Top Stitchers: "Song Birds"

We've now passed the halfway mark in Top Stitchers: Season 2 - and we're keeping up the boy-sew momentum with an incredible Over The Top (OTT) sew-down between the two of the most creative minds in the biz - Cassie and Andrea. I'm so excited to share these looks!! But first, their prompt:

"No two birds sing the same song" - just as no two seamstresses will design the same over-the-top look... because YOU will be designing a boy's "songbird" look. That is, a look inspired by a song about birds (or anything with wings.) Props strongly encouraged!

Cassie's Entry:

My challenge prompt was to create an Over the Top look for boys using a song about birds (or other winged creatures) as inspiration. I present to you, Angels Among Us, a beautiful collaboration of an incredibly emotional, creative mind (that's me), a beyond talented photographer (Hailey Faria, Hailey Faria Photography), a stellar stylist (Autumn Negron, Dream Compass Styling) and one adorable young male model (Jonah Benros, with Wilhelminah Hawaii). The inspiration for this project came from the Alabama song, Angels Among Us. I wanted to create a visual representation of an angel among us, in the midst of our busy ho hum lives just waiting to “show up in the strangest places, and grace us with their mercies in our time of need.”

For the angel's wardrobe I made a double breasted frock, button down dress shirt, chinos and wings. The double breasted frock was made from a jacket pattern by Shwin and Shwin. I struggled to find the right style jacket pattern pdf, and was able to adapt this free pattern into the frock inspired by this pin:

I used a light blue linen blend for the outer jacket and a beautiful blue dupioni silk for the lining, purchased locally at Fabric Mart. The button down shirt was made from the Ethan's Shirt Pattern by Sis Boom. I modified it to be short sleeve (although not shown), since I knew we'd be shooting in the island heat. I used a cream dupioni silk, also purchased locally. The pants were made from Peekaboo Patterns' Chinos, with modifications to include a side stripe. For the wow factor, I made the angel wings using pages from vintage books. My helpful husband assisted me in creating the mount for the wings, and Hailey helped with putting together part of the wings as well. Lots of glue, staples and blistered fingers- but the end result was a showstopper! The jacket had perfect shoulder tabs that allowed the harness to stay positioned on the model's shoulders.

This season of Top Stitchers proved to be a true challenge in that I just had to make things that were not in my normal spectrum of styles. There's just not a lot of exciting fashion for young men, and so to get creative with a simple jacket, shirt and pant pattern was a definite push to my creative boundaries. I also sew mostly for my own children, who are on hand to measure and test muslins at any moment. Working with a model, it was nerve wracking to hope that everything would fit as I wanted it to, and if it didn't there wasn't much I could do about it on location. Also, I am a solo artist and very rarely get the opportunity to put my head together with some of the most talented ladies around. It was relieving as well as stressful to put vision into play with this dream team. Lastly, this was a challenge for me to open up emotionally to my readers. My brother passed away when I was 15 years old, and I think of him as my every day angel. I wanted to use a male model to represent him, as most angels are usually depicted by females. It was an amazing experience to bring to life the vision I have of my brother being an angel among us.

See more photos and read more about my Top Stitchers entry on my blog.

Andrea's Entry:

Hi there – I'm Andrea from The Design, The Stitch and The Wardrobe and I am so excited to be taking part in my first Top Stitcher’s challenge. I have been sewing for about 3 years now and started my blog earlier this year. My 'little sewing hobby'  has transformed into a massive addiction to costume making, but more specifically, my passion really lies with increasing the 'boy' options for costuming -  they really miss out!! When I was asked if I would like to take part in an OTT, themed outfit contest – for boys!!!! I jumped at the chance.

My prompt was 'Songbirds', create an outfit inspired by a song about birds. Well my mind immediately leapt at an idea,  I toyed back and forth and tried to get my brain to travel 'out of the square' but I kept coming back to the same decision....

When I was about 6 or 7 my music teacher played us a piece of music and asked everyone in the class what it made them think of. My response was that it reminded me of ducks, swimming across a pond. She gave me a funny look and continued gathering responses from the rest of the class.  She looked at me adoringly (the last teacher that ever did, if I recall) and told everyone how clever I was. The music she had played was Tchaikovsky's  Danse des petits cygnes (dance of the little swans. Well, clearly I was a musical genius.

Unfortunately, besides a stint on stage playing recorder and a few Saturday morning ballet lessons my promising career never took off. I have however, always loved the music from this particular suite and so I give you my version of Swan Lake.  

I changed my mind several times as to whether I was going to do the prince or the evil sorcerer or even do a 'Matthew Bourne take on it and portray my son as 'The Swan', well there are no rules and so I decided to change the storyline around a little.

The young Prince is strolling through the forest when he catches a glimpse of a princess, so he decides to follow her. It is the princess in my scenario who is the sorcerer and turns the Prince into an evil swan forced to swim on the lake forever.  

My Prince's outfit consists of a jacket that started out as Mcalls pattern 6376 (a girl's medieval dress pattern) ….and very quickly became my own creation. I knew I wanted a ballet style jacket and that it should have poets sleeves. I wanted to incorporate pleating as I find it's a great way to add interest to clothing that can work well for boys as well. (I am forever finding girls patterns that I can change to make 'boy suitable').  The bodice of the jacket was made from a jacquard and the sleeves are silk dupion. The jodphurs were made from Jennuine designs, Dressage legging pattern (fast becoming a favourite for all my prince costumes that are ordered). I used a fleece lined PU leather to make the jodphurs. To all of you who shudder at the thought of sewing with pleather let me give you 2 words Teflon. Foot. It's a life changer.  The top for my evil black swan was actually based on the above Mcalls pattern as well. Again I wanted to incorporate a point of interest that wasn't just feathers, now I have to admit to a spot of plagerism/copying/ blatently ripping off my competitor here. After seeing Cassie's Cinderella dress from season 1 and her use of the wave pleats, I thought they would be the perfect addition to my outfit. So again Cassie, sorry but imitation, highest form of flattery and all that. The wings were constructed from lot's of feathers, duct tape and flattened pvc piping using a heat gun.  

I had so much fun making this outfit and there is no way that I can show it all off here so head over to my blog for more pics.

See you next time


Before you give your ratings, here's a quick refresher of the rules!

  • You will rate rate each challenger, and every category. Max of 5 stars, 5 is highest.
  • Challengers will receive an average score for each category, and an average score overall. (You can see an example here) New to Season 2 - 50% of the vote will come from 3 Top Stitcher Alumnae who volunteered to judge this season's creations!
  • Your feedback helps each challenger recognize areas that they can improve their craft, and celebrate those areas that they already excel. 
  • As such, please submit your feedback for each contestant only once. Admittedly, I cannot enforce this, but the objective is for each contestant to receive a thoughtful rating, not skewed scores. 
  • It is SUPER DUPER NERVE-WRACKING to put work on display for others to judge, so let's remember to leave some love and encouragement for our challengers in the comments!
Rate Cassie's Technique *
Do garment(s) reflect a strong knowledge of the fabrics used, and the methods and tools use to sew them?
Rate Cassie's Creativity *
Do garment(s) relate to the given prompt, and showcase the unique talents of the sewist?
Rate Cassie's Presentation *
Quality photography is key, as is an overall vision for presenting finished work.
Rate Cassie's Difficulty *
Sew many pieces, or very intricate ones? These points reward that challenge.
Rate Andrea's Technique *
Do garment(s) reflect a strong knowledge of the fabrics used, and the methods and tools use to sew them?
Rate Andrea's Creativity *
Do garment(s) relate to the given prompt, and showcase the unique talents of the sewist?
Rate Andrea's Presentation *
Quality photography is key, as is an overall vision for presenting finished work.
Rate Andrea's Difficulty *
Sew many pieces, or very intricate ones? These points reward that challenge.
Leave Some Love! *
Let this week's challengers know what you liked best from each look!