7.10.2012

Lady Sybil Jumpsuit

I am more than a little obsessed with antique clothes. I firmly believe that society has managed to kill fashion in the last 100 years, and long for the days when men wore suits to baseball games and a woman wouldn't dream of leaving the house without a proper hat. I frequently watch mind-numbingly boring period dramas just to ogle the clothes, and spend hours poring over sites like this, taking in every detail. When I heard about Masterpiece Classic's TV show Downton Abbey earlier this year, I knew that I had to watch if only to drool over what I hoped would be fantastic costuming. I was not disappointed! Turns out, the story is great, too. The first season is on Netflix, for those of you who haven't watched yet.

I guess I should rewind a little bit. While attending TNNA in Phoenix in January, I confessed to Sabrina Famellos, owner of Anzula Luxury Fibers, a deep desire to knit a second jumpsuit. (My first, a sexy backless mohair number, had been quite popular at the June show the year before.) "I don't want to write a pattern," I told her. "I just want to see what I can do". Surprisingly enough, Sabrina agreed to my hairbrained idea, and unleashed me in her booth to select colors and yarn bases. I picked out a gorgeous teal in lace and worsted, and was extremely pleased when the resulting box showed up on my doorstep a few weeks later. However, I didn't have a firm plan in place for the execution of the jumpsuit; I'd made half a dozen sketches and none of them seemed quite right. I knew I wanted a nice pair of flowy harem pants on bottom, but what to do up top? Enter Downton Abbey.

Lady Sybil Pants

Towards the beginning of the first season, one of the characters, Sybil, shocks her family by showing up to dinner in a new "frock" that isn't a frock at all, but a drop-dead gorgeous pantsuit comprised of intricately detailed laces and silk chiffon. I almost fell out of my chair when this costume appeared on the screen, because really. Look at that gorgeousness! Now my plan could proceed.

Downton Abbey Pants

I started scouring my stitch dictionaries for a lace with a vaguely art deco feel to it, and found one called "Kiwi" in the Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns (page 214). Perfect! I swatched it up and knew I had my bodice all set. I worked up a big rectangle of it and lined it with a bit of stockinette.


Downton Abbey Pants

I should point out here that I'm pretty terrible at estimating yardage requirements. My original intention was for this garment to all be one color, but I'd only asked Sabrina for a single skein of the teal For Better or Worsted, most of which was used for the bodice lining. Luckily, I had 2 skeins of For Better or Worsted in navy left over from another design, and I decided it would be an acceptable secondary color. Let me tell you, I was kind of stewing over that for the first few days, too! When you have your heart set on one thing and have to change it, it can be difficult to get over. In retrospect, I am really glad this isn't all one color. I think the navy really sets off the piece.

Downton Abbey Pants
 
Panels of staggered left and right twists add texture and interest; this technique also results in a sturdy fabric, perfect for the waistband, sleeve straps and cuffs.

Lady Sybil pants

This jumpsuit is incredibly comfy to wear! It's like a giant adult onesie. There's just enough sex appeal to still be "me", but overall it's quite modest. Also me!

Lady Sybil Pants

I found a quartet of antique Victorian buttons on Etsy with stunning etched details and crystal centers. Closeup photo here.


Downton Abbey Pants

Picot hems on the sleeves tie in with a picot edging at the top of the bodice. A scattering of Swarovski crystal beads were added by hand to the lace after the piece was complete. I think it's these small details that really make the difference!

I've written out detailed construction notes for this project on its Ravelry project page, in case anyone is interested in learning more or attempting their own. Fair warning, though! This piece consumed more than 400 hours to create. These pant legs are BIG! Huge, huge thanks to Sabrina for enabling my vision, and to Emily Brewer of Brewer Studios for the amazing photographs.
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12 comments:

  1. That is INCREDIBLE. Sybil's "dress" knocked my socks off too--and I think your interpretation is even better than the original.

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  2. Oh wow, that is amazing! I just watched that episode, too. :) What an impressive piece!

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  3. Beautiful! The details are exquisite. Nice work!

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  4. Beautiful the details are what sets it apart!

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  5. That is amazing! I need one! The colors are fantastic - how long did it take to make?

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    1. This took approximately 200 hours to put together, maybe a bit more. Each leg contained more than 200 stitches, and knitted up at 8 rounds to the inch. So...yeah. It took a long time. Worth it, though, I think! :)

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  6. I knew that jumpsuit reminded me of something I'd seen and that's totally it! Leave it to you and Downton Abbey to make harem pants chic.

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  7. Amazing! You absolutely nailed a modern twist on Lady Sybill's jumpsuit!

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  8. I love the jumpsuit...made me think of my childhood and charlie's angels!! Those ladies were super comfy and could just rock the sexy at that point! LOL

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  9. You're a crazy person! :) An awesome crazy person. This jumpsuit is totally amazing, and looks great on you.

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  10. You look like Lady Sybil, actually. Don't go running off with the family chauffeur! ;)

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  11. I cannot believe, this is really adorable...cool design. Looks very trendy with bold colors. Many fashions that emerged with a variety of styles and very attractive combinations. Thank you so much.
    Jumpsuits for Women

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