This fabric haunted me. I saw it on the Mood Fabrics website and just needed it in my life and wardrobe so decided to select it for one of my Mood Sewing Network makes.
And then of course I couldn’t decide what to make. This is typical Sew Busy Lizzy style. Buy a fabric and then spend HOURS picking a pattern… and unpicking a pattern… and picking a pattern… and unpicking a pattern… you get the idea… I get so sick of my indecisiveness. I guess that’s my creative process and I just have to live with it. This jacket was the nearlyMcCalls-nearlyBurda-nearlyVogue-and-finallyVanessaPouzet project!
I loved this Italian Carolina Herrera Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics NY as soon as I saw it. I’m a complete sucker for anything blue. I adored how the weave of this plaid produces almost a holographic look and graduates softly between black/white/blue. It’s not a harsh plaid with solid lines.
I had originally thought to sew McCalls 6442 (which I have always loved and had stashed for ages) however it just didn’t feel right for this fabric.
I had wanted to sew a more traditional coat but keep coming back to the idea of a waterfall/draped long-line loose jacket. I’ve always found it best to go with the heart when you sew. If you look at a fabric and immediately envisage it made up as a certain item of clothing… then go with that.
Strangely I like plaids, checks and ginghams if they are slightly messed up when sewn up. I like the juxtaposition of the orderly fabric pattern set with a design which throws out the regularity of the fabric print/weave. Others are the master of stripe and pattern matching such as Lauren aka The Mistress of Plaid who makes the most amazing things.
My Hot Mess Dress of 2013 is one of my favourite makes so I decided to find my ideal Messy Plaid Jacket pattern.
Then I stumbled across an image on Pinterest – I know that fabric… tweeted about the perfect coat and where could I find the pattern? Orange Lingerie suggested Burda 10-2012 #103 which I had in my stash – which is indeed the nearly perfect match…
So I made a super rough muslin, BurdaStyle patterns with their lack of seam allowance and somewhat wacky instructions always make me nervous… and while the coat fitted – the collar absolutely dwarfed me. Sorry no picture as I was ‘home alone’, the dog turned it into a sleeping mat for a week – and it rather grossed me out to put it back on after that!
I tweeted along the ‘woe is me’ lines about the lack of draped patterns for woven fabrics..
Then a miracle happened.
- The Perfect Nose tweeted a new jacket pattern called Eagle from Vanessa Pouzet – who I had never heard of…
- Vicki Kate Makes saw the design, thought it was just what I’d been looking for and tweeted me (thank you VK!)…
- I broke out into joyous celebration – the pattern was found… I tweeted and Stephanie of Love Teach Sew also purchased it. She has translated and made up the jacket – just not finished yet. She was enormously helpful in providing some assistance in understanding the pattern – not to mention encouragement – which I badly needed as I felt quite daunted by the project. Thank you so much Stephanie!
This pattern is in French, it has diagrams but they don’t convey the full construction process – and no I can’t speak French. Never mind I thought… there’s always Google Translate! Unfortunately I seriously think some Googlebot-thingie was doing a mechanical giggle as it translated for me as I just got more confused!
The construction is slightly unusual. I haven’t sewn too many jackets but I have never sewn a lined jacket with this order of construction.
- You sew lining and shell back pieces together along the hemline (leaving a gap for turning).
- You attach the shoulder pieces to the front shell and lining pieces.
- You sew the front shell and lining together along the front and hem seam. You turn them right side out.
- You then attach the back to the fronts along the side seams – overlapping the back hem (hard to explain but it makes sense as you sew it – you just need some blind faith) as the back is longer than the front until this point – you stop before the armhole.
- You sew the shoulder seams.
- You sew the neckline
- You then attach the sleeves to the lining and then the shell. Yes I’m serious.
- You then machine the sleeve hems. I personally love machining my jacket sleeves hems. It’s a bit of a brain buster the first time you do it – but it is worth learning.
- Turn right side out – and sew up the lower jacket hem.
Sorry, I’m writing from memory so I will amend the above construction order if I find it to be wrong when I find the pattern in my sewing room (my work life is at its annual peak right now so time is scarce) – however in essence this isn’t your ‘usual’ jacket construction – well not that’s I’ve experienced.
If you are nervous about plaids and all that pattern matching. Don’t be. Look for simple patterns or patterns where you can play with the plaid rather than be hemmed in by its rigid nature.
While this pattern may be draped, there was still some plaid matching to be done. To match the plaid I decided to cut the pieces out flat. So I created a full pattern piece for the back and two of the front piece so I could lay them flat and double check that all the plaid would intersect correctly at the side and front seams. I know you can pin your fabric, matching the plaids and cut on the fold… I just prefer this way…
And a confession… I often use a sharpie to trace around my patterns if I know that they excess fabric will be trimmed off. With a bond paper PDF it is so much easier than trying to pin it to the fabric. There – I’ve said it.
To match the sleeves, I cut these out last – after I had constructed the body of the jacket. I often work that way with pattern matching if I know I have plenty of fabric to play with – I cut out a piece at a time as I sew. I put the sleeveless jacket on my dressmaking form, held the paper pattern pieces up to the armhole and marked where the black plaids on the armhole were meeting the sleeve and marked this on the pattern piece. I then laid the marked pattern pieces on the fabric, matching up the plaid and the pattern marks and then cut out the sleeves. Due to the leather shoulder pieces it was impossible to match the back and the front. So I elected the match the front piece and front sleeve.
The shoulders are leather – cut from a piece gifted to me by my lovely friend Susan of Measure Twice, Cut Once from her stash. The shoulders also mean that there are a few less seams to pattern match. You can focus on matching the side seams and the fronts.
I think the full flare of this coat unbelted, it’s massive and swingy – perhaps swamping me a little but I love coats and tops that billow about. There is something fun and dramatic as they swing around your legs and body as you walk, especially if you walk as fast as I do!.
Wearing it unbelted, the jacket fronts hang with a single fold, when I belted it I folded them back to get a ‘plaid origami’ look. I also love how it transforms from a freeform coat into quite a soft feminine shape with a belt.
I must say, this jacket isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s mine (always black tea with two for me). The patterns isn’t particularly difficult… once you figure it out. Clearly I battled with my language limitations but it was a fun challenge.
And now I have a big snuggly jacket for my January holiday – yes January is still my summer but we will be in alpine Tasmania for a week which can be hot – or sometimes throwing down a bit of snow at that time of the year.
Fabric: Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting
Pattern: Eagle by Vanessa Pouzet (French, untranslated)
I’ve just got to say – this jacket epitomises the reasons why I love sewing and blogging. Lots of people helped and encouraged me. It was like being wrapped up in a big warm sewing hug when you ask for help. Corny but true. Thank you!
I went to Frocktails in Brisbane last weekend, I combined it with a work trip… I think I squashed in too many work appointments and took too much work with me – oh well, tax deductible travel I guess! So many lovely people… while this photo wasn’t taken at Frocktails it’s one of my favourite pictures of the weekend… this is me and my lovely sewing friend Busy Lizzie (I think it’s fate we launched our blogs within days of each other with the similar names – what are the chances?) who is so supportive in some many ways and has become a great friend. Mwah, you are a treasure!
This was taken at the lovely Marjorie Sews’ home – not only did she cook a cracking dinner but she also let us play with her hat collection… yes people she made these. Check Marjorie out on Instagram – so very very clever and an absolute sweetheart… and I do want to buy that red/white/blue hat one day Marjorie!
If you are in Brisbane sometime before 15 February 2015 then you must check out Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. I went and saw this with Lizzie and Marjorie. Loved it – thought it was fascinating. And I really do want to see Undressed: 30 Years of Underwear in Fashion and Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Why are there always too many things I want to see?! And then there is The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in Melbourne… argh!