The F Word (Frumpy…)

When I think of Vivienne Westwood – the person – the first incarnation that comes to mind isn’t the veteran punk-queen designer nor the politicized eco-warrior with campaigns close to my own heart.  Instead, I think of the famed exit she made from the premiere of the film Sex and the City.  Although citations are proving hard to find, the general consensus is that she couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes and found the clothes frumpy and boring.  I can just hear her soft Derbyshire tones uttering this, with clicks of contempt.

This is the jacket I’ll be attempting to make, in plaid, for my part in the Vivienne Westwood Challenge.1t Burda Crossover Blazer 06 2012  no121

For ages now, I’ve admired its diagonal lines, the turn back cuffs and the potential in the matching of two contrasting inner and outer fabrics.  That balance of tailoring-meets-rock n’ roll is pretty rare in sewing patterns, I think.Technical drawing burda 6 2012 #121 But, having got hold of the technical drawing, I find the design simple and boxy and it’s hard to believe it’s the same jacket.    Not so much the soldier-turned-highwayman look of Adam Ant that I’d set my sights on.  More over-starched waiter in a dull restaurant.

I’m wondering what my chances are of turning this pattern into something that looks more like this:1t Tartan jacket

When I look closely at this Vivienne Westwood design, three key features that make it different from the Burda pattern stand out:

1 There are waist darts all the way to bust point.  Ok, so this jacket is designed for a woman.  I get it.

2.  There’s a waist seam that drops down diagonally towards the side seams (another dart control?).  This seam sits a good inch higher than where most of us assume our waist to be (an inch above the belly button).  As before, this flatters the female shape to the max.

3. Finally, the asymmetrical collar, notched on one side and extended on the other.  Why did it have to be this way?  It reminds me of one of those naturally asymmetrical, sexy hairstyles that have a lot of movement.  It’s a good trick that brings the design to life.

What do you think are my chances of upgrading a $6 Burda pattern into clever couture?  I’ve got enough frumpy already.  Can you help out with links to interesting plaid/tartan suppliers that can lift this out of the ordinary?

I’ll leave you with a couple of links to blog posts where some clever analysing and copying of Vivienne Westwood design has taken place.  Here’s a clear tutorial from Orchids in May on making one of those asymmetrical and gloriously voluminous draped skirts.  I wish I had a half-scale model to practise this on, with the pinstripe leftovers in the stash.

The other post is from blogger Catherine Daze: the striped jersey dress.  Although not as dramatic as the VW original, the end result, like the skirt by Orchids in May, is accomplished, unordinary and wearable.

Encouraging signs.

22 thoughts on “The F Word (Frumpy…)

  1. You’ve mentioned the dreaded ‘P’ word – I’ve come over all unnecessary after my recent experience with the stuff.
    As you can imagine, I can give you no tips at all in this area but I will be mightily impressed if you can come up with such a cool jacket – especially from a six dollar pattern.
    Good luck and I look forward to seeing the perfectly matched seams, darts, etc. in due course – no pressure 😉

  2. I am possibly the only person in the world who thinks Vivienne Westwood designs are often unflattering and add lumps and bumps where they are unwanted, plus some of the RTW stuff looks badly made and overpriced, and as for tartan…hmm maybe your jacket will change my mind!

    • A very sensible idea and then I would know I would fit well.

      I’m not sure if I’m up to making that collar tho’. Might take some practice.

      • I think that you can modify this to work – I’ve been on a similar journey to you following Adele Margolis book, Make Your Own Patterns (1985), learning how to make my own patterns. I have done a rolled notched collar and a standing collar, and both were an enjoyable process. I think you should try to make this rever collar to the specs of the VW – I’m sure that you can do it.

  3. I made the asymmetric jacket a while ago. I didn’t want to waste fabric, so made in a cheap suiting. The design was ok, not too boxy, but I did need to shape the back seams a little. I didn’t wear it much, due to the fabric, but I would make it again. Another jacket that could be adapted for a VW style might be the Jacket in Gerties book.

      • Super!

        I found a neat plaid in my stash with coordinating fabric (thankfully), because I have only 2 yards. The plaid has a 4 inch repeat so it is beyond me why I bought so little. Maybe it is enough for a skirt or a vest. I am now visualising it as trim for a jacket and to go from there.

        I also found (miracle of miracles!) the issue of Threads Magazine with an article variations for strait skirts including one from Vivienne Westwood. The back is cut on the fold to accommodate the fabric for an extended back vent/kick pleat. It’s pretty tame for Vivienne Westwood, but it’s an idea.

  4. P.P.S. Super pattern! I am having trouble finding a pattern in my size that isn’t frumpy let alone Vivienne Westwood-esque.

  5. When you see a VW dress on a real person they are flattering and curvy. This is one designer who doesn’t shy away from shapely feminine figures. I think I’ll pick a dress to do seeing as I’m curvy and a real person – LOL!
    Good luck with the jacket. I’ve always admired that one too.

    • Ok, as you’re WordPress like me, this is what I think you should do (she says, fingers crossed…)

      Go to Dashboard
      Click on Appearance, then Widgets
      On the left there should be a list of available widgets. Is there one called Text? If yes, click and drag over to the right into you Sidebar. Once there, click open the Text widget, copy and paste the gobbledygook code into it. You have the option of giving it a title, eg. “I’m taking part” Save it then close and visit your site to see if it has worked.
      There might be an easier way of doing it.

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