The Making Of: Jacket
I worked on this jacket–from cutting out to sewing on the button–for about 2-3 weeks. (By which I mean weeknights after work and weekends, in between engagements and stuff.) For the most part, it was a pleasant experience; the rough parts were pretty brutal, though!
My jacket is made mostly of a double weave wool/nylon/lycra suiting, but features wool sateen suiting accents (both originally for designer Maiyet, bought from Fabric Mart). The lycra content provides some pretty significant stretch, although it wasn’t really necessary for this jacket. The lining is a bemberg rayon. I had all of this fabric (and the hair canvas) already in stash, and didn’t have to buy a single thing except for the buttons (more of which later) and shoulder pads! In hindsight, the main fabric is a bit thick for this jacket, I think.
I didn’t do any tailoring on the jacket apart from making a back stay and using shoulder pads (1/4″, since my shoulders are square and support garments well on their own) and good quality interfacing (hair canvas and weft). I do wish I had made a sleeve head, though–that totally slipped my mind in the moment.
The pattern, Burda #127B 11/2012, is one I found about a month before the event. It wasn’t exactly what I originally wanted–I was picturing something between a boyfriend fit and this–but I’ve come to appreciate the shape of it. As to the draft, it’s Burda: they’re tough to beat for consistently well-drafted patterns. 😀 The jacket fits okay, but I didn’t change anything there–a mistake in hindsight, as I think it looks a bit like I made the wrong size. I made the smallest size, the 36. The only change I made was to eliminate the sleeve vents (there is no back vent); those aren’t something I would ever use, and I knew that finding that many buttons I was 100% happy with (and which matched whatever I used for the front button) in my time frame would be a huge pain in my ass for no purpose at all. But the pattern does include them, if you’re wanting that feature!
The jacket was not horrid to sew EXCEPT for the collar assembly. Chr*st on a Cracker, that was horrendous!!! I think part of my issue was that the stand isn’t integrated into the collar–it’s a separate piece. This created more bulk and attachment seams, and if I made this pattern again, I’d fuse those two pieces into one. It didn’t help that my wool/nylon/lycra suiting is quite thick and bouncy: it’s a double weave, and it requires very aggressive pressing/clapper application and tends to bounce back anyway. So all those layers of my material together in such a tight area was tough to cope with and shape effectively. I also foolishly didn’t remember to change the undercollar to 2 (slightly smaller) pieces. 😦
I honestly thought this jacket was doomed because of the collar area after I initially got it installed, but some encouragement from sewing peeps and a couple of days away from the project gave me the grit to Make It Work. In the end, I tacked/sewed some stuff down to get the collar to sit better. It’s not perfect–FAR from it–but it’s good enough for now. (This kills me, by the way–I am a perfectionist, for better or worse, and I cannot endure what I consider sub-par work on my own part. You know that adage, “Perfect is the enemy of good”? It is definitely NOT my motto…)
I ran into trouble with my lining, too. Somehow, it ended up being too small for the jacket–obviously I made an error someplace! I had enough lining left to cut a sizable strip and “patch” the lining between the back princess seams and the center back; this added more than enough ease for comfortable wearing. Luckily, my sleeve linings didn’t need any adjustments. But it turned out okay in the end: I bagged the entire lining, which I have only ever done on a skirt previously. It felt like sorcery!! The one thing that always confused me was how to sew the sleeves together; most photos I’ve seen create the illusion that you’re sewing them together flat, since it’s a really hard thing to photograph clearly. But I finally understood the mechanics and got the whole lining inserted successfully on the first try–sleeves and all! That was a happy moment. Grainline’s tutorial is probably the best one I’ve found online, by the way: definitely check it out if you’re looking for good, clear directions.
For me, the biggest highlights of this jacket are the pockets. I’ve never made a welt pocket of any kind before, but the tutorial by Kennis at Itch to Stitch is SO FREAKING AMAZING. Seriously, it is superb. Her method made so much sense to me, and was so clear that I didn’t bother doing a practice pocket. She has me motivated to make ALL THE JETTED POCKETSES, people.
One final problem? Finding a button. I have a lovely little collection of vintage glass buttons, some of which are jacket-sized. Unfortunately, all the ones I had were too big in proportion to the jacket, so I needed another option. I decided to cover a button in my wool sateen, but the shoddy kit I bought let me down DURING my party. It was a Dritz kit, and despite the package saying you can make the button by hand, I not only bent the first button with my tiny, pathetic hands (I should have taken that as a bad sign and quit right then), but Tom had to use a mallet to get the damn thing to lock in place in the end. My sateen isn’t very heavy, guys–it’s certainly lighter than some home dec fabrics, which this kit said it was good for. But hey, if it works it’s all worth it, right? Yeah, except that this button didn’t work. It fell apart as I unbuttoned the jacket to take some of the outfit photos in Part 1. I had unbuttoned/buttoned it maybe 10 or 11 times, all told. I was totally gutted. 😦
I fired off a very stern email to Dritz, demanding a refund and complaining about the poor quality of the kit. I actually heard back from them, too. They claim that I essentially bought the “wrong” version of this kit (the craft grade one) and that the “correct” version for my use is better (I’m soooooo sure it is…/sarcasm), but they’re refunding my money anyway. Gee, thanks. #not Seriously, how am I supposed to know that this version is total crap?? I certainly didn’t care that it said “craft” on the package, I just assumed I had the right thing. And don’t crafters deserve sturdy covered buttons just as much as garment sewers? I do love that Dritz basically admitted that one version of the kit is shit though…Fellow sewers, beware of Dritz button kits, unless you plan to frame that button and never use it!!
In the end, I ordered another vintage glass button in the right size (since I’ve made the buttonhole, there’s only 1 right size now!) that’s identical to the one I most wanted to use in the first place. It isn’t here yet, so you’re seeing this with no button–sorry!
So that’s the jacket–what a mess, huh? =/ But fortunately for me, most people won’t see the flaws, even though I certainly do. That said, I learned a lot and will approach my next jacket (or a coat) with a more confident attitude. And really, with a wearable (and not totally awful) jacket AND valuable lesson to show for it, this project was worthwhile.
Stay tuned for the final installment, which covers the simpler two pieces: the camisole and the trousers!