Sunday, September 12, 2010

episode four: hat's off!!!

The Challenge: Create a look inspired by and to coordinate with one of Philip Treacy's hats.

The Constraints: 15 minutes to sketch, 30 minutes at Mood (my guess, as this was not stated explicitly in the episode), $150 budget, one day (until 11 pm) to create, and two hours in hair and makeup.

My Take: First, I had to come up with a scientific method of getting my hat assignment. My lovely husband suggested that I just get a weird hat from a kiosk at our state fair, but I had a feeling that an over-sized ten gallon hat or a mohawk hat would not really evoke the right feeling. Instead, I cut 13 squares of paper and wrote the numbers one-13 on them. Then I drew a number out of a hat (get it?) to determine where in the hat choosing process I would get to choose. I got 12. That meant it was either the black and green swirly twirly hat that Casanova chose or the orchid hat that Kristen got. I felt like the swirly twirly hat was more my aesthetic, so I went that route. I admit I was really hoping to get a lower number so I could pick the lacy mask, but them's the brakes!

I decided once again to forgo sketching. I had a general picture in my mind of what I wanted to do, and some textures and fabrics in mind. I was thinking a modern take on vintage. I love those old timey eras in which women actually wore hats! I pictures a sort of pencil skirt in a lovely tweed with some embellishment in the back and a drapey silk blouse. Upon arriving to S.R. Harris, I started in the silks as I always do. I found one possibility that I was worried would be too yellow, did some more digging, and decided to think on it. I headed to the wool aisle instead. For the wool, I had a very specific texture in mind. I wanted a black and white fine tweed. I found several that were darker than I had in mind, but felt like butter. Of course these were the long fiber cashmeres that ran $50-$150 a yard. One yard would blow my whole budget! I found several fine tweeds that were the wrong color. Finally, buried under many bolts of wool, there she was! I had to have the hubs help me lift the pile of bolts and tug it out. It was $25 a yard, so definitely with reason. I then returned to the silks, where I went with my first instinct, a chartreuse silk. Not the charmeuse I had in mind, but I felt it would work. (Hey, chartreuse charmeuse!) I went to the embellishments to find what I had in mind for the back, but there was nothing that would work. I decided instead to look for a leather to create a sort of corset. I found this gorgeous dark purple leather that I felt would add an interesting element and keep the outfit from being too matchy-matchy. After getting things cut, I grabbed some wee buttons, cord, and a zipper. This was one of my most expensive shopping trips ever. The bulk of it fell into the leather, as it was a really large piece. I still kept it in the budget, but barely!

I began construction with the blouse. I felt it would be the most complicated piece, so I could base the construction on the simpler pieces on the time left. Maybe I jinxed myself, but this blouse made me want to kill myself! My first error was in patterning the back. I made the pieces too short and didn't realize it until I cut the fabric and tried to sew them together. There went any extra fabric I thought I would have for trimming or lining! I had to attach and tear out the waistband three times before it actually went together correctly. It is not fun to rip out seams on a gathered piece of fabric. My concept was a halter-type blouse with a tie waist and split back. In retrospect, I would have reversed and had a button waist and a tie neck, but oh well. The skirt went together much more easily, despite my delirium and putting the zipper on the right instead of the left. D'oh! I had neither the time nor the desire to fix that, so on the right it is. I had also hoped to line the skirt in the same fabric as the top, but we know where that fabric went! When I tried it on before hemming, I was concerned about it being too dowdy at the kneetop length I had first intended. So, I shortened it just a bit more to make it more edgy. I had little time left, and decided to make a wide leather obi-style belt. For styling, I went with fishnets to reflect the net on the hat. I debated my adorable purple shoes, but was concerned again with the matchy matchy. I went instead with some tough peep toe booties. Here are the results!

After examining the hat more closely, I realized that the green of my top might be too muted. However, I did not have the hat chilling in the next room for reference, so I did what I could. I plan to add black lining to the skirt and to wear it this fall, even with the zipper being on the wrong side. I think with some tights, it will be killer! While we were outside, a passerby commented on how great I looked. I admit it was a little boost to the old self esteem.

What do you think? In or out?


  1. I just wanted to add that I did not need any pins or stitching in this outfit to get it photo ready! I must be getting a little better with the drafting, draping and fitting...though this next challenge will tell!

  2. love this look! the purple belt really makes it perfect.

  3. It looks gorgeous! Yes the blouse color wasn't that close to the greens in the hat but I think you evoked the hat in the shapes you used (more than Casanova did anyhow). My only critique would be to have tapered the pencil skirt in just a bit more (esp since it would have mimiced the slimming of the spiral on the hat), but over all I love the look, and you would have definitely been safe in my book. The back view is killer!

  4. @zelda-Thanks for the belt love! That is one of the things I am most eager to wear after the project is over!

    @Anissa-I debated the taper. I would have tapered it more no question had I been working on a model. However, on my ample butt and thighs, I was worried about looking like an ice cream cone from the waist down. I may pin in a taper to see how I feel about it, and do that when I put in the lining later. I agree that it would reflect the hat more.
    I did like Casanova's, mostly because it looked totally like something Joan Collins would wear, which put it in a totally whimsical category for me.