Turn-of-the-century (ish) costume: Gray & Red Plaid

After my last less-than-stellar blue outfit,  I felt like I needed to make one more outfit in the same genre just to redeem myself in my own eyes.   This would allow me to create some closure in my own brain and sleep at night.  Seriously . . . costume induced insomnia is a real thing.  During a show, I often keep a pad of paper by my bed to jot down ideas and solutions.   This wasn’t quite so obsessive as trying to figure out a new transforming method, but . . .  I did need to end on a better note.

For this outfit I picked a gray suit.

I liked this one because it had the little bit of gathering at the top of the sleeve.  It is a pretty standard looking thrift store women’s suit otherwise.  The skirt is modestly A-line, and has a center back zipper (which makes for an easy upcycle).  I picked a pair of red plaid valances to use with it.


This valances were lined and fairly heavy.  I really like the way the plaid and the gray looked together, and after my last unfortunate choice of a too-pale addition, I wanted something a bit more substantial.  In retrospect, this costume is for the Fun Fair, which, probably means summer . . and this outfit ended up looking more fall/winter than summer.  But, whatever.

As with the green suit, I began by slitting the skirt up the center front stopping just below the waistband.  I unpicked the stitching in the waistband, and finished dividing the skirt.  I inset a width of the valance into the center front.  I measured the length of the skirt and the width of the valance, and cut my strip a few inches longer than that to allow for the seam allowance at the waist and to make a hem at the bottom.  I finish the hem after adding the fabric around the bottom of the skirt.  I used one valance for the center panel and other embellishments, and the second for the lower skirt.

You can see in the picture that I opted to put some small pleats in the top of the center panel instead of gathers.   The original gray skirt has some pleats in the front that tuck behind the panel, and then some gathers to fit it in on the sides so that it fits into the original waistband.  I thought it needed a little something more so I added some beige braid, which toned with the lighter stripe in the plaid.

The jacket was shortened to about waist level, and the lapels were turned under and removed.  I often use the level of the pockets as the arbitrary length of the jacket.   Typically I shorten jackets by pinning the jacket and the lining together.  I run a line of stay stitching along the pin line and then check to make sure that the jacket still hangs nicely.  The lower part of the jacket is trimmed off, and the bottom is folded up and stitched.  The inside is not pretty or finished.    The top pocket was stitched shut to keep it flat and avoid any gaping that might draw the eye.

reshaping the front of the jacket

In this case, once the lapels were folded under, I stitched along the edge of the jacket, and then trimmed out the excess fabric, leaving enough to make a decent facing.  Sometimes this “facing” might need a little hand tacking, but in this case, the appliques on the front held everything in place nicely.

I cut some squares of the red plaid and added some bias appliques on the front of the jacket for decoration.  Note, I did match the plaids which does take extra fabric.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough beige braid to trim the jacket.

not enough trim left :(

In lieu of beige trim, I decided supplement with some wide beige lace, and used that for the cuffs and to further trim the skirt.

I cut strips of the plaid and added the lace and some black ribbon.

sewing the ribbon and lace to make the mock cuff

I stitched this by machine to the lower jacket sleeve opening, and then hand-stitched the (angled) side seam and tacked the top of the cuff to the sleeve itself.  Unlike the previous jacket, I did not open the jacket seams.

The finished cuffs:

cuff detail, gray and plaid ensemble

I felt like the jacket front needed something, so I used the black ribbon for trim.

And . . . my project was done.

I do wish I had been able to use beige trim on the jacket, but, this is fine.   The A-line cut of the orginal skirt adds some nice fullness in the back.

Cost:  suit $3, valances $1.50, assorted thrifted trim & ribbon.

These really are fun projects that I had a lot of fun doing, and the combinations are endless.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like, follow and comment!  I’d love to hear what you think and what you are working on.

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