How are you? I am am doing well thanks! Especially now that I have completed a colossal task of making a tailored jacket in 10 days. Finished on Sunday afternoon just in time for a photo session in the gorgeous Indian summer we have been having here in the North of England.
Here is my review for the competition. Its very much abridged as I didnt want to sound like a windbag. Could easily do 7 separate posts on how this jacket was made. The feeling of elation after I snipped that last thread was palpable – I did a fist pump and went off to take pictures straight away. My eyes are very very tired from all the consecutive late nights pulled to get this done. Between my work and the kids hectic schedules I was only able to sew properly after 9pm. So of course there are loads and loads of pictures and even a super special one right at the end if you manage to get there :-).
What pattern did you use? (Please include brand and pattern name / number if applicable.) Is it new to you, a tried and true, self drafted or a combination of patterns?
I chose Vogue 8601 – A basic design pattern. New to me so I cut a size 12 as per measurement chart. Its got a sweet urban equestrian look that attracted me.
What fabric did you use for the jacket exterior and lining.
I finally bought a spectacular and long hoarded piece of wool out of storage. I bought it over a year ago after I had looked at it for a long time before buying, not knowing if I could do it justice. It screams British heritage with its orange, mustard, beige and navy blue check. I’ve never sewn with anything like this before and really didn’t have any idea where to start. Pushing past initial hesitation I took the plunge and chucked it onto the dryer with a couple of damp towels to preshrink it. I absolutely loved working with this wool. it was stable and thick enough to manipulate easily but soft and light enough to make the darts and seams almost invisible.
Used a high quality anti-static synthetic fabric made of 75% Triacetate and 25% Polyamide, dont know what the name for it is but it has a great handle and is soft to touch, breathable. A lot nicer than the cheap linings I have used in the past. More expensive (though cheaper than silk charmeuse) but worth every penny. I found it easy to sew (not too slippery) and it didn’t disintegrate the moment I cut into it. It feels nice against the skin and the colour is so pretty and vivid.
Are you experienced at sewing jackets or was this a terrifying first?
Initially I thought that sewing a peacoat for my husband last year meant I had oodles of experience. But in comparison that was just a coat with interfaced fronts and shoulder pads. This was my first tailored jacket in that sense.
Describe your sewing journey with this jacket.
My starting point was making the size 12 muslin as is. I knew that for the initial shape of the jacket I wanted a sleek silhouette. I removed 1/2″ swayback to get the fit on the bodice. Since my fabric was a check and I was anticipating problems with pattern matching I eliminated the center back seam and cut on fold. I sacrificed a really snug fit at the back for easier matching – a worthy sacrifice.
I didnt like the split coat tails. Once removed I decided to add a 1″ extension from the waist down by pivoting out the second smaller dart, which gave it the flair I wanted but still kept the drama at a fairly subtle level.
The sleeves were too long with too much ease. I drafted a two piece sleeve with vent sloper using Suzy Furrer’s excellent pattern drafting book after faffing around; I have learnt the hard way that a two piece sleeve cannot be made just by cutting the existing one piece into 2 then adding seam allowances . Kept increasing the seam allowances until I got the slim fit I wanted. Next was adjusting the armhole to fit the new sleeve cap. The result is my shoulder has never looked so good.
The pattern doesn’t have a back facing so I drafted one and also had to draft a lining piece with an ease pleat for wearing. My lifestyle means I move my arms around a lot bending over lifting my little ones. My store bought jackets all have linings that have pulled open at the seams so I knew I needed to have a lot more wearing ease in the back lining.
After those changes, I still felt something was missing and to zhoosh it up I added angled welt pockets. I was happy. In total I made 3 muslins by Sunday night.
Then after all that prep, it was time for the star of the show…my simply gorgeous check plaid. Despair set in at realising I had to cut into it. I haven’t had to match plaids like this before. I added seam allowance lines on pattern pieces to see where the cutting line would be and plunged. This part took me 4 hours from start to finish, accompanied with a lot of swearing and “I hate plaid! Never again!” In retrospect I don’t know where I got the strength and temerity to keep going. Just the memory of that night makes me feel exhausted. I didn’t do too bad though – it’s pretty good I think. There are areas where I couldn’t line things up enough, the curves and angle of the design made things difficult to keep in orderly neat lines in places, so I just picked the most obvious horizontal match lines and left it at that…Lucky this was a balanced check (I think) otherwise it would have taken even longer.
Interfacing Each piece has some interfacing on it. The back peces were doubly interfaced on the upper areas with bias strips on the edges. Cutting out the bias strip and fusing them was a nightmare that took up a whole day. This was time I had not budgeted thus I fell behind my schedule of finishing on Saturday. The sleeves, upper and under collar were interfaced with knit tricot interfacing which created a very interesting spongy scuba like texture on wrong side. Pocket flaps were double interfaced using heavy weight. When I ran out of heavyweight I just used 2 of medium weight.
Pressing the seams open also took a lot longer than I thought. How many times did I refill the water in my iron? A lot more than I can count.My ironing board is wonky now from all the pressing using my clapper which by the way is the MVP during this jacket.
Welt pocket into the waist seam. Eeek! This was scary. I did it and tbh the first one wasn’t all that great but the second was pretty much perfect. However when I added the welt pocket with flap to the design I forgot that my hem would be cut away at an angle which meant the pocket bag was sticking out significantly. I had to reduce it in size so it wouldn’t interfere with the hem; leading to a pocket I can hardly fit half my hand into SO the second one didn’t get a pocket bag just an ornamental pocket. The welt opens to a face backing.
I added a repurposed horsehair canvas as a shoulder plate as well.The shoulders were padded quite significantly in order to both support all that structured wool and balance the large (ish) peplum at the bottom. I carefully added a layer of fleece to pad up the shoulder pad and that helped to keep the line smooth and subtle..
Because the hem is curved I chose to use a make a faced hem to help weigh down the jacket. As well as small upholstery weights in the hem at the center back to keep the jacket pulling down nicely and a 3″ double layer of medium weight interfacing fused directly above the hem for a crisp hem. Oh and the hem facing pieces were interfaced twice using lightweight interfacing. I didnt want the hem to easily loose shape from being sat on IYSWIM.
The last thing that went in were the mock suede elbow patches which were a last minute addition. Sewn on blanket stitch style.
Did you use any interesting techniques?
Piped seams on the edges connecting the lining to the facing of the jacket. Used a floral bias tape to make for a cute contrast.
Setting the under collar by giving a steam bath. Ok this was the most fun – after interfacing with knit tricot I cut out a lower curved heavy weight interfacing to fuse to the the part where the collar would stand. Didn’t seem strong enough so I added another layer of medium weight and the stand seemed strong enough. They were sewn together. pressed the heck out of the seam then wrapped and pinned around mt tailors ham for a long steam bath during which it was blasted with a lot of steam. 24 hours later a beautifully shaped undercollar with a perfect roll. My spirits soared for at least two days until darkness fell when I realised that I had made the collar upside down !!I had to go lie down with a head compress. Restarted the whole process but without the time to do a steam bath. The second one sufficed But my collar would have been better lol.
Mitering a sleeve vent. I had fun with this again. Since this was a fake vent it needed a mitred corner. Again there was a lot of interfacaing on the sleeve hem and along the vent so that when folded it would a crisp neat finish. It felt a little bit like origami folding but easy with an online tutorial.
I loved catch stitching. Its a sing song way of stitching and my best memories of making this jacket revolve around catchstithing
What are you most proud of about this jacket?
1. Not giving up. There were moments where my spirits soared and moments when I retired to bad late at night vowing I am dropping out. Each morning I woke up with a renewed vigour. The reality is that my sewing journey (especially as a sewing blogger) is fraught with emotional land mines; dealing with the blogging process, reading my posts, settling on just the right idea for that next project. That can make me feel insecure and like a fraud.
I can’t sew! I have everyone fooled. I am an imposter. What made me think I could enter this with less than 2 years of sewing under my belt?
There are moments when I’ve been sure that everything I’ve made and written is garbage and I’m terrified I’m going to be found out. There are also some moments of loving my project. I think this is all a normal part of putting oneself out there on the interwebs.
But that insecurity is good because it’s that very insecurity that drives me to keep growing, keep learning, to be the best I can be.It’s part of the larger process of growing and developing not just as as a sewer but as as a person; it is not a question of “arriving” but more a discipline of figuring out how to keep going especially when I am feeling hateful towards my WIP or when things are going wrong.
2. ResourcefulnessThe only thing I bought were the buttons. Everything else came from stash or was re-purposed right down to horse hair canvas harvested from an old jacket that was in the kids fancy dress box, the shoulder pads from my old unworn jacket ( the pads were easy get to because the lining was ripped) I needed a chisel to slice open the button holes because of the thickness so I just borrowed chisels from the hubs’ shed. Using scraps of polar fleece for sleeve heads. Doubling up on interfacing to create the right weight instead of buying more.
3. I’ve learnt so much about foundations, structure, stability and manipulation that its been worth every minute. I am most proud of how it looks between the face fabric and the lining. The insides look like a hot mess; there’s a certain intimacy I have with it …like know its wearing naughty knickers inside ..but only I know that .
Why should YOU go on to the final round?
I frequently thought about how to answer this question. It turns out making it to Round 3 didnt automatically fill me with self-confidence and unending affection for my creations.
You have given me a sense of my own creative resourcefulness. Surprisingly the time constraint has allowed my creativity to thrive. The Sewing bee has provided a focus and a framework for it to flourish; the limits and obstacles spark my imagination. I have abilities in me that I didn’t even know I had. I’d love to go to the next round and see what other myths I will debunk about myself.
I have debunked the myth that I cant use super precious stash fabric so that means that I am finally unleashed on all sorts of amazingly gorgeous beautiful fabrics that I would use for Round 4!
The entries were quite stellar so I will not be bummed if I don’t get to the final. I am incredibly beyond proud of this jacket. Needless to say after all this work I feel that I can move from advanced beginner to Intermediate sewer! I hereby confer my own graduation :-). Do you have a project that made you realise you have leveled up?
Oh and here is my picture of my sewing cave as is…I haven’t been able to go in there (neither have I wanted to) since Sunday afternoon. Puts me to shame doesn’t it? And this is the most flattering angle…
Happy sewing everyone!