...or, how to dress for success on a poverty lawyer's salary:
My "creative lawyering" (quotation marks intentional) suit jacket!
So - how did this nefarious plan come about? I wish I could tell you that this was a brilliant idea I've had percolating for months and months because I am such a great artiste.
However, instead, this is something my tortured brain came up with halfway through trying to make a cardigan for my good friend Barb with some sweater in progress pieces which she (a non-knitter) found in her aunt's house when cleaning it out.
Barb, when she gave these to me, said "I'm not sure what it was supposed to be." Well, when seeing these four pieces, neither was genius knitter Kristina, to be honest. My first thought was "why would anyone knit four sleeves for a sweater?" After approximately 25 minutes of my usual deep philosophical musing, JJ came into the room and said "I hope you didn't pick that colour for my cardigan." Eureka!!
This was another element to the donated pieces that I found very, very confusing initially. I finally figured out that it was intended to be the base for a buttonband (I think).
There was also a fully completed back. (The knitting is lovely, by the way. Thank you, Barb's aunt - although your colour and yarn choice [Paton's Canadiana 100% acrylic, Pepto Bismol colourway] don't really work for me - no offence intended!).
Barb, being the very nice, kind and selfless person that she is, gifted these to me so that I could make something for myself. Well, I, being equally nice, kind and selfless, especially when it comes to knitting... HA!... really had the best intentions of making something for Barb with the pieces and regifting it to her.
Until, that is, I started (for no reason obvious to me) hyperventilating about the fact that my nice little research stint might soon come to an end, which means that I will have to go back to wearing (insert Jaws music here): BUSINESS DRAG.
So, naturally, I decided to go and find the ugliest suit jacket in my closet and cut it to shreds.
NB: the flying saucer shaped object in the bottom centre of the photo is not a falsie. It is a shoulder pad. The world's largest shoulder pad, I should think (at least it is now... its twin succumbed to my "I actually wore a jacket with Stayfree Maxi shoulder pads in 2002?!? And it wasn't Hallowe'en? I actually wore it to WORK?!?!" inspired panic attack.
I .. ahem... forgot to take a "before" photo of the jacket, which is just as well. I really don't know what possessed me to buy an oversized and doublebreasted BEIGE suit jacket (even from Thrift Villa!) - maybe it was me trying to look authoritative and mature the first few weeks on the job. Instead, I imagine I looked like a chipmunk who came across a christening suit discarded outside the Goodwill. And an anaemic one at that. Beige!!! I can't believe it...
But I digress. I decided to try for a highly ironic "I AM wearing business dress... see? There's a tie, and a collar" look. Never mind that I can't actually sew or line anything... but I had to try as I think the person who does my alterations would start laughing so hard if I came in with this request that I could never, ever go back.
Explanation, not excuse, for the extremely lame stitching job you see here. I think it adds to the anti-Bay Street message, myself. I should start a couture line: Bespoke by Brouhaha.
Anyway, so in my usual depraved fashion the design took shape. Unfortunately, the nightmare picture left in my brain last Thursday while on the streetcar in the financial district right at 5:00 p.m. - a line of about 100 people in suits, marching resolutely down University Avenue toward Union Station, most of them talking on cell phones (aghghgh! Zombies!!!) - caused me to become overzealous with the scissors. My de- or re-constructed suit jacket contains pretty much whatever I could salvage from the carnage.
I was actually quite impressed that I didn't do quite the hatchet job on seaming this as I would ordinarily.
Oh, and a tip for those as sewing-challenged as I - handsewing through 2 layers of suit jacket material plus lining is not best endeavoured without a thimble... although in a pinch, parquet flooring and gravity will do.
The Button Band
As I was trying for an ironic look, I did manage to salvage the two front buttons and the band (plus, this saved me the hassle of trying to figure out how to make buttonholes). There were two other buttonholes in the original knitted piece at the bottom and I decided to use funky ceramic buttons for those. Only one shows in the photo. I'm not sufficiently motivated to get out the camera again. The other one is light green.
The Breast Pocket
I just couldn't resist. This is a fully functional lined pocket. The perfect repository for business cards, pens, a lace square or:
The Anti-Zombie Handkerchief!!
This pocket will NEVER be used to hold a cell phone (I lost mine and will never replace it unless someone makes it a condition of a job paying at least $50,000 more than I make now - and from what I gather, most people are now wearing these ET jobs that light up their ear, anyway).
The sleeves still have their original lining - I am patting myself on the back for that one!
Note the four cute little buttons at the bottom - original detail. I was going to chop the lower parts of the sleeve off and add knitted cuffs from Barb's aunt's sleeves but was too lazy and unskilled to pull this off.
The iron on heart and flower decals serve a practical aesthaetic purpose. They are there to hide two huge cigarette burns.
("How does one get cigarette burns on the upper sleeves of a business jacket?", you might well ask. The answer: if you ever have the misfortune of attending the Landlord and Tenant Board on a day when there are 100 plus hearings and a full moon, you will soon find out - especially if you smoke and your stressed out clients also smoke and you try to advise them in the smoking area to calm them down....)
Inner lining and Dunhill pocket
I have to say I'm quite proud of these as well. The cigarette pocket is a necessary design feature for me - I suppose one could use it to hold other things, like lighters (I typically store my lighter in my right brassiere cup. Don't ask.).
For those three people who are still reading, here are some specs and design notes:
- size = 36 inches (original jacket = women's size 8)
- design: my own. Knitted pieces made by Barb's aunt
- knitting pattern = unknown as I did not knit the pieces and there was no pattern with what I was given, though I suspect Patons had a lot to do with it.
- yarn = knitted pieces are Paton's Canadiana (100% acrylic), colour 164 (Pepto?). Trim and seaming are Brown's Sheep Worsted (85% wool, 15% acrylic), Limeade and Red Hot Passion (from remnants in the stash). Approx. 1 skein total of Brown Sheep
- notions = 4.5 mm Aero straight needles, 4.5 mm bamboo crochet hook, 2 iron on decals, 2 ceramic buttons, 2 suit buttons from original suit, craft needle, tapestry needle
- time spent = 10 hours approx.
- date started = 27 October 2007
- date finished = 28 October 2007
- I seamed the knitted pieces together using a crochet hook. I may never seam with a tapestry needle again! This entailed crocheting one single crochet round around each knitted piece, then attaching where needed with another line of single crochet.
- The right side border is garter stitch: 2 rows Limeade, 2 rows Pepto and 1 row and bindoff in Red Hot Passion
- The left side border and bottom border were originally supposed to be i-cord edging. However, I do not have the Nicki Epstein book, couldn't remember how to do this, and was too lazy and stubborn to look it up. So, my first intention was a garter border similar to the right side. However, due to more laziness, I gave up after only one knit row (on the wrong side). Imagine my surprise when this, combined with the crochet row and the bindoff row (on RS) created something which looks very much like i-cord edging! Let's call it "I-Cord Edging for Lazyass Numbskulls".
- it took me the majority of the time spent on this project to seam the suit pieces to the knitted pieces and to sew in the lining and pockets. This time factor would be greatly reduced with a sewing machine. (I have a tiny one which I can't figure out how to use, and which would anyway likely not handle knitting).
(Almost) looking forward to business drag again...
PS. In case you still think I'm completely selfish, here is something I'm working on with Barb's aunt's sleeves (the sleeves of Barb's aunt? where are the grammar police when you need them!) to give to Barb... maybe.
I'm not sure what it will be yet. If you have any ideas for me, please Email me ;-)