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V8333: The GGQB Blazer

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Vogue 8333, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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The Instructions
Like manna from heaven if you’re into the tailoring thing. It’s been said before that this pattern is worth its weight in gold purely for the 4 bits of paper that come with, and I honestly couldn’t agree more. If I were to make another of this from scratch and following the word to the letter, I would still learn something new.

Couture vs. RTW Construction
You have the option of using couture techniques, or the quicker route of using ready-to-wear techniques. I made View A (couture) instead of View B (RTW), which uses horse hair canvas at the front and silk organza as underlining everywhere else. My fabric was loosely woven so I interfaced all the pieces with a really lightweight fusible to keep the tears to a minimum.

The Collar
Sewing a notched collar shouldn’t be this easy. But it really is! I also love that the collar is made up of three pieces – a stand, upper and under collar. The latter is cut on the bias and shaped so that when you turn it out, the seam line is just ever so slightly on the underside, rather than on the fold so it’s visible. I think the term is ‘allowing for turn of cloth’?. 

The Waist
It’s not often I thrown on a jacket and have an instantly defined waist. Kudos to Claire for making a pattern that flatters one of my favourite sections of the female physique. 

Corporate vs Casual
I had bought enough fabric to make a matching skirt… but really I’m loving this as a weekend thing with jeans. My jacket from The Vogue Suit gets a lot of wear this way too (in fact, it’s easily the most worn item I’ve sewn yet), so now I can spread the wardrobe workload a bit. 

Hand Worked Buttonholes
Maybe this doesn’t quite deserve to be included in my favourite things. There’s something amiss with my technique because my buttonholes don’t look like Jeffery’s, Marina’s or Paco’s. But they have shred apart my belief that couture = fragile. You could launch a rocket through those button holes and have them hold. They ain’t going nowhere! 

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The Materials:
Fabric – Periwinkle Blue woven raw silk tussah from EmmaOneSock, and lemon yellow silk satin lining from Clegs. Inside you’ll find horsehair canvas, silk organza, nylon fusible interfacing and a truckload of hand stitching.
Buttons – in self covered fabric from Buttonmania. Click here for hand worked buttonhole resources like gimp and silk buttonhole twist.

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Other Stuff: 
Why the GGQB acronym you ask? It stands for Governor General Quentin Bryce – my inspiration for both the fabric colour and the style. What a woman.

There was only one part in the instructions that left me a little confused – where you are required to ‘tape the front’. It doesn’t specify what kind of tape one should be using. Thankfully, Claire also talks about this in her Couture Sewing book, where she said she uses strips of silk organza. So that’s exactly what I did (you can see my ‘immaculate’ fell stitching, pad stitching and tape application here). The only other thing is that there’s no telling when you’re supposed to remove the basting stitches. But hey, it’s hardly a life changing decision!

My love of both wearing and making tailored jackets is well set to continue… I’ve already got the fabric and the pattern for my next tailoring project-to-be safely stashed away! 

I’ll be entering this puppy into Pattern Review’s Lined Jacket Competition very shortly – so feel free to check out the competition (and my review here) and if you’ve been a PR member for 3 or more months – to vote! Preferably for me of course (voting starts September 1), but only as long as you think I’m worthy of it :)

***edit
I completely forgot to include some shots of the lining (click to enlarge), which is a requirement of the competition rules. So yay for more photos!

 

V8333: Hand worked buttonholes

Jeffery’s handy-work, from the amazing Made by Hand


Buttonholes have always instilled a bit of fear in me. Probably the whole thing around having spent a lot of effort in finishing a garment, only to slice holes in it. I’ve been racing against the clock to finish this jacket in time for the August 31 deadline, but I really want to try hand worked buttonholes, like the ones pictured above. Buttonhole porn if there ever were such a thing, I’m sure.

Seeing as I’m now no longer having lessons (with my seriously talented teacher) and can’t just roll up on a Saturday afternoon with all my questions any more, I went about some hand worked buttonhole research.

If you aren’t acquainted with Made by Hand - the Great Satorial Debate, a fabulous and incredibly instructive blog by Jeffery, then I highly recommend you pay a visit. He has a bit of a thing for hand worked button holes and I can totally see why. The more time I spend reading (and re-reading) his blog, the stronger my own buttonhole obsession gets. Oh yeah, and his blog is also a fabulous wealth of other couture tailoring information. Drool. 

There’s multiple types of hand worked buttonholes, with tailors around the world apparently jealously guarding the secrets to their particular techniques – I’ve got permission to pull a few images from Jeffery’s website for comparison to show.

Firstly you have the key-hole style buttonhole – which I suppose could be classed as being ‘utilitarian’ (if couture clothing could be described as such) because it’s practical and functional design is key in ensuring lasting wear from the garment, especially if the button being used has a shank. I love how you can see how precise each individual stitch is!

Keyhole buttonhole, from Made by Hand

Then there’s a more delicate version, left for jacket lapels where it’s unlikely it will ever be used, but looks stunning none-the-less:

The ‘Milanese’ buttonhole, from Made by Hand


Because I adore Jeffery’s work, I’m going entirely off his recommendations for supplies, and I’ve been waiting on various orders from around the globe to arrive that are transporting necessary hand worked buttonhole making goodies. I’m talking:

Gimp. Specifically, Agreman Gimp (made by Gutermann). A very strong thread used to reinforce buttonholes. It’s tricky stuff to get hold of, and there are two online sources that I can find: 
 - The Lining Company (UK)
 - Kenton Trimmings (UK)
The latter wont post to Australia though, so I went through the former.

Buttonhole Twist. The word is that Seta Bozzolo (literally ‘silk cocoon’ in Italian) silk thread from Italian Thread maker Cucirini Tre Stelle is the best to use. Some online suppliers if you’re interested in trying your hand:
 - La Rosa Blue (Italy)
 - Carmen Warehouse (USA)
 - Tristan Italian Threads (Canada)
I bought mine from Tristan (it arrived really quickly too!) and spent quite a long time just admiring the gorgeous sheen of the silk before threading up. When I went into Buttonmania to order some fabric covered buttons I noticed they had Gutermann silk buttonhole twist in stock – I bought some in the closest colour to match as well ($2.50 for 10m):

The silk comes in 10m lengths, which is apparently due to how the silk fibres are handled in the production process. The gimp is a giant 100m spool and it comes in a vast array of colours – I ended up choosing a neutral light brown. For visual reference I threw a standard 100m thread spool in there as well.

I’ve been practising these all weekend, starting with numero uno:


It’s certainly not something I’d feel comfortable parading in front of Claire Shaeffer, but it’s a starting point. I started on the bottom right and worked my way around clockwise – it’s pretty evident to me the second half is a lot nicer!! Half the trouble is knowing how far to ‘bite in’ with your stitches; unfortunately I’ve also managed to stretch the fabric out, presumably when pulling my stitches tight – which you can’t really see in the photo.


The Seta Bozolo silk thread is a dream to work with (once you’ve run it through some beeswax and ironed it in between some grease-proof paper – the first time I’ve tried this and it makes handling and sewing with silk thread a hassle-free experience). The Gutermann stuff is nice too but a bit thicker.

Maybe one day soon I can have mine looking like Jeffery’s (in the picture at the top of this post). Just. Ahmazing.

If you’re keen to try your own hand worked button holes – here are the resources I used:
Made by Hand
Frabjous Couture
The Cutter and Tailor (the best instructions I’ve come across yet)
A Tailor Made It
Paco Peralta
Vogue 8333 Instructions
Couture Sewing Techniques (book) by Claire Shaeffer

V8333: A Sucker for Punishment

Long and laborious – the two words perfect to describe the time and effort going into completing this jacket via Clare Shaeffer’s couture instructions. But having just come off the back of completing a coat, I’m clearly a sucker for punishment!

I’ve left this project on the back burner since early June, mainly because my Baby-its-cold-outside coat took precedence (it being winter here and all), but also because I heard whisperings of Pattern Review having a lined jacket competition this August. I do love a competition! So I toiled, fitted, had buttons covered, hoarded notions and practised my hand sewing until the start date was confirmed. 

Kicking off on the first of August I was lucky enough to have a relatively free weekend to get started. I did have a pesky exam last week for my post-grad studies, but now that’s over an done with I’m going to have to muster all the sewing effort I can to get this done. With two weeks to go, progress is moving along swiftly. So it might not be as much of a rush to get it done in time as I originally thought.

I’ve been doing something a bit out of the ordinary – following the instructions… to the letter! Mostly because I want to get the most out of Claire Shaeffer’s couture tips, but also because after having to think hard about how to put my previous sewing project together I wanted to not have to think, ya’know?

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m significantly more efficient because I am following the instructions. When I complete one task, I tick it off and immediately start on the next one, rather than getting distracted daydreaming about it being finished and trying to conjure up which thing I could do next, checking my blogroll or admiring my fabric stash. For me, sewing without instructions always ends up being like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books, where I always seemed to die every time I made the next choice, so I’d have to go back and try a different decision route. It was a time consuming and not very satisfying way to read a story (this is where the tenuous connection with sewing comes in). Did anyone actually ever read one of those and NOT die?

Anyway! Here are some under construction photos of developments to date…


Having previously looked at thimbles and been suspicious of why one would ever need such a thing, I now understand them. My poor middle finger (and thumb to a lesser extent) has been bruised and battered with all the hand sewing. And this photo is of my finger more than a week after most of the damage (it would have been a bit too gruesome to show the fresh wounds). 


Are you an instruction follower? 
Happy Friday everyone :)

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F2570: Baby, it’s cold outside!

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Or at least, it was when I started making this coat. I got a bit worried at one point when the sun started actually coming out during the day, but now we’re back to being super chilly again, so all is well! (?) Serves me right for making a coat towards the end of winter, eh? No matter – I’m totally in lust with this creation anyway – to the extent that my gripes about Marfy patterns not coming with lining doesn’t even impact my cheshire cat grin. (No lining pattern? WTF?!?!) 

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That issue aside, this project was obviously a LOT more complex than my first Marfy pattern – the pleated front blouse which had a grand total of 4 pattern pieces. I tackled this pattern by sewing up a toile and practising the bits I was unsure of until I got them right, in addition to getting the fit right. I used this process to develop a bit of a construction order running sheet too – after all, methodical is my middle name. Although I’d be lying through my teeth if I said there wasn’t at least 3 times where I threw my test run on the ground in frustration and griped to Mr poppykettle about how un-enjoyable and frustrating sewing can be!

But the best part about dealing with all the issues during the toile phase is that when it came to actually making the final version of the blasted thing, I could afford to just concentrate on sewing, safe in the knowledge that a) it fit me well and b) I knew how to put it together. Good thing too, because it required a mammoth effort.

What I really love about the finished garment is the pockets – unlike normal coats where pockets are a part of the side or princess seams, these pockets are totally ergonomic. I don’t even have to look or think where to place my hands into these babies – they just slide in! Not to mention that the pocket bags are deep and extra spacious – I can practically dangle my arms around in them without meeting any fabric resistance. Tick!

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The hardest thing I find with sewing a pattern from an ‘untried’ pattern company is knowing how much ease they include versus what you consider to be appropriate. I bought a size 46 pattern which is designed for a bust of 96cm. Made up to specification before I altered the pattern to fit, the bust measurement of the finished garment was 111cm. My bust measurement sits at 99cm, so the ease was just on the larger side of being perfect for me here – I took it down to about 106cm. Our winters might be cold, but not cold enough that I need to wear excessive layers underneath :) As the pattern seemed to have minimal shaping at the waist and hips (in comparison to my measurements anyway), I took in all of the seams around here to prevent it taking on the appearance of a paper bag. It still looks pretty straight up and down without the belt though.

The sleeves also caused significant headaches. They are absolutely my point of contention in sewing. Had I been using one of the recommended fabrics (cashmere, vicuña – drool) the amount of ease allowed for in the sleeve head wouldn’t have been an issue to include. But the canvas I used was significantly more unforgiving in this regard, and there didn’t seem to be a way to incorporate the ease without some significant and unsightly puckers and gathers. After altering and resetting the sleeve on my toile multiple times, I gave up and went back to my tried and true sleeve pattern from V8333. Can I just say yet again how much I LOVE this sleeve? It’s the third time I’ve appropriated it! I still had to altered slightly, and the result isn’t perfect, but it’s a bucketload better than Marfy’s sleeve.

And as always, it’s the little things about sewing a garment that draw me in. So now that you’ve had a chance to view the forest (so to speak) - shall we look at the leaves? 

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The main fabric is an oatmeal coloured canvas, the yellow detailing is from the leftover stretch cotton from my Caramel Slice Marfy and the lining is a striped viscose/acetate (Fendi Lining #8) – a Tessuti Trifecta! I bought the canvas yonks ago in the thought that I’d be making the iconic McCalls 5525 trench coat – for some reason I though I needed 6m of fabric for this (I must have done something stupid in the conversion from yards to meters…) I ended up using 3.1m for this coat. And to think I was worried I might not have enough. What a dill!!!! Good thing it was inexpensive, but still the wastage from my lapse in reasoning really ticks me off. I might have to make the 5525 for a friend to use it up…

In other matters, this coat was an absolute thread HOG. I’m talking nearly 3 whole 100m thingies of normal thread, quite a bit of silk thread and 2x30m thingies of topstitching thread (Do those thingies have names?). Sheesh! Its the first time I’ve used proper top-stitching thread – it’s like rope in comparison to your standard everyday stuff. I had to hoick my machine’s tension up to 8 before the bobbin thread started to behave though – thats totally hardcore.

The buttons are vintage horn in a pale tortoise-shell, acquired from L’ucello. I was actually on my way into Buttonmania to see what they had to offer, but the entrance to this little shop (on the same level) caught my eye and I’m super glad I went in – it’s really beautiful and full of all sorts of yummy vintage haberdashery. They don’t have a website yet but their blog gives you a good indication of the yummy things they stock. Do stop by if you’re in the area – you won’t regret it! I used some small transparent buttons on the reverse side to stabilise the buttons you actually see – its a good way of taking some of the stress away from the fabric (and I totally copied it from one of my RTW garments).

I made a few changes to the pattern – like making the sleeve cuffs long enough to go around the entire sleeve, changing the belt to a longer style (and adding in belt loops at the side) and including at the centre back seam a knotted thread connecting the jacket and the belt, an idea I stole from my RTW green trench coat. It was the first time I’ve used by automatic buttonhole foot too and it worked like a charm (I used this on the cuffs only) and the end result is really good. I used bound buttons holes at the front. Drafting the lining was a new challenge – and it seems to have worked successfully too. Win!

The yellow curved welt pockets needed a partner in crime – it looked a bit odd and unbalanced with just a single splash of colour. Having a matching trim around the sleeve cuffs evened this out nicely I thought.

Even after all the hard work and frustration, this coat has been totally worth it. I just know I’m gunna love wearing it! Will it replace the spot in my heart where my green trench coat resides? Only time will tell… 

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F2570: WIP

I’ve been having a ball getting stuck into this Marfy coat pattern, but it’s thrown me a few curve balls, to use that universally understood American euphemism. Namely:
 - There are no pattern pieces for the lining;
 - I need to figure out how to do curved welt pockets,

Yikes. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find a lot of information on the interwebs around drafting lining pieces (like this resource by Sherry from Pattern Scissors Cloth), and it took many practise versions (and abject failures) to get a good finish on the curved welts. There was one blog post by Jilly Be Joyful who did a curved welt on a Japanese-style robe, which got me started. Still confusing as all hell though!!!

My first attempt at the curved welt pocket (photo on the left) – used the bias strip pattern piece included and just doesn’t sit flat – there’s a very definite ripple along the fold line of that bias strip. I attempted the same style again with different types of interfacing and that didn’t work either. For the final acceptable result (on the right) I drafted a pattern piece to match the curve and sewed them together so there’s a seam on the welt edge – giving a much nicer, flatter and more stable result:

Initially I completely over-thought the curved welt pocket process – it’s actually very simple once you get your head around the process. The single welts I’ve done in the past have had the same backbones as a double welt pocket, whereas these are a true single welt – the kind you see on RTW coats (funny that). 

The main difference is that previously the welt’s I’ve made (like on my Sweet Shorts and Crimson Clovers) have been underneath the fabric, whereas these welts sit on top of the fabric. 

Thankfully I’ve also been able to work on things other than welts, so here’s where we are so far :)