The first half of this year gave me an incredible amount of time to ponder my sewing style, and as a result of having a bit of distance from the actual act of sewing anything ‘normal’, I’m finally beginning to feel like I have a bit of direction to curate my ‘to-sew’ list. Simply put, I’m happy to buy basics and to put my sewing skills (and limited sewing time) to use creating beautiful, structural and really well made items that fit in with my basics.
It’ll be quite a long while until you see another dress on this blog – and I want to get back to sewing what I love most – jackets. I’m excited about it because there’s still so much I want to ‘get right’ in this area of sewing skills, mostly around setting in sleeves and getting them to look really professional. It’s the main area I really notice as being sub-standard on all the (non-French!) jackets, coats and blazers I’ve made to date.
So, I’ve started out on two jacket projects which I’ll be working on either exclusively or in the background when I’m enticed away to sew something else.
The first, a gift for my Mum – as she’s having quite a significant birthday event in early May next year. It will be a French Jacket, in a boucle I got from B&Js. It’s a lightweight fabric because Brisbanites don’t get nearly as many chances to wear jackets as we do further South! It will be tough to work with, as it’s already fraying like a Beast…
It will also mean interstate trips for fitting – the first of which is already done to adjust the muslin and so she could select the lining from a bunch of samples I took up with me.
Mum is virtually identical in body shape to me (although I guess it’s technically me that’s identical to her) so her adjustments were minimal as the Vogue 7975 pattern fits her nearly as well as it did to me.
I’ve already cut out and begun the basting process… fun times ahead :)
The second Jacket project is for me, and the intent is for it to be a hybrid between French and Tailored. I’ll be sewing with Marfy 3348, which was one of the free patterns that came with the 2014 catalogue (you can also buy it online – they have pdf now, whoohoo!):
The collar and front facing will be tailored – pad stitched and horsehair canvas – while the rest of the jacket will be quilted. Although I’ve yet to test out the quilting for this fabric combination so that may change based on how well it turns out. This project was inspired by Leisa’s tailored/French hybrid with Marfy 3182, which you can read about here.
My fabric is one of those special fabrics that you hoard until the ‘right’ moment, although this is probably less of a ‘right’ moment and more of a ‘can’t wait any longer’ moment. I’m not a patient person.
It’s a cream and mint boucle, from one of my favourite shops – Stitches to Style.
The current plan is to underline the parts of the jacket that will be quilted with some lamsbwool (from A Fashionable Stitch) so as to keep the balance between the weight of the front which will be backed with horsehair canvas. The lambswool is deliciously soft, but not very amenable to staying on grain!
But I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be setting in the sleeves, or hand sewing them in to get that lovely soft shoulder curve that my French Jacket has. Potentially they’ll be set in as getting the right location for hand sewing may be a bit too challenging on my own. We’ll see.
The Marfy pattern as intended has a contrast section at the collar which I’d original though to use the lining for. After making and adjusting my muslin, the collar feels a bit smaller than I was envisaging, so I’m thinking of using a matching pale cream charmuese here instead – using the illusion of colour to visually cheat and make it look a little bigger.
The jacket pattern is only slightly fitted – of course, it fit really very well out of the packet – just with the need for a bit of extra boob space. I did flirt with leaving it otherwise unadjusted – but decided in the end that having a non-waist-defining jacket wouldn’t be doing me many favours. So I did pin in the side and princess seams slightly to get a closer fit, and I more than likely will add more space at the upper arms. I can determine that better at the first basted-together fitting, as my fabrics will be thicker than my mock-up! Thank goodness for large seam allowances, as they really do allow you to take into account the differences between how the toile’s fabric and the final fabric react to the pattern.
Also, simple things like the fact that the upper and lower collar pieces allow for turn of cloth make me smile. The sleeve cap looked fabulous just in the muslin, too. Here’s the final, adjusted, un-clipped and un-pressed muslin… gosh they always look terrible on camera:
I finally go to try out the walking foot on my machine, to see how the combination of fabric, lambswool and charmuese worked with quilting:
Totally luxe and lovely on the inside… but the lines do show through somewhat on the outside (probably due to the loft of the lambswool).
For now I’ll most likely power forward on my mum’s French Jacket (because I know what I’m doing there) so I can ponder just how I’m going to bring all those elements together into the Marfy Jacket and decide whether I’m willing to ‘go Jackie O’ (I’ve read that apparently on some of Jackie Kennedy’s Chanel Jackets, the quilting lines were visible). In the meantime, I’ll be posting progress shots on instagram, of course.
Gorgeous fabrics for both jackets. I’m looking forward to seeing how your hybrid jacket turns out, I still haven’t made a French style jacket for me (waiting to find the perfect material).
I’m still struggling to perfect the right shoulder width/armscye shape in jackets too, I never noticed it when I first started sewing but it makes the difference between a comfortable jacket and one that I never wear. Your hybrid jackets fit is amazing, it should look fantastic when finished!
Oh yes, waiting for the perfect fabric! It’s a challenging fabric to come by something you really like, especially as it’s such a labour of love.
Whilst I’ve still got a lot to learn in this area of sewing, I found that picking the pattern size that fits my shoulders (not bust, waist or hip) made a huge difference to getting everything in the right place. Not many patterns have fitting information for this area of the body though! So I took measurements of RTW jackets that fit me well and used that to pick my size by comparing the finished garment measurements.
Thanks Suzy :)
I totally agree about the right fabric, its so many hours that cheapy fabric just isn’t worth the time involved.
I’ve been going by my high bust measurement (then doing a FBA) but I think my shoulders must be narrower again than it (I always thought I had wide shoulders so there you go!). I don’t have any current RTW jackets but I do have a tape measure and it might be time to go snoop shopping and measure some up!
Snoop shopping! Genius idea. Especially if the change rooms have that three-mirror setup so you can see the back without twisting round! Take the width across the shoulder back from sleeve cap to sleeve cap and you’re sorted! Goodluck :)
Mel, I am always inspired by your posts and reading your thoughts – not to mention the gorgeous fabrics you (& your mum) choose – just a Monday morning musing, and a thank you for providing my reading pleasure today ;)
My pleasure, Nic! Looking forward to seeing you at the next Social Sewing :)
I have been working on a very similar project this week! A channel stitched boucle full skirt backed with silk organza. Yay to slow sewing!
Yay indeed! Thanks Justine :)
I recently bought ‘The Couture Cardigan’ and it mentions that the visible quilting used to be a status symbol, as the Chanel copies weren’t quilted. :-)
Oh I knew I’d read something like that somewhere, but couldn’t recall for the life of me where. Haha, thanks Mel!
Hey Melanie, the whole perfect sleeve thing is a current project of mine too! Particularly the ease/no ease thing, a la Kathleen Fasanella…. I found a great post the other day which really clarified the whole sleeve/shoulder dilemma- you might find it useful… ikatbag.com – the March 03,2014 post on drafting sleeves… Like you, I only put my sewing effort into great jackets/coats etc now – and buy the basics. But always on the hunt to improve/ learn a better way to do things. Good luck!
Thanks for the link, Robyn, I’ll look forward to reading into it tonight! Kathleen’s work and thoughts are always so interesting to read – she’s a real wealth of information, so I might go back through her posts on that and have a refresher. The first jacket sleeve I was happy with (ever) was when I sewed my muslin for my French Jacket before the Susan Khalje class. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was… and it was in muslin! That was the absolute selling point for the ‘couture’ way of sewing with the seam lines, rather than the seam allowances, for me. But beyond that, I know there’s still so much more to learn, most of which can only be absorbed by doing, failing, and trying again. Here’s to the learning curve! Cheers Robyn :)
These are going to be fun and fascinating projects for all of us to follow as you make progress. As always, I like to see and read about the details. The mint fabric is gorgeous, and, honestly, in the photo, the quilting lines are barely, barely visible, so my guess is that you’ll be fine with the three layers.
Actually after I took those photos I tried it again with less tension, and found it reduced the indentation quite a bit. Still noticeable, but only if you were looking for it. As always it’s a very challenging detail to capture on camera! I’m really excited about getting stuck into these. If only I didn’t have to work! ;)
I think you’re a very patient person. Working on both of these work of art take patience and you have the skills to make these work too.
Thanks Maria :)
Just curious how you manage to do your adjustments on your muslin by yourself or do you have help. It’s the one thing that prevents me from doing more sewing as there is quite a lot of adjustments in a commercial pattern. If the fit isn’t good it feel like time wasted.
Hi Suellen :) I think it’s a lucky combination of not requiring much adjustment and a few other things. I started sewing with pattern sizes that were based on my shoulder measurements, rather than my bust – it made a huge difference to how much fitting was required. If you look at the jacket above – had I bought the size based on my bust (which would be a size larger), I would have had a LOT of changes to make around the shoulders. And they’d be difficult changes, too! But buying the size that fits my shoulders (easy, because Marfy has these measurements. For other patterns, I measure a RTW that fits nicely and compare to the finished garment measurements) means you fit top down. And as your shoulders don’t change shape at the rate the softer, squishier parts of your body do, it’s a great starting point. I guess I’m also lucky because I have broad shoulders – which makes it easy to take in to fit from the shoulders down. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious to you! Otherwise, I pin in the mirror where I can, take it off and adjust the pins and try on again. I get quite a few scratches in the process, but it’s worth it!
Very interesting and I find I have been moving in the same direction to wanting to focus on for me both coats and jackets and do slow sewing with a focus on beautiful techniques and fit. Ive been droolling over every post I can find about tailored jackets and great techniques including your makes so I am very pleased you are making these two patterns. Im going to really enjoy reading along.
Oh I’m hearing you – make your sewing time count! Much like with your sewalong with Maria – take the time to do it well, and it will be a jacket/coat to wear for years to come. It shows through in your sewing too, you make really beautiful and well made things already :)
That’s a couple of very ambition projects. I’m sure your Mum will be happy and proud to wear her version!
I certainly hope so :)
i love your ambitious projects! i’ve been itching to do a jacket and/or coat, so i look forward to seeing these posts. even though i skew more toward basics sewing (with a few pretty dresses thrown in) i love to soak up info on more involved projects. the fabrics you have are gorgeous!
And I love your practical sewing – and how you always bring the combo of well-made, functional AND good looking to the table. Not to mention I still have some purpose-bought stable knit fabric sitting in the stash waiting to copy your knit blazer! Thanks Lisa :)
I love watching your coat progress. It is so fascinating, even though I would never make one myself (totally not my style), I love seeing your techniques and the process.
Those fabrics are just divine too.
You know it’s funny, I always feel a little ‘boring’ when I post in progress shots. Which is weird because I love reading other peoples construction posts, and I always get such a lovely, positive response for the ones I write. Thanks though :) Beautiful fabric is an obsession of mine… You’re coming to frocktails of course yes? Looking forward to seeing you there again!
I love your posts on construction. Your patience and attention to detail never fail to impress me.
I am definitely coming to Frocktails – in fact I had better book that :) Any idea where we are planning on staying?
The fabric for your Mum’s French Jacket is amazing. I want it for myself. I find the more challenging sewing I do, the less drive I have for more regular sewing. I need a few basic items at the moment and can’t drag myself to the machine. I’m looking forward to seeing both jackets made up – go you!
Actually now you say it, I can totally see how ‘you’ that blue and grey boucle is! Actually there’s a high chance of there being enough for a skirt left over… am wondering if it would be right to keep it for myself or if I should offer it up to my Mum so she can have a matching skirt… hmmmm, will have to ponder that! Well now that you’ve jumped in the deep end with your French jacket and ALL of those lovely hand worked button holes on your Anise (RESPECT.) – I can totally see you sinking down the rabbit hole I’ve comfortably been inhabiting for a while now! haha!
You have the nicest fabrics! Seriously pure fabric porn right there. They are both going to look amazing when they are done, can’t wait to see the process.
Yeah, I know. I actually have feelings of lust towards both of these. It makes the prospect of many hours and all that hand sewing all the more worthwhile! haha, thanks :)
Gorgeous fabrics and I look forward to following along on the journey. I’m glad you loosened the tension for your jacket quilting, it was only the indentation on the fabric that was visible. I really want to get focused back on jackets, I don’t need many in my life but a few more would be very valuable.
Yeah I’m so glad the tension made a difference! I REALLY wanted this to be a quilted tailored jacket, hehe. Having a fabulously beautiful jacket or three is the wardrobe is a necessity, and one I’m going to really enjoy working towards. I’ll be keeping my eye out to see what you sew up, too ;) Thanks Sharon!
Love your fabrics . The unraveeling bits could be used to make some great braid for the french jackets for your Mum.You could crochet or plait it with some toning jarn?? The lambswool interlining will be interesting . Its such a pity that you didnt write this blog post about a month ago as I have just made a coat out of some wool gabadine with a waterproofing fused on the back and lined with some bright red cotton sateen . I was wondering about interlining it with something to make it a bit warmer and that would have been perfect !! . Ah well better late than never . I have more of the gabadine so maybe I will have another go .
We’re thinking the same thoughts! I was heading in exactly that direction with the trim… so I’m saving ALL the little bits, so I’ve got options come the time to think about it. I find that thinking about trim is best done when you have a physical jacket to test it on… often what I think will be great looks not-so-great in actuality, and vice versa. Your coat sounds fabulous – and whilst I haven’t actually sewn with it yes, the lambswool is divine – so soft and cuddly. Although I’d say it could only be sewn when sandwiched between fabric layers, because it’s so fluffy – it would catch on everything. I’ve used a cotton flanellette successfully as dress underlining before and it’s delightfully warm, too. Your coat sounds wonderfully practical! Thanks Mem :)
I’m glad you’re back on the jacket wagon and that I get to read about it! I think a fall jacket is in the cards for me, too, although I doubt I’ll be using couture methods. I’m always looking to bring up my endurance for slower, more involved projects, though, and I’ll be eagerly following your progress. How cool that the project with your mom will involve trips to visit each other!
I know, it’s a great excuse for me to make time to visit her more. I know they’re so much happier where they live now but I miss them both terribly sometimes! It’s just a 2 hour plane trip… but it’s a 2 hour plane trip, if you know what I mean! Regardless, I’m ridonkulously happy to be back on the jacket wagon. And I have a summer weight jacket waiting in the queue, too. I don’t think you need to worry about the slower, involved projects – your garments always look so well thought out, planned and detailed! I’m looking forward to seeing if your fall jacket plans eventuate ;)
You are amazing!This is all scary intimidating to me. And I feel you on the buying basics and saving sewing for more important projects…
I dunno Sophie, you’re pretty bloody amazing at sewing special AND everyday projects… quite often in the same garment! That takes talent, you know ;) But, thank you. I’m at my most happiest tackling a technical challenge :)
These fabrics are gorgeous, they will make some very beautiful jackets. I really admire your attention to detail and the fine sewing you do – I don’t do basics either but I’m still very much in the mindset of churning out new dresses as quick as possible!
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Especially when you do it so well :) The fabrics are what get me really excited about these two projects. I hope you’re going to make it to the Frocktails in Sydney next month? Would love to meet you if you are :)
I’m in awe of your determination!
For what it’s worth I think I’d go with the visible quilting lines. I quite like the effect.
Love both your fabrics.
I played around with the tension of the thread, and got the lines to be slightly less visible. Visible enough for those who know to take notice, but not so for others not paying attention – and I really like that balance :) So now it’s full steam ahead! Thanks Catherine! :)
So fantastic! Reading your blog is like escaping into another world for me! Those fabrics are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m liking your plan of just sewing the special things.
All the special things! Thanks Sallie :D x
Awesome! Can’t wait to see the progress on these. I’ve never done any real tailoring, but I really want to! You just may end up inspiring me to try it out sometime!
You should! It’s wonderful fun :) It’s been quite a while since I’ve done anything like this, so I’m currently emerged in reading up on it. Thanks Monica :)
Ooh, these fabrics are delicious! That will be such a lovely gift for your mom! The weather’s been a bit cooler the last few days and my mind’s already turning towards jackets (albeit casual ones rather than tailored). They’re just so fun to sew!
I hope so! She certainly deserves it :) Our days are starting to get only-just noticably longer… so I’d better get a move on! :)
So pretty, and I’m totally looking forward to seeing the process! I’ve only made one tailored jacket and I was working with a deadline so I didn’t get to take as much time as I would have liked, but I am looking forward to making another one.
If you don’t want the quilting to show, would it work to just quilt the lambswool and the charmuese? Or would that defeat the purpose…?
No – that definitely did cross my mind, but unfortunately got ruled out pretty quick, because the lambswool is both incredibly fluffy (lots of loft!) and very easily pulled off grain. So sewing with it as an outside layer is pretty much off the cards :( But I played with the tension and got a balance that I’m happy with, so all is not lost! I’ve sewn a tailored jacket within a timeframe and I can say, I’m definitely happy to have no deadlines looming for that project :) Thanks Molly!
Presumably with your Mum’s jacket you have 1″ plus seam allowances. Would loosely binding the edges (e.g. Folding some organza over the edge, then loosely tacking in) work, or just ‘stress’ the fabric and grainline too much? It’d definitely help contain the fraying.
Love the fabrics too – I recall that blue boucle from b&j’s, and remember seeing a lemony- yellow boucle in Tessuti’s in Sydney and thinking of you.
Yeah there’s about 2 inches of space going on there – which is just the right amount to account for fraying plus the differential in the muslin being so much more tightly-wound than the boucle. It’s more an issue if you need to unpick any stitching… which becomes really difficult when there’s not a smooth surface to work from and the strands are want to move out of alignment! I think I know the exact yellow boucle you’re talking about – I was eyeing it off for a while! But decided against as it wasn’t quite the right shade against my skin… ah well. Thanks Anna Katherine :)
I always admire your patience in sewing.
Lucky mom!!! :)
She deserves it :) Thanks Erin!
What beautiful fabrics. The shape of your muslin looks good and those layers of fabric are going to be so soft and comfy to wear. I dont blame you hangning bach a bit while you mull it over befeore you sew. That seems very sensible.
Beautiful fabrics and the quilting looks like it will be just visible enough for a couture look. What a lucky mom. I sometimes serge the edges of unruly fabric; just the face fabric and use a two or three thread fairly long stitch. You just want to keep it from falling apart while working and fitting. Luxury ready to wear ie. Chanel serges all the edges prior to construction. You could also trim off the serger edge just prior to hand finishing the seams. I’m currently posting my finds about armseye and sleeve fitting. Hopefully you might find useful info. I’ll be watching for your updates.
I’m looking forward to seeing both jackets. The fabrics are wonderful, especially the color for your mom’s jacket. Like you, I prefer to buy basics and spend my sewing energy on making special pieces, especially jackets and coats.
I love your taste in fabric! I don’t think the quilting is too noticeable. You’ll have some lovely jackets once you’re done. I bet you won’t want to part with your mum’s ;-)
I was wondering where you get your Marfy catalogue from? Do you order it from Italy or have you found a place to buy it in Australia?
Hi Lauren – I order it from Italy, you can do so off the marfy website (www.marfy.it). I haven’t found anywhere ‘bricks & mortar’ that sells it in Australia, however Stitches to Style (on high st in Armadale) have a few copies for perusal in their shop, but not for sale. Cheers! Mel