partly 90s styles, minimalistic black clothes have become quintessential this season.
So, why postpone the urge to create something that sober and strong. Walking in the wool section of the Mood, I found so many different blacks – all very enticing and rich. Yet I was drawn to a beautiful black wool satin. It has some stretch (perfect for pants, by the way!).
I wanted to make three pieces: a top, a pencil skirt and pants. All very simple, with the top based on a Burdastyle pattern, with an addition of a Cardin sleeve, or a strapped-cap sleeve. I was able to find a lot of guidance on drafting the sleeve in patternmaking books from 80s and early 90s. It is not surprising for this is only slightly later after Cardin – a true innovator – introduced his architectural sleeves in his late 70s collections.
With only minor updates Cardin’s design details have been referenced ever since. I love his pieces. Besides, being pear-shaped I love how these shoulders (or shoulder details like trims or epaulets) make my hips appear narrower.
My dress form doesn’t fill out the top as well as I do 🙂 but this picture shows the details better
Working on this project was a trial and error process, testing at times. I made several sleeve versions, both, in muslin and the wool satin, until I was more or less satisfied with the result. It was a great learning experience, and, while I see some room for improvement, I do like the top and a skirt a lot and worn it several times this month. I also love it in this fabric – the garment looks really polished.
If you haven’t worked with wool satin, let me share a few words about it as it does have some characteristics that can affect the outcome of your project. It is difficult to ease, making it, on the other hand, perfect for styles where minimal fabric manipulation is required. It is also less durable because of the satin weave – it tends to snag and is more prone to the abrasion. So, no seam ripping here – you have to know what you are doing.
However, the beauty of the fabric outweigh these issues. Wool satin is a great investment for dressier styles that won’t be worn on daily basis. The fabric has a truly beautiful drape (you can’t see so much in my garment). So, if you want to make a flared skirt, this is the fabric to go for. The wool satin that I bought has cross-grain stretch, making it excellent for dressier slacks, and, also, for slim styles. I got an extra piece of it for pants, by the way!