A jacket

When I finished work at 9pm this evening, I intended to go swimming. Maybe I pretended to myself I would go swimming. But instead I decided to FINALLY do this blog post. It’s only taken about 4 months. I finished this jacket at the end of April. And finally photographed it at the weekend.

So, I made a jacket. Woo Hoo! I actually finished some dressmaking!! (what is more, since I did this, I’ve also made (and decided to change, so not finished) a dress.

It’s this pattern (bought May 2008!), by Threads / Simplicity.

I had other plans for it, but some months ago I did that playing around with fabric thing and put these two together.

And here is the result.
The patterned fabric I bought years ago at Vianni’s in Portobello, London, when my Swiss friend was visiting and we had a fabric-shopping spree. We each bought tiny bits of delicate, beautiful handwoven Indian silk. Jenny and I had actually met in India and did quite a bit of fabric shopping but never came across anything like this. I think I had 30cm of this fabric. Maybe 40cm. Not much anyway. I always intended to use it for something like this, but it wasn’t until I found the dusky pink wool in a fabric shop a year or so ago, that I found the right partner for this silk.

So having these two lovely fabrics, I decided I wanted to make an effort with this jacket, not just whip it together. I wanted to play with some of the techniques I described in Sew It Up and actually use them in a garment, not just samples! I tried to fit in as many as I could, push myself a bit and use this as an example of how to personalise and improve on a commercial pattern simply through the fabrics and techniques used, rather than changing the design at all.

With fabric this special, I knew the buttons had to be good. I pondered my vintage button stash but nothing was quite right. Then I remembered that I am good friends with the button-maker to the stars. I sent her a scrap of the fabric and she came up with the most amazing buttons.

We discussed caring for the buttons and I decided bound button holes made in silk were a good way to go. These kind of handmade buttons need a generous-sized button hole to avoid damaging the threads and silk is always kindest to silk. So another challenge was born – silk edged bound buttonholes. Not much margin for error here!

They are not perfect, but they will do. I used my own recommended technique of silk organza to make the bound buttonholes.

And alongside the buttonholes, I wanted a band of flat piping separating the silk from the wool. I had *just* enough silk dupion scrap to piece together all the bias strip needed for this jacket, although it was a bit touch and go.

The yoke is interfaced with silk organza too, which has worked really nicely. It gives it plenty of body and shape but not any of the stiffness of an iron-on (do not like!). I heartily approve of this technique.

I also used the same silk to bind the hem on the jacket back and sleeves as it is unlined. I’m really pleased with how this came out. Technique is in Sew it Up.

I used French seams on the sleeves and mock-French seams on the armhole seams, so there are no raw edges visible on the inside.

The whole front is self-faced (the same fabric) and I used the pink wool to face the yoke too. Here you can see the inside of the bound buttonholes.

I hand stitched the front edges too. I love hand stitched edges. I used silk thread throughout as well which worked perfectly. The idea is that the thread vanishes more into the fabric and silk thread is best for silk and wool fabrics.

And just so you don’t think I am some kind of sewing perfectionist, here’s the inside edge where I didn’t manage to get a long enough piece of piping so it stuck out and had to be bodged together on the inside. But don’t tell anyone.

So there you go. That’s why it took me so long. I made it much more complicated than it was designed to be and I really really enjoyed making it.

The pattern is great, simple but stylish and (if you just follow the pattern instructions) easy to make. I might well make another one with this pattern in an easier, washable fabric. I never seem to have lightweight jackets so a simple pattern like this would probably be the answer. Although I have some pea-green velvet that should be next in line. But first I should finish my summer dress now that it’s autumn.

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