V7975: Octopus’ Garden French Jacket

You may recognise this fabric – it’s been the banner feature of this little web space since I started blogging, and was also the subject of one of the first jackets I wrote about, which was made to wear to my best friends wedding.

After the first jacket I had a scant 1.4m of 130mm wide fabric plus two large scraps, and there is quite literally nothing of it left now! I almost had to piece together the last pocket to make it work.

This jacket obviously marks a great leap forward in sewing skill since way back then…

Typically, if I want to get a compliment out of my beloved, it’s not enough to go fishing for one – I have to go in there with a speargun (obviously by which point any nice words extracted are null and void). So when hubby did both a physical double take on me in this jacket – then blurted out how much more amaazinger it was than Octopus the First, well – it was nothing if not completely satisfying!

We’ve hit that time of year where the light is just constantly harsh and glare-y. It doesn’t do justice to the colours in this weave – but you’ve got my blog banner to see how they look IRL :)

In other, completely unrelated news – I’ve finally found a hair dresser I LOVE. I’ve never worn my hair down so much before in my life – and I’ve always judged a hairdresser by how good the cut looks after you’ve washed all the styling out. This is it air-dryed and zero-product – zero maintenance. True to form, I’ll probably keep having it cut like this for the next 35 years.

The pattern is trusty Vogue 7975, with the sleeve from Marfy 9814 – a 3/4 delight with a little flounce on the end. This sleeve piece screams Chanel to me, as it’s very reminiscent of the styling I’ve been seeing in their recent collections. It’s also, I think, ridiculously flattering. Paired with the classic bodice of Vogue 7975 – becomes a 1 + 1 = 3 kind of synergy.

The fabric is a silk boucle, lined in turquoise charmuese (from Stitches to Style). The trim is a chartruese grosgrain ribbon from Jimmy’s Buttons which has been painstakingly cut down to the width I wanted (I could only get it in a wider width) – paired with a vintage Chanel trim Susan Khalje bought in Paris then lugged all the way to Melbourne as a potential option for her students to buy in her 2017 Tour of Australia. It was a particularly long length, and I get super excited when I spot the other ladies who bought some – sisterhood of the trim! Sewing it on made my hands smell like a hessian bag.

The grosgrain was a nightmare to deal with – not nearly as well behaved as lovely petersham. In the end, having it split in two was a godsend come the time to sew it in curving around the neckline – there ended up being a good 2cm difference in length of the inner to the outer ribbon just around that section.

Cut in half, basted back together at the right width, then sewn on with tiny stitches in a matching thread.

I still haven’t found buttons for this yet, and I’ll probably just not bother. I very nearly almost didn’t even put pockets on… then went the whole hog with 4 because I figured the fabric was busy enough, why not just keep with that.

There’s nothing new or groundbreaking here that I haven’t covered in the copious posts I did on my first French Jacket back in 2013.

Oh, except maybe that the sleeve flounce is on the bias – I did elongate the flounce by an extra 1.5cm (at Susan’s recommendation, and thus shortened the sleeve by this amount also to maintain the length) to ensure that I could get enough of the grid repeat of the fabric shown off. I quilted this on the bias as well – along with some extra underlining in the way of silk organza, this really helped the flounce to hold its gentle conical shape whilst being worn.

I recall recording the amount of time I spent sewing my first French Jacket – around the 150 hour mark? Well if I had to guesstimate, this one took a little less – maybe closer to 120 hours all up. This includes making the muslin, the 5 full days I had whilst on the French Jacket course (I couldn’t make it to the whole 7 days), plus a half day prior for fitting and cutting out, plus time spent post-class sewing on trim and pockets. I’ll admit not having a 3 piece sleeve and vents reduced the total time, as well.

I’ve been wearing this a bucket – and am absolutely loving it. You can 100% guarantee there will be more French Jackets in my sewing future.  (I’m still miffed I haven’t yet made one with printed silk in the lining…)

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A Third French Jacket in the making

I’ll admit to wanting a more everyday version of the French Jacket I made in Baltimore ever since I took photos of it for this blog.

And it just so happens that I have enough of the Octopus’ Garden boucle to squeeze a jacket out of – I recall when I first started sewing that I’d always buy an extra meter of fabric over what the pattern called for, you know – just in case. I absolutely love this fabric so I’m really excited to be working with it again.

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So I’m back for another week and another French Jacket! I recall this time last time I was already absolutely sewing fatigued, but this time around I’m incredibly invigorated to keep on sewing. I’m unable to attend the entire 7 days of the class due to a certain little person needing to be looked after, so I was grateful to be able to be fitted on Day 6 of the Couture Sewing School last week. I spent the last afternoon of that week’s class arranging my pattern pieces to make sure I could get the repeat in the right places.

Like my last French Jacket, I’m also underlining this one because once again I’ve picked a lightweight boucle that is see through! This is untypical though. I’m working with a cream cotton voile underneath (last time it was a white batiste).

I’m working with Vogue 7975, but I’ve stolen the sleeve from Marfy 9814. Partly because I really love it, partly because I don’t actually have enough fabric for a full length sleeve! It’s going to be tight….

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Day 1 is a bit of a get to know you again, a fabric show off, pattern fitting by Susan and fabric shopping for those amongst us who have yet to acquire some boucle and lining. We went to Stitches to Style – they have a great range of boucles! (and a huge sale on at the very moment – 50% off lots of cottons, linens and silks from their summer range).

Here are a few pictures of the gorgeous fabric choices by my other classmates:

Margie picked up a really striking red based Boucle from Tessuti, with a matching printed silk charmeuse from Mendel Goldberg. I think if I ever make a fourth jacket - I'm going to start by picking the lining first so I too can work with a printed silk!

Margie picked up a really striking orange and black based Boucle from Tessuti, with a matching printed silk charmeuse from Mendel Goldberg. I think if I ever make a fourth jacket – I’m going to start by picking the lining first so I too can work with a printed silk!

Danielle has a really textured black boucle with a black and coloured floral printed silk, which is just so gorgeous.

Danielle has a really textured black boucle from Linton Tweed (that was more than challenging to quilt due to all of the different fibres), and is pairing it with a floral on black background printed silk, which is just so gorgeous.

Melissa is what I have dubbed the classic Melbournian - her jacket is black boucle, with a black charmeuse lining. She scored an amazing beaded trim from Jimmy's Buttons - black of course!

Melissa is what I have dubbed the classic Melbournian – her jacket is black boucle bought from Stitches to Style, with a black charmeuse lining. She scored an amazing beaded trim from Jimmy’s Buttons – black of course!

Carol has an amazing textured boucle in Navy and grey from Linton Tweed, plus a really stunning watercolour printed silk she picked up from her local in Perth. I've laid claim to her silk scraps!

Carol has an amazing textured boucle in Navy and grey from Linton Tweed (this photo just doesn’t do it justice), plus a really stunning watercolour printed silk she picked up from her local in Perth. I’ve laid claim to her silk scraps!

Ros is sewing with a really fascinating fabric in an olive green that has Navy and copper highlights. She's also having a bias panel down the sides of her jacket - which entails an epic amount of quilting! Ros is two sizes different across her hips to her upper torso, and this additional bias panel does beautiful justice to her curves. Check out her smile here!

Ros is sewing with a really fascinating fabric in an olive green that has Navy and copper highlights. She’s also having a bias panel down the sides of her jacket – which entails an epic amount of quilting! Ros is two sizes different across her hips to her upper torso, and this additional bias panel does beautiful justice to her curves. Check out the effect and her smile here!

Marion bought a really stunning boucle from down the road at Stitches to Style, with the most amazing duck-egg blue coloured charmuese to match. It's fraying like a b----, but so totally going to be worth it.

Marion bought a really stunning boucle from down the road at Stitches to Style, with the most amazing duck-egg blue coloured charmuese to match. It’s fraying like a b—-, but so totally going to be worth it.

Day 1 saw me finish of my pattern thread tracing, and begin cutting out my lining.

By the end of Day 2 I had quilted all of my jacket pieces and sewn up the sides ready for a quick fit check and adjustment.

Day 3 I cut out my sleeves and got to work quilting them. On Susan’s recommendation I put the cuff on my sleeves on the bias – only just having enough fabric to squeeze this out. This meant also the quilting was in a grid – which gave it really lovely structure. We also put some silk organza underneath the boucle before the batiste underlining for a bit of extra structure.

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Bias quilting = a lot of knot tying

In the afternoon everyone took a field trip to Jimmy’s Buttons in Fitzroy for trim and buttons – what an absolute GOLDMINE! I can’t believe I’d never been here before. SO many options for trim, my mind was blown!

Day 4 at around lunchtime I was having my sleeves hung by Susan! I spent the afternoon playing with trim options, after a morning visit to Jimmy’s Buttons again after musing on samples overnight, I ended up with some chartreuse green petersham ribbon to go as backing to some vintage Chanel braid that Susan brought from Paris (she hauled a few different selections of braided trim she’s picked up in her travels).

Day 7 – I’ll be popping back in to the class on the Sunday to get a length of chain and have my pockets marked out.

So I’ve still got a fair way to go – sewing on the hooks and eyes, sewing on trim, chain, pockets and then closing up the lining. It’s looking amazing so far!

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V7975: French Jacket II

My dear mum celebrated her 60th in May, and to commemorate, I dedicated many loving hours to make her a French Jacket of her own. It’s been a long journey – I bought the fabric at B&J‘s back in late 2013, worked on her muslin over several trips interstate to visit/fit her, then worried about actually being able to finish it in time for her birthday due to our renovation works… which turned out to be a very real concern. I didn’t finish it in time for May, but instead was given a new deadline of the 28th of August, prior to their departure for a holiday in Canada, America and an Alaskan cruise.

Once renovations dropped pace and I’d sewn myself a palate cleanser, I got stuck right into this. And once again – I loved every minute of it!

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Fitting was a particular fascination – probably because I very much inherited my mum’s body shape. Seeing the similarities between our fitting adjustments and seeing how my body will probably need to be fitted one day was really cool. One of the most interesting things about watching Susan Khalje fit the other sewists in the French Jacket class I took was how a more mature body differs from what I’m presently accustomed too. This is in no way a slight on anyone older than myself, but I find that the non-symmetrical form a body eases into as one grows older to be an exciting challenge to fit. Or maybe it’s just because it’s different to what I fit when I sew (myself) that recognising things like a ‘sunken chest’, or a raised shoulder, or a ribcage that is smaller on one side of the back compared to the other is almost a way of validating knowledge I don’t usually get to test. Either way, my mum’s jacket was a joy to fit and sew.

It felt a lot quicker to sew this time around. I also think her’s is more beautifully constructed because I’m far more confident in my abilities now than I was when I made mine.

I was terrified of sewing in the sleeves (firstly because Susan drapes and pins them in position for you, and secondly because I didn’t have Mum around to test it on), but I was so pleased when she did try it on how well it fitted and how nicely it looked! (By this stage I’d already ventured into creep territory and tried it on myself several times…)You really can tell the difference between a garment made specifically for your body shape and one that isn’t – even when the fitting changes are slight (like me, Mum fits the Vogue Size 14 really well). I think this was a real point of difference for my mum (I’m lucky – I’m used to it!) – she was an equally impressed at just how beautifully it fit as I was.

V7975 Shoulder Fit

Kicking myself for not picking out a trim for this fabric when I bought it and was still in the States, I attempted to make a swatch of ‘fringed’ trim (thanks to this great resource from Cloning Couture). Mum decided that she preferred it without – “the fabric is fabulous enough” she said. I was happy with that because the time it would take to make 5 yards of the stuff would have been quite substantial!

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The trim I was originally thinking of making – along with some piping from the lining down the centre (the cut strip is just for representation…)

Instead, she agreed to my suggestion of a very slight bias trim in the lining fabric at the top of the pockets and around the sleeve cuff, which I thought looked rather elegant.

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After setting in the sleeves, I had to take up the cuffs as they somehow ended up being too long! Whilst I had left a 2inch gap between the intended cuff length and the quilting, this ended up being substantially smaller than originally planned for.

But, the trim is a huge part in stabilising the seams around the neckline and jacket front – so going without meant providing this stability on the inside of the jacket. I cut some selvedge from the silk lining, and catchstitched it in place:

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Buttons were another thing I was mad at myself for not purchasing whilst I had the chance. I ended up ordering some self-fabric buttons from Buttonmania. As the ‘trim’ was an understated and subtle hint of lining fabric, I went that route for the buttons, utilising both the matt and satin side of the charmuese for contrast. It seemed an elegantly matching solution, and Mum agreed.

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However… when I actually put them on the jacket pockets… they just didn’t look right. I recall several times people saying whilst I was doing The French Jacket course in Baltimore, that quite often, you just can’t pick trim or buttons until the jacket is mostly constructed – it somehow changes things. That matched my experience with picking trim for the jacket I made myself (I pared the trim I bought right back to one strand from three), and again with this jacket. So I probably shouldn’t have been kicking myself too hard about not visiting M&J Trimming with this fabric…

I ordered hooks and eyes and chain from Susan’s website, and after a final fitting with Mum in early July to determine pocket size and location, I finished the jacket and sent it off – it arrived about 3 or 4 days before my parents left on their holiday – perfect timing? I also sent her the remaining silk charmuese lining, as there would be enough to squeeze a sleeveless blouse from if she wanted.

Give me another year, and I’ll be ready to start the third French jacket, which has already been promised to another special someone. I should probably let them know it will take at least another 2 years after that, if this project has been anything to go by!

And because a garment is never as fabulous as when it’s on the intended wearer – a photo of my Mum in her belated birthday present!

In the meanwhile, if you couldn’t half tell from my lack of posting on here – I have completely lost my sewing and blogging mojo. And seeing as we’ve gone straight from the depths of winter right into summer… the ‘transitional’ garments I had planned for myself as maternity wear are already obsolete! How fortuitous for me, haha :) Shame, because I have this beautiful Marfy jacket about 2 hours away from being completely finished… and it’s been like this for nearly two months now. And it will probably stay this way for many more months as water retention owns me right now!

Marfy 3022 in the making...

Marfy 3022 in the making…

Hello, Strangers!

“Hi, my name is Melanie, and it’s been 6 months since I last posted”.

Yep, and about 5 of that have had zero chances to sew. But – our unlivable house is now moderately livable. Sort of. Still a lot of work to do! But the last month has had some productive sewing in it, culminating in a seasonally inappropriate top that is very different to my usual style. I do really love it though. Photos just as soon as I find my missing camera battery charger, and brave the cold! (Some sunshine might be nice too, but I wouldn’t want to be too demanding or anything…)

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Just a little seam matching perfection…

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I’ve also been working on the French Jacket for my mum. I originally thought having it done for her birthday in early May would has been SO achievable. But that didn’t quite work out, so the new delivery date has been set for early August. Better get my skates on…

Because I’ve also started sewing a new jacket (for me). Marfy 3022!

F3022 SS 2014-15 Jacket

The muslin for it is getting me very excited. Even with no adjustments I really love the proportions. Having been out of sewing practise for so long, and also because this pattern had a rather tricky looking dart/pocket configuration – I went to a lot more effort than I normally would in a muslin.

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But that’s all come to a screaming halt, because my usual size 46 is a little on the snug side. After many months of intensive renovating, with a non-functional kitchen and limited time – a continuous succession of bad dietary choices (and an underactive thyroid!) have left me about 6kg’s heavier than at the beginning of the year. So I’m deciding whether to buy the Size 48, or make it as the 46 as by the time I finish it, it will be Spring and I should be back to normal by then. Decisions…

Regardless, it’s so lovely to be back and sewing!!