The “For Mena” Outfit

The Facts 

Fabric: Purple satin dress bought once in a sale but never worn, 2yds ribbon embroidery net $15.98, purple faux fur offcut $2, burgundy velvet curtain from Goodwill thrift store $2.99 (only part used….rest coming next week),
Patterns: Self drafted.
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: Sequinned applique $1.99, 3 burgundy feathers $2.97.
Time to complete: 9 hours
First worn: May 27th 2012
Wear again? Possibly to justify the cost Total Cost: $25.93

The challenge: “Viva Las Vegas: Something inspired by Vegas in some way”.

I’m not going to say much this week, because I’d rather you spent your time watching Mena’s speech at Big Omaha if you haven’t already. Yes, it’s about 45 minutes, but trust me….watch it all the way through to the end, it’s worth it and it will give you a greater appreciation of what Mena Trott has given the sewing community and all of us who love sewing.

I had no idea what to make until Friday. I’d done a Viva Las Vegas Elvis shirt dress for the City/Local Colour challenge….and I’d done a rat pack look for the Circle Skirt challenge. I thought about doing a showgirl type thing…..I had 2 yds of ribbon embroidered purple net, some purple faux fur, some purple appliques….and a purple corset that I’ve been meaning to work into a burlesque costume for some years. But I decided against that because I didn’t want to rush this and not do it justice to be used on stage.

But I also had a purple satin dress I bought ridiculously cheap in a closing down sale about a decade ago but have never worn because I couldn’t handle the way it creases just under my belly. I thought I could make it something I’d possibly wear if I sewed the ribbon embroidered net to it as an overlay (especially as that’s really on trend at the moment).

So that’s what I did.

I’ll let you decide whether I’m a lady just off to blow all her money on the blackjack or something more Vegas-seedy ;)

I also made a purple stole from a faux fur offcut, lined with some burgundy velvet from a curtain I bought from Goodwill thrift store/charity shop ready for next week’s challenge. This was my big learning experience of the week – learning how to cut faux fur from the back with a razor blade and then easing it apart so as not to have it molt everywhere; basting it carefully first to prevent wobbly stitching later, and sewing it with long stitches so the trapped fur can be tweezed back through to the right side.

The burgundy serendipitiously matches some velvet gloves I already have. AND I had some similarly coloured ostrich feathers I’d bought a while back when I was trying to unsuccessfully find purple ones. So I sewed these together and glued them to a purple sequinned applique. I glued two metal hair clips to this and made a make-do fascinator. Oooh, and I sewed a burgundy tassel onto the zip as a spinster’s helper.

And that’s the story of this week’s outfit.

And the eagle fountain was the nearest I could get to the Bellagio’s

Now go watch Mena’s speech….my outfit is dedicated to her, without her getting out of bed each morning I wouldn’t be improving my sewing skills and wardrobe each week, I wouldn’t be learning tons of new things about fashion and history each week, I wouldn’t be stretching my creative brain each week, I wouldn’t be getting tons of inspiration from the other sewers who post here each week and I wouldn’t be making friends with you lot each week. As someone with cyclothymia who intimately knows the difficulties of getting up in the morning and carrying on when all you want to do is hide in a darkened room (and worse), I have the upmost respect for you. Thank you Mena!

Author

tempestdevyne

Tempest Devyne started sewing about 3 years ago in order to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.

29 Comments

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  1. Thank you, Tempest, for that wonderfully sweet post! It means so much (as all of the comments you guys posted in my Big Omaha post — I’ll get to responding soon!). And lest you think that the nice words about me won you the slot today: you should know it’s all about the feathers and boa.

  2. I actually thought from your comments during the speech that the kind words might relegate this post to the back of Sew Weekly beyond for being overly supportive ;) However, I shall be working feathers and boa into my Diamond Jubilee outfit now I discovered your weakness mwha-ha-ha *evil laugh*……only joking…..

  3. Thank you for the term “spinster’s helper.” :)

    • I have a horrible feeling that’s not a politically correct term at all….shall I change it in future to “zip puller upper for a woman (or man who wants to wear dresses with long zips as he’s perfectly entitled to) who may or may not have a husband/wife/beau/tall child to help with a difficult zip or might just darned well want to be totally independent and pull up her own zip thank you very much”….nah, I’m sticking to spinster’s helper like my politically incorrect grandmother ;)

  4. I suddenly need a furry purple boa…funny how that happens. :D

    • Oh you have to have one Liz….it’s soooooo fluffy. Except for the fact that it’s over 100 degrees here in Phoenix I’d wear it with every outfit I own :)

  5. I love the purple lacy stuff…

    • Thank you – I have to say I am spoilt now living in the States, there are far more fabric shops here with far more unusual stuff than I could ever find in the UK….I count myself very lucky.

  6. tempestdevyne.

    Your outfits complete me. Really, I just love seeing what you’ll come up with.

  7. i wish we lived closer to each other so we could go out on the town wearing all the great stuff we make for Sew Weekly. We could at least have a weekly meet up for coffee where we all have to wear something we’ve made. What fun! I love this! I look forward to seeing what you come up with every week and I hope you will add us to your list of reasons for getting up everyday. I know that your encouragement has helped me through some rough patches. I want that fascinator when you’re done with it!

    • Thank you. Without a doubt Sew Weekly has become one of my top 5 reasons for getting up in the morning. Having not had a 9-5 job for a couple of years with moving the USA, it’s actually done me a power of good having a regular deadline…..whilst also stretching my creativity brain cells (I’m beginning to enjoy Mena putting up a list of things that include a “what the HECK am I going to make to fit that challenge?” in them). I’ve learnt so much about sewing but more importantly about myself through the Sew Weekly (thanks again Mena)……but most of all I’m loving the inspiration I’m getting from seeing everyone else’s takes on themes….I love the variety and differences.

  8. You foxy bird you, the colours, the colours, they’re so rich and delicious. You look like you win big on black jack all the time. P E R F E C T I O N!

    • Haha thanks Kazz, you’re too kind :)

      It’s weird, I have difficulty with purple, it’s one colour I don’t feel natural wearing or combining accessories with……but I love this. I think I might have broken my purple duck.

  9. Well, well, well…just when I wondered what you were going to do to top the other two Vegas-y outfits you pull this one out of some bag…How fun!!! And I love spinsters helper, don’t change it : ) I may have to borrow it from time to time…

    • Thank you Loran. I think this could be my last Vegas tribute this year though (although an Elvis or Liberace jumpsuit still needs to be conquered). It’s weird I googled ‘spinsters helper’ after Erin mentioned it and only found one other instance on the internet….though I’m pretty sure I got the term from my grandmother who was a seamstress. Borrow away!

  10. Love love love love this! It is just beautiful in so many ways! Well done Tempest! :)

  11. Hey Tempest, wow – you look great and it’s definitely great to see someone who loves to sew. Don’t you just love wearing the things you make, I actual love getting up just to decide what I want to wear next. Can’t wait to see how you use the rest of the velvet for next weeks challenge.

    • I think we are women hewn from the same rock :) I started this journey with the Sew Weekly wanting to rediscover the love for dressing up, clothes and make-up I had when I was a teenager but lost into adulthood…….well, it’s back! I DO love sewing. And I DO love choosing what to wear and with what.

      The velvet isn’t going to figure as big as I at first thought as I’ve been ‘dying’ of cold all week and so my plans have had to be scaled back after 2 days in bed……but it’s still there somewhere for you all to spot.

  12. Love the feathers! What a perfectly Vegas inspired dress!!

  13. perfectly vegas Tempest! Quite a genius save on the orignal dress. Adding the lace was inspired! And of course all your accessories.. fabulous. Laughed out loud about the spinsters helper.. such a perfect name, who cares about being pc. Thanks for the tips about faux fur.. I’d never even thought about it. Inspirational and instructional.

    • Thank you. I know I read the trick with the razor blade and cutting through the back of the fabric somewhere, but unfortunately can’t remember where to give credit. It’s fab, it prevents you snipping off the wispy ends of the fur that then get everywhere. I’m really happy that I’ve now got a dress I can wear without worrying about unflattering creasing.

  14. You. Are. A. BOMBSHELL!! This look is so freaking amazing! And you are the definition of the word “commit” when it comes to your accessories and your photo shoots. And I must tell you that I laughed mighty hard at the term spinster’s helper until I put my damn zip in backwards this week and thought to hook a bobby pin through the eye to help me pull it up. Thanks, babe!

  15. Thank you so much you sweetie. And I feel a kindred spirit to a woman who sews a zip the wrong way, glad I’m not the only one….and glad I could be of help.

  16. Ooh-la-la!! What a fabulous outfit from head to toe! Looks like you are about ready to go onstage to sing and dance. Can I please have your autograph?

  17. This is so perfect! I love it! And, now I really want a feathery fascinator :-)

  18. Fabulous refashion, Tempest! And how awesome that you tackled faux fur! You’re so adventurous…like the Indiana Jones of weekly sewing. I love it!

    Thanks for sharing how Mena and this community have incfluenced your life. My world is forever changed, too. So glad you’re a part of it.