Tamarack jacket

All last fall and this spring I found myself reaching for a transitional jacket that didn’t exist – have you ever had that happen? I hoped my missing layer would be warm but not too heavy, with full-length sleeves, and easy to wear with jeans. I picked the Grainline Tamarack right away. However, I stalled on choosing fabric and made zero steps towards a finished jacket until September, when a bighearted friend gifted me her leftover wool in the perfect color, weight, and yardage. Hooray! This justified my spending philosophy – when in doubt, go without.

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Obviously it helps if your friends are the perfect combo of generous and tasteful! The wool is Rag & Bone and I know she got it at Mood – this wool seems similar (different color though), so I’m guessing it’s wool twill? Anyway, it’s gorgeous stuff, very soft and cooperative. The lining is quilting cotton from Gather Here. It’s a bit staid, but I’m happy with my choice. I almost picked a geometric pattern, but I’m really glad I didn’t, as my lining got wibbly while quilting and it’s much less obvious on this organically marked pattern.  

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Oh the quilting! It was prolonged! I’m freshly impressed by anyone who’s ever quilted a quilt on a traditional sewing machine, as I was struggling with these relatively small panels. I used black masking tape to mark my quilting lines. Actually, I only marked two at a time, since I’m a complete tape accountant (poor Professor Boyfriend has more than once been forced to defend using 1” of Scotch tape when ½” would do). It kept me moving – tape, sew, stand, measure, move the tape, sew, repeat…

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I planned my diagonal lines to move consistently around my body in one direction, since I knew I didn’t have the skills to match a perfect chevron and I worried than an imperfect one would give me the screaming jeebies. The lines are about 1 ¼” apart, and I can safely say “about”, because I surrendered perfection there pretty quickly. I think of these vertical lines crossed by diagonals as shortbread slices or pieces of brownie crisp. That is the full and detailed explanation of how I chose that design. Now you know!

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After wearing this a few times I leaned over a chain-link fence to holler at a student and ripped a hole in my finished coat! But I’d used up my coordinating thread – one spool to match the shell and one spool to match the lining, perfect amount, no leftovers. Instead of buying another spool (are you surprised? Did you read the tape thing?) I went with this coordinating tone.

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To mend, I poked a piece of fusible webbing into the hole with a wide needle, ironed it in place to discourage fraying, and stitched a big wide bartack over the whole mess. It’s okay. It’s part of the story of the coat now. And it was difficult to get riled up about a wee hole after the whole pocket debacle.

Oh, what pocket debacle?! I’m glad you asked!

There’s a part in the Grainline directions – after a dozen hours of quilting, when you’re about to sew a welt pocket, and after hand-basting all the pocket markings like a good girl – when you’re instructed to snip very, very carefully through the finished front panel, because if you mess up and snip too far then you’ll ruin your coat.

WELL, I SNIPPED TOO FAR.

AND RUINED MY COAT.

KIND OF!!

Pocket 1, I sewed and snipped and turned, only to find my welt flapping free. The long raw edge was attached but the two short folded edges and the long folded edge of the welt were just hanging loose on the front of my coat. It looked fine otherwise so I just hand-stitched the short edges down and followed the rest of the instructions as normal. Pocket 2, I had a tricky decision – do I sew the pocket to match my first, wrong pocket exactly, or do I sew it right?

I did what any sensible person would do which was accidentally and irreversibly cut my welt opening a full half-inch wider than my welt flap. AND the short edges were loose. AAACK. In the moment, I became very calm and philosophical and just sort of wandered away. When I came back, Prof. BF helped me brainstorm and suggested a little coordinating tag of the lining fabric to cover the excess opening. Bing!

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Later I thought about adding a rivet or a snap to make it look even more deliberate, and chose a snap. It’s kind of stupid but it also makes me laugh – that snap is functional.

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Despite my self-created drama and, in my opinion, the ungenerous seam allowance at the top of my pocket, they’re still totally pockets. Be warned, though. If my fabric was any thicker I would not have been able to turn or stitch that top seam allowance, the one usually concealed by the welt flap. It might be user error but something to pay attention to all the same!

I sewed the first pass on all my bias binding by machine and the second pass by hand. It seemed simplest. I also stitched my bound pocket bags to the lining so they wouldn’t flap around. Actually, the most unexpected time suck was just fiddling the mitered corners on the front into place, and even at A FULL FIFTEEN MINUTES per corner, some are better than others. In general, though, the hand-sewing didn’t seem to take long. But I’m sure many very nice people machine stitch the whole binding! You do your thing.

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Full disclosure: at first I didn’t like this jacket!! I thought the neck was too wide and scooped and that it looked kind of schlumpy. But on the first cold day, there it was when I needed it. And now I love it.

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Sometimes I even wear it indoors with a hot water bottle snapped inside, like I’m trying to revive a little baby Dalmatian. I’ve worn it to three separate apple orchards this fall (yes that’s too many orchards). Professor Boyfriend says it’s not so much a quilted jacket as a jacketed quilt, and I concur! I’ll be reluctantly trading it for a warmer layer soon, but I’m glad it will be waiting for me in the spring.

Stay cozy out there!

Pattern: Grainline Tamarack jacket

Pattern cost: $18.00

Size: 12

Supplies: Rag & Bone olive wool, gift, originally Mood; 2 yards Home Dash in Shale cotton, 2 yards cotton batting, $35.22, Gather Here; thread, Michael’s, $3.58; snaps from stash

Total time: 20.5 hours

Total cost: $56.80

Summer of Love, Part Five: Farewell, My Lovely

This is my final post in the Summer of Love series. I decided to include one more outfit – not one that got worn publicly much, but one I made just for me!

Luckily I only travelled locally for the weddings etc., but when I did spend a night away from home, I wanted to wear something a bit more fun than my everyday jimjams (I had a sort of instinct that my usual grey tee/sweatpants combo wasn’t maximum festive). Rare Device has a lovely post on investing in the clothes you wear when you’re by yourself, and while self love or care has been monetized almost past recognition, I thought my celebratory PJs were still worthy of being the finale of my Summer of Love. Not to mention I spent several weekends after the binge lounging around and recovering my social appetite and you know I spent that time in pajamas!

This post is a little disingenuous though – because while I made this robe/nightie combo last summer, I didn’t make the robe really truly wearable until the Sewcialists announced the Over/Under theme month. So 1. Oops and 2. Hooray!

The pattern is Seamwork Almada, and I fell for it immediately on its release. Many robes seem to be a collection of rectangles, but I thought the Almada looked like an Erté illustration, like an elegant twenties egg. I also loved the double gauze Seamwork used for their sample. It took me a while to make this pattern since it called for 3 ½ yards of fabric, and I was saving my credit card cashback rewards until I had enough for the big dog – Nani Iro! This is a fabric from her (their?) Rakuen collection.

I sewed a size large, originally with no changes. I was surprised at the Seamwork directions; I assumed that a pattern that called for luxurious fabrics would also call for fine finishing. Especially given that it only has four seams, I would have recommended French seams. They didn’t, but I used them anyway! I also invisibly hand-sewed the bias binding that finishes the opening – easy to do on double gauze, because you can just pick up the inner layer with your needle.    

My favorite homemade bias binding is from this super-soft grey-green-khaki cotton that goes with absolutely everything.

I needed every inch of my yardage – that’s how I ended up with the printed selvage visible inside one sleeve cuff!

I swanned around in my finished robe from time to time, admiring the fabric, but I didn’t use it much as a practical thing. The ties were placed low and wide, buuut so are my hips. The robe required too much arranging and tugging and still wouldn’t stay shut. I wore it as intended for wedding travel because inconsistent coverage was better than none, but after a year of non-use, I FINALLY unpicked and reattached the ties. And only because of Over/Under month!

Half an hour of sewing to move the ties six inches up and six inches towards the center, and now my fancy robe finally fits!

Double gauze is soft and vibrant, it’s like wearing a whisper, and it’s generally easy to sew. When topstitching, however, a friend of mine described it as “like sewing bread”.

Not my neatest sewing ever, but eulalia! I can wear it now!

On the other hand, there’s almost nothing to the nightie – no special saving for fabric, no long-awaited sew, no last-minute rescue. Just a 7” lengthened Ogden cami from leftover fabric I didn’t have quite enough of to make daywear. It’s my all-time favorite summer nightgown.

Love strikes willy-nilly!

Thus concludes my Summer of Love! See you soon, I hope, for more everyday dressing. : )

Previous Summer of Love: here (part one), here (part two), here (part three), and here (part four).

Pattern:  Seamwork Almada

Pattern cost: $3

Size: L, with the ties moved

Supplies: 3.5 yards Nani Iro Gauze in Rakuen Flower, Etsy, $69.20; thread from stash

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $72.20

Pattern: Ogden cami

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8 at bust, 14 at hip

Supplies: leftover rayon poplin from stash, thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Summer of Love, Part Two

Welcome back to the Summer of Love, where I share what I wore to the weddings and wedding-adjacent events that ate summer 2018! Inevitably, I made a Kielo. But this Kielo has a twist. I don’t actually like it very much!!

Ho-ho, it’s a GRUMPY twist. My feelings about this dress didn’t crystallize until I took these photos, in fact. Normally I forget unpleasant sewing experiences in the satisfaction of a finished garment, but when I jumped headfirst into this stretchy green tent they were waiting inside!

More on that later! First I want to talk about the jacket I sewed to pair with this, since venues are often too cold. Venues AND spaces are too cold. Sometimes areas too. Brr. It’s a Lupin!

Bonne journée, Lupin! Conversely, making this was a madcap ride of pure sewing joy. These were my first welt pockets and my first jacket lining. I had so much fun making this, I spent much of the time thinking of when I could make another. It almost doesn’t matter that I don’t like it very much either?!

I love it as an object, I just don’t love it on me.

The exaggerated lapels, the blousy back – it seems like too much fabric to me. Or maybe it’s the color? In an olive drab or a mossy green, I could see this working. This light blue isn’t as versatile as I expected. My Lupin is a straight size 42 and the fit is fine really but it feels (and I think looks) a smidge long.

With a linen/cotton shell and rayon lining, it’s the perfect weight for weather of about 55° – 65° F, which is a great transitional layer. Again, um, for someone who likes it.

 The directions were really clear; my only changes were to skip the topstitching on the lapels and omit the epaulettes. I also used two different lining fabrics, because the solid one had been gifted to me and the other…

WAS THIS MAGNIFICENT ½ YARD OF VERY EXPENSIVE RAYON. It’s gorgeous. That half yard cost me $10 and was absolutely worth it. I should wear this jacket inside out.

And it coordinates so well with this Fearsome Beast pin!

The upside of relying almost exclusively on blue and green for color in my wardrobe is effortless coordination, baby!

I felt very appropriate in this outfit. Picture that remark, in say, a Regency drawing room, and you might get a sense of how withering I’m being. Ms. Poundcake! Fie! It also packed well (an away wedding must) and clearly communicated my desire to be a fancy friend. It also also contains some of my junkiest sewing this side of a seam ripper.

Let’s talk turkey.

As seen here in this photo of me, apparently, playing a small invisible violin, the fit is fine. It’s totally acceptable! I’ve put all my points into fitting pants, so learning how to fit my top half has accidentally gotten nerfed in the meantime. Luckily I had the lead of Erica from Handmade Wardrobe to follow. I shortened the front bodice by 1.5” above the dart, the back bodice by 1” above the armscye notch, and narrowed the top back 2” total (1” from each center back starting at the neck, tapering to nothing about 6” down). I also raised the back split by about 2”.

Bunching at the front armscye/above the bust seemed to be a common issue with the pattern, so I was pleased to have avoided it! But then came…THE SEAM FINISHES.

The pattern instructs you to use bias tape to finish the arm- and neck-holes. Okay, fine, you can bias bind the neck. But the armscye is continuous with the side seam! There’s no division, just a notch marking it!

Ignore the incoming armpit hair and stick with me here. I guess it’s possible to miter the binding for that corner somehow, but I lack confidence with knits, let alone knit bindings, so I just serged the seam allowances separately, pressed them open, and topstitched – effectively turning them under once, which I repeated for the neckline so the topstitching would be consistent. Consistently stretched-out-ish. : P Not to mention the wobbly back seam and the bulgy dart points!

But my worst, worst sewing is at the top of the split. That split, elegant from a distance, is an uneven mess inside. It changes width, there’s some serging that just…trails off, and I had to snip into the seam allowance, which kind of stresses me out even when the fabric won’t ravel. I tried WonderTape for the first time (as in “I wonder if I’m doing this right, because I’m having a crummy time”) and it did not seem to improve my experience.

And in conclusion: PANTY LINES.

I had an un-fun time sewing this slinky knit and now that the un-fun isn’t being actively opposed by cheese boards and Whitney Houston tracks, I feel it. I just don’t trust a dress I can’t press with steam!!

None of this is to say you shouldn’t sew it. Heck, I’m not even saying I’ll never wear it again. Maybe time will massage my yucky feelings to indifference? Or even better, maybe I will Grow As A Person and stop caring? It’s not an A-plot level arc, but growth is growth.

So, no moral to the story. Not yet, anyway. But the dress did its job, and there’s only one way for this post to end…

Flying squirrel!!

Previous Summer of Love found here.

Pattern: Named Kielo

Pattern cost: $14.00

Size: US 8, with adjustments, above

Supplies: 2 meters bamboo jersey knit in Spruce, Blackbird Fabrics, $32.50; $4.41, WonderTape, Amazon seller; $4, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $54.91

Pattern: Deer & Doe Lupin jacket

Pattern cost: $13

Size: 42

Supplies: 3 yards Essex linen/cotton blend in chambray blue, 1/2 yard Menagerie cotton rayon lawn in Monstera Midnight, Gather Here, $36.40; thread, Gather Here, $3.10; vintage bemberg rayon, gifted

Total time: 9.25 hours

Total cost: $52.50

In The Navy

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This is how I power dress! I want my foes to be discomfited by the almost-but-not-quite-identical shades of navy blue. Just kidding, I don’t have any foes. I think?! #nofoes

This is my show-up-to-show-out look, though. The me-mades from top to bottom, outside to inside, are: By Hand London Victoria blazer, Melilot shirt, and Ginger jeans. It’s a good bet that any time I don’t specifically say otherwise, I’m wearing Gingers! Closet Case has been covering my tuchus for years now.

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But actually we’re here to talk mainly about the Victoria blazer!

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The fabric for this blazer cost me $0.00. I was given a stack of fabric (Parisian attic fabric!!) third-hand that included completely unused wools and coordinating linings. Occasionally the woman who bought these fabrics would note which pattern she intended to use them for – as these purchases were made in the early eighties by a petite Frenchwoman, you can imagine how pertinent those suggestions were to me. Non. But it was very exciting to get my grubby paws on these beautiful fabrics/pieces of a stranger’s personal history!

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The shell is a lightweight wool (I think) and the lining is Bemberg rayon. Anyway, the wool (?) loved a press, and was a peach to sew. I had once previously made the Victoria blazer – cropped silver pleather, don’t ask – so I knew going in I was happy with the sleeve fit and collar width. I discovered with the full-length view, though, that the inseam pockets are a fun comedy bit, and not useful pockets. You know that book Things Fall Apart? A book about this blazer’s pockets would be called Things Fall Out.

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I added a facing according to a blog post that…um…I can’t find anymore! It wasn’t this one by Marilla Walker; that one looks helpful but a little more complicated. The post I lost showed a great Victoria jacket (black velvet with a satin lapel, if I remember correctly) and I did what I remember her doing – tracing off the front pattern piece, dividing it roughly in half vertically on a slight curve (the dart belongs on the facing piece) and adding seam allowances. When I first read the directions for that dart, by the way, they really did my head in, but sewing it was a snap! If you’re new to jackets as I was, I recommend it for ease and wearability! The sleeves went in beautifully, too. They must have been drafted really well because I’m usually crummy at setting in sleeves.

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I added about 1.5” total extra width to the center fold of the back lining. I pleated it for wearing ease, as intended, at the hem, but ended up using all the excess at the neck edge to match the shell neckline. Strange, hmm? A lucky break for sure though!

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The collar and lapel are separate pieces from the body of the blazer. I used every scrap of this wool! Thank goodness these pieces were rectangles I could nestle up against each other!

This is a super beginner-friendly outerwear sewing project. I want to get into the hard stuff, now – roll lines, tailoring, shoulder pads. When I was shopping I loved coats; now that I’m sewing my aesthetic is more menswear-inspired than Edwardian-military (again, don’t ask), but I think I might love sewing them.

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I would not be ashamed to shake Sue Perkin’s hand in this blazer. Speaking of which, where can an obsessed American watch the rest of Giles and Sue Live the Good Life? The first episode is freely available but I can’t find the rest of the series!

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Let me know your favorite coat patterns, and for the love of Pete where I can watch Sue Perkins milk a goat!

Pattern: By Hand London Victoria blazer

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/14

Supplies: navy wool (?), Bemberg rayon, $0.00, vintage stash; thread from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Look around you.

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Look around you!

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Have you worked out what you’re looking for yet?

IT’S QUILTING. No, I promise. It’s 10 hours of machine quilting that are FUNCTIONALLY INVISIBLE.

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This is M7549, an open, cropped, quilted jacket. I bought the pattern after being completely wowed by Allie J’s amazing take. I didn’t have the egg chutes to jump right into leather, but my initial plan was to sew it in metallic black linen for a similar girl-gang look (not so much inspired by as copied from), and then hopefully work up to a brown leather or suede version. I took myself to Gather Here for the first-try fabric and bought this Rifle Paper screen printed Cotton and Steel canvas instead! So a bit of a different direction!

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I’m really into it, though! Even though the cotton canvas ate my stitches (normally a feature I love) and the flannel I used for batting was too thin and my tonal thread was subtle to the point of irrelevant, it turns out I love the process of quilting garments! I marked my initial quilting lines on the right side of my main fabric with masking tape, after pin basting, so that I could center them on the shell pieces. I then marked the remaining quilting lines on the back of the flannel in pencil. I found the quilting process very Zen! For a first quilted project, the invisibility kept the pressure very looow, but my fabric still got stronger and warmer. V. satisfying. I quilted horizontal lines and diamonds, following the pattern.

McCall’s asks you to quilt great tracts of fabric and then cut your jacket pieces from those, but nuh-uh. I bought 2 yards total of this swish fabric (I’m not a railroad baron) and it was enough, enough even to avoid doubling in any obvious places.

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I had as much as was necessary to cut the inner yokes out of my main fabric, too, though I didn’t quilt those. I can’t imagine sewing lining fabric to lining fabric more than necessary, even though this is lined in my fancy vintage French Bemberg from my sister’s mother-in-law’s late mother’s Parisian attic.  I generally hate lining fabric but while still a little slippery and shapeless (every cut piece is happy to collapse into the shape of a blob and start fraying, oh joy) it’s a little sturdier than the contemporary lining I’ve tried. Plus it was free, as was my flannel batting; leftovers from another project.

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The structure is my favorite part. This jacket isn’t going to stand up on its own, but it’s got a little architectural something-something, I think! The silhouette + fabric choice feels a little matronly, but there are worse things than being a matron. The ideas I associate most strongly with that word are “high society” or “in charge of a lot of nurses”. Good stuff either way.

Construction zipped by quickly after all that quilting – so quickly, in fact, that I forget to make any changes, like adding a hanging loop and either inseam or welt pockets. I like the idea of pockets between the front jacket and front jacket bottom band. Also, if I make this again, I want to change the construction order, or maybe cut the facings as one wider piece. There’s a lot of fabric crammed into the corners of the front facing bands and I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to understitch the body to the lining. So I just said ah heck and topstitched the hem, facings and neck; it’s all quilted + imperceptible anyway.

If you, like me, have noodle arms, but again like me they are thick-cut noodles, take heart: the sleeve isn’t too narrow. I was worried about the three layers plus my upper arms, but they all live in harmony!

Sadly it’s a little snug across my upper back, but that only matters when giving a hug/walking like a zombie/flexing my traps (yes I had to look up which muscles are shoulder muscles).

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I’m wearing the jacket here with my second pair of Morgan mom jeans; I cut them with a little more SA than last time, but otherwise made all the same changes listed in my first post HERE.

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Look ma, no butt dimple!

Rifle Paper above and Rifle Paper below – my pockets coordinate with my jacket, sort of!

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Don’t worry, I’m wearing a Nettie. I can shuck several layers and remain fully dressed.

In conclusion: I like the jacket, I love the jeans, I send Anna Bond all my money, and my traps are stacked. Is that a thing?

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Buh-bye!

Pattern: M7549 cropped jacket

Pattern cost: $2.50

Size: 14

Supplies: 2 yards Cotton and Steel canvas, Amalfi; Gather Here, $34; leftover flannel for quilting layer, from stash; lining from stash; $3.58, thread, Michael’s (two spools!)

Total time: 14 hours

Total cost: $40.08

– – – – –

Pattern: Morgan jeans

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 12 waist, 14 hip

Supplies: 2 yards of Cone Mills denim, 9 oz., olive green, Imagine Gnats, $32.20; 1/2 yard Cotton and Steel quilting cotton, Gather Here, $6.00; hardware kit, Threadbare Fabrics, $5.65

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $43.85