“Somethin’ tells me it’s all happening at the zoo – I do believe it – I do believe it’s true” at least that’s what Simon and Garfunkel sang to me in the late 1960’s and I have believed them ever since. According to Vogue magazine, “The international street style scene has begun to resemble an actual zoo, as fashion month showgoers stepped out in one eccentric animal print after another. This full-throttle ferocity also made its way onto the runways.” This season animal print is staying strong as a trend for fall and all species are being welcomed.
Since I have worked with Michelle (of Style Maker) in the past, she’s gotten a good sense of my style, taste, and color palette. A few weeks ago, while on her buying trip to New York, she texted me a photo of a pair of tiger print combat boots she spotted with the message, “For your collection!” I’m not sure if she was teasing me or not, but next thing I knew I had placed an order and a box was arriving on my doorstep. With an invitation to participate in the 2019 Fall Style Tour, I looked through the beautiful collection of fabric choices, saw the Layered Animal Print Collage Rayon Challis, and decided to come up with something fun to wear with the New York Tiger Boots. Initially I decided to get a small piece of the challis for the bias trim on a boiled wool jacket I had in mind. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am somewhat obsessed with making coats and jackets!
Since I have used this Boiled Wool Blend Coating before, I knew exactly what I would be getting. The fabric looks just like 100% boiled wool, but the rayon gives it added drape and softness making it perfect for unlined jackets, coats, and sweater blazers (which is what I decided on). This is my second Fulton Sweater Blazer pattern from Alina Design Co. My last one was in the mustard color, which I love (favorite color alert), so I decided to go with the classic black. Style Maker also just added a turmeric color that just shouts “FALL” and reminds me of butternut squash! Possibly another future coat…?
*Note on my fabric preparation this time around—I decided to prewash the wool in cool water (I always use a Rinse/Spin cycle) and then laid it out flat to dry. It came out perfectly and I will use this method next time I sew with the boiled wool blend.
The Fulton pattern includes two lengths, but I decided to cut it a few inches below my waist for a more cropped version to wear with a wider legged pant and balance out the chunkiness of the boots. I made no other changes to the pattern, other than using slightly smaller pockets and using my favorite technique to finish all the seams with a pop of color, in this case the layered animal print. This fabric doesn’t fray, so there is no need to finish seams and any pattern with raw cut edges would work perfectly. I do always love a little something special when you look inside, so a Hong Kong finish it is for me!
I LOVE to use rayon challis for bias-cut Hong Kong finishes. It presses perfectly, and melds right into the wool with no wrinkles for a flawless finish. For this jacket, I encased all the inside seams and the edges of the front and back facings, the hem, as well as the cuff facings.
I applied the sleeve facings to the sleeves on the RIGHT side, binding the two layers (facing and sleeve body) together at the bottom edge. I then topstitched the bound finished edge of the facing down (on the right side) so that it looks like an accent row of trim.
On the inside of the sleeve you don’t see the facing at all and if you turn up the sleeves for more of a bracelet length, you have a nice cuff with a bit of trim still showing.
I cut the pockets smaller than the pattern to give me more of a “French Jacket” effect and I sewed them on by hand. After looking at Pinterest style boards of similar ready-to-wear jackets, I decided to add the double row of buttons (no buttonholes) for a slight military look. I just happened to have the perfect buttons on hand from a trip to Pacific Trimmings in New York 4 years ago.
My more casual look pairs my finished jacket with a combination of two of my favorite patterns in two wardrobe staple fabrics. For the Parasol Trousers from Ensemble Patterns, I chose the new Black Stretch Pinwale Corduroy. This fabrics is mostly cotton with just a bit of spandex, giving it great recovery and making these pants so comfortable you could lounge around in them all day! The biggest thing to remember when working with corduroy is to cut all the pattern pieces facing in the same direction or you will end up color variations in your garment. If you haven’t tried the Parasol Tousers it has some features I love—no side seams, large pockets, seams down the center front and center back legs (giving great fitting rear view!) and a fly-front zipper (which I swap for an invisible zipper in the back seam).
For my all-time favorite “closet classic”, the Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti, I chose the Luxury Plush Rib Sweater Knit in Camel. Let me just say that this fabric is BRILLIANT! It is the best weight, stretch and recovery in a rib knit that I have worked with in a long time! It would be an excellent choice for any type of turtleneck, tee-shirt, fitted Nikko dress, bodysuit . . . I could go on and on. I loved working with this knit and now have my eye on a piece in cinnamon which would also pair beautifully with my jacket and pants!
When I was pre-shrinking my first piece of the animal print rayon challis (cool water, rinse/spin cycle and delicate dry) I pulled it out of the dryer WITH NO WRINKLES and such beautiful drape that I decided the jacket needed a coordinating dress for an additional styling option. I had been following the release of Papercut Pattern’s new Rubix collection and since I had seen quite a few ready-to-wear animal print wrap dresses, I decided to try the Sequence Blouse/Dress pattern.
The drape of this fabric suits the 3/4 length flutter sleeves and the wrap styling (I am a sucker for anything with a wrap!). It can be worn with the ties off to the side or wrapped around the waist for a belted effect. You can also turn it around with the v-wrap in the back, and a higher neckline in the front for a totally different look!
I opted for the nylon/shoe combination this time, but I have some over-the-knee boots that are going to look great with this dress. Some athletic shoes and a jeans jacket would also work for a more casual look. Or, if you throw a nice chucky pullover sweater on top, you’ll have the look of an animal print skirt!
I want to thank Michelle and Style Maker Fabrics for including me in this Fall Tour. It is always an honor to work with this amazing company and their high-quality fabrics. I hope you have a chance to check out the remaining stops on the Tour and see what all the other makers have created for their fall looks. Becca, of 36 pieces, will pick things up tomorrow! If you would like to see more of what I have been up to you can find me on Instagram, @intostitches.