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Friday, April 29, 2016

My Little Black Jacket



(This is my second catch up post)...

Forget little black dresses, I just don't wear them.  Give me a cardigan jacket to throw on over whatever else I am wearing, and I am happy. Trouble is, I have never owned one, because they are too expensive for me and also don't fit.  So it was about time I turned to needle, thread, fabric and machine and make one to fit me.

I was also making this garment for the Make a Garment a Month challenge.  This month, the challenge was to find the oldest piece of fabric in your stash and make something from that.

I happened to have a very small piece of wool and mohair mercerized worsted fabric in the stash. only it was  a piece kept by a retired tailor, and it had lots of flaws in it.  Presumably he though he might one day find a use for it, just like we blogging sewers try and rationalize over pieces of really quite questionable pieces of fabric in the stash.  Total, 1.25 of 150 wide, with flaws to avoid.

I have had the piece in my stash for over 20 years, and as the tailor closed his business in the 70's, it probably dates back until at least then.

Well, it turned out that this fabric was as tough as old boots.  I washed it in hot water and it did not shrink.  I washed it again in hot water to make sure, and it did not shrink.  It practically drip dryed.

Lining was a piece of polyester pongee from Spotlight.  This is heavier than normal lining, which I thought the jacket needed, as the pattern does not call for interlining, and the wool was also quite firm.  I thought a heavier lining would also help to hide the seams better.

The pattern I used was McCalls 6041, OOP for some years, but a classic  Chanel type jacket shape that can be found in many pattern ranges:




It has been decades since I have made a jacket (with the exception of 2 knit jackets last year, but I mean a proper tailored jacket) -  so I guess this Crafty approach felt a little less threatening.  And it was a classic boxy cardigan-ey Chanel-ly looking cut which is what I wanted.

My main fitting problem with jackets and fitted shirts and dresses is my erect and narrow back. You don't find many people with this problem, and it took ages for me to work out what to do.  You actually fold out an amount of fabric at about the shoulder blade level, and then also through the sleeve at the same level , tapering to the middle of the sleeve.  Perfection!  No pooling in the middle of my back :).  I think I have always been a little frightened of doing this alteration.  Not now!!

Size - I cut size 12, B cup and narrowed the shoulders.  I added an extra 1/4 inch at the CF in case I needed it.  I also added just a smidge at the bust area - I am a B, but I have a bigger front than back, so I often just add a teeny bit in this area with a princess line.

I found the sleeves quite wide, so narrowed them to about size 8 from about the middle of the bicep area.  I removed 2 inches of length.  I added about 2 1/2 inches length, and made the pockets larger and deeper.  I moved them down about 1 1/2 inches so that they suited the adjusted length of the jacket.

I also cut a facing for the back - the pattern just runs the lining up to the neck.  I wanted more stability in this jacket, so an interfaced facing seemed a good idea.

The pattern called for 1.25 metres of fabric, and I just managed, with lots of manipulation, to miss all the flaws - the advantages of many pattern pieces.  And of course I  had lengthened the bodice pieces.  Mind you, I did get a headache laying this out, avoiding the flaws, - it took me ages.  Determination that this piece of flawed fabric, hoarded for so long, was not going into the wadder bin.

Making the jacket was quite straightforward, except for the behaviour of the worsted wool.  The seams would not press flat.  Steam and clapping ferociously did not work. I thought about calling it quits, but determination came to pay a visit again.  I decided to catch stitch the seam allowance to the jacket. A bit risky, but barely visible.  I thought about top stitching, but I wanted a classic look, not a sporty looks.


You can see slight ridges, but when I wear it, they are barely noticeable - the  jacket just looks good.

I added shoulder pads and wrapped the shoulder sleeve in a bit of wadding - not quite a sleeve head, but just to add some definition to the shoulder line.  The pattern did not use shoulder pads, but the jacket just looked sad.  Luckily I had some that were really almost flat, and they just made the shoulder line nice and smooth and a little more structured. They had been cut out of something I purchased years ago - I knew they would come in useful one day!

The lining was machined (and pongee is not fun to work with, it has no give whatsoever and did not co-operate at all, and it didn't want to press nicely either)...and then attached at the underarm by machine stitch. I decided to hand stitch the hems of the sleeves and body, because that is easier to undo if I have to get into the jacket again.  Or if I want to replace the lining one day - that will be the weak point in this jacket.

And I closed the front with large hooks and eyes.

I was going to add a trim to this jacket, but it looked cheaper with a trim than without it.  And also, a trim just made me look old an matronly.

Then I decided to top stitch by hand.  This didn't work that well, so I undid it and top-stitched the edges by machine.  I had to, to get them to lie flat!.

Little details:

Pockets - the top of these had interfacing applied.  I lined them with voile, because I hate the feel of lining on my hand.



Hook and eye closure - this is inside the jacket so nothing is visible from the outside - as you can see in the picture above :)


Bottom of jacket where the lining is folded for the hem pleat - I added a little guipure daisy to the corner because it looks a little more finished than the hand stitches - which while neat, sort of annoyed me at the corner.



And I also added one at the junction of the CB of the facing and the lining.  This was because I cut the facing out of the last two tiny pieces of wool, and had to add a seam down the back. The daisy sort of distracts the eye from the join:


 Oh, and I put in a label- I think with all the hand finishing on this jacket I had earned it :).

Now, pictures of the jacket actually on me:





It's a pity this is a black jacket because black just does not photograph well, does it?  But I think you can see the outline at least - and certainly the side view shows the back of the jacket hanging perfectly.  And the front is not gaping open at the tummy - my slight bust adjustment certainly helped with that.

( Certainly incongruous wearing sandals with a wool jacket, but it was about 27 degrees...)

I have to admit I was well out of practice with jacket making, but I seemed to have pulled it off.  This is going to be my tough as old boots throw in the boot of the car, the overhead plane locker etc sort of jacket - wash and wear, and made out of fabric that cost little.

Costing - fabric, nil, lining $12.00, Pattern, $20-00, interfacing, $2.00, wadding, $1.00, Needle and thread allowance, $7.50, Daisies and hooks and eyes, $1.50.  About $45.00.

That's it for now,  more catch up posts soon.

Sarah Liz

41 comments:

  1. A little black jacket always comes in handy. Very nice.

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  2. You really are an inspiration Sarah Liz. The jacket looks beautiful, and I was fascinated to read how you alter the pattern and make it work for you. The little lace daisies are a cute touch, and a good idea to emulate for those dodgy little corners we often encounter. Your jacket will be so useful for the cooler months.

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    1. Thank you Patricia :). When life settles down here I will have to write more detailed posts about fitting patterns. And dodgy bits - I use all sorts of subterfuge sometimes!

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  3. How can I participate in "Make a Garment a Month challenge"?

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    1. Hello, by now you should have found my comment on your blog telling you what to do. If not, you will need a facebook account. Email me, stylishsarah251@gmail.com - that way I will have an email address so I can send you an invite. We are selfish sewers only.

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  4. What a great jacket! You put a lot of work into it and have a jacket that fits you well and looks good.

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    1. Thank you Beverly - I quite like making jackets, even though they are quite hard work.

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  5. Your jacket turned out really beautiful! As for the seams, I 've read about a trick used by Savile Row tailors. They slide a bar of soap over the seams before pressing, really works!

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    1. Thank you Marianne - thanks for the tip, I will try it another time, or if I feel the need I can open this jacket up to repress with soap.

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  6. I love making things like this, knowing they will stay in my closet forever. Your new jacket is perfection!

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    1. Thanks Mary - yes, classic investment pieces are wonderful - especially with a memory of making it yourself attached to them.

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  7. Gorgeous!!!!! Everything about this jacket is terrific! You look great in it with obviously the great fit you achieved and fantastic finishing details. You will wear this so much as it will look good dressed up or dressed down. :)

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    1. Thank you Lisa, - it's a cut I love. Just have to wait for our weather to cool down - we seem to be having an Indian summer.

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  8. It turned out really well, Sarah! This is something you'll definitely wear a lot. I also love your label.

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    1. Thank you - yes, I like solid, wearable pieces like this.

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  9. Lovely details in the jacket. The label really makes it special. You look stunning!

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    1. Thank you Annie - glad to see you back.

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  10. I'd love to make a black jacket, but have never found the perfect fabric (at the right price). Enjoy wearing your jacket, with those cute little flowers hiding inside.

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    1. Thank you - and this fabric is far from perfect - sometimes a practice run while waiting for the perfect fabric is a good idea.

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  11. This is a fabulous look for you. You did an amazing job sewing it and should be extremely proud. I love it!

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  12. This is a fabulous look for you. You did an amazing job sewing it and should be extremely proud. I love it!

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  13. Perfection. It will be a wardrobe classic for years, well worth all that work. Wear it in good health.

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    1. Thank you Carole - and yes, health is all, isn't it?

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  14. This is a great jacket and I'm sure you will get a lot of wear out of it.

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  15. Awesomeness!

    This is a jacket that deserves many years of use.

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    1. Thank you - yes, it should get years, tough as old boots, the fabric...

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  16. Make a garment a month...? I think you are on Make a garment at least once a week right now!! You are sewing faster than I am able to comment. So lovely to see you have so much sewing time and making such lovely things too. Your jacket is great and it's just one of things that you should be able to wear over and over. The little daisies are so cute!

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    1. Yes, there have been lots of posts recently - I have been catching up. But at the moment I am slowing down as time is more pressured again!

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  17. Perfect little black jacket that is sure to be a most useful addition to your wardrobe. Beautiful finishing details too.

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    1. Thank you - and yes, finishing details can be great fun to do.

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  18. Your jacket is a great wardrobe-builder. I can see it mixed with a variety of garments. Nice!

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    1. Thank you - yes, it was meant to be one of those wear with everything wardrobe builders.

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  19. Your jacket looks great. Black is very useful, too, you'll be able to wear this in so many ways.

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    1. Thank you Anne, yes, a very useful jacket...

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  20. Your jacket looks great. Black is very useful, too, you'll be able to wear this in so many ways.

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  21. This is gorgeous, what a great make. You did so well to get this beauty cut out by avoiding those flaws. Good job.

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    1. Thank you Louise - I can tell you, it was quite a challenge working around the flaws.

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  22. Love love love your Sarah couture jacket! I think Jackets are in general much more versatile/useful than dresses in all seasons. I'm in my 'jacket-making mode' right now as well!

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