Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sew What?! A 1950s Circle Cape SUIT-ed for Fall

Before we succumb to Yuletide's wintry embrace, may we please take a moment to share with you one autumnally-appropriate "Sew What?!" creation before its seasonality expires?  Pretty please...?  Living in practically-seasonless Southern California, barometric changes factor relatively low in my design process; what works in May may be easily donned in December.  This particular ensemble, however, has a style, a silhouette, and a color story just made for the fall.

Our design & photography team - Mary, Mr. Tiny, Jessie, and Fabian

In a rush to get some pictures taken before everyone's focus shifted entirely to Christmas, we hoped that one of our amazing photographer friends had some time in their schedule for an impromptu shoot.  We were thrilled when our pal, Jessie Stopnik, an incredibly-talented professional photographer, deigned to answer her phone (even when she knew it was us calling).  When we learned that Fabian Fioto was also available, we all hopped in his '55 Buick and headed to the park.

wacky tacky sew what mr. tiny
Ideally suited for suits, Autumn always has me hankering to create a chic, two-piece ensemble.
As my tailoring skills are all but non-existent, I decided to create a sort of unstructured suit (a
pencil skirt and matching cape) out of a one-dollar-per-yard plaid I have had in my stash for years. 

For one who can't be bothered matching plaids, I am like a moth drawn to tartan's heavenly flame.  There is something so decidedly traditional about the multi-colored warp and weft, something so collegiate/preppy, something so "Fall."  Trying hard to capture any kind of Fall that we could muster, I was overjoyed when the leaves started fluttering down from the trees in our backyard.  Thinking quickly, I grabbed a rake and a trash bag and gathered them up for the shoot.  Okay, the secret is out; what you can see in the photos is strategically-placed yard debris.  What you can't see in the photos is my sausage-y fingers scattering leaves like a spastic flower girl at a November wedding.  

Yes, with me on official leaf duty and Jessie masterfully manning the camera, Fabian was left to assist - learning quickly that operating the reflector (my usual position) is no easy task!!!

wacky tacky sew what mr. tiny
The big idea behind the cape is literally just a big circle with two arm holes.
The top of the circle cascades over the shoulders creating a shawl collar.

wacky tacky sew what mr. tiny
It's a kind of "convertible" collar that can be pulled up should the top on the convertible be down.
(Fabian won't forgive me if I allow this to imply that his is a convertible Buick - it is not a convertible.)

wacky tacky sew what mr. tiny
Every inch of once-raw edge on the cape is finished with self bias binding.
Thusly, the cape can be worn backwards, forwards, upside-down or inside-out should the
wearer choose.  The curved hem allows it to fall in a pretty dynamic way no matter what.

It always strikes me as funny that every time we prepare to photograph an outfit, Mary asks me for a detailed drawing of how I want her hair and make-up to be styled.  Without fail, she emerges from her toilette with something completely different (and usually better).

wacky tacky sew what mr. tiny
Wearing a vintage mock turtleneck and her own jewelry, I think she nailed it!
But let's just make sure that the only things falling from the tree are leaves...

As fortunate as I consider myself to be - surrounded by attractive people with legitimate talent - I can't help but feel a bit like an impostor in their midst.  I suppose a feeling of inadequacy is an often-universal symptom of the creative mind; Jessie, a self-described lifestyle photographer, wasn't confident in her ability to do vintage-styled fashion photography.  Having photographed some of Mary's past outfits (here and here), we knew that she was more than capable of capturing some beautiful photos.

I mean, even in our obligatory, "That's a Wrap" jump shot,
Jessie is really the only one to achieve success!

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for talented friends and family who allow me to participate in truly collaborative experiences.  An enormous THANK YOU must be issued to Jessie for taking the time to share her talents with us.  Our THANKS also go to Fabian for assisting us with his photographic knowledge of cars and camera reflectors.  And, heck, we'll even give a THANK YOU to Mary who, if nothing else, kept an errant "Leaf Boy" in check.

wacky tacky sew what mr. tiny
"Um...where are those dang 'Autumn Leaves?'"

They're right here!!!

"Autumn Leaves" - Keely Smith

Since we know that you like what you see, please feel free to view more of Jessie's work on her blog and her Instagram.  Fabian recently created a cool, online portfolio of his work that can be viewed here.


Mr. Tiny


  1. Love, love, love it! Pinned it, Google plused it.

  2. gorgeous! i love how it turned out, and Mary looks great with the makeup and hair she choose. and the BUICK! Talk about a heart stopper!

    1. Thanks, Rae!!! I don't know why, but Fabian's getting ready to sell that beautiful car!

  3. Hello there!
    I'll keep this short, by simply saying: I'm loving it, loving it, loving it! :)


    1. Hiya! Thanks a million!!! You are very kind!

  4. Beautifully styled photos, and the outfit is stunning!

    1. Thank you! It's compliments from people who really know how to sew that mean the most!!!