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 :)



  1. How beautiful is that – I love those stitches – great work!! As for instructions, have done both, but definitely get better and faster results just following the instructions and ticking as you have done. Good luck with the competition.

  2. love seeing the interior work! this is looking beautiful already. i hear you on following instructions– whenever i go my own way i agonize over the steps and what order to do everything. it literally keeps me up at night!

  3. It is crazy how smoothly projects move along when we follow the patterns. I one hundred percent agree! Why we don't take this route – including me – baffles me! Sorry about your war wounds – middle finger and thumb – but it's well worth it! No pain no gain!

  4. Not an instruction follower. My excuse is that I make lots of BurdaStyle patterns, and their instructions are often dreadful. LOL about your description of your distractions. That's me too!

  5. The color of your jacket is so fresh! I try to follow the instructions unless they are awfully written. But even then, I try to research on the techniques I'll be using, the way to assemble a garment, write it all down in my notepad and, only then, sew. Looking forward to seeing the jacket in action!

  6. I'm really not an instruction follower, plus i'd rather draft my own pattern and by the time I'm sewing it I've already got it straightened out in my head how I want to go about construction.I love the colour of your fabric, your hand stitching looks awesome. I look forward to seeing more of this project!

  7. I always died in those books. Always. Ha. An I do try and follow instructions but I sometimes can't help it but think I know better… Wich is obviously not always the case! Your jacket looks positively fabulous, I can't wait to see the results (even though I really enjoy construction posts)

  8. If you're a sucker for punishment, at least you're a well-dressed one! Love the colour of that jacket; it's gonna be amazing on you!LOL I always died too but if you keep your finger on the page where you took that last turn you could always go back & try again – too bad life wasn't that simple! ^__^I'm still too green to not follow instructions but I'm approaching the point where I can envision veering off the path from time to time :)

  9. Oooooh! I am already excited to see the finished product, even if you aren't there yet. I usually follow instructions (at least, the first time I make something, in case there is anything weird to the construction, or useful insights to be gained), but if I have made a particular pattern multiple times I usually go without. Or I skip or change steps to do it my way. I really want to try the pattern you are working on because I have heard that the instructions are beyond fabulous (though time consuming!). Can't wait to see the progress on your jacket (and it looks like the innards are going to be as beautiful as the outside).

  10. I love this! it's my dream to make a jacket the couture way! I think I might try this when winter will be closer to us!Is the book you're referring to Couture Sewing Techniques? I'm thinking of buying it! I really want a book that can help me to tailor a jacket in a couture fashion.

  11. I ALWAYS died. But your pad stitching is looking fantastic! It really depends on the instructions. If they are really good then I will follow them to the letter. If there is a better order of construction or I have preferred methods for zippers or something like that, then I go my own way. Since I seem to sew a lot of Burda, it's more a matter of figuring out what the heck they mean.

  12. It's getting close! The instructions for this pattern are definitely special. Talk about 8 pages? There have been a couple of times I've needed to refer to her book, Couture Sewing Techniques, but otherwise I've been learning heaps. The pattern is worth its weight in gold for the instructions!

  13. Definitiely add that book to your sewing library if you're able. It's fabulous!! I would highly recommend this pattern too though because of the instructions. Between the book and the instructions you'd have an AMAZING starting point to try tailoring :)

  14. I've had this jacket on the back burner for awhile now, too. The pattern pieces are all cut out, but not a stitch has been sewn. Things are too hectic around here for me to get back to it just yet, but I'm going to really enjoy following you on your journey. Your hand stitches are lovely and will serve as my inspiration when I finally move forward. Good luck!

  15. Hi poppykettle, I am trying this exact pattern to make a jacket for the first time and enter it in the Minnesota Sate Fair competition. I am a beginner at tailoring (and sewing) but I really like a challenge. I just had a question about the “underlining” versus “lining”. Is there a difference? I am doing the couture version with sew-in hair canvas, but am unsure if the “underlining” is refering to just hair canvas, or is that the silk organza pieces too? Is there then a separate “lining” that is sompletely silk organza? Not sure because she lists all three in the notions list.

    1. Hi Natalie :) Yes, there is a difference! Underlining is treated in the same manner as the pattern pieces you see on the outside – your fabric and underlining are joined together and sewn as one. Where as lining is a separate layer sewn on it’s own and joined to the garment. This is a great article on the issue: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4999/understanding-underlining
      It’s been a while since I’ve made that pattern so my memory is a little foggy, but I’d recommend paying close attention to the way the sketches in the instructions are coloured in – this indicated whether it’s your fashion fabric, underlining, lining or horsehair canvas. Goodluck!

  16. Thank you so much for your reply! I found it to be very helpful! The jacket is coming along slowly but surely and I hope to post a pic of the finished product- by mid August. I just ordered the lining- a royal purple silk organza, to go with my 100% gray wool suiting fabric.

  17. I know this is a waaay old post, but FYI…. ‘thingies’ are spools. A spool of thread. Someone prolly told you by now. If it’s a kind of ball wound round a flat board, it’s a ‘clue’ of thread, and then you got the regular ‘ball’, with no centre.

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