Saturday, 22 September 2018

The big project of the year

Autumn jackets and winter coats - I've been thinking about outerwear for AGES.

And when I bought a lovely length of corduroy from the sale rail at my local fabric shop I knew it was going to be a jacket. That doesn't always happen, sometimes I buy fabric just because I have to - it's too beautiful to leave behind - and its destiny reveals itself sometime later. And in the meantime I build a store of fabrics, all neatly laundered, pressed and folded, waiting to be turned into something.

Now, I understand that there are people who do not have a fabric stash.

No stash.



Apparently they decide to make something, get the pattern, buy the fabric and set to.  I can't even...

Fancy NOT browsing the fabric shops and seeing something utterly delicious and being gripped with the sheer overwhelming need to own it.

Well, it's beyond my ken.

But the corduroy - duck-egg blue, with a slight stretch to it - that was always a jacket, from the moment we met.

Pattern-hunting was harder, I wanted something that would do it justice, princess seams, notched collar, single-breasted, unlined.

I love the Luffa jacket, but it was outside my size range and I didn't want to do loads of grading.

Eventually I decided on the Santiago from On The Cutting Floor.  It had pretty much all the details I wanted. It's a PDF, and it taped together relatively easily. I know some people don't like them but I don't mind PDFs. But I do have a dining table to tape them on which helps.

Luckily, just at the point I was ready to start, a local sewing classes shop started a weekly evening class of 6 sessions which I joined. It was just as well really. There were 3 of us and 2 tutors so the ratio was brilliant!

Details: I did a full bust adjustment, a bicep adjustment and lengthened it slightly. I also did a regular sleeve and left off the buttoned cuff detail.

I decided to finish my seams with a Hong Kong finish - enclosing them in bias binding. I happened to have a reel of Liberty Lawn bias which a friend gave me and which picked up the colour beautifully.

I changed from a patch pocket to welt pockets - just to preserve the clean sweep of the front.

The sleeves were a NIGHTMARE! For some reason the notches didn't match up at all so a great deal of it was good luck but eventually we got them together and in place. I lined them in some shot silk that was a total fluke for colour matching. I had just enough, there are literally scraps left!

And then I used the same Liberty lawn in a different colourway for the pockets and the hem binding - the pattern is called Mark.

 Once it was finished the weather was madly hot so I had to hang it up and not wear it for about 2 months! But now it's heading into Autumn it's cool enough to wear and I LOVE IT!

However, there are some issues with the pattern. I had two very experienced people helping me, people who have a combined total of about 80 sewing years. One of them is a teacher. And we had some significant problems with the pattern and the instructions. 

  • The sleeve notches mentioned above. The sleeve cap didn't actually have one and the rest generally didn't match up.
  • The sleeve pieces were really out of alignment , it was quite a hard job getting them to go together.
  • The front and sides didn't match up.
  • The under collar piece has no grain line.
  • There's no note of the seam allowance used, but then sometimes it refers to a seam allowance, so you don't know if this is the standard or a different s/a. I ended up asking the pattern-maker in her Facebook group. It's the same throughout.
  • The instructions look detailed but are actually really quite sketchy.  
  • The line drawings are hard to decipher.
  • The instructions pages are not numbered but say things like "refer to page 12".

All in all, it's a lot of small niggly things that made this slightly more difficult that it needed to be. With the adjustments and making a toile - I was given some swedish tracing paper for my birthday (thanks sis!) - it took me 3 weeks before I even got to sewing my good fabric. I ended up signing up for another 4 weeks to get it finished, and I'm really glad I did, I couldn't have done it without them.

In all this took me 30-35 hours to finish, and part of that is because of the problems I had. If I was to make it again I would probably use a standard jacket construction from a book or Threads or something! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the end result, but I can't honestly say I'd make it again as it's written...

Still, it's nice to wear and I am enjoying it very much!


  1. Very impressed indeed by your sewing skills - and the jacket looks great!

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