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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Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

I’m back. Sort of!

Limited amounts of time have begun popping up in which I can start enjoying sewing again (limited being the key word, there is currently a tiny person bouncing up and down against my leg as I type this opening) and I’ve been sewing muslins like I’ve got Attention Deficit Disorder.

Starting with Marfy 9814. One of the very first Marfy patterns I ever bought! It’s fecking gorgeous – the standup collar is divine, and even the 3/4 length sleeves look good (and I’ve always found these to make my proportions look very out of balance. Clearly I just needed something better drafted than a RTW jacket to make it look right on me).

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Marfy 9814 – “This youthful jacket has a high neck and a tight fitting closure”. Suggested fabrics are matellas or faille.

I have no idea what catalogue/year it’s from, as I bought it from the McCalls website some 5 years ago. I had that new found hobby ‘fever’ and spent glorious hours trawling pattern websites for things I wanted to buy, when I discovered this page on the McCalls site.  This was back before Marfy had relaunched their website and ordering from them seemed too hard, so it was easy to justify paying a premium to bypass the difficulty.

Anyway – the jacket is divine. However my usual size 46 just doesn’t quite cut it at the moment (read – whilst I’m still breastfeeding). It’s a very close fit!

So it’s on temporary production hold, sad face.

I’m pretty gutted because this was my #1 choice for Susan’s couture sewing school next week…

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Secondly and completely unrelated to muslining for Susan, I’ve sewn up a muslin of the OOP Vogue 1220. Same problem. Too much boob. I never even bothered with the front closure, as clearly this is another muslin that will need to wait until bubs is completely weaned. Shame because I really wanted a shirt dress for work – this one is really fabulous. I’m going to look forward to sewing it up somepoint in the future. In fact, I love all the Donna Karen/Vogue collabs, I was rather sad to see that is no longer continuing.

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As far as muslins go, I thought perhap I’d be relegated to the bottom half of my body as an option then.

So I muslined Style Arc’s Darcy Pants. The only adjustment I made was to replace the crotch curve with that one from Style Arc’s Flat Bottom Flo pants (what a winner of a crotch curve for the pancake butted peeps like me!).

I didn’t like the elasticated waist look on me – so I pinned it out in the photo here. It’s too tight around my sizeable calves, but the crotch curve!!!!! You’ll have to believe me that it looked just as good from the back as getting a photo of that was way to difficult.

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Except my brain forgot to process that an elasticated waistband doesn’t really align with the whole couture thing?

Hmm.

So I thought perhaps I’d try and meld together the top of another pattern that has a waistband and slanted side pockets (two features I wanted this to have). Lets just say that I’m procrastinating against doing that by writing this blog post. Which is a bit of an issue because I’ve got 4 days until I need to have a finished muslin for Susan’s class, and a first birthday party to navigate in between now and then.

Oh, and I nearly forgot – one more muslin has been made. I’m also doing another French Jacket class with Susan whilst she’s in Melbourne – Vogue 7975 of course, but with the sleeves from Marfy 9814 because I love them so.

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I’m really excited about this one, and pretty confident that I won’t finish it in the week, so the plan is to leave the front princess seams ‘undone’ so I can adjust once the whole breastfeeding jag is up…

I’ve shortened this version (and not very well – the bottom hem lines don’t match up…) compared to my previous French Jacket, and in an everyday wearable fabric (which I already have and am super excited about!)

Wish me luck!

 

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.

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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…

V1247: Romance Is Born… & Frocktails!

My goodness, the weather has been completely against me ever getting photos of this new wardrobe addition. But with Frocktails on Saturday – I really had no excuse. I was going to wear this dastardly silk top out for the first time, dammit!

I’m not usually one for floaty, formless garments, but this Rachel Comey one has been on the radar for a loooong time. There are just too many amazing versions out there on the interwebs not to be sucked in. What better time to try a completely new-to-me garment style than the here and now?

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Actually, I lie. I decided to try my hand at a shapeless, flowy garment because I’m currently halfway through being pregnant, and it seemed like an appropriate time to try a new form… Obviously when I made it there wasn’t anything sticking out, but I had rather intended to be able to wear it once the warmer weather decided to show up!

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Pretty unimpressive for a 20 week bump, really. My jeans are held together with a hair tie but.

I bought this pattern a loooong time ago… well before I realised from PR reviews that you really do need to size down at least 2 sizes. I understand that it’s supposed to be a baggy top, but really? There is good baggy and then there is bag baggy. I am usually a Vogue 14-ish, so ideally needed the 10. I had to cut the 12 though due to the size range on the pattern I had.

After I made a muslin – in which I made a fair few changes – giving shape to the straight centre back seam, taking in the side seams to mirror the waist curve I had at the time, and lengthened the hem slightly – I was really quite pleased with the result. I was definitely tempted to overhaul it to make it more form fitting, but I managed to resist. I’m not sure if it’s because of the interesting seaming, or because it still looks like it holds some shape, but I have a real affinity for this top – even though I’m moderately ambivalent about how it looks on me.

I do love that it’s the perfect opportunity to bust out the lightweight silks, which I am so easily tempted into buying but never really have a ‘practical’ outlet for.

I deliberated for a loooong time over whether or not to use the fabric that you see here. I had originally bought it with a dress in mind (I even have a matching chiffon) and breaking from that mindset was hard. Definitely the right decision though, as this top will get infinitely more worn and appreciated than had I sewed a dress for a formal occasion.

It’s a silk charmeuse with the kind of soft, painterly pattern that I never fail to fall hard for.

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Whilst I sewed the muslin in the ‘normal’ way (1.5cm seam allowances) – I just don’t think you can get the best result when sewing with silk in this fashion. Especially on those bias seams. Especially not on my base level Janome, which loves nothing more than making a dog’s breakfast out of lightweight silks. So for the real thing I did ‘my normal’ of what I guess is often called couture methods – seam lines marked and no specific seam allowance. It’s also underlined in white silk crepe de chine, which carried the seam line and pattern markings, but which also has the dual function of ensuring this top is utterly opaque. You’d never know if I was wearing a fluoro bra underneath this puppy. And as I love brightly coloured underthings, this works well for me.

The crepe de chine underlining does probably make it slightly less flowy that many other makes I see on PR and Burdastyle (especially the chiffon ones!), but I don’t mind it as it is. If anything, I feel a bit more ‘secure’ in it!

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Otherwise, I mostly followed the instructions for this pattern – they’re really quite adequate. Except I handstitched the neckline facing down to the crepe de chine underneath (another genius reason for underlining – avoiding topstitching on tricky fabrics!).

Also – I sewed this top together in 2.5 days straight (I did all the cutting and thread basting prep work before hand – you know I’m uber slow, right?) at a 4 day sewing getaway with a bunch of fabulous sewists I go to social sewing with. Turns out my patience for french seams and slow sewing has a very finite limit, which is clearly visible here:

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Usually I sew in spurts and chunks – 15min and a seam here and there. But locked away at a ‘quilting retreat‘ with no life interruptions for four days straight tested my fancy seam-finished resolve. With access to overlocker, I caved.

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In other sewing news, I finished my second French Jacket (for mum) in late July which has been sent off to Queensland. Plus I’m nearing completion of that Marfy Jacket I showed you the muslin of – and I’m loving it to bits. Then I’m really going to have to get stuck into some maternity sewing!

I’ll leave you with some (sadly, rather over-exposed) photos from Frocktails – so much self-sewn fabulousness! 51 ladies from Australia’s east coast AND New Zealand joined in the fun – we had a private function space at Collins Quarter and a signature cocktail which was named the ‘Seam Ripper’ (Gin based, of course. I was devastated to not be able to partake!). It was an amazing night and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

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