Many, many years ago I trained as a Theatre Wardrobe Mistress. But for reasons I can't quite remember (as it was that long ago) I decided the world of legal services was for me. Turns out it wasn't, but the money was darn good.
I seemed to have a bit of a knack for men's tailoring, I think I liked the engineering aspects of pattern making and cutting. And yes I can hear you - maybe it was something to do taking the inside leg measurements for the more hunky members of the cast.
I have always liked to keep my tailoring hand in and from time to time I do make the special garment or two for friends and family. When our friend Stuart announced he was getting married and that the theme of the wedding was Steampunk, I immediately offered to make his wedding waistcoat. Offer accepted in a flash.
Now those of you who know me well know that I am rather fond of a glass or two of Pinot Grigio. Stuart knew this in particular as he was the bar man in our very local pub. Obviously I have no proof, but I swear he served me large glasses of wine as opposed to the thimble size I am more accustomed to and before I knew what had happened, apparently I agreed to make the waistcoat for the Best Man and a groomsman.
When I sobered up Stuart told me that actually there were quite a few groomsmen, plus I had willing consented to make 6 steampunk waistcoats for the wedding in March and that he had witnesses as back up. No problem I thought. It's January and I am always quiet in January. Plenty of time!
Well after the busiest January & February for 5 years I was beginning to worry a little. Stuart and Robyn had designed the waistcoats, sourced the fabrics, including the special family tartan of Stuart's family clan. They had even found buttons, buckles and belts for each individual waistcoat. And me? Well I had done a rough sketch, looked at some Pinterest pictures and that was about it.
On the 1st March I gave myself a good talking to and cracked on. I adapted a pattern, made Stuart's toile in a rather fetching pink from an old flanelette sheet ( I didn't have any calico to hand) and then took a look at the measurements for the 5 other waistcoats. It was at this point panic hit me. Some of these guys were either superhero comic characters or didn't know one end of a tape measure from another. I prayed for the first but it turned out to be the second. One had used a combination of inches and centimetres hence the tiny waist with the enormous chest. (Very disappointing). Another had measured his suit jacket instead of himself, and one had gone as far as giving me the measurements he would like to be for the wedding at the end of March rather than his real life measurements. The others did the sensible thing and got their wives to measure them.
I couldn't do any proper fittings as the groomsmen were scattered all over the country, so I had to show Stuart how to do fittings on my behalf which was interesting ... he took to it like a pro and in the meantime I was knee deep in green cord and shiny satin lining featuring Chinese dragons. I have to be honest and say I was burning the midnight oil a couple of days before the wedding.
I don't think they turned out too badly do you? And it was nice to do something a little bit different.
If you are wondering why there are only 5 chaps in the photos - then that's because the Best Man's children were struck down with chicken pox the night before the wedding and were taken home poorly.
By the way - in true Ella style, it's actually taken me a little while to compile this blog and Stuart and Robyn have now celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Congratulations to you both!