Jon Pessin is a self described “Balloonatic & Licensed Goof-Off“. He entertains at children’s parties and came to me needing a new party look.
Because this was a costume for work it had to allow for maximum movement (there’s a lot of arm movement when manipulating balloons), be practical (pockets for supplies), but need not be historically accurate.
For Pessin’s purposes he decided the Simplicity 4923 would work perfectly. We discussed the pattern and made a few tweaks (no collar on the shirt, adding patch pockets to the coat for supplies).
With yardage and material notes in hand, I hit the local JoAnn Fabrics store. This is the fun part of the job. Even when faced with varying shades of gold and forest green. Sending pictures to Pessin we chatted back and forth about the choice for coat fabric. It was proving difficult to convey the choices color and pattern wise, through cellphone camera pictures.
Eventually, he went to his nearby JoAnn Fabrics and sent me a picture of what he wanted, which matched one of the ones I had already photographed. Being able to also feel the fabric in question helped. Fashion is so much more than the colors of the fabric. The texture, how it drapes, even how it smells all need to be taken into consideration when you are making an outfit.
With fabric decided upon and materials gathered it was time to sew, sew, sew. The outfit came together pretty easily. The only real drudgery was sewing all the darn buttonholes. (I also had to plunder three different stores to get the forty-five buttons needed.)
Things I learned with this project: don’t wait till the last minute to attach buttons. It is far more enjoyable to sit in the evening watching Ripper Street and hand sewing, rather than trying to do it all in one go the day it is due. I won’t be making that mistake again!
Fortunately, Pessin is an understanding client. And his glee showed on his face when he came to pick up his new costume.
A few months after I delivered the outfit, we hit a snag. Being a robust gentleman, Pessin needed a little extra ease in his clothes. While I had built in what I thought would work, trying on a vest in the workshop is a different beast than wearing it to work. All which led to a few buttons popping off where there was strain.
Pessin brought the vest back and I went to work. First I reattached the buttons, this time watching new episodes of Black Mirror as I worked. Then I added a panel to the back of the vest.
Historically, back lacing was used to give a custom fit to clothing. However, I decided adding lacing would end up being more of a nuisance with the possibility of slipping laces and the requirement of an extra set of hands to adjust the fit. Instead, I decided to add a back panel to the bottom portion, giving him an extra fit that could be adjusted just with the tie already present.
I ran into an obstacle in that I couldn’t find a matching lining fabric, so I went with something close that coordinated. And then I turned to the sewist’s magic bag of tricks. There is one universal truth: a fancy trim will turn any alteration born of necessity into a matter of design. The result was something that was very pirate-y indeed.