Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A Jacket, or 'HOW many new techniques?!'

Pattern: Butterick 5568

Fabric: Grey twill suiting from cheapfabrics.co.uk

Size: 14 (think I need to start making smaller size, but unfortunately 14 was the smallest size.

I knew a jacket would be tricky for a novice like me, but with encouragement from many friends and a 'why not?' attitude, I set about trying one.

I loved the fabric - really thick and sturdy and fun to cut out. Big Minx was not so keen on all the shedding it did all over the sewing room carpet. A lot of hoovering took place during the making of this garment.

I sped along, feeling really rather cocky about how much my cutting had improved, how beautiful it felt to have medium weight interfacing on a thick fabric, how very much it was looking like a jacket and in hardly no time!

And then came the lining.

Of all the new things I've tried (buttonholes, zips, pockets...) I did not expect lining to be my nemesis. After all, it's just sewing the jacket over again, right? Kinda. Trouble is, my machine hated the lining fabric and decided to rip it and then try to consume it in one big bunch. It was like cookie monster had descended. After ruining one front piece I sent a desperate BBM to my sewing expert friend Whim Wham (make a note of her, she's gonna be a big name one day) who made some excellent suggestions about using a smaller needle and adjusting the tension. This stopped my machine eating the fabric and off I went.
Throughout the whole lining process however, a really annoying phenomenon occurred, whereby I would merrily sew for a few inches and then the top thread would snap off. I adjusted the tension a million times and nothing seemed to really solve the problem, so I ended up with lots and lots of short rows of sewing, and lots and lots of rethreading of a small needle. On hearing me cry "I HATE YOU!" at the sewing machine, Big Minx had to physically remove me from the sewing room at one point and stroke my hair until I calmed down.
I genuinely thought I was going to have to give up, but, like a beautiful dawn after a stormy night, I realised that I had a fairly satisfactory piece of lining and that project jacket was back on!

It all went quite well for a bit until that annoying stage, where it's tantalisingly close to the end, but all the finishing still needs doing. The pattern suggested hand stitching a blind hem but I'm a bit too lazy for that so decided to embark on learning how to do it on the machine. Actually, the theory is quite simple but again, the machine gremlins came to play and I was soon embroiled in my own private nightmare of snapping threads and bunching threads, and a general refusal to sew in a dignified manner! We wrestled, I sought advice on Facebook, and eventually tried the old favourites of twiddling a few knobs and rethreading. It was still a fairly painful process, but eventually I had myself a blind hem. As is my mantra, it's far from perfect but still pretty cool.

I left out the shoulder pads as I didn't want to look too 'power dresser' although in retrospect they might have been a good idea to give more structure. If I made it again, I think I would lengthen the waist as it sits a bit high on me (a lesson that doesn't seem to sink in, annoyingly!). And, as Whim Wham so wisely suggested - make a toile next time! It's definitely not perfect but it's growing on me. Perhaps it'll see the light of day.

Anyway, here is the evidence:


  1. This looks so good!! I'm a novice myself and have a few jacket patterns tempting me from my stash, so this is incredibly inspiring to me. Thanks also for the Whim Wham link. You truly did a nice job. I love the details in the back.

  2. Hey! Thank you so much for your kind words! I haven't been brave enough to wear the jacket out yet, but you gave me the confidence to do just that today. :-) I just checked out your blog - you don't look like a novice to me, your dresses are fabulous. x