Friday, June 5, 2015

A tale of two jackets

Today we have a tale of two jackets. One I made at the end of last summer and put away, due to what seemed like a serious error, but it might be redeemed on closer inspection. (Or time in the magic closet? a well-used and very apt phrase). The other is just recently completed, using a pattern repeat and while I think it will have a place in the rotation, it might not be quite the home run that the first version of this pattern turned out to be.  So you can be the judge, shall either of these be benched or make it to the starting lineup?  Enough baseball metaphors yet? Now I am determined to think of some others.

At the top of the order is my pattern repeat, the Jacket Express. This is a jacket pattern from Islander patterns that is included in the Craftsy Class: Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets.

blue jacket front view on me

You may recall I made this previously, here is a link to that post which has a lot of info on making this jacket.  This is a pattern that is included in the Craftsy Class: Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets. It is from Islander Patterns. I made it from a red denim that I found somewhere and it turned out to be something I wear ALL the time, as it helps to avoid the dreaded denim jumpsuit look (blue denim jeans + denim jacket = bad 80's music video or something equally hideous). The red in this jacket is just washed out enough to make it a very versatile neutral.

Red denim jacket front Jacket express pattern photo

Also hideous, the versions on the pattern packaging. Anyway - if you are interested in the sewing details  - and there are quite a few  - in my previous post, here is the link.  Also I wrote a second post reviewing the Craftsy class which has other sewing details and some more pictures so here is that link.

Sometimes I just decide to swing away and make something even though I have a zillion other things I could be doing. But this jacket was on my mind, as I am going to make a similar jacket for my mom, from that pineapple denim I bought from Girl Charlee (visible in this post). So I made a test version in her size of this Islander jacket. And she didn't like the way it fit and felt. So I tried to adjust it but wasn't getting anywhere. Then she pulled a cute denim jacket out of her closet and said "I like everything about this one, can't you just make it exactly like this?" Yeeessss I spending a good chunk of time (it takes me about 2 hours) making a copy pattern, then sewing up a test version just to check.  So that is done and soon I will start on her jacket. But meanwhile, back to mine. I wanted to try it out in stretch woven. This pattern and the instructor are VERY specific, in fact adamant - insistent - demanding that it be made in a regular woven. So phooey with that. Stretch is the way to go. I love stretch wovens such as cotton sateen or wool with lycra (although I am not a fan of ponte knits, although I guess they are in fact, knits! but they seem like wovens to the touch. I digress)  So I had this rather thick cotton sateen that was never going to be a dress as it is just slightly too heavy so perfect for a jacket. And you know I cannot resist that color.

blue jacket express front view on form

It looks a bit rumply here but quite wearable. And pointless to iron (when finished) since it is cotton with lycra, so just go where the fabric takes you. Pressing as you sew - that is quite necessary. After all that topstitching will not be in the right place without nicely pressed seams.

Side view. All in all I consider this turned out well, maybe not one of my home runs but perhaps a good double or RBI. It was easier to sew in the non-stretch denim and that pressed perfectly, was a bit easier to topstitch but all in all this is done. You can see I left off the buttons on the upper pockets. Gave it just a little too much of the chest headlight effect. I did narrow this version at the side seams by taking it in at the waist, about 1 inch on each side, it seemed to need a more fitted look than the red one.

blue jacket express side view

And here is a little warning, check your work before proceeding to the next step. This jacket is a topstitching bonanza, and if you do the topstitching on one sleeve but not the other and sew them both then you will have to rumple up the sleeve and squish all that fabric under the presser foot in order to do it. NOT my most favorite thing to do. Gnashing of teeth at this point. Oh well. Got it done. Who knows what I am talking about?

Top stitching Jacket Express

Now for Jacket # 2. Almost in the same color, but not quite. Also in stretch although this one is denim. Fabric I bought at Piedmont fabrics maybe 3 years ago, not sure why. I was with a friend. Peer pressure :)

Blue denim jacket on me, view 2

Not bad but this is the one with the problem. I freely admit that this is a case of hasty sewing. Actually, hasty cutting. Last summer I thought I would squeeze out this jacket just before vacation, easy peasy, right? Using my self-made pattern blogged about here.  And it would have been perfect, but for one little problem. I put the stretch going up and down instead of around the body. And after I had it about 80% cut out, I thought "this seems strange" and then snap! realized and I was SO mad. So I shoved the pattern pieces in a bin and left on vacay. Returned and sewed it up as I don't like unfinished stuff hanging around. It is really cute but slightly uncomfortable. Restrictive in the shoulders and arms. Fine if I walk around with perfect posture but not so great for actual living. Although this denim is stretchy enough that even though the stretch goes up and down it does give a little with movement. Can you tell that it is starting to grow on me?

blue denim jacket on form, buttoned

Looking at this picture I think the buttons are slightly in the wrong spots or sewn on too tightly but I will never button it up so screw it, they are staying that way. Also the upper pockets are not there, I just put the flaps. The lower pockets are real, and I did put some interfacing as they are welt pockets under the flaps so need a bit of help.

blue denim jacket, inside view of pocket

Even though these two jackets are similar in color I can see they are quite different in style so I will probably wear the first one with denim skirts or pants and the second one might be nice with a dress. For me in the summer a jacket like this is just something to carry along in case the air conditioning is overwhelming (which to me it always is).

Now to compare and contrast:  Jacket Express

blue jacket express with hands in pockets and sleeves rolled up

and denim jacket pattern made by me.

blue denim jacket on me

That denim skirt I am wearing in all the pictures is Simplicity 2152 which I wear all the time in the summer. The knit top is Simplicity 1916 pictured here.

So maybe I have scored a run or two with these jackets. And you know I have many, many, many items in my wardrobe that complement these colors so no problems there!

Perhaps a quick palate cleanser is in order, a knit top or pair of shorts, since summer has tentatively arrived here (finally - such a weird spring).  Something I can call a home run.

In any case, no more jackets for me for a while.  Ok, how many baseball references did you count? I think eight. For any overseas readers - yes, baseball and American english, kind of unintelligible, I know. My European friends who have lived here always remark on this very confusing habit we have of using baseball metaphors in so many conversations. Don't worry - soccer is taking over the world (or has done) and we will have to learn all the soccer references soon enough.

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo is the foxgloves which live at the shady edge of the garden. You can just see them in the first photo above. You don't see them very often here in my hot locale but they seem so cottage-garden to me and I am happy I found a spot for them under the pink jasmine. Plus they seems to come back 2nd and 3rd years so you know I like that - plant repeats and pattern repeats



  1. Beth, I love both jackets, but love even more that someone as experienced and talented as you can admit that she cut one out with the stretch going the wrong way! And that it is still wearable - that is fantastic. Thanks for the humanity and for being willing to share it!
    And I didn't understand any of the baseball references ;-)
    I love your blog Beth and your skills and expertise - thanks for sharing all that you do.

  2. First jacket...pop fly...second jacket...home run. The first jacket with the curved fronts and no button flaps looks unfinished while the second looks very professional. The pockets in the first look like they will contain tissues and candy wrappers while the second pockets look nice and flat. The neat thing is you have 2 jackets done and ready to wear and love and keep the cold air off your shoulders this summer. The shoulders look very nice in the second jacket and are wide and perky enough to balance your hips and skirt width. Foxgloves reseed themselves and up here in the north we never know from year to year what colors will emerge.Your yard is just beautiful!

    1. Interesting as I preferred the one with just the upper flaps--too much going on with all the flaps of the other one! But both jackets are great and I think they are both keepers.

  3. Both jackets are lovely and different enough to be useful items. I think your pattern is a smarter looking jacket and the other one is more casual. And I still have a pair of Vogue jeans half made from a stretch bone coloured fabric that *doh* had the stretch going the wrong way and realised half way through cutting it too. I'm still so annoyed and it's been 2 years... I think with a jacket it's ok, but with jeans, stretch and a booty... probably won't end well!

  4. Love the jacket express, just suits you so well. And the foxgloves! pretty.

  5. And BTW my garment with the stretch going the wrong way was pants for the gym. Roomy enough that it doesn't matter,but it took me a while to figure out why they just weren't right.

  6. Love the curved hem of the Islander jacket, and I love that muted red so much I'm looking to copy it (imitation being the sincerest form, etc.).Perfect for Bay Area weather, and also for avoiding that denim matchy thing. I'll leave off the upper pockets and flaps, though--not a good look on me. Great post! Thanks!

  7. Yes, the instructor is SO insistent about the jacket not being made in stretch! But non-stretch denim that is 1) in the right shade of red (i.e. not primary school red) and 2) not super heavy weight is IMPOSSIBLE to find.

    Loved seeing that peek of gingham in that jacket. I really really want to make something with gingham soon!

    1. p.s. I really want to make it in red, though I have thought about other colors.

    2. p.p.s. I thought maybe she is so insistent about using non-stretch because the top stitching could come out wavy instead of flat (my favorite RTW denim jacket is stretch and has very wavy top stitching)

  8. Love the color and both styles are so versatile.

  9. I like the fit of the second jacket better and the sharp corners instead of the rounded. But, I do like the Express jacket in a nice plain red denim. All of those crazy weird prints are just tacky.

  10. I like the fit of the second jacket better and the sharp corners instead of the rounded. But, I do like the Express jacket in a nice plain red denim. All of those crazy weird prints are just tacky.

  11. Both jackets look fabulous! and both colors are truly versatile. I remember foxgloves from my time in Oregon. So pretty.


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