Monday, 11 August 2014

It's in the detail?

Hello again.

ETA Photos of finished jacket, Sunday 17th August 2014.

It's ages since I posted - not because I haven't been sewing but because I don't have anything completely finished to post.

I've been away from home for a few days at a time and had family visit - in the case of my middle daughter she has moved back in with all her stuff, hopefully on a temporary basis. Her stuff took over my sewing room!! So I had to be away from home to get anything done!!

As a treat for my birthday, from my mother, I went to a town near Chesterfield for a 3 day sewing break, near the beginning of July. I travelled by car, to carry all the stuff I took with me and arranged for hotel accommodation. I travelled down on the morning of the course, starting very early, but still managed to be a bit late because of traffic hold ups. Travelling on the morning and back at the end of the course meant I only had 2 nights away from home and only the cost of two nights hotel and food instead of 3 or even 4. I was very tired, though.

I had the tutor all to myself. In advance we had decided that I would make a jacket. From the patterns I already had, the tutor chose this jacket.


It's edge to edge, no notched collar, princess seamed, casual fit and raglan sleeved so she felt this was a suitable project. I decided to do a variation on view C but without the mock pocket flaps, using a wool tweed.

I was first measured and the size decided on. This was larger than I expected - normally I grade up two sizes from bust to hip but that wasn't necessary with choosing the same size for chest and hip. This pattern comes with a choice of cup size and we chose the C cup, although my bra size is D or DD depending on band size.

I pinned the pattern together and tried it on and the tutor agreed the size was good. She didn't feel I needed to lower the bust point as I usually end up doing - an advantage of the larger size.

I went on to make the basic jacket up as a muslin. This was a little tight across the upper back and the seam had to be released and a little added. That allowed me to move my arms forward properly. In addition, the sleeve needed to be lengthened. Far fewer adjustments than I usually make. It was yet to be seen if they were sufficient.

The jacket in the pattern was unlined with each seam finished with bias tape (a Hong Kong finish). I wanted a lined jacket and the tutor said that lining was as easy as bias tape, which would be very time consuming, in any case. I took the lining material I originally chose - a kind of satiny cotton which I got from my mother who can no longer sew due to visual problems. However, my regular sewing tutor felt that it would make slipping the sleeves on rather difficult so I purchased a regular lining fabric.

The jacket I chose didn't have pockets, simply what appeared to be pockets because of the external braid. Another version (A) did have an inseam pocket but I decided against that for fear it wouldn't lie properly. My regular sewing tutor had counselled against them. There were pocket flaps elsewhere on the jacket, depending on the version but I didn't want these.

So I went to Chesterfield with wool fabric, matching thread, toning lining material, yards of bias binding, yards of braid, fur hooks and buttons (you can see why I needed to go by car!). The tutor didn't like my braid (I had great problems trying to get suitable notions.), so together with the tutor I visited a local haberdashery, run by a man in his 80s - the shop was a real treasure trove. I did buy some rather expensive braid - but then later decided I'd prefer not to have braid at all!

One great thing that the tutor showed me how to do was to fully interface each piece of fabric - using different grades and types of interfacing, depending on the position on the jacket. She has a press and I loved using this to apply the interfacing - but no, I won't be buying one for myself! I don't have a photo of the beautifully interfaced pieces. 

 Front view - jacket closed. I'm standing a bit askew - the hems are level, honest!

 Originally, the front would have had buttons and self fabric loops instead of the fasteners I had to use.
 It could easily be worn open. Some of the other views are open or just have one fastener at the top.

I bagged the lining. I think it looks good. original jacket would have been unlined with bias bound seams. I'm just about to be carried off by the wind in this photo!

Excuse the photos and my facial expressions! It was blowing a gale but I didn't want to wait any longer as who knows when it would have got done!

With no braid and no pocket flaps there was a danger of the jacket looking too plain.  I decided to topstitch the princess seams. This, I think, looks very nice but it is rather subtle (not really a disadvantage in my book!). This took some time to achieve, using a triple stitch on the tutor's machine.  (I will add a photo later as my camera is playing up and I don't have a decent view) I also top stitched the cuffs (shown). I had to use a smaller seam allowance in stitching the cuff to the sleeve as I felt the sleeve still wasn't long enough - next time, I would lengthen it further. This photo shows my fabric, the cuff top stitched at both ends and the notch, which on the pattern is much deeper and has a button at the apex of the notch. I decided I preferred a gentler slope.


I constructed the collar, also top stitched, and attached.


Another problem I had was the closure. Depending on the jacket version,  there was either 1 closure at top but free elsewhere (A),  which didn't seem to make much sense in a jacket for colder weather, or no closure at the top and 4 fairly closely spaced together lower down (C - the version I was most closely following). The closures were loops of fabric on one side, buttons on the other. I took along the fur hooks because I feared the fabric was too thick to make loops - the tutor agreed. She suggested that the fur loops were the best option but that these should be sewn such that they peaked out between the lining and the interfacing. So I sewed the loops on, which took ages. I wasn't able to seam the facing and fabric together all the way because of the bulk of the metal covered fur hooks and the risk of needle breakage or worse, and the was no way I was going to be able to understitch. I machine stitched what I could and the tutor suggested I hand stitch in between.
This is a photo of the fur hooks. I didn't photograph when they were in situ between fabric and interfacing, I'm afraid. I'm sure you can imagine that it didn't look good!

I had watched a Craftsy class on how to make a lining for a jacket and reviewed it in the evenings when I had nothing better to do while away from home and on my own. I also looked at Sandra Betzina's instructions (in Power Sewing Step-by-Step). So I was ready to make the lining. However, to save time the tutor took me through the steps but made up the lining pattern herself. I was disappointed but realised that time was very short.

In fact, time had now run out!  My jacket was not finished.  The tutor ran through the remaining steps, involving finishing the closures and facing,  by hand, attaching the lining and hand stitching the sleeve lining to the cuff interfacing and the lining to the hem - she said this was just a couple of easy steps which I could manage.

So I decided to finish it at home.

My first problem was attaching the collar to the neckline, which I did while I was away but when I reviewed it, I decided it wasn't good enough. I ended up picking out and re-sewing twice. It's still not perfect but enough was enough! See photo above.

I didn't like the way the fur hooks were placed between the fabric and interfacing and didn't think it would look good.  My regular sewing class was the next day and my usual tutor agreed with this. I unpicked the stitching and all the fur hooks and eyes. I properly seamed and understitched and I was much happier with the finish.  My regular tutor showed me how to sew/cover the hooks with thread and I was going to attach them simply to the facing.  I wasn't happy, though. I experimented with loops made of the fabric, of the lining, of bias binding and searched my available haberdasheries for a solution. I felt there must be a better solution than the fur hooks!
This photo shows the little half belt at the back - also topstitched, with the buttons I would have used had I been able to make the self fabric closures.
In the meantime, I decided to bag the lining as per my online class. Thus would include machine sewing the lining to the cuff and to part of the bottom hem.  Well, I had problems. After I stitched it, I found that the sleeve was terribly puckered because the lining was too short. I felt I had a choice between making new sleeve linings or adding a band to each sleeve. This is what I choose to do. I had to add 3" plus seam allowances (I checked with my regular tutor to see if what I intended was sensible). My tutor also constructively criticised my lining insertion to the body as I had pulled too tightly at the curves; I unpicked and adjusted. I managed to attach the lining properly and also finished off as my tutor suggested, anchoring the lining and sleeve together under the arm and also at the seams as Craftsy advised.


My haberdashery search for suitable closures came up trumps. As there weren't enough available to make all the closures the same size, I opted for one small at the top and 3 large, which DH thought looked good. I ordered more to have a better choice. I sewed 1 small and 3 large - the large attached to one side only as I found that one of the hooks was faulty so I couldn't finish until the new stock arrived. I could have used all small but prefer the larger ones. I think they take the stark look away from the jacket.


Overall, I think the jacket looks good. I think it is perhaps a little too big across shoulders/chest and my regular tutor agreed, suggesting raglan shoulder pads. I did buy these and tried them but didn't like them - and they made the sleeve too short. In colder weather there will be room for a sweater. I think I will wear it.
Why no picture of the finished jacket yet? I decided I had sewed on the closures all wonky, tried to alter some and then decided to take them all off to redo but I haven't had time (or the inclination to be honest) to redo. So they are awaiting completion. I think I'm going to use 4 large closures. I will edit this post and put in a photo when I'm finished.

So was the class worthwhile? You know, I'm really not sure. It was good value,  despite having to travel so far and pay for hotel accommodation and meals,  the tutor was pleasant and knowledgeable, I had her to myself - and if I'd been at home there was no way I'd get 3 days to sew. However,  I had a lot of problems after I left and feel time in class would have been better spent actually fitting the lining,  for example,  than sewing on hooks, though of course things have to be done in the correct order. There was no way that the fur hooks were going to work attached the way she suggested and that wasted a lot of time both in class and afterwards.

If I cost up this jacket, it's very expensive - but a lot of the techniques I learned can be used elsewhere, so I'm not going to include the course cost. I'm not even going to include the cost of the unused yards of bias binding, the braid or fur hooks as they can be used another time - they've just added to my stash.

Fabric £18 per metre - 4.5 metres (though I have enough left to make at least a skirt) so say 3. £54
Lining £4 per metre 2.5 metres £10
Thread £4
Closures 1@1.35 and 3@1.55 £6 - now 4@1.55 £6.20
Total £74 now £74.20 - and a lot of time
 Do you think it was worth it?

Since drafting the above (while travelling on the train last week), my new closures have come in (I got a replacement for the faulty one with no problem). I started to sew on the closures on the other side (I had done the eye side but not the hook side) and realised that I hadn't done very well - the closures were not evenly spaced and did not lie horizontally. So, I unpicked them all. I've now decided to go with 4 large closures (DH liked the 1 small and 3 large, BTW). I think if I mark the fabric properly where I want the closures to go that will help - previously I put in the right place but they slipped.
Finished jacket!
My mother visited for a few days - she has just returned home - and really likes the jacket.


  1. Anne I enjoyed reading your post. I have this pattern, but haven't cut it yet. Your details are beautiful and I know you are happy that your mom likes the jacket.

    1. I replied but lost the reply! Thank you. It is now finished - and photographed in a strong wind and I will post on PR and MAGAM

  2. The jacket looks lovely, and I am assuming it fits nicely and you are happy with it (fasteners not withstanding). And I am assuming you learnt lots by having lessons and making the jacket. In which case, I think the money was well spent. Sewing is not always a cheap enterprise, but a nice jacket in the shops is not cheap either. Time - you will get quicker as you become more experienced. Certainly if one has other obligations, time becomes an issue. But I just look at sewing time as time well spent - I choose not to watch television or do other non productive activities, and prefer to make something. A day out trying to find clothes that fit is time not well spent with me!

    1. I'm having problems today - again I had replied. I'm relatively happy with jacket not 100% happy with fit and know what changes I would want to make next time. I know I will be speedier and I have learned a lot. I don't find shopping for garments fun (any more) as I have become more discriminating! Things I would previously have bought and probably been fairly happy with I would no longer buy. I still try to buy as I'm not fast enough to wear only me made. Maybe with extra practice that will change.

  3. Anne,
    You did a wonderful job on this coat.. I love it and it looks great on you.
    SO happy , you had the sewing get away for your birthday.How fun.

  4. Thank you. Yes, a lovely present from my mother. It seemed rather warm for a project in July - but autumn is definitely in the air here now.

  5. Thanks you for reviewing this pattern. You coat looks great. You've put a lot of work into it. I'm so glad you used hardware as your closure. They're fun to work with and the finish is so much better than RTW.

    1. Thank you. It did take a lot of work but I can say that I did it to the best of my ability. Maybe I'll look back and cringe but I'm happy for now!

  6. What a lovely jacket! It suits you so nicely. The closure fits the jacket very well as well. I guess I should have a 2nd look at this pattern now that I have seen your jacket.

    1. Thank you. I'm thinking I might like it in a crisper fabric, too - and I also wonder about a thicker or padded lining - but this wool takes a lot of beating.


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Please leave a comment. I welcome each and every one. I value criticism (constructive of course! ), love hints and tips and would appreciate suggestions for future direction.

Gifts for my new granddaughter

Gifts for my new granddaughter Since I last posted, I've been continuing with embroidery. I made a number of things for my then gr...