French Jacket Class: Day 4

A new morning and a close inspection of my efforts last night highlight an additional few more spots where my pattern matching is off at the seams, so I kickstart the day unpicking, pinning and re-stitching.

And hour or so later and I’m ready for my second fitting, which – you guessed it – means a few more changes are required. Due to underlining with the batiste, the boucle doesn’t have as much ‘give’ in it as it would otherwise – the difference means I need a lot of extra space at the shoulders and to let out the princess seams at the fullest part of my bust. Also, I need an additional 1/2 inch of ease at each of the side seams. The one lesson I seem to keep learning over and over again is the importance of considering how the hand, weave and drape can affect the outcome you’re aiming for.

Frustratingly I forgot my camera today, so it’s dodgy iphone pictures to go…


The top line is the original seam line as per my muslin, and the line about 1-1.5″ below is my new seam line. Another good cause for super wide seam allowances!

Susan marks the spots of the new stitch lines and sends me back to re-baste, pin and sew the adjustments – I also add in a few more quilting lines now I have an extra inch of ease at the side seams. Quilting when the jacket pieces are joined is not something I would recommend….

It’s 2:30pm and after another quick try-on Susan says I’m good to go.

Time to start working on the sleeves! Susan pins one muslin sleeve to the jacket and makes any necessary adjustments:


Then we all gather around to watch her explain how to convert a two piece sleeve into a three piece sleeve, as well as the best place to position the sleeve vent so your buttons and trim end up in a flattering position on your forearm.


Most of us managed to adjust our sleeve pattern pieces and start cutting them out before having Susan demonstrate how to ‘clean up the seams’ at the end of the day.

Homework? There’s a lot.

– My sleeves need to be underlined then the seam lines traced.

– Lining for the sleeves needs to be cutout

– Quilting lines on all 6 sleeve pieces need to be pinned (I’ll do the sewing tomorrow)

–  The 5 vertical seams in the jacket need to be pressed, cut back the lining pinned in place and fell stitched together. I’ll probably do a lot of this tomorrow as it requires a sleeve board and a tailors ham, neither of which I have. (Susan’s was lent to one of the ladies who has to finish the class a day earlier).

But then disaster strikes!!

My fingernails are battle weary from all the hand sewing and beginning to catch on my super loose boucle. Inna’s Japanese hand sewing needles take no prisoners. Right about the time I’m cursing my lack of foresight in not including an emery board in my sewing kit, this happens:


Hopefully someone has an embroidery needle stashed in their supplies tomorrow so I can weave it back into place… tweezers weren’t quite up to the task.

At 11pm I settle in to burn the midnight oil with some hand stitching – and quickly decide that the fell stitch and I are going to become excellent friends. Probably a good thing really, because there is a LOT of fell stitching to be done – virtually all of the jacket’s insides is sewn shut this way.


I manage to get the two side seams sewn up before falling asleep. It’s actually starting to look like something other than a messy pile of scrappy fabric now!

Amazingly, I haven’t experienced the usual rollercoaster of increasing and flagging enthusiasm I usually do whilst sewing. You know how you get to a point and a project just kind of gives you the sh*ts? There’s been none of that. Maybe it’s the class atmosphere, maybe it’s the mindset of knowing you’re in the hands of someone who knows the process inside out.

I am kinda getting sick of the sight of lilac, though. You can guarantee that the fabric for next weeks project will NOT be any shade of purple…



    1. That would be pretty cool!! Unfortunately…. buying up the last of that orange and lilac fabric on the bolt meant there wasn’t anything left to spare. I’m not sure I could even squeeze a shortest of short mini skirts out of my scraps! Thanks Amanda :)

  1. I’m loving these posts too. I’m sure there will be an embroidery needle around somewhere to help you out. Can’t wait for tomorrows instalment :)

  2. I am riveted by these posts too. So so interesting. The suspense is killing me. Can hardly wait for each installment. So glad you are writing them up.

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying them :) It’s been a great way to document it all for me as it happened! I’ve still got a loooong way to go before finishing it though… all the little things that take all the time! Thanks Janelle :)

  3. Wow! You are lucky to have class with Susan! What a work … and these all is ahead of me. Thanks for all handy tips. I new I will have to watch out for different fabric drapes and I am curious how my boucle will work with silk organza… I will start my challenge soon. Success!

    1. Thank you! Actually I would steer away from using silk organza as an underlining – it’s too stiff. Get the cheapest of cheap batiste you can get your hands on – almost cheesecloth and super soft. You want the jacket to feel like a cardigan, not a jacket :) It’s super snuggly!!!

      1. Well, I have just made a dress using silk organza – it is not so bad. It is still soft. I have made the vintage vogue jacket using as underlining cotton batiste – true it is softer. I will have to make some testing – Thanks for this note! I am just about to cut silk organza … I can make two version. I have similar fabrics so I can test it and make one using silk organza and another with cotton battist. I think I take holidays first and have one week to think about it :-)

  4. Sighing with envy! But loving following your French Jacket journey. I think I have decided what my 50th birthday present to me is going to be…..

  5. Still loving your posts of each amazing day Melanie. I still think you are so generous to stay up so late and think of us all out in Blogland. Your blog about these classes has to be the best advertising for the French Jacket class with Susan.

    1. Thanks Lisa! For short time, yes… I was REALLY in struggle-town towards the end of the second week. Thankfully I’ve got a few days in Buffalo now to visit family before heading back home so no sewing until I’m back!

  6. O, I hear you on the weave and drape issue. So frustrating when your muslin fits but the real thing must have changes. My guess was the batiste would make your drape closer to that of the muslin than the combinations of your classmates who did not use underlining. Difficult stuff! Beautiful hand sewing!

    1. I think you’re pretty much on the money there, Marianne! I’m wondering how on earth I’ll be able to account for that when I’m attempting to sew one of these by myself though. Thank you!

  7. Wow!! So much handsewing! I, too, love a good fell stitch – it is my favorite of ALL the handstitches! Haha! That’s definitely the sort of statement that only a sewing nerd would say! Loving these posts, Melanie – thanks again for sharing!

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