Sunday, July 6, 2014

Work-Wear Woes

*This marks the first of my personal blog posts.  School's out for summer, but I'm continuing to blog for myself and anyone who decides to read it.*

Well, the higher-ups in the restaurant where I work decided that it was time for a uniform change.  We've been wearing blue shirts with awful boxy vests for 3 years.  The servers are now to wear white button-down shirts with black ties and an official-issue black apron.  The bartender's uniform is similar: white button-down shirts and black ties, but no apron, and the option to wear a black vest (employee provided--no standard issue).

I work some shifts as a server and some as a bartender, so I get to use both versions of the uniform.  The button down shirts and black ties were easy enough to find. (Thank you and Mens Wearhouse!)  The vest, however, was impossible.  I found denim vests.  I found suede vests.  I even found crocheted vests.  The only black business-like vests to be found were for men, which would take me back to the ill-fitting, boxy cut that we had before.

I considered not wearing a vest when I bartend.  It seemed like the easiest thing to do--I already had the rest of the uniform pieces.  Then I found out that all of the male bartenders had decided to wear vests.  I pictured the scene on a Saturday night, with me and two of the guys working.  They would be wearing vests and I would not.  From the guest's point of view, either (a) I forgot my vest, or (b) I was a server that had jumped behind the bar to help out.  I didn't particularly care for either of those impressions, so I had to make the vest happen somehow.

Enter Rosey, my trusty dressform.  (She's blue and has no legs, so she reminds me of the robot maid from The Jetsons.)  After doing some Google Image browsing of celebrities wearing vests and deciding what I wanted mine to look like, I broke out the style tape and "drew" a vest on Rosey.

I wanted to accentuate my womanly curves rather than hide them, so I went with a scoop in the front, and a three-piece back.  The back was more because I don't have much tailoring experience.  If I needed to change the flare in the side seams, I wanted to not have to re-cut the whole back piece!

My next step was to create my pattern.  I use a cotton muslin because it's cheap and I can write on it with any pen.  I use different colors to mean different things so when I go to cut it out I know how to put the pieces back together!

As you can see, I experimented with different ways to do the side-back panels.  Ultimately I decided that the peplum just looked weird and went with the flat piece.

I used polyester suiting from JoAnn Fabrics for the finished product and lined it with a polyester lining. I had grand ideas of putting in pockets for pens, a notepad and my phone, but quickly decided that was a little too complicated for my first piece of business-wear.  I'm glad I nixed those ideas, because I had enough trouble with the basics!

I've never lined a garment before, and I didn't do much reading on how it should be done.  I ended up re-doing the back lining twice because it was too big and hung below the actual vest!  When I was sewing the side seams to put it all together, I had the outside on top so I could make sure the stitching was exactly where I wanted it, but then the lining got pulled through the machine faster than the suiting (I guess I should have used more pins), so it started bubbling and puckering all over the place!  Thank goodness for seam rippers!

I took the buttons from my old work vest instead of buying new ones, and that was simple enough.  The buttonholes, on the other hand, were a nightmare!  I have an automatic buttonhole presser foot, so they're supposed to be easy: line it up, press the pedal, and let the machine do all the work.  I had perfect buttonholes all over my practice piece--two layers of suiting, just like where the buttonholes were going--so I thought I would be fine.  Apparently though, my buttonhole foot is crappy and cheap. It would get stuck on a spot, or reverse before it was time, making the buttonhole way too small for the button.  I only needed to make 3 buttonholes, but it took me two hours of careful planning, frustrated arm-flailing, and trying to rip out thousands of tiny zig-zag stitches to finally get them done.

After a bit of hand-stitching to secure the wonky buttonholes and hide the lining debacle, I'm pretty happy with the result.  I would never let anyone see the inside of the vest because of the lining, but I'm proud to have completely "finished" a garment--no exposed seams--which is not something that I had done before.

I did wear it to work last night, and got some interesting comments.  One of the girl servers said she loved it and wished that our old vest had been like this.  "Maybe corporate will let us all wear them.  It's really cute."  I didn't tell her that I had made it myself and it took much, much longer than it should have.  I just accepted the compliment and swore to myself that I would not agree to make one for anyone else!

One of the guy servers said that it looked like a Beerfest girl's outfit in the front (I took that as a compliment) and a SWAT bullet-proof vest in the back.  I wasn't really sure how to take that.  I guess it means that I look tough.  If I were to make a new one, I would probably not scoop the front quite as wide, and I would do a halter neck with the bottom coming back into a simple strap instead of the racer back that I used.

New uniform, complete with tie and nametag!
Overall, it was well-received, I felt good in it, and management didn't try to tell me that it wasn't "spec," so I think it was a success!

1 comment:

  1. I love that your dressform is Rosey! And it looks like your vest came out great - congrats! But yeah, not so fun to make them for other people.