Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Presenting el Bolero!

Ta-da! Here she is, my sixth completed project from Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing. This is the "cropped, cutaway bolero" worn with my "slim, supple skirt."

VoNBBS encouraged me that I would "learn a lot making a little bolero," and I feel like I certainly expanded my horizons with this one. This is definitely not the sort of thing I would usually make, and I'm not sure I would have ever sewn with velvet if not at VoNBBS's urging.

One of the most versatile of the versatile separates is the bolero. We made it
in black velveteen. Teamed with a wide or narrow skirt, it adds up to a smart
suit. In the evening, it transforms a bare sheath into a covered-up
jacket-dress. It should take about 7 hours to complete. After you have made it,
you will add lining a jacket to the edge and setting-in a sleeve to your sewing

The only areas where I got tripped up were setting in the sleeve and pressing the velvet. On my first sleeve, I tried to get all couture (read: complicated) by pin-easing the sleeve cap, then hand basting, then machine basting, and then machine stitching. (Whew!) It didn't ease perfectly, and so on my second sleeve, I went the usual route of gathering the sleeve cap with two rows of long stitches, then machine basting, and then stitching. It went in like a dream. Keep it simple, stupid!

As for working with velvet: it's tricky, basically. I read an article in a recent Threads magazine that helped me a lot. But I feel like VoNBBS led me a little astray by telling me to baste the edges of the bolero so the lining wouldn't "scoot over to the outside." And then, right before the final pressing, the book directed me to gradually remove the bastings as I was pressing.

So I probably should have done this basting by hand, but I was lazy and did it by machine. This left permanent needle holes in the velvet. Waaah. I tried some agressive steaming to get them out, and then just succeeded in warping the curve of the bolero. I feel a better technique would have been understitching the lining by hand. Ah well. You live, you learn.

Also, I have new shoes to console myself.

Next I'll be moving on to a "bonus project" in VoNBBS: a short-sleeved version of this bolero with lapels in a plum-colored gabardine!


  1. Gertie, this is so cute. I can't wait to see the other version. I may become a bolero convert.

  2. It is super cute! And you're almost halfway through the book! Which kinda makes me sad.

  3. I've always had a bit of an aversion to bolero-type jackets - ones that don't have some sort of closure in the front. I generally lean towards something more like the little white jacket on the pattern illustrations. (so cute!) Seeing your little black bolero makes me wonder is i should rethink this silly aversion - you look great! I think I need to try something like this for myself...
    And great job with the velvet!

  4. Super cute and looks great on you!
    How about a dark red one?

  5. Nice bolero! Thanks for the note about velvet and basting. I absolutely LOVE the shoes!!! Where are they from?!

  6. Wow - that bolero looks fabulous. And the shoes are gorgeous too. I bet you no-one would ever guess that outfit was home-sewed; it looks so glamorous!

  7. It looks great. It is very flattering on you.

    And I love those shoes!

  8. The bolero is lovely and I'm sure you'll get tons of wear out of it. I also wish to know what brand your shoes are! Please do tell!

  9. I love boleros so much, and I agree with Vogue- they are really versatile. Also, velvet is the way to my heart! You really did a lovely job.

  10. Are those black apple prints on your wall? I noticed them in another photo as well.

    Looks great! I totally want to copy you and get the book and sew all the projects.
    The short sleeve gabardine bolero will be just as stunning! Can't wait to see it.

  11. I must say you have proved that boleros are the bomb! Although I have never been a fan, it looks so glamarous... Great Job!

    I want some new red comfort shoes too!

  12. Thanks, everyone! I'm super psyched to make the gabardine one. It think it will be much more ME if that makes any sense.

    The shoes are a UK brand called Miss L-Fire. I got them at Anthro, and I'm sad to say that they're sold out there. :(

  13. Hello !
    I just came accross your blog recently and like it very much.

    The bolero is super cute, but velvet, although beautiful, is really a nightmare to sew (OK, I'm a beginner, so pretty much everything is a nightmare to sew for me :) )

    Your realisations are really an inspiration !

  14. Ooh I love that! You did a great job and I love your shoes!!

  15. It's probably just my paranoid imagination, but I always feared that boleros drew attention to the stomach area...

    It might have something to do with the GIGANTIC sparkly one I wore to my high school graduation formal.

    Yours, however, is divine. I heart velvet.

  16. My school friend used to joke about boleros in the 70s - they were considered to be really, no REALLY daggy. You've brought them back with aplomb!

  17. I love a bolero. I think it would look fab with jeans.

  18. The bolero is very nice!! The shoes are tres chic!!!!!! Now you need a coordinating skirt so you can wear the skirt and shoes together!!

  19. Wow! It seems less fitted than I expected, but beautiful.
    I've ordered a georgeous fifties slip pattern that I'd like to turn in a emerald silk satin dress one day, to look like Madeleine in Vertigo. Now, I also want a black velvet bolero to cover my shoulders.
    Now, you need the 'bow-tied blouse' to have the complete look!

  20. Very nice, Gertie, I think the velvet came off well, and it does look quite versatile. I agree with the earlier poster, it is much less fitted than they show it on the model. Is that trick photography? Do they describe it as close-fitting on the pattern envelope?

  21. That's one cute bolero! I think it's cool the way Vogue tells you the time it should take to finish this project. I've always wondered how long one is "supposed" to take for sewing projects. 7 hours for a bolero doesn't make my 20 hours + for a jacket seem so inefficient anymore :)

    How long do you ladies take for sewing projects? I've always wondered if professional seamstresses just churn out one piece after another in a matter of hours. But perhaps that's not possible for anyone and we've just lost touch with the amount of time and effort that goes into a well-sewn garment by being exposed to mass-produced clothes that we can buy for next to nothing.

    I have this Austrian book from the 50s called "The Teenage Book" at home, which is a guide for young girls. It has a section on clothing in it, where it lists the items of clothes a girl must have in her wardrobe and I'm telling you I have at least 10 times as much in my wardrobe. I guess times have changed...any thoughts?

    Sorry for the long post. I got carried away :)

  22. I love love love your new shoes... (and the bolero is really nice too)!

  23. OMG! I SO have to make this bolero!! I never really thought much of them either, but this is such a smart version of one, and the black looks so chic!

    If you find velvet annoying, you could try velveteen in the future. If you don't already know about it, it has a shorter pile than typical velvets. Thus, it doesn't walk as much and is usually easier to sew with. The drawback being that it's often less luxuriant-looking than velvet. Just some food for thought.

    I'm going to go search for that bolero pattern now! Or, um, could I borrow your's if I strike out? I have museum conservation training, so you can be sure I'd take good care of it! ;o)

  24. I love this. I love this so much. God, I want to make a bolero! Anyone have a good pattern?

  25. I just discovered your blog by looking for sewing books on Amazon and signing up to receive your book when available. Are you including patterns in the book? I am trying to learn to draft patterns, but I am not sure I am up to it yet, and I really want to make some of the things that I see you have made from the original Vogue book....? And by the way, this is the first blog i have even considered following on any subject!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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